Sunday, 29 August 2010

Bay Bolletes, Chicken of the woods, Butternut squash

After a few rainy days the weather definitely has an autumnal feel. The nights are cooler and the days clear and crisp with bright sunshine. The garden continues to supply us with our daily needs. The butternut squash are bigger than previous years, real monsters growing in the garden. The cucumbers continue to surprise, I found two hidden under the leaves which were more the size of large marrows rather than cucumbers, and they were still tender to eat - I must be doing something right this year.

Saturday we went foraging for mushrooms in our favourite spot and it didn't disappoint. We came home with enough Bolletes to dry some for the winter and enough to make a lovely sauce, which we ate on homemade tagliatelle.

That's me slicing the mushrooms for drying and laying them out on a tea towels to dry in the sun and wind.

Yesterday we headed off to the village of Lonlay l'Abbaye, which was holding its annual fete with 'Vide Grenier' No we didn't have a stall, I am still busy making chutneys and those that are made need to mature before they can be eaten. It was our first time at this particular event, we were amazed by the number of visitors and the number of stalls. We grabbed a few bargains which is always satisfying.

After leaving the village we took a road along the river and low and behold there was supper growing on a tree. A nice fresh Chicken of the Woods. This time I gave it an Indian treatment which was really delicious, see my other blog for more details.

A cricket sunning himself in the warm sunshine on the gravel in the courtyard.

Monday, 23 August 2010

'Ouvertures normandes' - Exhibition opening

Sunday 22nd August 2010 saw the opening of Rob's summer exhibition 'Ouvertures normandes'.

The exhibition was opened on Sunday morning with a drinks reception for friends and neighbours.

On show in this exhibition are a series of paintings based on the theme 'openings'. In this region of Normandy the traditional houses are built of stone, many of these buildings have been neglected but many of the windows and doors remain in their almost original state. The wonderful aspect of these old buildings is that although many look similar they often have quite unique stone features. These windows, doors, and other openings in the buildings have inspired Rob this summer and the paintings in the exhibition are the result of his work over the last two months here in Normandy. The paintings are acrylic paint on paper, which have been mounted.

Below is a small selection of the 21 pieces currently being exhibited.

The paintings are not currently being offered for sale, but if you are particularly interested in purchasing one or more of this unique series, don't hesitate to contact me and I will pass on your interest to the Artist.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

St Ernier and preparing for winter

The village of Ceauce celebrated the fete of St Ernier on the weekend of 7th and 8th of August. There was a fun fair in the village all weekend and on Sunday afternoon the annual parade took place. Local groups prepare floats - towed by tractors and decorated with paper flowers. One float carried Miss Ceauce and her attendants, three beautiful local girls.

One float sported the ever popular, Noddy know here as Oui Oui.

Several local bands and majorettes livened up the parade and this year there were two new bands. One a small group who sat on the back of a trailer and played jazz and blues music and the other again playing similar music, definitely much better than the usual bands who are getting a little old and set in their ways.

Having had a bit of rain a 'Chicken of the Woods' grew on a nearby plum tree. We have enjoyed several meals from it along with some plums too.

My dad arrived last week. The first day he was here we bought wood which we hope will be enough to keep us warm through the next winter. As we both heat the house and cook on wood during the winter months it is essential to get in a good supply well before the weather changes. It was all hands to the task - and it was quickly stashed away in the cow shed to keep it dry and ready for use.

This last weekend we enjoyed a short visit from some family friends at the end of their camping holiday. It was lovely to catch up with them and to meet Emily for the first time.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

The Bayeux Tapestry and Port en Bassin

We continue to enjoy the bounties of the land. This year I have sown cucumber seeds and have now started to harvest them. The cucumbers are about 15cm long and just the right size for one meal. The cucumbers are hidden under the leaves and on close inspection there seem to be at least 7 or 8 ready to eat. The melons sown at the same time are now beginning to show their first fruits - there are about 3 or 4 but they are still the size of golf balls, so it's now a question of wait and see if they grow any bigger. The squash plants are just running wild all over the plot but do now seem to be producing small fruits. Last year they were very successful so I am hopeful that this year will be equally productive.

The broad beans and peas are coming to an end - just a few more to harvest and then it will be time to clear them from the plot.

The climbing french beans are providing sufficient for a meal every other day so I have frozen some for later in the year. I have also grown a variety called Barlotto Lingua di Fuoco, a type of Italian Borlotti bean. The plants have grown strongly but as yet not producing as many beans as the standard french bean plants.

This years crop of beetroot is not very good, I think the hot dry weather has something to do with it as some have started to bolt. Luckily my friend Verity has a good crop so we have enjoyed freshly boiled beetroot, with just a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt and black ground pepper.

The fennel is growing well, this year I waited until after the longest day before sowing the seed directly into the ground. Last year I sowed the seed too early and they just grew ferny tops and no bulbs - hopefully this year will be better - they certainly look promising.

The courgettes continue to produce fruits and I am harvesting at least a couple from each plant every 2 to 3 days. There should be plenty for chutney making very soon. I have cleared the red currant bush of its fruits and frozen what we haven't eaten to keep it for desserts. The one bush has done really well. Plan to take some cuttings this autumn so that we can have a 'fruit border' along the boundary fence of the garden. The black currants cuttings I took last autumn have taken and a looking very healthy, they will be the first fruits in the 'border'.

Tuesday we headed off to visit the Bayeux Tapestry. We stopped off briefly in Caen so Rob could make a purchase, now we know the city quite well and I was able to park almost outside the shop and hover while he popped in, and then set off for Bayeux not so far from Caen.

We went via the coast and stopped for lunch at Port en Bassin a
small fishing port just to the north of Bayeux. Its claim to fame is that it was captured during WWII and was used as a Petrol Terminal for PLUTO (pipeline under the ocean), an under water pipeline from the Isle of Wight to France bringing fuel for the allied forces.

The harbour is surrounded by many fish restaurants which were full of tourists, we found a small restaurant in one of the back streets not far from the fish market, where we had a lovely lunch.

After a leisurely lunch and a stroll around the village we headed south to Bayeux. There was only a short queue to buy entry tickets but then we found a very long line of people waiting to actually get into the exhibition room. I think we hit the crowds coming in after lunch, anyway well worth the wait. I had seen it before when I was young, but I now understand the history behind the tapestry and can also appreciate the quality of the work.

We also visited the cathedral which has some amazing stone work, the first level of the nave has medieaval stone carvings see the interactive website to get an idea of the beauty of the stone work.