Monday, April 28, 2014

A Flurry of Feasting

The first was with our friends from the Kiwanis. The evening started with a visit to a retired farmer who as a hobby decided to plant a wood and in this mixed wood he has planted the truffle oak. The tree has been inoculated with the truffle spores and you can tell if they have taken as there is a ring of bare earth around the tree. It was a lovely walk in the early evening sunshine and a really interesting insight into truffle growing. More about growing truffles here and about how you can even adopt a truffle tree here. We ended our visit with a stop at another of his hobbies - growing shitake mushrooms. In a patch of forest he has logs stacked up to house the mushrooms and apparently they grow in profusion. Someone asked him if he sold them to restaurants etc and he replied laconically that he put them in the freezer and gave them to family and neighbours - it's not all about money!

The bare earth shows the spores have taken and the ring will get bigger each year

He is training his dogs as truffle hunters and they gave us a demo

The shitake mushrooms grow on these log stacks 
The mushrooms tasted delicious
Our delightful, gentle and funny friend Jean Marc

Then off for aperos and the main feast. Jean Marc used to be the director of one of the local vineyards and as a bit of a gourmand he has kept alive an old tradition of eating the wild leeks , les baraganes, that grow amongst the vines. These days they are spoiled by pesticides but Jean Marc continues to encourage them amongst his own vines. They were gathered and cooked as part of a delicious meal.

Confréries are very active in France - brotherhoods business groups which were formed at the end of the Middle Ages as a manifestation of solidarity between equals. I suppose the Confrérie most people have heard of is the Masons. Here in the SW France at summer events you will often see members dressed in their grand robes and perhaps holding a ceremony to welcome a new member. At the Salon de Chocolat that we hold every year the Confrérie de Choclatiers invest a new member.

Jean Marc and Pierre felt that the gatherers and cookers of the baragan should have a confrérie and entertained us with a spoof ceremony, poking a little gentle fun at the ceremony of the confréries, to welcome three new members to their initial group of two. Their ceremonial robes consist of a black beret with the wild leeks attached and the new members received garlands of baragans interlaced with wild flowers. We look forward to next years ceremony and meal!

Jean Marc and Pierre the founder members
A new member  is welcomed into the group
The feasting continued with the annual Repas des Chasseurs - if you don't like meat give this one a miss! We have been regular attenders since we came here and enjoy the company and the food . It's a lot of meat and a lot of wine and a late evening so we needed a whole day to recover!

Our final feasting memory is the lovely lunch we had with friends and our daughter and her partner. The sun let us down but we were ten à table for a lovely meal cooked by Kevin with a bit of help from me and Ali -  a lovely atmosphere and a very happy easter Sunday.

A la prochaine.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Birthday, Bikes and Bargains

This spring's UK trip coincided with two big events - my granddaughter's 5th birthday and my son's Revolution event at the London velodrome. I was thrilled to be there for both occasions.


The actual birthday was a school day but Bethany chose the venue for tea at a restaurant. Imagine the faces if the adults when she chose McDonalds! It was as gruesome as we imagined and will always be remembered for the ice cream fiasco - first three ordered had strange bits in them so were replaced by ordinary cones. Sadly B's ice cream dropped off the cone to the floor  after only one lick so Daddy had to get ice cream number 7! I was very jealous of the pink shoes - I had longed for similar shoes when I was young but it wasn't to be.

My Little Pony - just what she wanted
Dress up shoes and McDonalds
Birthday morning - presents and cards on the table
Charlie helped her open them
Her best friend came to have birthday tea with us
New pink wellies
Exploring her new craft box with Mummy

The birthday cake was a second appearance for Ball Gown Barbie at the special request of the birthday girl. My daughter -in-law has this cake well and truly mastered. I especially like the cake stored next to the wine in the fridge.

The creation of the Ball Gown Barbie  came and a very excited birthday girl

The birthday party itself was mostly run by the amazing Gilbert Giggles - the children had a great time and so did the adults (with a bit of help from that chilled wine!)

B enjoying the parachute games with her best friend - those are Gilbert Giggles' knickers on the TV not Granny's!


Time for tea

The finished cake


I was so pleased to be able to attend the final of the Revolution series organised by my son which was held in the Lee Valley velodrome - the first event there since the Olympics.  We got to see the stars (check out Bethany and her cousins getting Laura Trott's autograph), eat great food (we were in the VIP enclosure after all), meet up with family and friends and see some amazing cycling.

B and Charlie dressed for the event in their Sky kit
 James in work mode
Getting Laura Trott's autograph
Telling the wife how it's going
The boss is needed
Sanding down between events
Old friends
Chris Hoy being interviewed
He may be the boss but he's our daddy first
The journey home with B being a bit squashed in the taxi

One of the things that impresses me most about the Revolution event is the support for young cyclists that it affords. Chris Hoy is the official sponsor for this innovative event.  Face partnership continue to run the London Nocturne in June and are preparing a new event in October called Park our ride for BMX cyclists and of course the Revolution series will be back in the autumn. You can check out all the events here

I am a very proud Mum!


After all that excitement I was to spend a relaxing few days with my daughter and her wife. First I went up to White City to have coffee with her at The BBC where she is currently working.  I left my case with her and shopped till I dropped at the nearby Westfield complex. I needed the rest more than ever after all that.

The girls were running in Brighton on my departure day so were able to leave me at the airport - I'd had a lovely time.

Alison is running very day after work during Lent - a bit nippy this night check out the rosy knees
Ready for the Brighton run - thanks for a lovely visit girls.