Monday, 27 February 2012

Winter Sunshine

What a difference a few weeks makes.

When last I posted, we were shivering under a thick blanket of snow and wondering if winter would stretch on forever.

This weekend the sun came out and showed us that there is hope on the horizon for a glorious spring.

We decided to revisit the Chateau de Perigny.  A beautiful place near the town of VouillĂ©.  Approximately 20km from where we live.

Our last visit there had been to have dinner in the restaurant and as it was night time, we did not get to see the full charms of the Chateau, which is now a restaurant and hotel.

As you can see it is a lovely building overlooking a small valley. The outbuildings are used as the actual restaurant and accomodation, leaving the fabric of the Chateau untouched.

The meal was superb!  No photos as it was a bit too posh to be whipping out the camera to take snaps of the meal.... not that I have ever done that before....   For entree, I had a carpaccio of seafood and salicorn.  Wayne enjoyed mini croquettes of pigs feet.  We both ordered the wild boar with cranberries and quince paste for our main meal, and dessert was figs poached in spiced wine with fromage blanc for Wayne, and a crisp chocolate shell containing passionfruit mousse and a quenelle of mango sorbet for me.

The entrees and main course were sublime.  Roasted loin of wild boar with quince paste was a new taste pairing for both of us.  The boar was succulent and flavourful, and the quince paste brought out the savoury notes while adding a hint of sweetness and a tart finish. Toned down the richness of the boar and made it possible to enjoy every mouthful.  The sauteed wild mushrooms on the side were just a little bit of heaven to add to the whole dish.

Wayne loved his dessert.  I had wanted the figs, but they had orange in the poaching liquid... tant pis!  So I ordered the alternate dessert.  It was nice, and the presentation was gorgeous - but I found it too sweet for my palate.  I said to Wayne later that I probably should have had a cheese course instead of dessert and it would have been a perfect meal.  Oh well, always next time.

After a short walk around the Chateau grounds to take photos, we headed to the village of Sanxay.  All of the Poitou-Charentes is known for its Roman history and huge amount of ruins and remains.  Sanxay is the site of a large complex containing a theatre, thermal baths and temple. 

Whilst it was gloriously sunny, the temperature left a lot to be desired.... especially on the windswept slopes of the theatre.... We both wished we had taken our winter coats, instead of optimistically wearing spring weight jackets.  Not even gloves or hats had been thought of in our eagerness to go and make the most of the sun.


It was worth the effort of braving the cold though.  I would highly recommend a visit to this site if you are ever in the Poitou-Charentes.  Incredible ruins and well thought out plan for the visit.  No hard paths and obvious signage, but each person is given a guide book at the office which explains the site step by step and also gives information on the trees and plant life on the site.  A more personal approach.  You can read the hightlights, or go into more detail as you prefer.

Next weekend I embark on a new project, courtesy of our lovely neighbours.  Their father has vineyards and usually makes his own wine and pineau.  This year I too am going to learn how to do this, starting with the pruning of the vines and finishing - hopefully - with a nice table wine sometime next year.  I am looking forward to learning this skill and will ensure to keep you all updated as we accomplish each task.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Fun in the snow.....


video

otherwise known as "just another sunday in Buxerolles"

 15cm of snow fell on saturday, and was still dry and powdery on sunday.  So what else can you do except get outside and play.

A major snowball fight was held first (not sure if the adults really won as small children can be very devious....), followed by sledding for the kidlets.   What you see above is the activity for the last third of the day.

After exhausting ourselves, everyone descended upon a neighbours house where we made poffejties and crepes washed down with glogg ( a Swedish mulled wine).

Who said life in the country was too quiet and boring?????

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Neige!

Yes, it is finally snowing here.  I don't know who is more excited... the neighbours kidlets or me....

I love when it snows.  The world goes all quiet and peaceful and there is such a special atmosphere.  Everything ugly and harsh to the view disappears under a dusting of white.  It is like a return to childhood.  The anticipation, butterflies in the stomach - waiting for the moment when the world is completely changed into something magical and unreal.

One of my great pleasures is to go for a walk, camera in hand, and watch the transformation.  My eyes are constantly watching for the traces of the small animals normally hidden from view.  Finding the path taken by a badger, marten or other wild creature is almost as exciting as seeing the animal itself.  Those lovely little prints through the pristine snow are a delight to find.  I know, I am a bit strange.  Wayne shakes his head in disbelief that I have a book on animal scat and traces.  My theory is that if you want to understand and really know the environment that you live in, it is essential to learn about things like poo and paw prints.  It goes hand in hand with living in the country to my mind. Nerdy I know, but very very interesting....lol

Monday morning the cats and I spent hours glued to the windows watching the transformation of our neighbourhood into a snow fantasy.  Every few hours I ran outside with the video camera (new toy) and filmed the progress of the house turning from a typical maison Poitevin into something from Hansel and Gretel.  You know what I mean.... the frosted eaves and fairytale garden coated in a layer of snow, with smoke curling lazily from the chimney.

Tuesday afternoon saw my garden become the venue for a heated snowball fight between a neighbourhood 4 year old and myself.  No comments about picking on someone my own size.... this kidlet was an expert at snowballs!!  After nearly collapsing with laughter at his antics in the snow, his Mum and I retired to the comfort of the salon and a cosy armchair each in front of the cheminee.  Well deserved mug of tisane in hand - of course.

Today is a half day for all schools.  As it is every wednesday.  Another snowball match has been scheduled with the neighbours kidlets for 1300hours.  May need to have a few cups of full strength coffee before then I think...lol.  Yesterday at a routine checkup, the doctor asked about my exercise habits, and was puzzled when I burst out laughing.  Had to explain about the championship snowball battles every day while the snow lasted.  She had a good giggle over that and her only comment was that I was obviously getting enough exercise running from the neighbours kidlets.  Hmmm.

Seriously (?) though, the snow does change the whole outlook of people as well as the area.  On monday evening one of the neighbours arrived home with his wife.  Their young adult daughter drove in at the same time.  Within seconds of exiting their vehicles the father had commenced pelting his wife and daughter with snowballs.  A hilarious snowball fight ensued for about half an hour.  All three dressed in business attire and the women in high heels!  It was fabulous to see them having so much fun, and to hear their laughter echoing down the street.  What a great way to let off steam after a hard day at work!

I cannot imagine the heat and humidity being suffered by our family and friends in Australia right now.  My world is too full of fluttering white flocons de neige and crisp cold air.... and we have another 2 weeks of minus zero and snow to come.... YOUPI!!!

The photo at top was taken in my neighbours garden about three hours in to the snow.  The pic of our house was only one hour in to the snow.