Saturday, 16 July 2016

Light and Dark

Hello dear Peeps. I am happy to have your company - thank you for dropping by.

Like much of the world, we are in a subdued mood here in Dormouse Towers: with the turmoil and instability in the world at the moment I find it difficult to be optimistic. The events in Nice, the  effects of Brexit, the failed coup in Turkey...these are just the big events that are going on. Around the world there are other less "news worthy" events happening. When searching for information to add into my post over at The Teapot I came across a site listing all the terrorist attacks that have occurred this year. It is truly shocking. Many of them we never hear about on the global news, but every day in several countries there are attacks, and deaths. For example, on just one day, 12th July, there were 6 different attacks, in Iraq, Saudi Arabia,  and Nigeria resulting in the deaths of 59 people. This is our world.

We feel hopeless and useless - at least, I know I do, - but I suppose all we can do is resolutely continue to live our lives normally, and try to bring light and love into this world of darkness.

So in the face of fear, and pain and evil I can only pray that I will be one who can bring light, love and compassion to the world. Hold your loved ones a little closer and appreciate them today, for there are many who can no longer do that.

So now, a couple of cute LOLcats to bring some fluffy loveliness to your heart

And on with the mundanity of life here in a small village in France...

The planned hog roast was a bit of a disaster - Mr FD thought it was an all-afternoon event, so we turned up at 6.00 to find it had closed down! So we had Friday's planned sausage, aligot and green beans on Thursday, while watching "What We Did on our Holiday" - a really amusing film. Great fun, and well recommended

It has David Tennant in too, which is a bonus!

On Friday we had the meal I'd planned for Wednesday, as on Wednesday we'd had the impulse buy of spare ribs.

TODAY: Friend Cathy and I are going to see a Sting tribute this evening, so we thought we'd make an evening and have a pizza out. Mr FD is going to cook himself liver and bacon. Yeeuch.

SUNDAY: Cottage pie - not made from a recipe. Just mince-y mixture with mashed potato on top.

I'm not quite following this recipe, as the one I have uses peanut butter - which has made Mr FD happy. VERY happy...He has a penchant for crispbread with peanut butter and cheddar. A friend at church gave me a huge block of cheddar from their trip to the UK, so Mr FD is having slabs of the stuff on peanut butter. I am trying to be more restrained, as cheese-eating needs to be reduced on my cholesterol-busting regime. TBH, it's hardly "busting" any cholesterol, but I am making an effort to restrict myself to one helping of "baked goods" a day, and my lunchtime sandwich fillings have changed to less processed meat and cheese.

TUESDAY: The rest of the cottage pie.

WEDNESDAY: Mexican bean burgers, salad, potato wedges

THURSDAY, FRIDAY, SATURDAY - no idea! We're going away on a little break! We have tickets to see David Gilmour in the arena at Nimes, so we are staying with a friend on Thursday night, and then in a B&B near Aix en Provence on Friday and Saturday nights.

We want to have lunch here

on Thursday. We've eaten here before and it is very good. It will give us the opportunity to buy a little something for Isabelle to say "Thank You" for putting us up too. They sell lots of delicious things to eat and drink.

We may also slip a little something into the basket for ourselves. We love their balsamic vinegar and fig salad dressing!

Other than that we don't know where or what we'll be eating, but I'm sure we'll find nice places! 

Thank you once again for your comments.

CAROLE R - definitely Lyon for food! And there are lots of places serving fish. In fact quenelles de brochet (pike quenelles) are a speciality of Lyon. My MiL doersn't eat meat and she has always eaten well in Lyon. One of our favourite places to go with her is Le Sud which is right near the centre of the city. Let me know if you decide to go - I can give you other recommendations too.

SWEET THINGS CREATE: Thank you too for your comment! I always wonder what to do with things I create - I try to give them away mostly - but it's comforting to know others have the same problem!!

I hope you all have a good week, full of light and love and peace. Take care, and I'll try to post sometime soon after our break away. 

Sunday, 10 July 2016


It's the evening of the Euro Football Competition final - Portugal vs France. We are in for a not-so-quiet night, I fear. When Portugal won their semi-final there were some Portuguese fans who drove their car through the village several times hooting their horn. At 11 o'clock at night we weren't amused; even less so at 11.30. So there are obviously some Portuguese fans around.

There is already quite a lot of noise (whistles, horns, singing) emanating from the bar across the square, as they gear up to watch the match. If France wins, I don't think there is much doubt that there will be some noisy celebrations going on deep into the night. Windows closed (in 30° heat!) and earplugs in!!

Today we had our Fete du Coeur du Village - there weren't too many people there that we knew - we'd hoped our friends Monique & Michel would be there, but they weren't -  but it was good to be involved. I forgot to take my camera so no photos. Apèros started at 12.30 and at 2.30 were still going on! I was preaching in Clermont at the evening service, so couldn't drink much: one glass of rosé-grignotte and that was it. My drink was water bright. There were lots of nibbles - cheese squares, savoury cake with ham and olives (here's a recipe in French), grattons (pork scratchings), crisps, saucisson etc etc.

We were a bit shy, but spoke to Mi-Jo who is the mum of one of our friends, and to Dominique who organised the event. Then the baker, André, started to talk to us too, which was nice. We discussed the referendum (of course!) and learning languages, and travel. When we sat down to eat we ended up at the "young people's" end, so there was a lot of drunken shoutiness going on, which meant we really didn't understand very much of what was being said! Still, it was nice to be included.

Lunch was quiche, cold meat, salad - with yet more wine flowing! - then cheese, and then pate de pommes (a sort of apple pie) and my Banoffi pie. I was worried about whether people would like it, but it was quite popular - one guy had three helpings! André (the baker/ patissier) thought it was good, but a bit too sweet - I agree. I don't actually like it as it's too rich and sweet for my taste. Perhaps making the toffee with unsweetened condensed milk would be better. I use chocolate digestives in the base, so maybe plain ones would cut down on the sweetness too. Anyway, we left before anyone else, at 3.30, to get a shower before I drove down to Clermont...I got back at 8.00 and there were still quite a lot of the people still drinking, and chatting (and possibly eating too!)

Everything has gone quiet. I assume the match has started.

Food is only half planned for this week...
TOMORROW (MONDAY) - pasta with aubergine sauce

TUESDAY: Salmon with salsa verde, rice and green salad

WEDNESDAY: Not sure as we had Wednesday's dinner on Saturday. Maybe Saturday's dinner (Mushroom curry) but maybe something else. Mushroom risotto is a possibility. If the mushrooms have lasted. If they're looking dodgy we may have this on Monday.

THURSDAY: It's bank holiday in France, and our friends who run a restaurant are having a hog roast

Here's a picture taken at another of their méchoui

We are thinking we might go to support them. It's a bit pricey, (15€)  but we haven't been out for quite a while, and that covers the main course, cheese and dessert. So it's not TOO bad.

FRIDAY: No idea. I'll decide before I go shopping on Wednesday.

Some singing and whistling, but no loud cheer. I'm guessing there is still no score.

I've spent quite a lot of the weekend zentangling - completing a dolphin and another fairy, and working on a celtic knot pattern too, although that is turning out a bit messy. Work tomorrow - two lessons - and Tuesday - 4 lessons- so it keeps ticking over. Mr FD is enjoying his work, after a shakey start, although the getting up early is taking it out of him a bit! He is doing stuff that he's asked for and seemingly impressing people. It's sad that there is unlikely to be a permanent position at the end of it, as he has been hired to complete a specific project.

Thank you, as always for your lovely comments...


CAROLE - we enjoyed watching "The Disappearance" too, particularly as it was set in Lyon, which isn't far. Lyon is a lovely city, and I think the series showed quite a lot of good views. I think it would be a great place for a mini-break. We went there with my mum, my brother and sister a couple of years ago. You can read about it here at The Teapot

POMPOM Did your Crazy Cat Lady Starter kit arrive? I thought you might like this:

KEZZIE: I'm glad you like the Zentangle. I hope your mum does too.

MICHELLE: Thank you for your kind comment. I'm not sure about taklented, but certainly getting better!!

NATASHA: If you make the felafel burgers do let me know if you enjoyed them. Happy to help over the Grebes.

Here's a great photo of two waving weed at each other.

Well...It's half time and there's no score yet, but there's still another 45 minutes to go. Who knows what will happen!  Lord, if it goes into extra time the cheers will start even later!! Hey ho.

I hope everyone has a good week, whatever you are doing. I look forward to catching up on your blogs and finding out what you've been up to.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Food is essential to Life...Therefore make it good.

Hello Dear Peeps! I hope you are all well. I am feeling slightly less glum than I did in my last post. I invited Friend Cathy over that evening, and we sat on the balcony, drinking wine and making plans...

So this coming week we are going out for lunch and a walk - maybe a picnic would be fun! The week after we are going over to Lyon to visit the Apple store (for Cathy), the other Cat Café (for me), and to have lunch. Maybe do a bit of shopping, now Mr FD is earning  - though not too much shopping as my tax bill in August will be quite high, and I need to put the money aside now. I usually do it regularly, but last month saw a bit of a cashflow problem so I had to empty my Livret A account to bail us out. I therefore need to refill it to meet the tax requirements next month. 

We also have our Fete du Coin "Coeur de la Village" next weekend. In France there is something called La Fete des Voisins, - Festival of Neighbours, the idea being that you get together with your neighbours for an apero, for a street party, for a meal...whatever. Here is a link to the Wikipedia article (in French).

The official date was in May, but someone on the Council has arranged for the Fete for our neighbourhood ("Heart of the Village") to be next Sunday. We have signed up for it, and I'm taking a Banoffi Pie. Let's hope I don't have the same experience as I had last time I made one (I'll just say "caramel on the kitchen ceiling". You can imagine the scenario!) 

 I have also been zentangling more - yesterday saw me glued to my zentangle pens. I completed a couple which I will show you when my camera battery is charged! One is a fairy, one is a Mandala. See here at The Teapot. I'm thinking I may have a stall at the St Just Christmas market, so I'll need to build up stock of subjects that might sell. I have also recently finished a commission...I hope the purchaser likes it

It's harder doing something as a commission for someone, rather than just doing something because you want to do it! 

I made a yummy cake a couple of weeks back - Nigel Slater's Marmalade Cake.
Instead of the frosting, I melted more marmalade with some orange juice, made holes all over the top of the cake & poured the glaze over. Lush and sticky! 

So, food this week...

YESTERDAY: A version of Sticky Apricot Skewers I didn't make skewers, I added more veggies (onion, leek, mushrooms, peppers) and we had it with rice and (home grown) salad leaves.

TODAY: Slow cooker pulled pork, with sweet potatoe wedges and coleslaw, and salad. I use Frugal Queen's recipe as a base but then changed it. I used some pulled pork spices (not good used by themselves, but good in a mixture), honey, barbecue sauce, sweet chilli sauce, worcester sauce, and balsamic vinegar. So nothing like FQ's recipe in the end!!

MONDAY: It was going to be Rainbow Bulghar Wheat salad BUT the pack of peppers that I bought had gone wet and mouldy, meaning I only had enough for yesterday's dinner. I think I'll have time tomorrow to pop out to get some more peppers. If not I will be improvising with bacon, feta and mushrooms - probably with pasta.

TUESDAY: Coconut-chilli salmon with noodles & leeks. Miam-miam!

WEDNESDAY: Falafel burgers  (the recipe is good; you may find the blog post that goes with it a bit near the knuckle) with pita bread/ flat bread & salad.

THURSDAY: Pulled pork (from the freezer from Sunday) with rolls and salad

FRIDAY: Vegetarian stuffed peppers - no recipe, but using rice, courgette, mushroom paté left over from Christmas that needs eating, and feta as the filling.

SATURDAY: Mushroom curry 

(I've ordered one for PomPom...It should arrive next Tuesday!)

and Thank You for your comments, which are always appreciated!

POMPOM - glad you liked the Kitten picture. And you're right, the red tape is frustrating! And I haven't told you about my worst experience of "sympathetic (not!) customer service". But I met the Driving License guy who was really laid back and helpful, and my application is in the system.

KEZZIE - the DVLA documents didn't get here in time - but the guy was happy to accept a fax copy, & no official translation (Grr! That's 50€ down the drain) which meant  all was okay.

CATHY DANIEL - thank you for popping in! Don't worry about taking a while...Life does have a habit of Getting In The Way...

MAGGIE - Lucky you having a bi-lingual electrician! I sometimes wish I could employ someone to just follow me round and help me deal with all the French I don't understand! Mind you, I think I am improving... I watched this video about a local artist and I actually understood it. ALL of it!

by Nicolas Decoussy

 So there's a round up of this week's news. I hope to see you back again sometime soon! Have a lovely week, dear friends

Friday, 1 July 2016

Cycle Club Voyage to Semur en Auxois

Goodness me! I'm feeling glum today. I think it's because I'm rather regretting my decision not to work in the UK this year, and I know that today is the day when everyone will be gathering at Lines to start preparing for the weeks ahead. I hope I will be able to find a way to stop mulling over "what might have been" and enjoy the time I have here over the summer. I should plan a trip or visit each week I think, to look forward to, and try to find other stuff to do too. I've got students every Monday and Tuesday through July, so that will keep me busy, but I should do other things too. Any ideas, anyone?

I'm sorry I haven't blogged for a while - almost two weeks: Bad Dormouse! TBH after the (what I consider to be disastrous) referendum I wasn't really in the mood. But we had the Cycle Club Voyage to look forward to on the Friday, so we didn't have much time to mull over the results. Let me tell you what we did...

We left here at 7.30 am to drive to the VVF holiday village in Semur-en-Auxois in Burgundy. We took Brigitte and Yves, and stopped in Givry for coffee on the way up.

Givry is a pretty town - not that we explored much of it - but here is one view of what I think was the old market:

We arrived in time for lunch, which was a seafood salad, followed by hoki in a cream sauce, with rice. There was a red fruit pannacotta for dessert. After this, the cyclists gathered ready for a ride:

Mr FD hadn't been sure that he would ride, as he  was greatly out of practise after his broken rib. He'd only cycled once in three weeks. In fact he nearly didn't take his bike! But he did, and here he is (far right) checking his odometer, ready for the off. He did 68 km on this afternoon's ride, and kept up with no problems.

Some of the hangers-on went for a long walk, but the others (including me) visited L'Abbaye de Fontenay.  (Site in English, with some beautiful photographs) Here are some less beautiful photographs taken by Yours Truly.

This is the gatehouse:

There was some beautiful, deceptively simple stained glass:

 This next one would make a great zentangle pattern if I could deconstruct it:

A view of the Abbey church from the cloisters:

The monks had built themselves a forge, and this became their "claim to fame":

The Abbey is now privately owned and the owner lives in a rather splendid building in the grounds. She is, apparently, 94 and was out for a walk with her dog, a rather charming labrador who came gambolling up to our tour group to show us his favourite toy:

As we left there were some rumbles of thunder, and we feared the cyclists might get wetr, but they all escaped a drowning. Unlike the walkers who got drenched!

 Dinner that evening was something I can't remember, followed by chicken in a spiced sauce, with pasta and courgette gratin. There was cheese  - and some disgruntled grumbling that we came all this way to Burgundy to be served a local cheese from home (St Nectaire) instead of the local Epoisse cheese. Dessert was a raspberry Vacherin:

After dinner Mr Fd and I went back to our little appartment to listen to Kermode & Mayo's podcast. We missed most of it as we both fell asleep!


It was pissing down with rain, and while the intrepid walkers went out, the cyclists did not. Instead we went to Alésia. From its site:
Alesia is where, in 52 BC, the famous confrontation took place between Julius Caesar’s Roman army and the Gallic tribes led by Vercingetorix.

The summer is drawing to a close and it’s already been six years since Caesar conquered the Gallic territories (the Gallic Wars). Vercingetorix, heading up the Gallic coalition, is trying to halt the advance of the Roman general. After an attack to no avail, Vercingetorix seeks refuge in the oppidum of Alesia, the stronghold of the Mandubii people. The Romans pursue them and launch the siege of the stronghold. They set up their camps on the hillsides around and build two fortification lines with ramparts, towers and traps. The first fortification line, 15 kilometres long, surrounds the oppidum, making it impossible for the Gauls to leave. The second one, 21 kilometres long, protects the Roman camps from the imminent arrival of an immense Gallic relief force. After a long wait, battle is eventually waged on the plain. The Romans are caught between two lines of fire. Projectiles rain down from their war machines and Caesar calls on his legionaries and auxiliary forces, archers, slingers and German cavalry– who deliver the final victory into his hands. Vercingetorix is taken prisoner and carted off to Rome. A year later, in 51 BC, the Gallic War is over, and the Gauls set to become Gallo-Romans.

I thought that the plateau of Gergovie (where I had been the Sunday before) was the site of Vertingetorix's last stand, but no, that was where he'd routed the Roman army. 

It was a really interesting site, and the Visitor's Centre was well done. It was a shame that due to the rain we couldn't go to the outdoor part (and also because we had to get back for lunch. Mr Fd was a bit pissed off about that) but I would recommend it as a visitor destination if you are in the area.

 We had a picnic lunch planned - again very well organised by the village. After breakfast we had all gone to a big room where lots of different things were laid out - meat, cheese, salad, bread, crisps etc. We were given a little isothermic bag and picked what we wanted to have in our picnic. Due to the rain we all took our bags into the dining room and ate them there!

After lunch, I left Mr FD in the room, saying he'd watch the football. But as it was, the sun came out and after I'd left, he decided to go out with the cyclists after all. I went out with a small group to Le Maison de Pays - a craft/food/wine shop with local produce.

It was a bit bizarre that, because I had the GPS, and had been in the lead car, I was expecyted to be Group Leader. We arrived in Pouilly, not quite knowing where the place was, and
"What shall we do?" I was asked. After finding it, and shopping, everyone turned to me and said "What are we doing now?"

Well, I decided that we should then go for a walk along the canal at Pouilly-en-Auxois.

As you can see, the sun was shining for us! It was very lovely and green. 
After this I wanted to go to the local biscuit & cake factory shop. The others thought I was a bit mad, I think, but as I was Group Leader, they had to obey me! (Oh the power!!!) They soon changed their tune when they saw the boxes of cakes on bargain offer!

Yes. I did buy some! We got back quite late, but were concerned that no cyclists had arrived. We waited for about half an hour in the bar, before Mr FD whizzed past us. In fact he was the first home, having got a bit fed up of the endless discussions about which way to go (this is a bit of a habit of this group!) Finally he pointed them in the right direction and set off!! He beat the rest back by about 15minutes.

Dinner was escargot vol-au-vents, chicken legs and duchesse potatoes, with more (yummy) courgette gratin, cheese (with Epoisse this time!!) and something ice cream-y for dessert. 

Most people went to Semur after dinner, but Mr FD and I stayed behind and we went for a stroll in the gloaming. We didn't make it down to the lake as it was getting a bit gloomy and I didn't want to fall over coming back up through the woods. 

SUNDAY: Mr FD and I went to Semur - I forgot to take my camera out of the car! Here arte some pictures from t'Interweb:

Then we drove to Epoisse - to buy some cheese! Here's a photo of the chateau walls first though:

When we got back it was time for lunch - paté Forestiere, beef cheek (delicious!!), and chocolate pudding. As I don't like chocolate pudding, I had an orange. Then we all said our Goodbyes to each other and set off for home. We paused in Villefranche for a quick coffee and were home by about half past five. It had been a lovely three days away.