Tuesday, 5 October 2010

An autumn break

We have just come back from

or more precisely,  a friend's villa just above  Caylus - a delightful mediaeval fortified town in the Tarn et Garonne part of France, right down on the S.W. corner.  It is the third time we have bee there and we just love the area, no wonder so many Brits buy property there!  This is breakfast with freshly collected bread, butter and Bonne Maman apricot jam - holiday treat.

Every village is a picturesque  gem and the countryside is beautiful.  We drove down stopping overnight at a nice little farm south of Dijon at St. Germain les Buxy.  http://www.lafermette.org/.  We were intrigued at breakfast the next morning to see a housemartin's nest  above our heads in the beams of the dining room.  Apparently the windows had been left open a bit too long!  Our objective was to visit the wonderful Millau Bridge designed by Norman Foster.  It is most impressive and flies gracefully across the valley, so high that as you can see from this diagram in the visitor centre (very smart!) the Eiffel Tower would just about go underneath the centre span!

We drove across it and back, 6 euros 50 each way but it was worth it.  My only complaint was that the fact that it was designed by an Englishman was in VERY small print, but then we were in France.  Whilst we were away  George was reading '1000 years of annoying the French' by Stephen Clarke and maybe the Millau Bridge was  the last straw !
The weather was wonderful apart from one rain and thunder storm, and we were able to lie around the pool reading and George even did some swimming.   We visited lots of interesting markets, bought good, cheap wine and big, fat, fresh vegetables and we visited an English woman  doing patchwork and quilting holidays at her villa near St Antonin Noble Val - my friend had spotted an advertisement in one of the quilting magazines.  A very nice set up right in the middle of nowhere, there were about 12 women beavering away  - one from Paris, two from California and three from  Ashdon Quilters at Saffron Waldon! Of course we had friends in common - what a co-incidence!  http://www.horsdesbrumes.com/.  All the ladies said the food was wonderful....!

We were sitting in the 14th century market square in Caylus having a drink when we heard a sound above us - a cat had jumped out of the window onto the ledge and was happily sunning itself, not at all worried about the drop below him.  A very good vantage point.  I wonder if that is a bullet hole from the revolution behind him? 
OOOps, here is the Millau bridge out of sequence !
 The next village to Caylus is Septfonds, and the last time my friend Jenny was at her villa she went to an exhibition by the local patchwork group.  They were very friendly and asked her to visit their weekly class next time she was in France.  So on a Friday afternoon off we went - and what lovely ladies they were!   Madame the leader insisted on showing us all over her house, we met her charming  husband and her dog and saw all her work.  Everything in the house was made a la main.  My French is enthusiastic but lousy - I remember all the words but have a bad accent and rotten grammar - but I DO have a go, and often get myself into deep trouble by launching into a complicated conversation and then losing my way.  Resolve:   must go to French conversation classes.
Again there were about a dozen women sitting in a big room round a huge table, stitching away and all by hand.  There was a very nice young woman from America who had married a Frenchman and she was able to do a bit of translating.    We spent about an hour with them and had a cup of tea, it is amazing what warmth  and friendship comes arm in arm with textiles.  Thank you, lovely ladies of the Club Du Fil a L'aguille - les petites abeilles de Septfonds, for a really great afternoon! 

 Beyond Septfonds is the town of Causade - the berceau du chapeau de paille (cradle of straw hats) or in other words the Luton of France.  But very different!  A typical  market, a good shoe shop selling designer models very reasonably (yes!), and a hat museum.   Lots of very old hats lying around and on shelves, and the amazing thing was no one seemed to be there to stop you trying them on - so of course we did.  Very carefully, as  some of them might have been around during the revolution!  And no, I'm not showing you the photo because I don't look anything like Marie Antoinette. But just to prove I was there...

We had just had a particularly good lunch, so I don't know why George is looking so fierce !

On the way home we stopped overnight in a farm at Bourg Beaudouin near Rouen   - we stayed there three years ago and were charmed by the place and by the farmer's wife  Benedicte. fermeducoquetot@free.fr.    The house is full, and I do mean full, of stuff.  Decoupage, doilies, paintings, books, cheese labels, chickens in every shape and form, old farm and dairy utensils - even the radiators are painted.   I fell in love with this teapot at breakfast (note the cows on the tablecloth!)  this is the front......
 and this of course is the back!  French style in all it's glory, n'est ce pas?
Last time we stayed we ate dinner at the farm but this time it was not possible so we drove, on Madame's recommendatition , to Les Lions de Beauclerc in the utterly delightful village of Lyons la Foret.    Every building was strung around with flowers - this is the covered market -

 The meal at Les Lions was first class and at 20 euros a head not expensive, and  we were eating in a decor raffine et chaleureux !  It was dark when we left the restaurant, but I was amazed to see on the house opposite all these figurines on the OUTSIDE of the windowledges !  Amazing!  I have never seen the like before.  I hope they were stuck down.

Anyway, after a couple of glorious weeks away we came home to find a flooded conservatory, soaking wet patchwork quilts, cushions and armchair.  A big water stain on the lovely old rug.   Down to earth with a bang     Yukkkkk.    But........

The one ray of sunshine was this -

A Parcel !!!    A PIF from the lovely Gina (what exactly is a PIF ?)  Anyway I opened it up and there was one of Gina's delightful pincushion/boxes, some cards of her recent degree work AND some chocolate!  And wrapped in my favourite colour combination of pink and lime green - how did you know? What is a wet conservatory compared to that!
Thank you so much Gina and I understand that I now have to pass this on to three people, is that right? Well, of course, I don't have half or even a quarter as many followers as Gina but if anyone is interested in receiving a mystery parcel from me (and it is a mystery to me, too, at the moment!)let me know, shall we say by the end of October.  I can certainly do the chocolate bit!  I am really thrilled with my pincushion.

Anyway, no more holidays now this year, it is WORK.  House work, gardening and SEWING.  And that's a promise.  But not necessarily in that order.
                   And again out of sequence (I still do not seem to be able to master this thing) one last look at
                                                   Les petite abeilles de Septfonds

1 comment:

  1. It sounds as though you've had a lovely time. I'm glad you enjoyed your parcel!