Tuesday 31 January 2017

Organ Donations

Yet another piece of new legislation which came into force on 1 January this year is a new requirement that if you do not wish your organs to be used for transplants after your death you need to opt out. It is a reversal of the previous opt in system, which people simply never got round to and which was resulting in a tragic shortage of donor organs.
Air ambulance at Poitiers Hospital.

Frustratingly, with opt in systems, the block is not the wishes of the dead individual, who most likely had not taken the necessary steps to indicate clearly that they would allow their organs to be used, but the wishes of their relatives, who could withhold permission and in a third of cases, did so.
CHU de Poitiers (University Hospital Poitiers).

In the EU, 16 people a day die waiting for organ transplants.

Sunday 29 January 2017

Out to Sea

Looking out to sea over some impressive grass tussocks.
Our posts on Sundays have an Australian theme. If you would like to see more, click here.

Saturday 28 January 2017

Simple Home-cured Salmon or Trout

In France if you buy salmon, either fresh or smoked, it will almost always be raised on farms in Scotland or Norway (although there are salmon farms in Normandy and Brittany). Many of these farms are fairly industrial, supplying a modern demand for cheap mass produced 'luxury' food. The salmon are fatty and flavourless because the fish get so little exercise, and they suffer from parasitic lice and other health issues.

Fortunately, for just a few euros more a kilo you can usually get Label Rouge certified salmon at the market or supermarket. This assurance of quality and animal welfare is widely trusted in France. Label Rouge certification is administered by the National Institute for Origin and Quality (known by the acronym INAO, and the same agency that administers the AOC certification) and Scottish salmon was the first product outside of France to achieve the certification.

Scottish Label Rouge salmon at the market in Preuilly sur Claise.

The French are world leaders at aquaculture (or pisciculture as they would call it). They've been doing it since the Middle Ages with carp, and today they excel at breeding fingerlings of species such as sea bream, sea bass, trout and pike as well as shellfish production. Label Rouge starts with establishing a benchmark for best practice in the industry, mainly aimed at achieving quality and flavour. In order to achieve this they specify husbandry practices such as stocking rates and rules for leaving seapens fallow. Recently they have been advising the introduction of biological controls such as wrasse to deal with sea lice.

Those with certification must adhere to the best practice guidelines. Others in the industry may aspire (or not) to conform to best practice, depending on whether their aim is quality or quantity. Unfortunately, early salmon farms in Scotland quite literally soiled their own nests. Their working practices meant that esturine and loch life was obliterated due to the salmon farms and their detritus, and the wild salmon caught a variety of diseases and parasites from the farmed stock. When salmon farms were first estabished it was widely reported that for each kilo of farmed salmon 5 kilos of wild industrially harvested fish was required to make the meal and oil they were fed, which was clearly unsustainable and unethical. This legacy may never be fully overcome, but in the past decade or so, those interested in the long-term future of the industry have been genuinely trying.

Label Rouge ensures that best practice is followed by the producers in the scheme. It is true that for each kilo of salmon or trout produced an average of 1.4 kg of wild industrially harvested fish is still required to make fish food. However, this ratio is reducing year on year, and soon much farmed salmon and trout will be eating farmed insects or some other substitute for meal and oil made from wild fish. I have no doubt that Label Rouge is working towards 'their' salmon farms being closed land based systems, which solves the environmental issues by recirculating the water and not disposing of waste into the environment. And it is worth noting that globally, aquaculture produces far more kilos of fish for the table than it consumes in fish meal, because of low or negligible input ratios for products such as oysters, mussels, tilapia and prawns.

If you can't get Label Rouge salmon, then trout is a good alternative. It is nearly half the price, and the farms generally smaller scale, with fewer environmental issues because they are usually closed (recycling) systems these days. Trout farming, using the North American species Rainbow Trout, has been practiced in France since the late 19th century. If you are really concerned about the ethical issues you could start  by converting your garden to aquaponics and raise your own trout (using their poo to provide nutrients for your vegetables).

If you balk at the price of smoked salmon or you want a larger quantity than the measly 4 slices in a typical French supermarket pack, then making your own cured salmon or trout is easy. If you are feeling adventurous there is no reason not to home smoke it, but I recommend first timers begin by making gravlax. This is a super simple technique using salt, sugar, fennel seeds and dill, resulting in a delicately flavoured treat.

Homemade trout gravlax.

Buy a piece of a large trout fillet weighing between half and one kilo. This will cost you about €17/kilo (compared to about €30/kilo for Label Rouge salmon) and be about two thirds of the head end. Cut it in half from spine to belly and remove all the bones using pointy pliers. Roughly grind a teaspoon of fennel seeds in a mortar. Mix up a quarter cup of curing salt, two tablespoons of brown sugar, two tablespoons of white sugar, the fennel seeds, and some roughly chopped dill (stems included). You can use freeze dried dillweed if fresh is unavailable. Sprinkle a quarter of the mixture on the base of a square glass or ceramic dish. Set one half of the trout skin side down in the dish. Sprinkle the flesh with a half of the curing mixture, pressing it in a bit. Set the other piece of trout on top of the one in the dish, placing it so it is skin side up, thick section against thin section, so the two pieces form a neat shape of even thickness. Sprinkle the fish with the remaining curing mixture and press it down. Cover with clingwrap and nest another dish into the one containing the fish. Weigh it down with a couple of big cans of beans or tomatoes (or whatever you've got in the pantry). Put the whole lot in the fridge.

After 24 hours turn the fish over, recover and replace the weights. After 48 hours it will be ready. Wash all the curing mixture off the fish and dry it thoroughly with kitchen paper. Take a very sharp knife and slice the fish very thinly, taking the flesh off the skin. You will need to make long smooth passes with the knife, and hold it almost flat to get professional looking slices of gravlax.

This recipe is adapted from one on Simply Recipes.

Friday 27 January 2017

Winter Tomatoes

A couple of months ago I wrote about the Jardin de Rabelais greenhouse next to the nuclear power station near Chinon. I was unable to include a photo of their tomatoes at the time, but the other day at the market I noticed the greengrocer had them in stock again. So here they are:

Delicious modern greenhouse cherry tomatoes (warning -- not cheap!)

Thursday 26 January 2017

Architectural Details of Preuilly XI

The scrolls and classical style broken pediment of this dormer window are typical high status 17th century. The urn in the centre of the pediment is known as a fleuron. Sometimes they are bowls of fruit, sometimes they are flaming torches.

The simple but elegant front door to the house.

The front of the building, which I believe housed the officers of the salt store originally. It is now a private home.

Australia Day: Today is Australia Day. I completely forgot about it until yesterday when my cousin posted something on Facebook. In past years we have written an Australia Day post, but this year I just didn't think an expression of white western middle class national pride was necessarily helpful or appropriate. First there is the issue of what Australia Day actually commemorates (the arrival of white settlers) and how the Aboriginal population feels about that. Then there is the issue of how much pugnaciously jingoistic nationalism is floating about the globe at the moment. I really don't want to be associated with that. It's all a bit fascist for me.

Wednesday 25 January 2017

Plain Tobacco Packaging

The first of January is a time of change in France always. Very often when new legislation is introduced, it begins from the first of the new year. So this year, as well as the ban on pesticides in public spaces, we have the introduction of plain packaging for tobacco and cigarettes. I took the opportunity to photograph the new packaging when at the newsagents the other day. (In other news, we have new proprietors at the newsagent, a young couple with a baby boy, so I've now established that I am the slight odd Australian who writes a blog and asks to photograph the cigarettes.)

All cigarette packaging has to be the same plain olive green colour no matter what the brand. The brand name has to be in white and the same standard typeface as every other brand.  The health warning must be both visual and text and take up at least 65% of the packaging (an increase from 30-40%). It is designed to shock.

Australia introduced plain packaging for tobacco products in 2012 and has apparently seen a decline in smoking. Marisol Touraine, the French Health Minister says that 'Plain packaging is ugly and intentionally so. The aim is to destroy the attractiveness of many cigarette packs'. 

This is quite a turnaround from the years between 1935 and 1971 when the French tobacco industry was a State owned monopoly which controlled the manufacture, importation and retailing of tobacco products (and matches) in France. Personally I am dubious that plain packaging will have any effect, but smoking is certainly reducing in France and has been for a number of years, especially amongst men (young women are the most likely to take it up). The smoking ban in public interior spaces has been very effective and is largely respected. The only place I regularly see it openly flouted is railway station platforms. The other knock-on effect is that choosing to dine on the terrace at restaurants means joining the smokers, and there is an ongoing argument about vaping (Mme Touraine doesn't approve of it). She is also quite rightly worried about the number of French women who smoke while pregnant (the highest proportion in Europe).

Tuesday 24 January 2017

Architectural Details of Preuilly X

The building in the centre used to be a café. The building on the right has always been a hotel.

A premises in the old main street which was a tailor's until the mid-20th century. It featured in our occasional series Past and Present a couple of years ago.

This place was also presumably a shop at one time.

Monday 23 January 2017


The Claise River at Chaumussay near the mill, with ice on the millstream.
With the recent cold weather ice is beginning to form on the river. The overnight temperatures have got down to -6°C and daytime temperatures are not above 0°C, with real feel below that because of the wind. I read that real feel got down to -12°C. Several mornings I got up and the guest bedroom window was encrusted on the inside with ice. This has always been the coldest room in the house, and we close it off in cold weather because it brings down the temperature of the rest of the house. The glass in the window is old 3mm panes. Double glazing for this room isn't very high on our priority list. But don't worry. If you come to stay, we will put a heater in there!

Ice on the inside of our guest bedroom window.
You can tell we are having a particularly cold snap because I've been wearing a scarf. You can tell I'm not French because I hate being bundled up in a scarf, no matter how decorative.

The water in the pipe to our downstairs toilet cistern keeps freezing. Simon has to thaw it out using the hair dryer we bought some years ago in another cold spell to deal with this issue. 

The padlock on the garage was also frozen locked one morning. I thawed it out by squirting WD40 into it. I needed to access the firewood. And speaking of firewood, our firewood merchant is having trouble with his phone. He can phone out but his customers can't phone him. I imagine the phone line is objecting to the cold, as I had a message from our favourite winemaker to say their phone lines weren't working due to the low temperatures.

Thierry the builder, reduced to digging up paving stones because it's too cold to lay concrete.
I stopped off to talk to Thierry the builder on Friday and he was hard at work digging up someone's patio in the frost. He's lucky he's got this work to do, but unless it warms up a bit he can't finish the job of laying a new concrete pad and installing new paving. Cement won't set in these cold temperatures. He can't do any masonry because mortar won't set either, nor render. When I complained about how cold it had been at the market he laughed and asked me if I would rather it was like last winter when it rained non-stop. He also pointed out that the patio he's working on is south facing and protected from the wind, so he's been fine.

Sunday 22 January 2017

Tuna Fish

The large fish on the rocks is a small tuna, line caught by the anglers whose great long surf rods are at rest in the background, on the coast of New South Wales.
Our posts on Sundays have an Australian theme. To read more, click here.

Saturday 21 January 2017


LePetit is a well known brand of Camembert cheese, widely available and purchased regularly by many French families. However, it is not what purists would call 'the real thing'.

A LePetit camembert cheese box.

The LePetit family founded their cheesemaking business in 1872, as proudly proclaimed by the 19th century style packaging of the cheese today. But in 1978 the family company was bought out by the giant Lactalis and things changed. The cheese was still made in Normandy, but the process was increasingly industrialised. In 1996 an AOC was created for 'true' camembert, which specified that it must be made in Normandy, from raw milk sourced in Normandy from Normande breed cows. In 2007, after a kerfuffle with INAO, who establish the standards for the AOCs, Lactalis quietly dropped the 'de Normandie' part of the LePetit labels and now the boxes say 'fabriqué en Normandie'. This means they are adhering to a different AOC standard, that which was created for industrial camembert.

In fact, these days, according to Lactalis, the milk in a LePetit camembert does still come from cows in Normandy (although not, I suspect, necessarily from Normande cows). It is not necessarily pasturised (read the packaging carefully, because it often is) but it is micro-filtered. The industrially processed milk they use ensures a standardised product. If you buy a LePetit camembert, you know what you are getting, and to be fair, it's a quite tasty cheese.

Camembert (in the middle) as part of a cheese course.

In fact, it seems that camembert has been an industrial product almost from its origin, and arrived on the scene just in time for the railways to be able to ship it around the country. To facilitate this, the poplar wood box that the more prestigious brands such as LePetit still come in was invented, and camembert gained a massive nationwide share of the market in France, which it continues to hold.

Lactalis, although still a family owned French company, is the largest dairy foods producer in the world, and owns many well known brands, including the ubiquitous and heavily advertised Président brand camembert. 

Friday 20 January 2017

Pesticide Free Public Spaces

From the beginning of this year all French public authorities (councils, hospitals and medical facilities, schools and universities, museums, railway stations**, etc) are forbidden to use pesticides in public spaces (including parks, forests, footpaths and tracks*). Many elected officials (5000 communes) have been on board with this now enacted law for several years, and communes such as Preuilly went pesticide free last year or the year before. Pesticides are no longer available on the open shelves of suppliers' stores for private citizens, and by 2019 you will not be able to buy them at all. Biocontrol products are still available, and those deemed to be of so little risk to the environment that they are allowed. If there is a health risk or a notifiable pest that is deemed to only be controllable by pesticides, a special permit may be given. Any area that does end up being treated with pesticides must be cordoned off for at least 6 hours after treatment and have a sign saying when people will be allowed back. If you wish to buy pesticides you must be advised by a trained staff member at the suppliers.

Not quite pest free yet.

The new law has come about because of concern about the exposure to pesticides of local authority operatives and residents (particularly children), and the potential for contamination of fresh water courses due to run off. The law covers herbicides, insecticides and fungicides, but not biocides used to kill rodents or molluscs. The punishment for being caught using pesticides where they are forbidden is a maximum of 6 months in prison or a €15 000 fine.

One of the things that will have to change is the French obsession with having everything 'tout propre', which means having not a weed daring to poke its head up through the pavement or lawn. Many local authorities have done quite a lot of outreach, education and consultation to encourage the community to accept a less sterile environment in cemeteries and parks. Local ecology officers are pointing out that bees love dandelions. France is traditionally a very pro-apiarist country and so anything that concerns bees gets peoples attention.

Blow torching weeds in the street.

The local authorities have also been trialling new equipment, environmental management techniques and training their staff. In a small town like Preuilly residents often talk to the council operatives as they work and about their work, so they carry a lot of the burden of outreach. In the beginning it was obvious our local guys were a bit sheepish about their new tools and hippy dippy ecological methods. Some of the trials were fairly ineffectual until they got the hang of the equipment or swapped it for something that worked better. Nowadays it looks like they are out and proud, having ironed out most of the problems and seeing the majority of the community being positive about the changes. The commune of Fontainebleau has been a real leader in this process, going pesticide free in 2011 and training its staff in pesticide free techniques of weed management such as using wire brushes on paving, agisting ponies from the equestrian centre in the cemetery, and mulching garden beds.

The linden trees at Villandry are protected from pests by predatory mites.

Towns and villages are encouraged to use ladybirds (to control aphids), 'homemade' nettle 'tea' (to fertilize trees) , wild flower meadows (to attract bees and butterflies and discourage weeds) and put up bird nest boxes (to attract birds like tits which will eat caterpillars). When a pest appears that requires immediate management the arsenal includes predatory insects, mites and nematodes; fungi, bacteria and viruses; pheromones; and natural extracts of seaweed, plants and minerals.

Parasitic wasps being used in the City of Tours greenhouses.

A key part of the change will be changing the public perception of how a well maintained footpath or nature strip should look. The public are being encouraged to enjoy the spontaneous appearance of plants rather than view them as weeds. There is hope for the orchids in the nature strip near the library after all (especially after I mentioned to a local councillor friend that one of the species was rare and protected...I must now try and speak to James, the council mower guy, about the timing of his work there...) 

Ladybirds in the garden of the Prieuré de St Cosme.

*Cemeteries and sports fields may be exempt. They are taken on a case by case basis and it depends on whether the community considers them a green space and/or somewhere to walk. Most of the Paris cemeteries have to abide by the ban because they are also tourist destinations. Hard surfaced sports facilities such as basket ball courts are generally exempt from the ban, as they don't work as a green space or somewhere people jog or walk the dog, etc.

**Pesticides are banned at railway stations, but not along the track. The stations are public spaces, but the tracks are out of bounds to unauthorised people, so they are outside of this law to ban pesticides.

Thursday 19 January 2017

A Chateau Fest

Chateaux are what people mainly come to see in the Loire Valley, so here is a selection. Which ones have you visited?









Wednesday 18 January 2017

New Year Ceremony

Every year in France each mayor holds a New Year ceremony. Its purpose is to go over what the commune has achieved during the previous year, and to announce the plan for the coming year. This year in Preuilly the focus was on the amalgamation of the communes of our département of Indre et Loire into three big communautés des communes. The one we are in is called Loches Sud Touraine and is the 8th biggest communauté des communes in the country.

A commune is a local authority, based around a city, urban district, town or village and its satellite hamlets. As you can imagine they vary enormously both in geographical area and population. Ours is a small bow-tie shaped area with Preuilly-sur-Claise as the central knot. Until recently Preuilly was joined with the neighbouring communes to form the communauté des communes of the Touraine du Sud and Preuilly was the seat of this communauté des communes.

Left to right: Jean-Marie Beffara, Marisol Touraine, Gilles Bertucelli, Gérard Hénault.

Now the Touraine du Sud has joined the communautés des communes of Loches Développement, the Grand Ligueillois and Montrésor to form the super communauté of Loches Sud Touraine. Under the new arrangement Preuilly is no longer the centre of the communauté des communes, but it is hoped that the purchasing power of the new communauté will mean significant savings on equipment and office supplies.

Our mayor and the old communauté elected representatives were obviously worried that the good citizens of Preuilly would feel that they would get forgotten in the new bigger organisation. Consequently the big guns were deployed to reassure everyone. Marisol Touraine, Minister for Health and Social Affairs gave a speech, the Deputy Jean-Marie Beffara from the Conseil Général was in attendance, Gérard Hénault the president of the communauté des communes Loches Sud Touraine gave a speech and the mayor of Preuilly, Gilles Bertucelli too.

The villagers gather round for sparkling Vouvray, macaroons (in lieu of galettes des rois) and couronnes des rois. Simon got a fêve (he thought he'd lost a filling!)

So far the only evidence of any change I've noticed is that Yohann Sionneau, the river technician, who is employed by the communauté des communes, has moved office from Preuilly to Ligueil.

The mayor himself concentrated more on his 'legacy project',  known as 'Heart of the Village'. The centre of town has been relandscaped and a new medical centre is being created in the old post office sorting office. At the moment Preuilly has a doctor (Patrick Mureau), and two dentists (Monsieur et Madame Renaudie). Madame Renaudie has retired and her replacement is currently working with her husband. Monsieur Renaudie is also due to retire soon and when he does the new dentist he's been working with will move into the new medical centre. Also to move into the new medical centre is a female GP, who I am told speaks English.

The mayor also mentioned that a decision about when work was to start on the Chapelle de tous les saints might be made by the end of January. At the moment they are waiting on tenders to be submitted for the work by tradesmen. I'm told the quotes are likely to come in under budget too. (Donations to the chapel restoration fund can be made here.)

Tuesday 17 January 2017

Cherry Picking

I'm not sure what these chaps were doing (twiddling with the telephone or elecricity wires I assume) but they had squeezed this cherry picker into the narrow street do it in comfort.

Monday 16 January 2017

Architectural Details of Preuilly IX

All these photos are of the Abbey.

Side door with a mixture of architectural styles surrounding it.

A window with much more homogeneous surrounds.

A blind clerestorey arcade, with a creepy little character on the left hand capital.

Sunday 15 January 2017

Synchronise Diaries

This photo from eight years ago shows my father (on the right) and my uncles synchronising diaries whilst planning a family event. That's my sister in the background.

Our posts on Sundays have an Australian theme. If you would like to see more, click here.

Saturday 14 January 2017

Eating Foie Gras

Every year we prepare our own foie gras. Every year I mention it on the blog and every year a friend who thinks foie gras should be banned contacts me with information as to why she won't be eating foie gras any time soon.

Separating the two lobes of the liver.

Foie gras is a victim of its own legendary tastiness and luxury status. As disposable incomes in the 20th century increased, demand for the finer things of life increased. Products like foie gras had been produced in small scale operations in the south-west of France. It was mainly eaten at Christmas time, and even for the comfortably off was considered a seasonal treat. But even in France the idea that consumers wanted access to luxury products, wide choice and all year availability took hold. Large factory farms began proliferating, producing duck foie gras (because geese don't adapt well to industrial farming). These factory farms were devoted to producing maximum quantity so they could price the foie gras enticingly and encourage year round purchasing and the idea that most households could afford it. Taste, quality, good husbandry practices, and bird welfare took a back seat.

Fairly quickly certain consumers noticed. Already opposed to the gavage (force-feeding) that is necessary for the production of foie gras, the added cruelties of mass production caused a groundswell of opposition to foie gras. Things like beak clipping (to stop birds fighting or plucking their own feathers out), throwing unwanted female ducklings alive into incinerators or grinders (only the larger male ducks are used for foie gras and magret), restrictive cages with no solid floors or possibility of natural behaviour such as puddling or grooming, and being kept in a shed with no natural light throughout the ducks' life were increasingly unacceptable to an increasingly urban consumer base.

Veins removed, seasoned and just about to put the lobes back together.

Every few years there is a scandal associated with the industry. The most recent was an exposé of practices in 2013 at a very large producer who supplied high end and well known restaurants. This producer found their contracts cancelled.

It is worth remembering that if you are eating magret (fat duck breast) or often even cuisse de canard (duck leg) it is a 'by product' of foie gras production. This may be considered a good thing if you are into whole animal eating and not wasting food, but a bad thing if you are fundamentally opposed to foie gras. It's a bit like the connection between drinking milk and eating veal -- if you do one you should be morally bound to do the other, and likewise, if you are opposed to one, you must eschew the other.

We are very lucky in Preuilly. We can indulge in very good quality foie gras produced locally, by farmers who are happy to show visitors around and who have always answered my questions. They looked slightly surprised when I asked them about beak clipping. I could see them thinking 'That old chestnut!' and the response was that it has been illegal for some time and they would be very surprised if anyone practiced it these days. Likewise, the business of throwing female ducklings alive into grinders. Why would the breeders do that, they say, when they can be sold on to finishers, who will fatten them up and sell them as caneton (young duck for roasting)? They are well aware of the ethical issues associated with the production of foie gras, and whilst I am a valued customer who they are happy to talk to openly about the industry, they do not feel able to allow me to take photographs of the farm. They feel that is a security risk.

Home made foie gras in terrines ready to eat.

I would hesitate to eat foie gras if I didn't know the producer, and feel that it is important to acknowledge that some producers work hard at the husbandry and ethical issues. I can understand why people choose not to eat foie gras. I know lots of people who don't eat it just because they are squeamish about offal. I know two people in France who don't eat foie gras for ethical reasons. One of them, who is French, admits that she loves steak and foie gras, but became vegetarian because of conditions on industrial farms.

So what does this mythical dish taste like? Why is it so seductive? To be honest I don't quite know (but then, I don't find bacon the most irresistible food on Earth either). I like foie gras as a seasonal treat, but I don't want to eat it all the time. A large part of its appeal for us is the annual workshop where we get together with friends to prepare it for Christmas. It's sweet like a lot of offal is, with an intensely savoury overtone. Texturally it is rather like eating salted butter. It's melt-in-the-mouth and smooth, which is why eating it on toast, with a bit of grape, fig or onion jam is my favorite way. A slice as a garnish on a steak is excellent too.

Several European countries have outlawed the production of foie gras (eg Germany, the United Kingdom). The EU has written guidelines which state that no animal should be fed in such a way as to cause distress or physiological harm and their official view is that although there have been very few properly conducted scientific studies of the issue, there is sufficient evidence to indicate that the gavage is detrimental to the ducks' health. France has circumvented this by making a law which declares foie gras to be part of France's cultural and gastronomic heritage and as such, is protected. Bullfighting in Spain is protected under similar legislation, and frankly, I think the days of the gavage, cages and bullfighting are numbered. Foie gras I think will continue, as the industry will be forced to reinvent itself, to use non-forced feeding methods or disappear. It will be like rosé veal taking over from milk veal, and older consumers will grumble but everyone will get used to it and animal welfare will win in the end.

Friday 13 January 2017

Architectural Details of Preuilly VIII

This house, on the street that goes down to the bridge across the river, is often referred to as the 'Monkey House'. Can you see why? Here is a link to a post I did on it, which will make it clear. Its proper name is la Maison des marches.

This house on the main street was until a couple of years ago a pharmacy, hence the ghost of a Bowl of Hygieia symbol. When the pharmacist moved it remained empty for about 18 months, but it appears to have been sold now. Certainly smart new doors and windows have been fitted where once there was plate glass.

This house is directly across from the Abbey, and is rather handsome and solid looking, as befits its (once) prime location.