Tuesday 29 June 2010

X is for Xel-Ha on the Mexican Riviera Maya.

I really thought I would have to blame poor Mr Ben for eating my homework when it came to the letter X assignment for Mrs Matlock's Alphabe-Thurday class.
I hadn't a clue what to write about this week.
Then............a couple of days ago whilst sipping early morning tea in bed and chatting with DH we started to brainstorm words beginning with X.
Xanadu (bad film starring Olivia Newton John).
Xenophobe (what does that mean?).
Xylophone (We digressed a little here reminiscing about the small tinny metal xylophones we both had as small children growing up in 1950's England. Bashing on the brightly coloured metal strips with a wooden stick with a rubber tip, we were easily pleased! Mrs M has a great image of one of these on her post today.)
and then..............
my eyes fell on a framed photograph standing on a nearby chest of drawers, and bingo!
In 1998 we made the first of many very enjoyable trips to Cancun, Mexico and whilst there spent a day enjoying the delights of Xel-Ha, situated on the Mayan Riviera.
The official Xel-Ha website describes it perfectly:
Hidden 30 miles south of Playa del Carmen, 60 from Cancun, or 8 miles north of Tulum, is an inlet of heavenly design, a sanctuary of amazing biological wealth within the Riviera Maya, the scenario of Xel-Há, Natural Wonder.
Renowned as one of the most important Natural Wonders of Mexico, its rich underwater life and luscious jungle are complemented with unforgettable activities, world-class service, and an award-winning philosophy for its constant commitment to nature and social development.

You can spend hours just floating along in a rubber raft just like this happy couple did.

Mrs B wears a new canvas & straw hat and T shirt to combat the sun's heavy rays. As a non swimmer she also sports a fetching blue & black life jacket.
Despite appearances to the contrary Mr B is wearing swim shorts and did not "go commando" that day.

There are so many wonderful things to experience at Xel-Ha, colourful parrots and butterflies abound, you can go snorkling through the cenotes, swim with dolphins, shop, dine in super restaurants and listen to fabulous music provided by a strolling mariachi band.

Click on the link to see an excellent Xel-Ha YouTube video from JcVdude, and click on this link for dansobrino's YouTube video, the Mariachi Cobre band to get you in the mood before dancing over to Jenny's place to see plenty of Xciting blogs from around the world.

Potager update.

Red Wharf Bay, Anglesey, North Wales.
Home again after a wonderful trip to the UK to celebrate my big 60, with family and friends.
I was concerned that the heatwave, that both UK and France have been enjoying (?) whilst we were away, would have wreaked havoc in the potager, but (big sigh of relief) all was well.
My ex BFF, Kate, above, gave me this for my birthday!
Me & my new BFF toasting my health with a glass or two of Pol Roger Champagne. (Kate gave me that too, so maybe she can still be my BFF?)

My BFF #2, in situ in the potager.

Earlier this afternoon I dug up some potatoes for us to enjoy this evening, these are the first this year, also a salad/spring/scallion onion to enhance the potato salad that I'll be making.

Scarlet runner bean flowers.
Hopefully I'll get another good crop this year, it wouldn't be summer without these beans. Should there be a glut, they do freeze very well, or maybe I could find a runner bean soup recipe somewhere on line?
Perhaps not, when I blogged about my lettuce soup recipe not everyone who saw it was convinced, but I swear it's delicious!
à bien tôt

Saturday 26 June 2010

Graffiti? I don't think so??

Mr B and I were puzzled recently when unusual orange lettering appeared overnight, seemingly sprayed by a phantom graffitist, on to the tarmac surface of the lane leading to our home.
We had not observed any strangers in the vicinity nor alien beings what could it mean?

Further investigation uncovered more of the same lettering, in several other places, on the lanes around the village.
It's a mystery!

Watch this space for further developments.

Wednesday 23 June 2010

W stands for Wisteria.

Just four more weeks of Mrs Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday classes, then school's out for summer!
One of my garden favourites here at the Presbytère is this beautiful Wisteria.
I'm not sure how old it is, it was already in situ when we moved in almost 14 years ago.

Every year, sometimes twice a year, it produces these beautiful blossoms and perfumes the garden with it's delicate scent.

Quickly seguing into my favourite US TV show Desperate Housewives who all in live in Wisteria Lane.
Click here for a wikipedia rundown on the Lane, it's occupants and surprisingly how the Universal lot has been used in the past.
I was amazed to see how the same sets had been used in previous shows and who had lived there. I found it fascinating.

See you in class!

Sunday 20 June 2010

When life gives you lettuces??

I'm sure you've all heard the old saying:
"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!"?

Well, here at NL when the potager gives me way too many lettuces, I make lettuce soup.

Mine is a classic, but very simple recipe:
lettuce leaves (500g); 2 medium sized onions, chopped; 2 medium sized potatoes, diced.
butter (50g); full cream milk (900 ml, I know! but it's worth it for the great taste).
chicken or vegetable stock, either home made or from a cube (600ml), s & p.
I always add a good dash of Cavender's All Purpose Greek Seasoning for extra kick.
It's so quick and easy to make simply shred the lettuce, reserving some to garnish the bowls.
In a large saucepan, fry the lettuce, onion & potato in the butter for five minutes, being careful not to brown the ingredients.
Add the milk and stock, keep stirring and bring to the boil.
Cover and simmer for 2o - 25 minutes until the potatoes are soft.
Liquidise and return to the pan, and quickly bring the soup back up to temperature without boiling.
Serve in warm bowls, (add a cream swirl if you want more calories!) garnish with the reserved lettuce shreds and serve with warm crusty bread.Makes a delicious lunch; for 4 if they like it and 6 if they don't.
(thanks to Kate @ Serendipity for that great quote)

Wednesday 16 June 2010

V is for Vide Grenier

Alphabe-Thursday has come around again and this week Mrs Matlock's students are pondering the letter "V".
Here in France, V must mean "vide grenier", which when literally translated means "empty attic".
A Vide Grenier is a cross between a yard sale, a flea market or a car boot sale depending which country you live in!
Need a bike?
I bought this little item for 3 euros at the last vide grenier we went to.

At the moment it is residing in the downstairs loo but I'm not inspired by it there.

I get so jealous when I read about all the great thrifty items some of my blogger friends find at Goodwill or Estate sales.
Two experts that spring to mind are Bill @ Affordable Accoutrements, he is the one to go to for beautiful, stunning tablescapes, and Jane @ Mamie Jane's who has the best "eye" for turning other people's junque into wonderful decorative home accents.
I can't imagine that you don't already know about these two fabulous blogs, but just in case you don't, click on the links to see what I mean when I say they are two of the best.
See you in class.

Saturday 12 June 2010

Shadow Shot Sunday # 108

Taken by Mr B on a recent walk, a SS of the 3 of us that I think is great and hope you will enjoy.
I'm linking through to Shadow Shot Sunday @ Hey Harriet in Oz, check out all the other great shadow shots gathered there this week submitted by talented photographers from around the world.

Wednesday 9 June 2010

U is for Up On A Roof

For Mrs Matlock's "U" assignment and Alphabe-Thursday this week, some shots taken during our whirlwind 4 day visit to NYC last year.

New York City Rooftop, April 2009.

View from the Empire State Building, April 2009.

Up on A Roof a classic 60's song written by the then husband-and-wife team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King.

Click on the link to enjoy an iconic performance by The Drifters, before handing in your assignments.
See you in class.

7:15 a.m. Wednesday View from my bedroom window.

It's Wednesday and there's a whole lot going around here as usual so I'm a little late in linking these early morning shots to Susan's Outdoor Wednesday #74 @ A Southern Daydreamer. Yikes ! I'm # 82!
Susan has some fabulous photos of Harry Potter's Wizarding World in Florida.
You have to go over there and see Hogsmeade, Mr Weasley's Flying Car sitting high up in the Whomping Willow and lots, lots more.

Sunday 6 June 2010

A Rose by any other name...........

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.
Juliet's speech from Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare.
Linking this post to two of my favourite Monday Meme's:
Mary's Pondside Mosaic Monday @ thelittleredhouse and Tracey's Weekly Words to Live By @ Notes from A Cottage Industry where you'll find some excellent quotes to make you ponder on the way life is.

Wednesday 2 June 2010

T is for Tribute to D Day Veterans.

This coming weekend sees the 66th Anniversary of the D Day Allied landings in Normandy.
Therefore my T assignment for Mrs Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday this week is about some of the Tributes that ex- servicemen and women, and the families of the fallen will be attending here in my area.
Click here to read about the official tributes taking place.
However, not all of the Tributes this weekend will be on such a grand scale.
Throughout Normandy small towns and villages will be holding their own services of remembrance, I thought you might like to know about some of those. If the name of the town is highlighted you can click on the link to learn more.
On 4th Friday, 4th June, in Villers sur Mer, a bench will be unveiled by Mr & Mrs Don White from Australia to the memory of Private George WHITE, 9th Para, whose name is Commemorated on the Memorial close by the church.
The next day June 5th in Bavent (Le Mesnil)at 10:30hrs.there wil be a Service of Remembrance and Wreath laying at 3rd Para Brigade & 1st Canadian Para Battalion Memorials.
On the same day at 15:00 hrs in St Vaast en Auge a service will be held to commemorate the men who died after a navigational error when Horsa Glider LH324 crashed into the wood of the Manor Farm near the village.
In Gonneville en Auge at 16:00hrs there will be a ceremony at 9th Para Battalion Memorial and in Breville les Monts also at 16:00hrs a Commemoration and wreath laying at the crossroads Memorial and a vin d'honneur afterwards on the green opposite the Mairie (Town Hall).
Later that afternoon at 17:30 hrs Bures sur Dives a Wreath laying at the Captain Juckes RE Memorial and at the same time at the Merville Battery, Veterans of the 9th Para Battalion will march to the Official Ceremony.
Whilst at the Mairie (Town Hall) in the commune of Bénouville the Mayor Alain Lepareau will welcome the veterans, their families and friends at the Salle Polyvalente (Community centre) for a Band Concert and afterwards, an aperitif.
Perhaps the most poignat Tribute of all will take place in the small village of Colleville-Montgomery, when 86 year old Glaswegian Bill Millin, the Scots piper who led Allied troops on D-Day, will unveil a statue of himself.
In a quote from the Daily Record newspaper Glaswegian Bill, who previously saw a model of the statue, said: "It is very good of the French to do this for me. It is a good likeness, I was 21 then, very young."
Amongst the first to land at Sword Beach on June 6th 1944 Bill was ordered by Lord Lovat to play the pipes to rally troop morale.

Some other interesting web sites:

Remember to stop by Jenny's blog Off On My Tangent for other T posts