OK, I know that this is the first real entry for the month, but we have had visitors and not too much time to sit and enter things on the site. So now I am hoping to catch it all up in one go today.
April 3rd Sunday evening.
Phil and Shelagh, our neighbours from Inverness were arriving for their two week holiday and we had offered to feed them, after their long drive. They were due around 7.30 p.m. so we had agreed to put something in the crockpot so that it just didn't matter if they were held up. So as they managed to knock on our door at around 8 o'clock we were able to pour the wine and put the spuds on to boil. An enjoyable evening.
April 5th, around lunchtime.
Margaret and Norman arrived at Bergerac airport about 50 minutes late. Apparantly Flybe, their pull along aircraft out of Southampton had been delayed due to some technical fault. Never mind, we were all able to sit out in the sun and enjoy cheese and wine as a late lunch.
A drive around for our guests. As Joan is still having to sit around with her leg up and ice packs, I took Margaret and Norman out and about in the area. We first went down to Eymet and walked around the old Bastide town, to allow them to get a feel of the place. There are some really lovely, well maintained properties in the strrets around the centre. We followed this with a cup of coffee in the Kismet cafe, which is owned by our friends, Kim and Paul.
From there we went on to Duras and as we arrived around lunchtime we just had to sit out in the square, in the sunshine and enjoy some cheese and ham with something to wash it down. After lunch we went around the old chateaux, which Duras is famous for. This chateaux is an 18th century country seat of the Dukes of Duras. The original was built in 12the century, transformed into a fortress in the 14th century. The Lords of Duras became Dukes in the late 17th century and set about converting this building in to their country seat. The castle was partially destroyed and looted during the Revolution and then finally bought by the villagers in the 1960s and subsequently restored to its present state.
The views from the tower and the magnificent wooden roof are something worth seeing. There are some thirty rooms, many of which have managed to retain some of their architectural splendour. Well worth the visit.
Lovely sunny day again today so we all four went to Bergerac to show our visitors around the old town and to take a boat trip. Whilst I was walking around some of the squares and looking at some of the really old restored properties around this lovely place, we parked Joan in the sun with a cup of coffee. Just after 2.30, when things start working again here in France, we boarded this old replica flat bottomend barge for a trip along the river. Years ago this used to be a very busy waterway but these days is no longer navigable along its length. Apparantly if you drive further down river, in the direction of Perigeaux there are much more scenic trips to be taken, so maybe sometime we will give this a go in the near future.
In the evening we went out to a restaurant near here, called "Famille Moutier". This is a renowned restaurant were they serve traditional style food and lots of it. The meal is a in fact a set meal with each course being served with a different wine.
We started with an aperitif of sweet white wine with casis, served with some small tartlets. This was followed by a terrien of duck and other things we could not identify, but were delicious, this time served with a light red wine. We then had a dish of salad served with slices of duck breast, duck thigh and what we thouight were wild mushrooms, but which turned out to be duck gizzard, this served with a new white wine. For those who want to know, the duck gizzard was in fact very tasty and we had eaten most of it before we found out what it was. The main course was a choice betwen duck breast and lamb chop served with fried potatoes and this came with two bottles, a 2008 and a 2009 red from the same vineyard. By this time we had really enjoyed all that we had had when the cheesboard turned up. A lazy susan with 15 different cheeses and a new bottle of red. The picture below tells the story shows all the bottles and then the final, a creme brulle with a huge chocolate fan and this was followed by a chjoice out of 12 different liqeuers and of course the ultimate coffee..You really need a dedicated driver for this meal, but I had taken things easy and it was luckily only 3 miles down the road.
Today was the day when Joan had a scan booked at a hospital in Bordeaux. The booking was for 8.40 in the evening, which seemed a bit strange, but then we are still finding out about tha ways of things here.
Because of this and the lovely sunny day again, we decided that the time was best spent around home and anyway Norman wanted to have a go on my ride on mower. In the afternoon we got the new BBQ working which was very succesful, especially with two male experts in the skills of the BBQ, We were quite lucky that we had decided to do this in the afternoon, because we receieved a phone call around 5 p.m. asking us to be at the hospital for 7 o'clock. This was a real bonus as it meant Joan and I could leave the others to clear up, as it is close to a 75 minute drive to Bordeaux.
I guess we were in the hospital for a total of 2 hours but came away with all the MRI scan results ready for Joan to visit her specialist. Unfortunately she cannot get an appointment before 9th May as this specialist is on holiday until after the Easter. Probably he has young children, off school during this period, so we will just have to be patient for a little longer, but at least we have all the information ready for him to decide what the next step should be. Also the swelling has reduced a little now and Joan is a little more active than she was, it still hurts if she over does it, but I think that the arm crutch that she has borrowed has helped a lot.
For the evening, Joan and I had booked in to The Calibri restaurant, near Duras, as they had one of their special jazz evenings. The food is always good on these occasions and and the jazz group was a different one to the last time we went there, but the music was excellent. Another enjoyable evening all round.
Today we took our visitors over to Issigeac to a Sunday market. This market is one of the best in the area and always very popular with tourists as well as locals. They have a lot of very fresh veg as well as many stalls of souvenir stuff, leather goods and basket ware. We also watched them cooking hams over an open fire ready for what was to be a local village feast after the market closed. If we had known about this we could have booked a table, but experience tells us that you definitely need a dedicated driver for these occasions.
We actually bought a chicken off the regular man who has his mobile unit at this market, some nice fresh vegetables so that we had a nice easy evening meal.. after leaving the market we drove around to our old area and to show Margaret and Norman the farmhouse that we originally rented and a couple of the nearby villages. There was a "Brocante" market in Castilliones so we spent a little time looking at the old stuff for sale around here.
From there we went around to Stewart and Barbara's house in Eymet, had coffee and a chat there before taking our chicken home for the evening.
Today the weather went slightly down hill, so as Joan and I are planning to try to buy a gazebo to put on the lawn area, so that we can park a table and chairs underneath for Al Fresco dining. So we took them around the area in Bergerac were we had glimpsed a couple of shops selling these things at varying prices. We spent a considerable time in Jardinland, which is a huge garden centre. Margagret enjoyed this part of the visit. They had lots of plants and shrubs which we are going to need for the garden but their choice of gazebos was limited, unless you wanted to pay around £500 for one. One or two of the other large stores had some nice ones at sensible prices, so Joan and I decided that we had seen something we liked but resolved to visit Marmande on Thursday and see what is there.
Margaret and Norman's last day with us this trip and we had planned to take them out to La Camelia restaurant in Auriac-sur-Drop, were they do one of these regular lunch menus for 12.50 euros per person. We had arranged to meet Stewart and Barbara there also as it is one of their favourite places to eat.
I guess they were quite amazed at the quantity of food and wine, as well as the quality, that you can get for this amount of euros. The end result of this lunch is always the same, a quiet snooze in the sun when you get home.
We needed to be out at the airport by 1200 hours today so I did the full English all round before leaving and then made a stop at one of our favourite .shops so that they could buy some cheese to pop into the case and enjoy some of the French quality when they get back home.
Altogether a very pleasant week with some friends whom we have known since our early Cyprus days. I guess they enjoyed it too and we hope that we will see them again over here, especially when Joan is a little more fit and able to get about more.
I know this is the day I started to catch up on the site, but just had to put these pics on the site, because typically, the farmer let the cows out on the first morning after Margaret and Norman went home.
Joan and I also went back to Jardinland and bought some Ollianda shrubs to put into the border between us and the adjoining garden. Might take a while before they reach the top of the fencing but should look nice when they do make ti that far. It is our intention to put many more shrubs around the boundary areas and not get too involved with too many plants and flowers that need constant watering.
Stewart and Barbara came round at lunchtime, with their daughter Penny and her partner Colin. Stewart and Barbara are off to Cyprus on Tuesday and we had arranged a deal with an exchange of money between euros and lira, a saving on exchange conversions. We all sat around in the sun, enjoying a couple of beers, it will be interesting to hear what they think of their Cyprus trip when they get back.
Since Margaret and Norman went back to UK we have been very quiet here. The weather has been glorious so we have taken advantage and done some more gardening work.Joan has been managing to hobble round and do a bit as she is getting quite fed up just sitting round and waiting for the specialist to come back off holiday.
We had decided to try a restaurant near here called "Le Jardin" this evening as we had seen it when visiting the doctors and had heard good reports. However we were slightly delayed getting ready as one of the cows in the field behind decided it was time to have her calf.. This was something else to watch and you can see from the three pics below that from the moment the calf was born, and was first seen lying in the grass to staggering up and then with a little help from mum, remaining on all four legs, the time was only 30 minutes. Quite amazing really and we feel sure that tomorrow morning she will be running around and playing with other calves in the field.
Incidently, after all this excitment we can say that the restaurant was all it was supposed to be, so we shall be visiting again. In fact they have put on a special Sunday lunch on 1st May of roast beef and yorkshire pud, so we booked for that.
We managed to get into Begerac today and get some fresh salmon, so the traditional Good Friday meal of salmon with parsley sauce etc. was enjoyable. We also went into the DIY shop and bought some edging stones for the pathway outside the front here, so that will keep me busy shortly.
As it is the Easter weekend we thought, lets go in to St Foy market and see if there is anything special happening there. Good idea but for two things. Firstly it started raing shortly after we arrived and secondly, this idiot discovered that he had left his wallet at home so we were not even able to dive into a coffee shop out of the rain. Oh well, can't get it right all the time, but now and again would be good.
Oh boy, did we have a thunder storm and a half this evening. It started about 7.30 in the evening and was still banging around when we went to bed at 11 o'clock. Rain like the genuine stair rods and the whole sky lit up at regular intervals. The TV signal went off from the satellite but we backed up with a DVD that we hadn't yet watched. On the positive side, I wont have to wtaer the shrubs etc for a few days now.
THE BOYS ARE BACK.
Remember I mentioned the top up insurance for medical cover. Well we had a meeting with the bank today to discuss this. It appears that there are different levels that you can get . We opted for one that gives us complete medical cover, I suppose the equivalant of BUPA, but without the various maximum limits that you can claim. We have not covered ourselves for dentist and specs as we reckoned that we would just pay for any of this as and when. So the premium comes to 1,000 euros per annum, each and as I have to pay 25 euros every month for medication, we can discount this straight away. Lets see how it goes and at least we have the cover before Joan has to have any more treatment after May 9th.
We stayed in Eymet at lunch time and had dish of the day at Kismet, so no cooking tonight.
Joan and I had an invite to Steve and V's place for a BBQ this lunch time. We were joined by Stewart and Barbara and all had an excellent meal, cooked well by Steve.
On our way back Joan and I stopped off at a a Flower and Plant market that was being run today. We bought a couple of Lilac shrubs which we are assured will only grow to a maximum of 3 meters, but give lots of spread, so should be ideal along the back fence. The flower festival thing also had a lot of equipment on display, some was very expensive. They actually had a John Deere mower on display which was a slightly lesser powered version than the one we bought, with no grass catchers and at a cost 1,200 euros more than we paid. Definitely a good buy.
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