Thursday, 31 July 2014

Sunny Sunflowers

A large sunflower in a field just outside Sublaines, with happy honey bees gathering pollen and/or nectar in a safe, neonic free environment (presumably).
Sunflower season here is July and early August. The clients love them, so we always scope out the best field for photographs.

We park up on the side of a country road and the clients scatter every which way to take photos.
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A la cuisine hier: Carrot soup, spiced with ground coriander seed and ras al hanout.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

In the Wine Cave

New oak barrels.
The temperature in the cave is a constant 13°C. It's the place to be on a hot summer's day like we've been having recently.
In the foreground, bottles of sparkling wine upside down and ready for disgorging to remove the dead yeast which forms an unsightly sediment in the wine.
The stainless steel vats in which the base wine for the sparkling Vouvray is made.
Boxes of wine on pallets ready for international shipment.
All photos taken at Chateau Gaudrelle, Vouvray, on 23 July 2014.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

800 Years Ago in Preuilly sur Claise

An array of starters and nibbles ready to be taken out for the hordes to descend on them.
It is a little known fact in the Anglo world that at the Battle of Bouvines on the 27th July 1214 Philippe Auguste of France defeated an army consisting of Imperial German, English and Flemish soldiers. One of the outcomes was that King John of England lost most of his French holdings and was forced by his barons to sign the Magna Carta.

Seated, clockwise from bottom left: Pierre Yves, Thierry, Sweetpea, Gaynor, Tim B, Paul, Lisa, Suzanne, John, Roger (obscured), Dennis, Tim F, Pauline, Louisa, Cathie. (The head that is right in the foreground belongs to Ninna, from Taiwan.) Standing, left to right: Elizabeth, Angela, Kath. (4 French, 10 English, 1 Welsh, 1 Scottish, 2 American.) Many thanks to those who brought chairs.
Another repercussion was that Philippe Auguste needed money to pay his mercenaries. He instigated a series of changes that bought tax collection directly under the auspices of the king rather than his lords, and built a series of warehouses in which to store the grain collected as tax.

Simon broke out the Bullfrog speakers and his amp, which haven't seen service since we moved here. Apparently you could hear the music at the top and bottom of the street, but we didn't get any complaints -- presumably down to the extremely good taste demonstrated by the playlist.
One theory is that our graineterie was the warehouse built in Preuilly. Although it is only a theory, we decided to celebrate the 800th anniversary as if it were fact and therefore invited people to attend an open house on  27 July 2014 at the graineterie.

Simon preparing to grill seasoned chicken thighs, dressed with Jamaican curry rub, Adobo spice mix or just salt, pepper and herbs de Provence.
According to Bernard, the President of the local history association, our barn/granary/graineterie is definitely older than 15th century and 13th century seems reasonable. It is also a building that must have had some sort of public function, not a domestic building. More than that we cannot say for sure, but he certainly does not dismiss the theory about it being a secular tithe barn built at the orders of Philippe Auguste.

 Desserts on the table, including the wonderful 800 anniversary cake made by Elizabeth as a surprise gift.
40 or 50 people of various nationalities turned up to celebrate. Sadly we didn't get photos of everyone -- quite a lot of French people seemed to be very good at dodging the camera! There was lots to eat, thanks to the generosity of our friends who brought quiches and salads to augment our catering. There was lots to drink as we had asked everyone to bring a bottle. The English beer was popular, and we seem to have consumed a quite remarkable quantity of red wine.

 Clockwise from bottom left: Colin, Anne-Loes, Ingrid, Nicole, Huub, Alex (3 English, 3 Dutch).
Everyone enjoyed themselves and the event was a great success. We were delighted with the turnout and it was wonderful to see everyone.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Clouds From the Carpark

Simon photographed these clouds last Thursday at 7.15 pm. We were in the Carrefour supermarket carpark in Saint Pierre des Corps after dropping some clients off. The weather mid July has been hot and humid with noisy storms every few days which have delivered quite a bit of heavy rain.