Thursday, 13 December 2018

A Walk From Le Grand Pressigny Along the Aigronne

Our walking club outing on 29 November took us from Le Grand Pressigny, out along a ridge following the north (right) bank of the Aigronne River, down and across the river then back up on the ridge the other side. This second ridge is the one proposed as the site of the dreaded wind turbines, although they will be closer to Le Petit Pressigny as there are too many houses along the part we walked I think. I can't see how the wind turbines could meet the requirement to be 500 metres away from buildings along the section we walked. Here are some pictures from the walk:

The chateau of Le Grand Pressigny next to the new Museum of Prehistory
taken from rue de la vieille poste.

A troglodyte home.

The home of one of Louis XIV's mistresses according to local lore.
This house might not look much from the outside but I'm told that inside it is four huge rooms, elegantly and sympathetically restored and furnished by the current owners, who are friends of friends.

A billhook stuck into a telephone pole.

An abandoned limestone quarry in the cliff.
I have been within metres of this cave pictured above and not known it was there. The entrance must be obscured by bushes if you are on the nearby path.

We were amused by this turnstile entrance to a plot of land in the middle of nowhere.

The once mighty Chateau of Etableau.
The chateau is owned by the recently retired pharmacist from Le Grand Pressigny, who lives in a more modern house down the hill beyond the chateau and overlooking the Claise Valley. The Chateau of Etableau has looked like this, with the iron bands holding the great tower together, for as long as anyone can remember.

View from the market place in Le Grand Pressigny.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

The Best Eclairs in the Touraine

Recently La Parisienne patisserie in Loches won 'Best Chocolate Eclair in the Touraine' so naturally we hot-footed it there to try them. The shop was packed and when I congratulated the woman serving me she thanked me but shrugged and I got the impression she was a bit fed up with complete strangers walking in and only being interested in the chocolate éclairs. If I'd been a regular and loyal customer the reaction would have been warmer. And quite right too. I am pleased for them, but in fact, I habitually use a boulangerie patisserie round the corner in Loches, and will continue to do so (because I like their bread, quiches and viennoiseries, which are more my thing). I almost never buy an éclair, from anyone.

La Parisienne bakery in Loches.

The shop the prize winning pastry chef occupies is charming. An old building with visibly genuinely aged beams, painted a tasteful very pale grey. The display of cakes and pastries was enticing and a little bit unusual, indicative of a keen and creative baker out the back. I will happily take clients there if they want to experience a really good patisserie with a bit of cachet now they are officially the best éclair makers. I am lucky to be spoilt for choice though with my own purchasing and can flit from one baker to another, depending on convenience of locality and what I'm shopping for. There are nine artisan bakeries listed in the phone book for Loches, and three in Preuilly. I'm familiar with four of the Loches establishments and all three in Preuilly. All of them do good bread, pastries and cakes.

The chocolate éclairs are in the middle of this photo, slightly obscured by their trophy.

If you want to try the prize winning éclairs, La Parisienne is at 4 rue Picois (near the fountain).

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

The Davos 2019 SwissAlpine H20

We have mentioned before that we're doing the excecise thing in order to do an event in Davos. I've been keeping my eye on the website, and at the weekend was delighted to see the route for next year has been released.

It is 20km, starting in Davos at 1533 metres above sea level, and topping out at 2571 metres. The climbing starts at 6.35km, and then it's one long uphill slog of 5.3km, climbing 948 metres at an average gradient of 18.6%. Once we're at the top though, its downhill all the way. (If all the previous was a bit too technical,: it starts slowly, there's a thumping big climb in the middle, then we go back to where we started.)

The uphill starts in the gap in the trees on the right.

You can see the path zig-zagging up the hill in the centre of the photo.
Later we will be walking along the ridge on the left.

We are doing our training on roads. I'm not sure that's ideal preparation
 for this track, which we will be on just below the peak

Talking of training: last week we managed less than 10km of walking, and 1200 metres of swimming. A combination of stuff got in our way.

If anyone wants to join us in our stroll through the alps, more info is here.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Herby Nuts

A pan of nuts waiting to be roasted.

I'm working through the bumper walnut crop and recently made this recipe from Simply Recipes, using half homegrown walnuts and half almonds. Not bad, although to be honest the herbs didn't add much. Next time I'll up the salt and spices and ditch the herbs. Despite the comment in the original recipe about consuming as soon as they are ready, we found that they were nice the next day unheated too.

Glazed, seasoned and ready to eat.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Little Corellas

Corellas are a type of cockatoo, three species of which occur in Australia. This one, the Little Corella Cacatua sanguinia, is by far the most abundant and visible because of its presence in urban areas. You can encounter them anywhere except thick forest, from the arid inland deserts to the coast. They like lawns, playing fields and crops (where they are a pest). Congregating in flocks, sometimes numbering hundreds of birds, they roost communally in trees overnight then fly out some distance to feed together on seeds. Depending on where they live they may also fly long distances twice a day to water. They are noisy, gregarious and clownish. In the past they were popular caged birds (although if you owned one in town your neighbours hated you and your bird).

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Alpine Bartsia

At first glance, when I was scrolling through my Swiss photos, I thought this plant was more of the amazing purple Pyramidal Bugle I'd photographed a few metres away. But on closer inspection it turned out to be Alpine Bartsia Bartsia alpina, an equally amazingly purple plant of high rocky limestone grasslands.