Our friends Chris and Annie, like almost all our friends, are in the process of doing up a dilapidated old French house. I took the opportunity to take a few photos of a couple of their intriguing and interesting architectural features.
But it was some of the old detail that really caught my attention. The shutter and leaded window unit which they think must have come from the back of the house is like a scaled down version of those at the château d'Azay-le-Rideau. They are beautiful, complicated things, multi-layered so you can open all or part. I suppose they are 19th century copies of a 15th century style, but I'm not really sure.
Now that the house has some more or less finished rooms, Annie is starting to put some time into the garden. She is a botanical artist, so the long border has a series of plants that will make good subjects - sugarcane, castor oil plant, crimson artichoke and other unusual specimens.
When we left Annie gave us a jar of homemade Cornelian Cherry jam. They have a tree at the front of their yard which produced hundreds of shiny oval red fruits in July. Their neighbour told them the fruit made excellent jam, so they tried it. It's a sharp sweet flavour that went very well with the lime sorbet they served at dinner.
Cornelian Cherry Cornus mas (Cornouiller mâle in French) is a type of dogwood native to central Europe. It forms a small tree, growing on chalky soil, with yellow flowers appearing before the leaves in February or March. Not to be confused with the dogwood native to this area, C. sanguinea, which is a shrub with reddish stems and white flowers in early summer followed by black berries. It seeds and suckers along all the roadsides, hedgerows and fencelines, becoming a bit of a nuisance for gardeners.