Thursday, 17 January 2019

Walking Club Annual Dinner


Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

Saturday evening was our walking club's annual dinner. Since it was at the Hotel Restaurant de l'Image, just around the corner from our house, there was no excuse for not going. And besides, it was fun and the food was good. The club uses the dinner as a way of rewarding the level of involvement and activity members have demonstrated during the year. The list price of the dinner was €35 per head but I don't think anybody there actually paid that personally. Everyone got some sort of club subsidy for doing something for the club over and above just turning up and walking. Some people made crepes for the pancake day social event, some people joined trail maintenance working bees, some people photographed and blogged or something (that would be me...)

Pumpkin soup amuse bouche.
Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

At the end of the evening we ended up folding napkins for fun. It all started because someone idly folded his napkin and those of us sitting next to him were intrigued. He said his grandfather always folded his napkin like that at the end of a meal, and showed us how to do it. The next thing you know the whole table of 30 odd people was folding napkins, then Martine the restaurant manager showed people how to do the fold that greeted us when we had sat down a couple of hours earlier. So we went out for dinner and came home with a new skill.

Gourmet Tourangelle salad starter.
Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

Main course of zander in saffron sauce, celeriac mash and ratatouille.
Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

Cheese course -- cambembert, pont l'eveque and Sainte Maure de Touraine goats cheese with salad.
Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

 Sorry - I forgot to photograph dessert, which was nougat icecream with apricot coulis. But don't panic - Simon took a photo of this dessert (his favorite) years ago.

Napkin folding.
Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com
Photo courtesy of David Henderson.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Climate Influencer


We live about an hour south of the Loire River. Our climate is a mixture of continental and maritime. The Loire is a big enough river to make it's own climate, drawing up moist air from the Atlantic, and often it is visible as a band of cloud as you drive towards it. The picture below was taken on Boxing Day 2018, just outside Preuilly as we travel north towards Loches and on to the Loire beyond.

Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

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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.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Woodworms and Bookworms


Polychrome wood, in the collection of the Chateau of Langeais. Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

This battered polychrome wooden scuplture is in the collection of the Chateau of Langeais. We think it is probably 14th century. It depicts Saint Anne. She is holding a book, and as Niall pointed out to me, the pale bit on her right must be the Virgin Mary, who she is teaching to read.

This story of Saint Anne teaching Mary to read was part of a campaign in the Middle Ages to encourage parents to teach their daughters to read. Middle class and aristocratic girls were frequently destined to run the family business on behalf of their husbands or fathers once they were grown women. While the men were away on business trips or working for the king, the women were at home making sure the family estate or shop continued to earn. Capable women were left in charge because although educated, they could not usurp the absent men.

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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.

Monday, 14 January 2019

Henry of Navarre Would be Proud


Poule au pot is one of the most well known and simplest French country recipes. It is nothing more than a boiling hen simmered for hours with root vegetables and some herbs but it was made famous by King Henry IV, known as le bon roi Henri, announcing that he wanted every labourer in his kingdom to be able to have poule au pot on Sundays. I make it with a chicken from my local poultry producer and vegetables from my local organic market gardeners.

Ingredients:
A 1.5 kg boiling hen or chicken, with or without giblets
3 litres chicken stock
2 shallots, peeled and halved
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 sprigs of parsley
2 sprigs of majoram or oregano
2 sprigs of lemon thyme
A bay leaf
2 carrots, cut in half
A leek, thickly sliced
Half a celeriac, peeled and diced
1/2 a green cabbage, shredded
A cup of peas
Salt

Method:
  1. Put the chicken in a boiler and pour in the stock. If the chicken is not covered add some water.
  2. Add the shallots, garlic, herbs, carrots, leek and celeriac and bring to the boil.
  3. Simmer for 2 hours until the chicken is falling apart.
  4. Add the remaining vegetables and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  5. Season to taste.
  6. Serve in bowls with chunks of chicken, vegetables and a couple of ladles full of stock and some pieces of crusty bread. 

A truly traditional poule au pot would have turnips as well as carrots so you can add them if you like them. The traditional dish would not have peas and cabbage added at the end either. For something more in keeping with the simple peasant origins of this dish you could add white dried beans along with the carrots and leek. This isn't a classic addition, but is a variation I'm sure appeared quite regularly on people's tables. In season, broccoli rabe added at the end would be nice too.

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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.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

White-tailed Spider


Until recently this was arguably the most feared Australian spider. It is common and it can bite. The bite causes burning pain and inflammation. It was widely believed to be the cause of necrotic ulcers, but a well designed study by a respected toxicologist concluded that the spider bites had not caused infection or necrosis. Typically the reports of necrosis were not associated with proven spider bites and the belief seems to have arisen because of reports associated with a spider that does not occur in Australia.


There are two very similar species of White-tailed Spider Lampona spp, both native to Australia. They live in and around human habitation and bites often occur when the victim is dressing because the spider hides in clothing or linen.

These nocturnal hunters prey on other spiders, especially House Spiders Badumna spp.

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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.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Granite Quarry


From the motorway near Bellinzona the Graniti Maurini granite quarry is very visible. The Maurini family own four quarries in the area and are extracting granite (gneiss) from quarries opened in the last quarter of the 19th century, to supply the building of the Swiss trans-alpine Gotthard railway line. Branches of the family also sell jewellery and sculptures made from granite and engage in property development.

Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

Nearly a quarter of the population of Lodrino, the nearest village, work in quarrying. That's 53 people, many of whom are Portuguese in origin. The quarrying industry is in decline, after a peak during 1939 and the construction of the Lona Line (a 10 km line of anti-tank forts). 

Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com 

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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.