Sunday, 4 November 2018

This Old House

Today's post was prompted by a question from a recent visitor who was intrigued to know if our home had any stories to tell. 
When we purchased the house over 20 years ago the seller didn’t really have very much to tell us about it's past.
Over the years I've done the occasional internet search but have yet to find anything relating to the house. 
I did discover in the Rumsey Historical online map collection "The Carte de France 1750"which was published by four generations of the Cassini family from 1750 to 1815, it consists of 185 separate pages joined together to form a physical map measuring 39 feet by 38 feet. 
By zooming in and looking closely I found St Marcouf with a drawing of a church!
Carte de France St Marcouf.
All we really know is that it is a former Presbytere, it's origins date back to circa 1600 and through the ages a succession of priests from the Church of St Marcouf du Rochy have lived here.
The floor of one bedroom in the original part of the building has a handmade terracotta tile floor and we were told that the Bishop of Bayeux slept there whenever his travels brought him this way.
Whilst renovating that room we discovered the numbers "1787" chiselled into the stonework surround of the ancient doorway which leads to the newer 18th c part of the house.
We have over the years made some enquiries into the origins/history of the house and heard from one elderly lady who remembered that during WWII the village children were gathered together for safety and slept on makeshift beds in “la chambre ancient avec le sol en terre cuite ancienne" - the bedroom with the old terracotta floor. 
We've also been told that the house was occupied by Germans soldiers for a period of time and indeed it is well documented that during the weeks following D Day there was much fighting in the area as the Allies pushed inland, from the landing beaches, towards St Lo.
One mystery we have yet to solve is why there is an unmarked grave in the garden? We discovered the base and cross, overgrown with brambles and weeds, whilst clearing flower beds when we first moved here but no-one has been able to tell us who is buried there. One neighbour suggested we excavate the site but we decided to leave whoever is buried there to rest in peace.
Perhaps it was the final resting place of our resident ghost ? 
That's right, we believe that the house is haunted and know when he’s around because we can smell the smoke from his cigarette. Several visitors have been aware of his unseen presence but everyone agrees that he’s a friendly ghost. 
In 2011 I took part in a Room By Room meme that was great fun, click on the link below to see a little bit about how we brought love and life back to This Old House.
I so wish that walls could talk, I would love to hear it's stories.
Joining Angie @ Letting Go of the Bay Leaf
as she hosts Mosaic Monday
for the first time today.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Mosaic Monday # 107 - at this time of year

As October draws to a close and with November just around the corner I'm sharing a couple of my favourite things which happen in our little corner of Normandy at this time of year.

Trick or Treat - our neighbours children, taxied around by their patient parents, haunt the village as twilight falls. It's become a tradition to make their visit to le Presbytere the first stop of the evening but they only approach if we leave an outside light burning otherwise they leave us alone. 
We always leave a light burning!
Joyce, Kathryn & me
Alex (10) & Nick (7)
all dressed up for some Halloween fun.
Halloween 2007 we were celebrating my Father's 80th birthday when they came to visit so we donned costumes to greet them. As they left to go a' haunting one of the local kids took our nephew Nicholas then aged 7 by the hand, to his relief we rescued him before they managed to whisk him away.
The nearby town of Trévières holds it's annual Fete des Pommes on the last Sunday in October it's an event we always look forward to especially this year as there is going to be a performance by a group of Breton dancers and I adore traditional Breton music, the pipes and drums have my feet tapping in no time at all.

They also have pumpkins……………..
Those of us who live in Europe had to remember to put our clocks back one hour this morning, as summer time officially came to an end, I know in the US Daylight Saving doesn't happen until next week, hope everyone remembers!
This is my last post as host of Mosaic Monday. 
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as host, each and every one of the 107 posts has brought me good times, friendship and joy and I thank you all for your support.
Next week MM's new home will be @ Letting Go of the Bay Leaf hosted by Angie, see you there! 
Just wanted to mention that there is an error in the inlinkz message, the link will open at 11.00 am as usual not 1.00 am.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Mosaic Monday # 106 - whale watching in Tenerife

Whilst holidaying in Tenerife recently we spent a wonderful morning out at sea with Blue Jack Sail on the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey yacht.
As part of an ad hoc flotilla of boats, all carrying passengers with just one thought in common "will we see whales and dolphins" we tacked from side to side trying to spot some of those wonderful elusive animals.

Suddenly there they were, a pod of about eleven short-finned pilot whales, swimming alongside us. They swim up to the surface usually in the mornings to rest in the warm shallower water after spending the night time feeding down in the depths.
It is thought that there are around 1000 short-finned pilot whales frequenting the water off the South coast of Tenerife.
Their dorsal fins are unique, like human fingerprints, no two will ever be the same. They stayed nearby for quite a while before swimming off for more close encounters with the other yachts and catamarans out that morning.
As we sailed further along the coast our Captain suddenly spotted a large shape far in the distance and tried to get us up close. However another boat crossed in front of us and ruined our chances of photographing a migrating 25 metre long fin whale, a truly rare sight in these waters according to our Captain.
I took this photograph below of an illustration of a fin whale featured in a Blue Jack brochure which I found below deck.
The fin whale is the one at the bottom of the page, above on the left is a pilot whale.
After an adventurous morning we slowly motored back into port passing in front of our hotel on the way. The mountains behind are quite hazy but the two sides of the hotel can be easily seen. Family suites on the right and adults only on the left.

Todays post is the penultimate post from me as host of Mosaic Monday. Angie @ Letting Go of the Bay Leaf will begin hosting November 5th and I hope you will join me in saying a great big thank you to her for volunteering to carry our MM meme on "into infinity and beyond!"

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Mosaic Monday # 105 - a sea change ahead?


Bonjour Mosaic Monday folks.
Well, Plan B sort of worked last week didn’t it? 
My scheduled post which I wrote whilst we were away went up on Sunday morning as planned, as did the link for you all to join in with, which was good because our internet service had  still not been restored by the time we got back from Tenerife. 
Thank you for all your supportive comments, I can’t deny that it was quite challenging to get all the ducks lined up in a row from afar!
However, you’ve probably realised that I didn’t stop by your blog last week to comment on your mosaics and that was because the problem is ongoing.
We are still without internet service in the house, I’m using my iPhone’s personal hotspot for this post, and unless a techie comes to fix the problem soon I possibly won’t be visiting you this week either.
Mosaic Monday has been a very enjoyable part of my blogging experience for many years but all this palaver has got me thinking about the logistics of continuing to be the host in the future. As you know the SP and I love to travel, we already have something planned in November and there are a couple of other trips pencilled in the Diary for next year.
Although I will always want to participate in MM I’m wondering if there might be one of you, who enjoys our MM Club as much as I do, who would be willing to take the baton from me and become the new host so that we can keep this long standing meme running for many more years to come?

If hosting Mosaic Monday appeals to you just let me know in your comment or you can email me using the link on my sidebar and we can have a chat.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Mosaic Monday # 104 - fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

News of internet problems at home has reached me whilst we've been taking life easy relaxing in the Canary Islands so I'm prepping my next Mosaic Monday post now and scheduling it in advance in case normal service has not been resumed by the weekend when we get back to Normandy.
Of course I'm hoping that will not be the case and I’ll be able to write a fuller post but if you're reading these words you'll know that this is Plan B.
A striking feature of the landscape here in Tenerife is of course Mount Tiede. We had hoped to take an excursion to the National Park to get a closeup view of Tiede but have been unable to find a tour which was reasonable in both hours spent touring (9 hours is too long for me to be sitting on a bus which seats 50) and price (private tour with personal guide for just the two of us was too expensive at €430).
At the beginning of the week we did go whale and dolphin watching but I’m saving that tale until I can blog properly again.


So for now, I’m sharing some more shots taken around the hotel and grounds and concentrating on getting the inlinkz link up to work ready for Mosaic Monday.


Sunday, 30 September 2018

Mosaic Monday # 103 - a postcard from Tenerife

That's right I'm still here in sunny Tenerife, enjoying spending quality time with the Senior Partner at the Royal Hideaway, Corales Beach Hotel.
Here's a peek…………………………..







Back next week.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Mosaic Monday # 102 - postcards from Normandie

For Mosaic Monday #100 Nick V linked a post from his NixPixMix blog which he called "Australia I.D."
I wonder if you also saw it whilst MM blog hopping? If not just follow the link above.
I was quite taken by this project so trawled through my massive pile of photos to come up with a tribute to Normandy.
Of course once I started playing with the postcard idea I had to send you one from the seaside.
M'selle Fleur did consider going in for a swim with her new friend last week but decided getting her paws wet was enough to be going on with.
Talking about beaches...…………….. 
The Senior Partner are heading off tomorrow to find us some sunshine again, this time to Tenerife in the Canary islands staying at the Royal Hideaway Corales Beach Hotel in Costa Adeje.
It is our first visit and we're looking forward to experiencing the island with a ride up to the summit of Mount Tiede in a cable car or possibly taking a boat trip and hopefully encountering dolphins and whales.
I'll still be hosting Mosaic Monday for the two weeks that we'll be away, keeping to the new timetable as it seems from your comments last week that it's working for most of you, however it could take me a while to get around to visiting your blogs.


Sunday, 16 September 2018

Mosaic Monday #101 - a case of deja vu

I was up in my attic craft room/office last Friday morning prepping blog posts, as you do, when the Senior Partner yelled (it's a big house) up the staircase "We've got another visitor - I'm off to the farm"!
Grabbing my iPhone I ran (walked steadily) down three flights of stairs to see who it was.
Surprise, surprise.
Remember the heifer that jumped the fence two weeks ago to munch on our lawn?
Well, she was back.
A little while later "the Farmer" and his cowman arrived to assess the situation.
A walk of the perimeter revealed just one place where she could have jumped the fence this time and the decision was taken to return her to the field via the same route.
She didn't want to leave as you can see in the mosaic below.
Meanwhile her herd mates took notes.
???Question for you???
I recently changed the hours of MM to offer the chance of linking up on Sunday rather than on Tuesday. From what I've seen so far that doesn't seem to suit your schedules as much as I hoped it would. So, my question to all MM'ers is shall we go back to Monday 7.00 am to Tuesday 7.00 pm (French time) or stay with the new timetable?
Either way works for me so please let me know which you'd prefer.
Merci!

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Mosaic Monday # 100 - playing with my food

These past few days I've spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen attempting to turn the fruit which we received from GN last week into something temptingly edible.
What to do with grapes, I asked myself. Grape jam/jelly came the answer from bbcgoodfood.com
I had a packet of jam making sugar in the pantry so thought I'd give it a try, cooked the grapes as directed and drained the juice. Grape juice, sugar and lemon juice boiled together until setting point reached.
Well, that didn't work.
The result could best be described as a very sweet grape coulis.
Here's a link to the recipe.
grape jelly
Let me know if it works for you!
Next I made a tarte tatin using those lovely looking red apples and a recipe from Raymond Blanc.
The end result didn't look very much like the photograph on the website but it did taste good served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Not to be defeated I tweaked an apple crumble recipe that appeared on my FB page one morning, using walnuts in place of pecans and baking the mixture in several small dishes instead of one large one.
My thinking being that I could freeze some of them for another time instead of having to throw half of a large one away because, after all, we are only two people with normal appetites and the dog won't eat sweets.
As with the tart tatin it wasn't a pretty pudding but it was edible.
Thinking about it later I decided that it was probably the dark muscovado sugar that turned both desserts such a dark, unappetising colour.
My final attempt at using up the apples was a success!
If only I'd thought to turn all the apples into apple sauce I could have saved myself an awful lot of time and effort.

I did think twice about blogging my less than perfect culinary concoctions this week but one thing I do know is that even though not everything in life turns out the way we would like it to it doesn't mean that we can't have fun in the process!

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Mosaic Monday # 99 - bucolic Normandy

According to the Meteo Autumn officially began on September 1st and certainly here in Normandy we are beginning to notice some changes.
Although the weather is still dry there is a definite chill in the air in the early mornings and quite often there's fragrant wood smoke on the breeze as folk start to light cosy log fires and wood burning stoves in the evening.
As I went to make a cup of tea one afternoon recently I got quite a shock when I looked out of the window and saw a cow happily munching away on the lawn that last year replaced my vegetable garden.

Earlier in the day the farmer who's cows graze the fields surrounding our home had transferred some to another field and apparently after they left this one decided to go walkabout. The SP drove up to the farm to let him know that we had an escapee in the garden and he swiftly arrived with a couple of helpers to escort the heifer back to where she belonged.
I did video the procession as they headed back to the field but sadly it has since been deleted from my phone, the next morning I saw that she was back with her friends looking none the worse for her adventure.
Our generous neighbour called round on Thursday afternoon bringing with him masses of juicy red grapes from the vines in his garden. 
As a thank you I gave him a jar of the plum and preserved lemon chutney which I'd made the previous week.
Trying to explain to a non English speaking Frenchman just what chutney is was extremely difficult.
"You can eat it with cheese," I said. "Quoi?" he replied.
"It's good with curries", I said. "Quoi?" was again the response.
"Cuisine Indienne" I replied. "Je n'aime pas le curry" he stated!
At this point the SP interjected with the suggestion that he buy some English cheddar cheese at the supermarche and make a sandwich!
You can imagine how well that suggestion was received.
The GN (generous neighbour) then asked if I wanted any apples this year and no sooner had I said "Oui" he promptly drove back across the lane to his house, returning with a very big bag of them.
This time I had a better "swap" to barter with - a large bottle of pommeau, an apple aperitif, produced by a farmer friend of ours.
"C'est pommeau Normand?" the GN inquired, "Mais oui, bien sûr" was my reply, no further explanation was required!


As Keats once said...……………..
"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, 
   Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; 
Conspiring with him how to load and bless 
   With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run; 
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees, 
   And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; 



Sunday, 26 August 2018

Mosaic Monday # 98 - a generous neighbour

We have a very generous neighbour, I've mentioned him before, who has some wonderful fruit trees in his garden.
August is the month when he picks the plums and a few days ago the Senior Partner returned from a walk with M'selle F with a box containing some of this year's harvest.

This is the second year that we've been lucky enough to share his garden's bounty, last year I made several jars of plum jam.
This year I got busy in the kitchen and turned them into plum and preserved lemon chutney, plum compote and a delicious pudding of plum crumble.
Here's a link to the BBC good food website where you'll find the recipe for the chutney.
Like most chutneys the flavours will deepen and mature with time if you can hold off eating it that is!
We were in a hurry to try it so I served some chutney and a cooling mint and cucumber raita as condiments to the chicken curry which the SP made for dinner earlier this week.
A favourite "afters" from my childhood, plum crumble and custard is also a comforting "once in a blue moon" grown up dessert too.
What's your favourite dessert? Do you still hanker after a childhood favourite or do you have a more sophisticated palate?
I'd love to hear what delights your taste buds and satisfies your sweet tooth, I'm thinking that chocolate/ice cream will be involved for quite a few!