Saturday, 21 September 2019

Two Familiar Orchids in the Alps


Going up in the funicular to the botanical gardens in Davos I was catching glimpses of wild orchids in the grass. They looked awfully familiar, and once we got to the top and were strolling around in the gardens, I could see they were two species that we get here in the Touraine.

Common Spotted Orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsii.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Common Spotted Orchid.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Fragrant Orchid Gymnadenia conopsea.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos. 

Friday, 20 September 2019

Walking Around Barrou


The weather for the first walking club outing of the new season was very warm, with low slung glaring sun for most of it. We walked from the village of Barrou on the Creuse River.

Uphill right from the start.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

An old building in a tiny farming hamlet.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Charming house.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

A very fit looking saddle horse interacting with Jean-Jacques. 
The horse is no doubt admiring Jean-Jacques handsome new facial hair arrangements.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

By this stage of the walk I was really struggling. Thankfully, the horse lives opposite friends John and Maureen. I nipped in for a top up to my water bottle.

Two big barns in the countryside.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

By the time I had reached the barns I needed to lie down in the shade for ten minutes. Fortunately that allowed me to recover sufficiently to finish the walk.

Walkers enjoying scrumped Chasselas grapes.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Harvesting sunflowers.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The hamlet of la Coue in the distance.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

A duck weed covered garden pond.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Beatrice walking up yet another hill (but at least it's in the shade).
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The back of a house in Barrou, with external staircase tower.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Jim, who was also on the walk, has published his account of the walk on his blog Loire Valley Experiences.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos. 

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Le Garage, Saint Jean de Luz


The bar.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

After dinner one night when we were on holiday in Saint Jean de Luz we were walking back to our appartment -- and discovered the really happening place in town, packed with locals and really buzzing.

Some of the food stands.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

It's called le Garage and it seems it has become a bit of an institution in the relatively few years it's been open. The premises is an old Renault garage from the 1950s, centrally located, and the concept is a central bar, pop-up food stands, a makeshift stage for live performances and a decor referencing the building's former life.

The menu at the burger stand -- the burgers contain steak, cheese, pancetta made from local pork, ox heart tomatoes, rocket, red onions and a secret homemade tomato sauce.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

It's only open for the summer months, every day from from 6.30pm to 2am, and to access the delicious local Basque food and drink available you buy a prepayment card or load an app called Fetakutx to your smart phone. You can load it with credit then use the card or phone to buy your drinks, snacks and meals. Neither the bar nor any of the food stands accept cash.

The decor reflects the building's past life.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

When the previous mechanics workshop closed in 2005 the building was going to be demolished. But somehow it never happened and in 2015 it was transformed into what you see today. For the locals it has the feel of a much loved concept, la guinguette, an informal semi-outdoor space for conviviality, dancing, drinking and relaxing with friends.

Empties on a barrel 'table'.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The night we were there they were raffling a car. This is where we saw the Thai rolled ice cream being made too.

You pay a one euro deposit for a glass and keep it all night.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The entrance to the toilets.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos. 

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Bayonne Looks Nice


Recently we caught the train from Saint-Jean-de-Luz to Bordeaux. It goes through Bayonne, the ninth largest port in France.

Photographed by Susan Walter.  Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

In the 15th century, when Ferdinand and Isabella expelled everyone who wasn't white and Christian from Spain the city received many Jewish refugees. One of the very good things they brought was chocolate.

Culturally Bayonne is a mix of Basque and Gascon. Several things are named after the city, for example, hunting knives attached to muskets by local peasants are the origin of 'bayonet'. The name of the city seems to have been corrupted to form the word 'mayonnaise' too.

Photographed by Susan Walter.  Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

They make very nice air dried ham in the vicinity and the paprika like spice espelette is grown here. It has the oldest tradition of bullfighting in France, and not far out of town we passed a field full of small black bulls with silver tips on their horns. 

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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos. 

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

World Aerobatics Championship

We've written about Chateauroux Airport before, so imagine our surprise when we discovered that it was to be the venue for this year's World Aerobatics Championship. We found out through a former client of ours whose husband is a member of the USA team. We were away working when the competition (and the final day airshow) was on, but we went along on an open day earlier in the week.

I was excited to see a Lockheed Shooting Star flying.
This is the Canadian CT-133 Silver Star version.

The plane is derived from the first American jet fighter, the  P-80 Shooting Star of 1944.

Are we sure that's the right way up?

Visualising the moves.

Antonov An-2 biplane - still in service in many parts of the world, built until 2001.

A Douglas DC-3 (Dakota) This plane took part in the Normandy invasion,
then saw service with Air France (more here).

Guided tours were being given of the DC-3 I was interested to see it had both a
perspex dome (for celestial navigation using a sextant) and modern GPS based navigation.

L’Alpha Electro - a fully electric light plane.

Because we went while it was all being set up we didn't get the full effect, but there was plenty to see (and do). Here's a full list of the historic aircraft that were on display on the final day.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Ice Cream Frenzy

Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

While we were on holiday in Saint Jean de Luz we spent a fascinated ten minutes or so watching some ice cream makers perform.

Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

They were equipped with frozen metal plates which they loaded up with fresh fruit at the customer's request. After frenetically chopping the fruit to a puree a swirl of sweetened cream was added. More mixing, scraping, chopping and spreading ensued. Finally the ice cream was spread out thin then scraped up into four or five curls. These were deposited in a cup, whipped cream squirted over the gaps and the customer's selection of lollies (candies, sweets, bonbons) sprinkled over.

Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

I'm not quite sure how this sort of performance snack ever makes money. It takes a long time to hand over each completed ice cream creation so relatively few customers are served. The price reflects the fact that customers are paying for the performance and time taken more than the value of the ingredients and many people will be put off by how expensive they seem.

Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

We probably would have tried one each, except that we only discovered the place while walking back to our apartment after dinner. Apparently it's called Thai rolled ice cream.

Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos.