Friday, 23 August 2019

A Flat Tyre




You may think you have seen something similar recently - and you would be right. A couple of weeks ago Claudette had a flat tyre whilst we were out with clients.

This time it was Célestine's turn. As we were preparing to leave for Lesigny, Susan said "that tyre doesn't look good", and she was right. I tried pumping it up, but the leaking valve was obvious.

That's two tyres I had to change in 5 days. It's a plot, I tell you...

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Assumption Day at Lesigny


As is now our custom, last Thursday we joined the Assumption Day drive at Lésigny. This is held in conjunction with the Lésigny brocante, and is a fun day out for anyone who appreciates a drive in the country in old cars, and a random picnic.

This year we drove through a number of the smaller villages of the south Touraine, stopping for a morning drink at la Celle Guenand.


I've never seen one of these before - a 1965 UMAP, based on a 2CV

You can't beat class

This one's for Leon

Gathered for a mid morning drink

4CV - literally 4 horsepower.

On our return we picnicked, looked at all (about 400) shiny and no so shiny cars on parade, chatted with aquaintances old and new, and generally had a convivial time. If you have a pre-75 car (or a new GT car) why not join us next year?

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Apero at the Pool


Françoise on the right, Annabelle and Marie-Jo behind her to the left.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Simon and I belong to an informal group of regular serious swimmers at the excellent public pool in Preuilly sur Claise. One of our members, Françoise, fell in the street, injured herself and was told by her doctor that swimming was forbidden for a fortnight. She missed her daily committment to chugging up and down the lanes followed by chat in the showers so one day she brought snacks and drinks for apéritif at the end of our session, just before lunch. Laid out on the tuckshop bench were two homemade savoury cakes, cubes of cheese, olives, falafels and different juices. Jean brought a rosé and I brought some chouquettes. Françoise was so organised she even brought a crate of wine glasses.

Yohann the pool manager and life guard (Fr. maître nageur) on the left, Paola and Anne.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Left to right: Paola, Sylvie, Ingrid, Annabelle, Marie-Jo, Françoise, Jean, André, Huub, Ludovic, Carole, Paris Bruno and Tristan.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Look at all that scrumptious food.
Françoise, Annabelle, Chantal, Claire, Carole.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Photos courtesy of Anne Guillé and Ingrid de Winter.

This year I'm pleased to say that the dominant language at the pool has been French. In the past I worried a bit that all us Dutch and Australians using English too much as a lingua franca would put French people off. Next year we will have to 'train' a new maître nageur, as Yohann has announced this will be his last year in Preuilly. He's a family man and needs to get a fulltime permanent position now. Despite the heatwave, we've also had some unusually cool weather this summer and numbers are down on last year, according to Yohann. Our group are regulars, but there have been fewer visitors this year.

Everyone is very proud and supportive of Simon this year. His swimming has improved immensely, with help from wonderful instructor Ingrid and encouragement from everyone else. (She is also responsible for the tremendous improvement in my technique over the past couple of years, and I'm sure Claire and Chantal would say the same.)

 The pool, photographed by me on 29 June in the middle of the heatwave.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Sadly the pool closes for the year on 2 September. We will continue to swim occasionally in Loches or Tours (Piscine du Lac) and maybe try out Chatillon sur Indre, until next summer and we all get together again.

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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, 20 August 2019

Surveying the Kaolin Pits


As anyone who follows my FB posts knows, I've been helping Conservatoire Régional des espaces naturels and the association Patrimoine du Val de la Claise Tourangelle survey a site near Bossay, on the edge of the Brenne, for biodiversity, so it can be submitted for declaration as a ZNIEFF (a site with flora and fauna that merits protection). Here are some pictures from our work.

Small Red Damselfly Ceriagrion tenellum (Fr. Ceriagrion délicat).
Photographed by Susan Walter.  Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The leaf beetle Chrysolina haemoptera (Fr. Chrysomèle violette).
Photographed by Susan Walter.  Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Scarlet Dragonfly Crocothemis erythraea (Fr. Crocothémis écarlate) and White-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum albistylum (Fr. Orthétrum à stylets blancs), both males.
Photographed by Susan Walter.  Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Male Short-tailed Blue Everes argiades (Fr. L'Azuré courte-queue).
Photographed by Susan Walter.  Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

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

Male Pronghorn Clubtail Gomphus graslinii (Fr. Gomphe de Graslin), held by entomologist Laurent P. This technique ensures the dragonfly is not injured and can be released after identification.
Photographed by Susan Walter.  Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The horse fly Heptatoma pellucens. The star species as far as I was concerned. I had to take a specimen to confirm the species, but normally I avoid doing that.
Collected, determined and photographed by Susan Walter.   Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
Uncommon and localised, it has been recorded before in the Brenne.

Scarce Forester Jordanita globulariae (Fr. La Turquoise de la Globulaire).
Photographed by Susan Walter.  Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

For a nano-second I genuinely thought this was the belly of a dead python.
Photographed by Susan Walter.  Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The team at work (left to right) Benjamin M-D, entomology intern with SEPANT, François L, Laurent P.
Photographed by Susan Walter.  Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
Benjamin is a second year student studying the management of open and wooded natural sites at AgroParisTech Nancy campus. He will come out of the course with an engineering degree and has a personal interest in reptiles and amphibians. AgroParisTech is the Institute of Life Sciences, Industries and Environment. François is an ecologist working for the regional nature conservancy, and the president of the PVCT. He is leading the project. Laurent is the entomologist in charge of biodiversity projects for the Society for the study, protection and enhancement of nature in the Touraine (SEPANT).

Giant Tachinid Fly Tachina grossa (Fr. l'échinomyie grosse).
Photographed by Susan Walter.  Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
François was quite taken with this species but I didn't get a good photo on site. This is one I took some years earlier in the Claise Valley.

The kaolin pits are privately owned but ceased operations to extract clay in the mid-1990s. The pits have subsequently filled up with water and the site has been undisturbed by commercial activity for twenty years. The habitat is very like the neighbouring Brenne, which is in Indre, a different département (county). This type of wetland area isn't common in our département of Indre et Loire, so it is considered important to preserve it. I've visited the site before and you can read my account of a botany outing there, and another here.


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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. 

Monday, 19 August 2019

Creamy Zucchini


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

Zucchini is not a very exciting vegetable and because everybody grows it you get to eat it a lot. It needs tinkering with to keep it appetizing. This recipe makes a good side dish for thin French style flash fried/grilled steak.

The zucchini I used was a gift from my swimming companion Marie-Jo. 
Her husband Philippe grows them in their vegetable garden.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Ingredients
A medium large zucchini
0.5 tsp salt
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Freshly ground mixed peppercorns
100g cream cheese
2 tbsp olive oil

Method
  1. Julienne the zucchini, discarding the seedy core.
  2. Put the shredded zucchini in a colander and toss with the salt. Leave to drain for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Tip the zucchini onto a clean tea towel, roll up and twist to squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
  4. Heat the oil in a deep heavy frying pan.
  5. Add the zucchini and cook on medium high for 5 - 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Lower the heat and add the pepper and garlic, stir to combine and cook for a minute or two.
  7. Add the cream cheese and stir until combined on low heat.
  8. Serves 2.
 Julienned salted zucchini draining.Prepared and photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Julienned drained zucchini, squeezed to extract as much liquid as possible.
Prepared and photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Julienned zucchini sauteed in olive oil.
Cooked and 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. 

Sunday, 18 August 2019

The Genoa Pub

We stopped at Genoa on our way up to my "Uncle" Rick's house in southern NSW. It was too soon to call into the pub as we had only just had breakfast (and I assumed - wrongly - that the pub was no longer). We were looking for the public toilets which were clean and in good condition, and the other side of the old road bridge, which is now part of a pedestrian route. Luckily the highway was re-routed before the Genoa Bridge fell down. (I am sure we blogged about the bridge - but I can't find it. One day...)

Being a proper pedestrian route there are information boards, and the one for the pub reads "The building was originally a two storey pise (rammed earth walled) structure. Unfortunately fire destroyed the top storey in 1933. Genoa's first liquor license circa 1897 was held at the Maramingo Hotel (across the river) this was transferred to Alexander's boarding house (Bass Street) circa 1913 until it was finally transferred to the Genoa Hotel."


This is the kind of pub I used to seek out when I was a young bloke and often travelling. The food was generally nothing spectacular, the beers were industrial, but if you wanted to know what was going on they were the place to be. It's also the kind of pub I spent many year in, playing music.

They're a dying breed, unfortunately, replaced by lookalike chain places, ginormo "clubs", and try too hard coffee shops.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

A Swiss Heritage Train Ride

Over a year ago now (can you believe it?) I wrote about the Davos-Klosters Card, and metioned a heritage train ride.

Here is it:


The ride is about 30 minutes each way, from Davos to Filsur and return, and is brilliant. I may have become slightly enthusiastic (Susan would say embarrasingly so), but you would have to have a heart of stone not to be amazed. Of course, the vidoe doesn't do it justice, but this video will give you a real taste.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Nocturne


In the Loire Valley, and probably in other parts of France, there is a tradition of 'nocturnes'. These are community street theatre performances held after dark in the summer. Our local one is performed twice, once in July and once in August, and is attended by three or four hundred people a performance. We went to the August one.

It tells the story of Preuilly by visiting significant sites and presenting various characters who talk about themselves, the site and their period of history. All the characters are played by local people and the action moves from site to site, with the audience following along.

The performance began in the Abbey, with very atmospheric music.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

More music on the steps of the monks' dormitory.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Gérald H as Dom Isembaud de l'Etoile, the 12C Abbot.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The musicians perform once again, by the watermill (moulin banal). The mill was owned by the Abbey and everyone was obliged to use it (and pay the Abbey for the privilege).
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Dominique R as Dame Griselda, the 14C miller.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The crowd at the bottom rue des pavillons.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Ginette G as the innkeeper Mother Fern.
Her performance was hilarious, and she basically played herself.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

This house has been home to a nationally famous comedian and a famous artist.  Skits by Jacques Grello were projected and Jean Dufy's former housekeeper lip synced to a video made earlier.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Roger P playing the Black Prince, delivering his lines in both French and English. Roger was cast after I sent a call out to local native English speakers. Here is his account of performing.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Guy B as du Guesclin, Constable of France.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

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

The Nocturne is organised by the local history club, known as the SAP, and raises money for activities such as the restoration of the Chapelle de tous les saints. Here is a link to Fabrice's SAP blog post on the August Nocturne.

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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, 15 August 2019

Life on a Parsnip


Wild Parsnip Pastinaca sativa (Fr. Panais cultivé) grows everywhere in the Loire Valley and is very attractive to a range of nectaring insects. These photos were taken in our garden and orchard.

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

Tapered Drone Fly Eristalis pertinax (Fr. L'éristale opiniâtre).
Photographed by Susan Walter.  Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Mediterranean Striped Bug Graphosoma italicum (Fr. Punaise arlequin).
Photographed by Susan Walter.  Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The longhorn beetle Phytoecia icterica mating. Wild Parsnip is their larval host plant.
Photographed by Susan Walter.  Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

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

Female European Paper Wasp Polistes cf dominula.
Photographed by Susan Walter.  Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The very large Hornet Mimic hover fly Volucella zonaria (Fr. la Volucelle zonée), a female.
Photographed by Susan Walter.  Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

An ichneumon.
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, 14 August 2019

Flat


On Saturday, for the first time in ages (ten years), one of the Tractions had a flat tyre. We had only just picked the clients up, and got a few kilometres down the road. Simon pulled up on a garage forecourt (they were on holiday so couldn't help). He got the tools and spare wheel out of the boot and set about changing the wheel, without fuss or drama. The clients took it in good spirit and treated it as part of the adventure -- even helping! (He was an engineer who was keen to get hands on with some mechanicals, and she took pictures to send to the kids to show what their father was really up to.) Twenty minutes later we were on our way again.


While I was with the clients visiting Cheverny, Simon took the flat to a nearby garage to have our spare inner tube fitted and the wheel reinstated. Despite being packed with cars waiting for repairs and super holiday period busy, the garage owner, an older guy, directed one of his staff to drop what he was doing and sort Claudette out immediately. There turned out to be a tiny pinhole in the inner tube, and he was most impressed that we were carrying a spare inner tube.




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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.