Friday, 21 July 2017

Strange goings on!

Apparently its that time of year again when we spot all manner of strangely dressed folks tending the fields....what more can be said?

Maybe its some ancient fertility celebration but no one appears to know - yes you have guessed it they are all men. Still non the wiser.

The flowers in late July

You can believe me when I tell you its been a mammoth task ensuring the flowers in the cottage garden have survived the hot weather early this month. With temperatures on some days in the mid to high 30's it was necessary to move some flower tubs and baskets under the trees to prevent them being 'cooked'. However they have survived and with ample use of 'Miracle Grow' they are all looking just fine. Those guests who are still to visit this year can look forward to a nice flowery garden to wind away your days with a glass of your favorite tipple. In 2016 we were awarded 2nd Prize in the regional flower garden competition, with some stiff competition and a large number of entrants what will we do in 2017 - all will be revealed in December.

July 21st 2017 - managing to keep the grass green
The second terrace is lovely in the evening
The small shutter to the blue bedroom
growing vines around the barrel this year
Hanging baskets and tubs have survived the heat
Your private enclosed garden - a lovely place to relax

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

A right Highland Fling!

Last week our guests here at Les Deux Platanes had an unexpected treat. They arrived in time to participate in a medieval banquet that was part of a major two day Franco - Scottish fete in our nearest town, Chatillon sur Indre.

In addition to an excellent meal we were provided with a range of entertainment during the evening. The French need little excuse to organise a fete and this one was outstanding. 

Looking back to the 100 years war it appears the town of Chatillon had some links with Scotland - so they formed a Franco - Scottish society and the rest is history as they say.  
Nearly 600 attended the meal
The roast boars were displayed for all to see

The serving ladies were all local volunteers
Plus dancing of course!
In addition to the meal the town was transformed into medieval magnificence with stalls selling food, craft displays and all manner of activity.

Friday, 2 June 2017

June is bursting out all over!

On some land near to the cottage is what we 'Brits' would describe as a small holding and this is maintained by Madam Monique with military precision. In addition to the magnificent vegetable garden she also has ducks, 2 geese, 6 sheep and around 80 chickens. Everything except the sheep will be 'dispatched' for the table at some point during the year and our freezer currently contains a duck and chicken. This week the new ducks and geese arrived - see picture:

This was only the second day and already they were in the pond.
The cottage garden is now all set up with flowers all appear to be growing well and since we have has a very warm and dry spring they have needed regular attention especially with watering.

Living in central France you enjoy a slow and peaceful life, neighbours passing with their latest vehicle:

Oh yes, its like Maureen asking about the mpg?
Barbecue information:

What can be better on holiday than a good barbecue on a warm evening, starlit sky above and only birds and our local owl for company - not forgetting a nice bottle of wine. At the cottage you have access to a good charcoal barbecue, everything except the charcoal is provided although in many cases previous guests may have left charcoal.

The trolley barbecue has two grills, you can use one or both, it has all the tools, sticks for lighting and normally some newspaper. 
All the tools, glove and an apron for the chef!
Plus a vegetable roaster if required.
Where can you use the barbecue?

Anywhere in your garden, you have a choice of two terraces both with tables or you may wish to move the smaller lighter table under the trees. The large terrace directly in front of the cottage has a large table, outside lights etc . Last week we had four French guests and the two men were barbecue experts and they used the terrace in front of the cottage. The second terrace is at the bottom of the garden and has a smaller table, retractable sun blind, electric light PLUS a socket for the portable hot plate. So all you aspiring  chefs can rustle up a real gourmet dinner.
The smaller wood terrace at the bottom of your garden area.

The hotplate can be used to keep dishes warm or for some gourmet delights!
That's all for now, also remember that if you have booked the cottage directly with Maureen their will be a small  'arrival' pack of provisions here when you arrive :Bread, home made jam, local ham, cheese, milk, tea / coffee and some butter. The local supermarket is open on a Sunday morning if required.

Monday, 15 May 2017

What's not to like about spring?

The bird box's are full and birds are working 24/7 feeding young, the flowers are starting to grow very well and the sun is shining, what's not to like about spring?

Maureen has been working hard (not 24/7 I may add) moving all 400 plus plants from the greenhouse to tubs, baskets and borders. This year we ordered 30 bags of compost from the local gardening association and it looks like we will use them all.

The potting up area

3 of many tubs ready to go into the cottage garden

yes, more tubs!
However this year Maureen has also been developing the vegetable garden so a few photo's is worth a thousand words.

The soft fruit area is developing well
We picked out first Strawberry on the 13th May.
I have been installing edging for some of the flower borders to make them easier to maintain during the season when we have guests in the cottage.

I bought and cut corrugated galvanized sheets to make the border edge.  
Outside the cottage rose room window the spring flowers are out in force and looking great.
We have our first guests arriving next week, all the flowers will be in place although it will take some time for them all to come out and bloom.

The cottage website is constantly updated with news, this week I gave the 'cafes. bistro's and restaurants' page a major update.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Its a food world in May

Well May has been a great 'food' month so far. We made a visit to the 'new' 'Paddock' Bistro / cafe in Chatillon on Saturday evening to test it out before recommending it or not to our guests and we are very pleased to say it was GREAT! Its a simple small place that used to be a bar serving drinks and coffee but closed some time ago. The new owners have injected some individuality and opened it as small Bistro/cafe. They offer a range of draft and bottled beers, wine, etc and simple food but place an emphasis on quality.  The menu is small, a range of home made burgers, small variety of steaks and other items all served with salad or chips. I had a 140g burger at 8 euro (you can choose the size) and Maureen had a entrecote steak both served with home made chips. It came with nice fresh bread and a jug of cold water. We were delighted with everything, we were the only ones eating that evening but it varies. It can sometimes be difficult in France to find a place that offers simple quality food other than the standard 'menu' so we are pleased this new place is open and the proprietors are delightful.

On Monday the 8th May we attended the remembrance event in town before attending the 'vin' d'honour and then the lunch arranged by the town's ancient combatants association. Of course I was never an ancient combatant or a combatant of any sort but we attend the event so as one of the few 'English' in the area we are invited along with another couple we know. I wear my fathers medals on the right as he fought in ww2 in North Africa and Italy. The 'lunch' of course is a typical full on French lunch that always lasts at least 4 hours. This years menu was:

  • Kir petillant (sparkling white wine with blackcurrant liqueur)
  • Oeuf en meurette ( Half a boiled egg in a red wine reduced sauce with lardons and mushrooms)
  • Filet de cabillaud - creme au chorizo ( Fillet of Cod in a lovely mild chorizo sauce)
  • Trou Berrichon a la poire ( Sorbet with pear eau de vie alcohol)
  • Magret de canard aux quatre - epices ( Sliced duck breast with potatoes dauphinoise)
  • Assiete de fromage et salade vert (Cheese selection with a dressed green salad)
  • Profiteroles au chocolat (Profiteroles filled with ice cream with chocolate sauce and whipped cream
  • Coffee

Served with as much Muscadet, red Bordeaux, sparkling white wine as you could drink or wanted all for a total of 32 euro's per person....Bargain!

Needless to say it was well after 5pm before we left what was a superb meal.

Maureen has been busy potting up plants today but I think that needs another BLOG post.


Friday, 28 April 2017

560 plants arrive!

Maureen has been busy, very busy replanting the hundreds of small plug plants that arrived from the nursery in Staffordshire UK this week. Its amazing the system they use for postage. Each set of plants is very carefully packed in special containers to protect the roots and plant itself.

Plants came in trays of 40 or trays of 5 for the larger plants

The weather however is a little cold in the evenings at present so the plants are now in our small greenhouse where they will stay until ready for replanting into the garden, tubs and hanging baskets. 

We have also entered the 2017 regional flower garden competition where we won 2nd prize in 2016.

I have also just redecorated the rose bedroom in the cottage and it is looking very nice indeed, we are sure all our guests will be impressed! 

So we look forward to seeing all our guests in 2017.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

April news - Poisson d'Avril

Well April has certainly started the summer off with some good weather so far. We have enjoyed some light April showers followed by some wonderful rainbows.

The animals in the fields close to les Deux Platanes are making the most of the fresh green spring grass.
Heads down chaps!
The early flowers are also out with lots of perfumes in the air especially strong from the lilac.
The ex UK politician Micheal Portillo has re-invented himself as a train journey guide and last week he was on a lake in some remote part of Norway. He mentioned that in parts of Norway it was possible to 'listen to the silence' a very rare experience in a world where most people have a life full of noise from roads and life's other bustle. However here in central France we take 'silence' for granted especially in the evenings. We do have the noise of birds, frogs and the very occasional car but otherwise its possible to 'listen to the silence'. Recently we have also had some beautiful early evening sky's as the moon is low and looks like the sun.

Les Deux Platanes is situated in the hamlet of Le Breuil aux Gittons, a rambling hamlet of 32 houses and small farms all well spaced out on a winding road that eventually passes our door. We do however have a concentration of property and a small farm that could be described as the 'centre' of the hamlet. We are the only 'English' in this immediate area and we are surrounded by typical country French. We have a young lady 'farrier down the road, with her husband they often pass in a 'trap' just as you would see in 'Downton Abbey'. However despite everyone appearing to look very 'country' French  many have surprises such as another neighbour who arrived today asking to borrow my scaffolding.

yes this neighbour has a beautiful Corvette with all the extra bits plus 500 bhp.  
  More news later this month as the 'flowers' arrive!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Maisons Fleuries 2016 - Second Prize - Best Gite Garden

Les Deux Platanes - 2nd Prize - Holiday cottage and gite gardens in the regional communes 2017 

Maisons Fleuries 2016 : At last the news has been released and although we were not there to collect the prize or enjoy the complimentary wine, our French friends of more than 40 years attended on our behalf. We are very pleased indeed to have been awarded 2nd prize in the regional garden competition. 

We were a runner up in 2014, missed the competition entry closing date in 2015 so to have this success in 2016 is fantastic. 

In addition to the lovely flowers as shown above we also won a lovely towel (no doubt to dry your hands after working in the garden) and 35 euro for some plants. 

There are hundreds of entries for the competition which covers a wide area if the Indre and Indre Loire region. So if you have yet to decide on your holiday you can be sure of enjoying one of the most flowery gardens in central France at les Deux Platanes.

The planning has already started for the 2017 cottage garden and no doubt as last year there will be over 450 plants arriving from Brookside Nursery (Staffordshire UK**) in April. Follow this BLOG for further 'flower' information!

** Visit the Brookside Nursery website to see the wide range of plants available, they post out to France in special containers - great service. 

Friday, 6 January 2017

Grrrrrrr - madness!

Its not often I have a moan on our BLOG, hopefully this is the first and last time. 

The French Tourist Agency reports a drop in tourism for 2016, with Paris having a significant fall in numbers visiting the 'City of Light'. I am sure that in an effort to make the situation even worse the French Tax authority have now introduced a 15.5% 'social tax' on all rented furnished holiday accommodation. This is in addition to the normal tax levied on all income. In reality, in order to cover this ridiculous new tax, all holiday accommodation owners should increase charges by 15.5% , just what you need when tourist numbers are falling. In reality we will absorb the increase this year but 2018 will have to see a significant increase to cover all or part of this new tax. Grrrrrrr madness!