Monday, 30 June 2008

Tuesday Tune-Up

JackStag A prehistoric species of deer. This particular specimen is a big bigger than the one I hit with the car.
Ishouldorderedaicecream Hmm. I wonder if James will finish his?
AngeJackBeer Don you have chocolate on your nose. 
Ange checks out a cheese stall in Libos
AngeMarket Ange in heaven - Don bored to death


Welcome to a rather early weekly ramble:

  • We have a busy few days ahead of us so I'm getting this post off early. 
  • The kids are off tomorrow on their overnight school trip to La Rochelle. They leave at 07h00 and get back on Tuesday at 22h00. Ange and I are heading off south at the same time to Narbonne (on the Mediterranean coast), where we plan to stay overnight in the charming seaside resort of Gruissan near the old village.  Ange doesn't know this yet and I'm hoping that she won't have time to check out this post in the morning.  So the kids are heading 300km North and we heading 300km South. Hopefully the rendezvous on Tuesday will go as planned and we'll get the kids back in one piece or three (whole) pieces.
  • Last Wednesday we headed to Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil which is renowned for the discovery of the first five skeletons of Cro-Magnons, the earliest known examples of Homo Sapiens.  The French have built a large museum on the site and it is dedicated all things pre-history.  We had good look around and then retired to a local café for some ice cream and beer.
  • On Thursday Ange and I headed to the market at Libos before a  huge shop at the the Lidel and LeClerc at Montayral.  As you know I just love shopping - it was such a fun day!  On Friday we headed to Perigueux for some.... shopping. We have two birthdays coming up in July and this week was the last chance to get away before school breaks up. Two days shopping in a row, it was like I had died and gone to heaven.  The best part getting back into the nice warm car as it was quite chilly outside (31º).
  • Also managed to mow the front lawns this week. The second paddock is pretty steep and it is a task that is not for the faint hearted. I think I have it sorted now.
  • Had a good time at the school fête last night - I will put out a separate post on this later in the week. We got home 23h30 to find the sheep (Briggs & Stratton) wondering down the street. Managed to round them up with the help on Jack and Henry (James had fallen asleep), then we jumped in the pool to cool off and headed to bed at 00h30  (P.s. French don't use AM/PM so I'm trying to get stick to the 24h00 system).
  • Great BBQ lunch today. After their late night the kids only woke up at around 10h00 so we ended up having a lazy old day around the pool.
  • Did I mentioned how much I like shopping (ok I know this is wearing thin now) but anyway in between all this weeks shopping excitement I managed to take a few shots to show you how the "coin in the shopping trolley" works. Come on New Zealand this is a great system lets adopt it. 

    Step One: return trolley to rack, grab key from trolley in front


    Step Two: Insert key in trolley lock


    Step Three: Redeem coin from lock


Keep reading the Biscuit Bunch for more exciting shopping adventures from France. 

Brocante Finds



As Don has previously exposed me I must confess to a couple of purchases at the Brocante and Vide-Greniers we have gone to. 

Following my sustainability thoughts an old green enamel bowl purchase has become our fruit bowl.  Why buy new when old is just as good? And yes the courgette in the bowl is from our garden.  My first courgette every grown, very exciting. 

My other purchase is an old demi (half) litre jug that may have been used for milk or other things in years gone by.  It has lots of markings on it and I would love to find out how old it is, so if anyone knows how I can research these markings please let me know.

The table cloth is also second hand, with the initials MC embroidered onto it.  Not sure if this was someone's initials or whether it stands   for M.....Castle or Chateau??  Again I would love to know where this gorgeous linen table cloth once came from.


IMG_5192   IMG_5190

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Cherry Clafoutis


About a month ago while searching the internet for french recipes I stumbled across a recipe for Cerise clafoutis.  It's a batter pudding originating from Limousin in France, consisting of flour, sugar, egg, vanilla and milk  which is whisked together and poured over the cherries before baking. 

There is a bit of controversy as to whether you should pit the cherries or not.  Supposedly it tastes better with them left in, you just need to let the people eating it know, or else you might end up footing a large dentist bill.  I have read that in Paris it's quite the done thing (even in the flashest restaurants) to spit the cherry pips, what fun you could have at your next dinner party!

Well, I love cherries and I have fond memories of eating nearly an entire bucket full one Christmas while on a family holiday in Lowburn in the South Island of New Zealand.  This is the "old" Lowburn, right by the river before it got flooded to become part of the Clyde Dam.  The cherries were hand picked by me from the farm next to the camp ground we were staying at. 

Anyway since then whenever I see them I can't help but treat myself.  So a couple of weeks ago at the market I was so pleased to bag half a kilo for 2 euro.  4 euro a kilo, that is sooo... cheap, they are about 19NZ$ a kilo from memory.  I thought briefly about making the clafoutis, but couldn't bring myself to cook them as it seems such a waste to me.  So today whilst getting our bread from the boulangerie in Villefranche there on the counter was Cerise clafoutis on sale for 80c a piece.  Easy, so now I have tried it, and yes it was nice but I am pleased I ate my cherries "au naturel".

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

School Lunch Menu

A quick update on this weeks school menu.  Yesterday was their sports day hence the picnic lunch.

Menu: Semaine du 23 au 27 Juin


Tomate + concombre
Raviolis au boeuf




Céleri-rave mayonnaise
Rôti de porc
Champignons de paris


Salade vert + surimi
Omelette pomme de terre

Evening walk


We have been regularly taking a wander up the road from our place of an evening. The house next to ours is owned by people who live in Paris and apparently they come during all the school holidays.

We missed seeing them last holidays as we were in London, so since then the boys have this real curiosity about when they will return. So they enjoy walking up there to see if the shutters on the house have opened up or not. Not sure what they will do when they eventually do arrive, rock on up to the door and in their best french say hello we live in the house next to yours.

Anyway Jack especially likes these walks as it gives him a chance to ask lots of questions, about space, rockets, whether he should become a soccer player or an airline pilot, etc etc. Anyway here are a few photos of tonights walk.

Tuesday Tune-Up

JamesFoote HenryFoote SportsDay GoJames Lunch AngeLunch


Welcome to the Tuesday Ramble:

  • Last Friday I did some volunteer work on a local farm replacing a deer fence. It was hot and heavy work but I really enjoyed myself and will jump at the chance to help out again.  It involved driving timber pilings to raise the height of an old fence line.  Lunch was good, as always in France it was a three course affair and included a beer and few wines.  It is really hard to get started again after a lunch like that.
  • The boys had their last football game just over a week ago (I forgot to mention it in last weeks tune-up).  It was a club open day and both Henry and James were recruited into the team.  James was really into it despite being one of the smallest players on the field.
  • On the subject of football we were very disappointed with France's performance in the UEFA cup. It was Rugby world cup déjà vu: here we were (again) supporting one of the strongest teams only to see them bomb out early.
  • It was the school sports day today and it was held at the Stade at St.Cernin.  It was interesting to watch and see how the kids are getting on in the "school" environment. At one stage I was watching James compete in the "throw different objects into different hoops" event.  The organiser was rambling away in french, I could see that James was not only listening carefully but also closely watching the other kids. It took him a few seconds to figure out what was going on and then he was into it with gusto. It was a priceless moment, I just wanted to run up to him and give him a big hug (but Ange held me back).
  • The end of French school year beacons next Friday (4th July) kicking off two months of school holidays. The kids are ecstatic - it is just like Christmas! How many more sleeps dad?
  • In September Jack will move up to the senior school which is in St. Cernin.  Again details are sketchy and I suspect it will be very interesting (for all of us). 
  • This Saturday the school is putting on a play/féte/parents evening. We have the invitation but we not too sure what to expect. Henry tells us he will be a crab and we not allowed to laugh. I reckon that his teacher is hoping that he'll sit on a rock and stay put. 
  • Have I mentioned the weather yet.  I worry that if I keep mentioning how nice and hot it is then my visitor stats from New Zealand will dry up (no pun intended).  Anyway I should mention that it was a cool 32°C at 21h00 last night making it just perfect for dinner outside on the patio.  These snaps to the left were from lunch today, it was a bit cooler, only 30°C. Summer has arrived just in time.
  • The school has its annual school trip next Monday.  It is an overnight trip to La Rochelle on the west coast. They leave Le Got school at 07h00 on Monday morning and return back at 22h00 on Tuesday night.  What will mum and dad get up to you ask? It is a good question I wonder what Ange is planning?

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Monday, 23 June 2008

More Water Fun

It was hot today - I don't think we moved more than 12 metres from the pool after we got back from the vide-grenier. It was a lot of hard work; applying suntan lotion and helping kids to get water-born (and air-born).

By the end of the day we needed a few beers to restore fluid levels and guard against dehydration.

greenmonster lifeguards Airborne

Vide-greniers à Saint-Cernin-de-l'Herm

Stall Bargain SeenEverythingDad ComeOnMumHurryUp  

From what we understand, which is not a lot mind you, private garage sales are not permitted in France.

Instead most villages hold a public "flea-market" where locals can display and sell unwanted goods. Today was St Cernin's vide-grenier and Ange was up early hurrying us all to get in the car.

Great! Shopping for junk is not my favourite pastime so I teamed up with my partner in crime, Henry and we set off to set the world speed record for "window shopping".

We then settled back into the car and tried (?)  to entertain ourselves (see photo opposite).

P.s. Ange I reckon that you are better at these shopping posts than I am.

Féte de la Musique

No this is not our village Féte but the Elysee palace in Paris where President Nicolas Sarkozy (whose wife Carla Bruni is about to release her third album) took the novel step of opening up the Elysee palace to concerts.



The Fête de la Musique, is a free music festival taking place on June 21, which is also the summer solstice.

While it began in France it has since spread to hundreds of other countries. Nearly every town has a festival with local musicians putting on various acts.  Villefranche had a country music theme whereas St Cernin opted for contemporary/ rock music.  The music started up 10pm so it was too late for the kids but we were able to hear all the music as the sound drifted up the hill.  It all finished not long after 2am.

I was a bit disappointed that we were stuck looking after kids. I wonder if we could train the dogs to do that. "Benjie - protéger les enfants."

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Ahh The Sun at last


It is getting a bit warmer in the Dordogne - we are finally getting some June weather.

The boys are still really enjoying the pool and their swimming skills are progressing well. 

We are having to change tack with sleeping arrangements to leave windows wide open and make use of mosquito netting. 


Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Carte De Sejour


I have finally received my Carte De Sejour!!

There was a time, not that long ago, when I though this would never happen. I am now officially a resident of France (albeit a temporary one with restrictions on work etc).

I am more relieved than excited, the later wore off months ago when  our visas were issued.  However this little card is still the culmination of a marathon effort through an uncharted ocean of bureaucracy.

In the end all the effort, stress and cost has been been worth it and I'll recommend an adventure like this to anyone.

Before I get too carried away I should mention that Angela's card is still pending.  Hope this arrives before our trip to Spain as our temporary extended permits have expired!

Tuesday Tune-up


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bbq - Copy

Welcome to the Tuesday Ramble:

  • Ange saw this beauty today while putting washing on the line. At 1.2m long this 'couleuvre' or grass snake is pretty harmless but we didn't get close enough to verify this. It left soon after we disturbed it.
  • It was interesting to see our mushrooms on sale at the market for €13 per kilo.  In future I will be a little more careful rummaging in the undergrowth.
  • Ange dragged us all to the Brocante market in Monpazier on Saturday afternoon. Brocante markets sell antiques and other girly stuff. I scurried off with Henry and after 15 mins we had seen everything and crept back to the car for a sleep.
  • Had a great BBQ with our English friends on Sunday. Sam and Kieren own a huge property on the other side of Le Got. They put on a great feast and us adults lazed around all afternoon while the kids ran riot.
  • It was also Fathers Dad on Sunday. The boys brought home some great little gifts.  James' class made a small art board which included a thermometer. Jack and Henry made art boards with a small peg for notes. All have been hung somewhere around the house and are being put to good use.  Pictures below, taken in a rush, my apologies
  • Another good hard run today, it seemed like a lot further than 12km. I really need to turn this into a daily routine if I'm to offset all the cheese and wine calorie intake.  If I'm not careful I'll end up looking like this by December!!  This shot was from our BBQ on Monday night.

HenryFete JamesFete

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Bush Hunt

We were back in the bush today looking for mushrooms. It's Fathers day tomorrow so I had to ensure there is a good excuse for a special breakfast treat. It was sparse pickings at first but on the way back up the hill we hit the jackpot so to speak. We left some good spots (discretely) marked and raced home for lunch and a swim. At least we now have the opportunity to drop some of the catch off to Petra to repay and thank her efforts on the last hunting expedition.

JackTree Closeup TheHaul

Saturday, 14 June 2008


(CNN) -- Netherlands thrashed France 4-1 in the match of the tournament so far in Berne to secure their place in the quarterfinals by finishing top of Group C.

Friday Cycle

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AngeThumbsUp Lunch

Good cycle today. The sun was out and roads were dry (for a change).  Very hilly ride but that's the Dordogne for you.

We stopped for lunch at a small church near the Château des Rois Ducs (translated = Castle of the King's Duke) which overlooks the village of Sauveterre la Lémance. 

There are some great views out on these back roads, everything is so lush and green.  Legs and bum are sore - time for a beer.


Friday, 13 June 2008

Dutch Delight


Alex arrived on Thursday at the Bergerac "International" Airport: a funny little regional airport where get this - English is the main language (hard to believe I know).

The kids were really excited to receive another visitor and Alex did not disappoint them. We had a Confit de Carnard for dinner and stayed up late catching up on news and old times.

Friday was our big tourist day and we looped through Domme, checked out the village of Le Roque-Gageac with its medieval fort built high in the side of a cliff and headed to Beynac castle for lunch and a tour.

Friday night we reserved the Le Gaulois Auberge for dinner (we had the whole place to ourselves) and then headed into St. Cernin to check out the fête which had just started.  We sent him packing on Saturday!!