Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The old ways are the best!

When it comes to building renovation in France it's best to stick to the old building techniques. Due to fashion and cost many traditional old stone built houses were rendered with cement and then painted. This can look OK but it has a downside, where the old stone walls would let any humidity escape through the lime mortar, the cement seals in this humidity (dampness) with the consequence that many of the old houses can be rather humid especially if there is no ventilation. We are busy renovation the rear wall of the house and barn and determined to use traditional methods - lime and sand mortar!

After more than 50 hours chipping off the old covering, cleaning out the joints and washing each area carefully we are now at a point where all the hard work is bringing results.

Dust masks, ear defenders and gloves required - its hard work removing the cement covering and mortar.

As you can see the wall is a mess  

For this work its better to find an old 'artisan' who fills the stones with a lime mix just like the old days!

50% complete and looking better already
The rear house wall completed in 2012.


Tuesday, 10 September 2013

A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum

......and it wasn't anything to do with Frankie Howerd!

Chatillon has about 75 Associations, and this year it held it's 5th Forum of Associations. Each association is invited to put up a stand in the local gymnasium and the local populace comes along to see what is on offer and perhaps sign up to join one of them. As we aren't here in the winter which is when many of the groups meet, we didn't want to join any, but we had been told about a walk taking place in the morning which was leaving from the very same gym (Monique, our neighbour, is a great one for the local Randonees). We thought this might be a good way to start a Sunday, so we went along. Monique also told us about a lunch which would be available, so we duly paid our money and booked the 10 euro lunch.
We set off on an 8K walk, with a refreshment stop about half way.
Very nice refreshments provided by a local family

The walk took about 2 hours, and we returned to find the Forum in full flow. We walked around as we know so many people and wanted to say hello  (the French are very particular about greeting anyone they know). The little Majorettes entertained everyone with a display of baton twirling and pompom shaking - I just wish they weren't so serious, but I am told they are all concentrating really hard, and smiling doesn't help them do that!
We were invited outside where we were serenaded by the local wind orchestra, one of whom was our friend Carole
Carole is the one in the green
Then, there was a 'vin d'honneur' provided by the town, so of course we joined in!
Our four course lunch was nearly ready, so we joined the queue. John had ordered Andouillette while I was playing safe with chicken stuffed with mushrooms.
The lunch was very popular, judging by the packed seating.

We finally left the Forum at 2pm and went home for a siesta!
(We were off later to Saint Hippolyte for the Fete de l'entrecote - see yesterday's blog)

Monday, 9 September 2013

Moulin Rouge comes to Saint-Hippolyte

I know this is a strange title, but it's true!

Yesterday (Sunday) was the Fete de l'entrecote in Saint Hippolyte. This is an annual event, but one we haven't been to before. We had quite a busy day (more in another blog) so decided to go in the evening. We walked around the stalls, many of whom were packing up, but there was still the entertainment which continued throughout the evening (and into the night, but we didn't stay too late).
One of the acts was performing songs from American shows and had costumes to go with them!
It gets even better!

First there was the music (you know - the sort that builds to a crescendo!) Then 6 long-limbed young ladies poured from the back of the stage. John couldn't believe his luck - this next picture shows just how lucky he got!!
I know it's a bit out of focus - but you can hardly blame him!
He even managed to get some of it on video - stand by:

I suppose Saint-Hippolyte returned to it's normal sleepy self this morning - it'll take a year for it to recover from all the excitement!

Wine tasting

In August we went to Montrichard for their 'Estivals' which was a wine tasting event for vignerons in the area.  It's useful attending these type of events as it brings lots of producers together allowing for comparative tastings. There was a sample lunch provided by one of the local hotels - all in all a very enjoyable day.

There was a further tasting week-end recently at the Domaine de Navas in Villeloin-Coulange which is a small village about 20 minutes from us. Here though, were wine producers from further afield: Saint-Emilion, Chinon, Vouvray, Anjou, Beaujolais and Champagne, as well as our favourite Sauvignon producer, Patrick Leger. Here they were offering a full lunch, so we decided to call on Sunday after a visit to the Amboise Sunday market.
The situation is lovely - not a wine domaine, but the setting for weddings. There is a lovely Manor house, Chapel, function rooms and a gite.
The lovely chapel is on the left

Discussing the merits of the Chinon
We enjoyed an aperitif of Champagne followed by a very nice lunch outside in the sunshine - then went home to sleep it off!