Saturday, 31 August 2019

A Swiss Wood Heap

When we were driving to Davos last year Susan spotted this great way of stacking 2 metre long logs. Genius!


Friday, 30 August 2019

Give us this day...

Susan and I happened to be working near Blois, so instead of driving up on the day we decided to stay in the area the night before and relieve the stress. This can be a problem in an area new to us, because finding breakfast if you're not prepared to pay for an overpriced hotel breakfast can be tricky.

Luckily, just near we were staying in Saint-Gervais-la-Forêt there is an excellent boulangerie that does decent coffee, good bread (and stuff) and has comfortable and copious seating.










If you're in the area we can heartily recommend Boulangerie Feuillette.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Do You Mow or Hoe?

A couple of weeks ago we were visiting a winemaker near Richelieu, and Susan commented to me that it was interesting that between the vines they had mowed one alley, ploughed the next, mowed the third, etc.


A couple of days later we were at a winemaker near Cheverny and I noticed they had done the same thing. It seems a weird thing to do: we have seen vineyards where they plough between the rows using horses, and vineyards where the grass is mown, but alternating the two is new to us. There's a reason for all this mowing and hoeing: reducing the grass and flowers between rows reduces the likelihood of a micro-climate that enables fungus, and reduces competition for sunlight and water.

But why alternate? The ploughed strip allows any rain to soak immediately into the ground, the mown section stops it evaporating immediately once it's soaked in.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

A Mystery Chapel

There is plenty on the internet about the Chateau of Charge (Razines), but almost nothing about the chapel that sits on the other side of the road. The chateau was originally built in 1170(ish), but I can't work out if the chapel is the chapelle mentioned on the monumentum page.




Certainly the wall paintings don't appear to be 17th or 18th century, to us they look more like late 19th to mid 20th century.



We discovered the chapel when I was plotting a route to a winery with Célestine and some clients. I thought it would make a good location for taking photos, but didn't expect it to be open.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

A Renaissance Train


One of the regional trains (TER) has been painted to celebrate 500 years since Leonardo's death, and 500 years of the French Renaissance. We have seen it out and about, but only when working. A couple of weeks ago we caught up with it at Tours station.






Monday, 26 August 2019

Simple French Apple Upsidedown Cake


Baked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

French cakes, as opposed to pâtisseries, are usually simple, with few ingredients and designed to be whipped up by busy farmers' wives in time for goûter (afternoon tea). They are rather plain and not overly sweet.

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

This apple upsidedown cake is my version of a recipe published by Clotilde Dusoulier on Chocolate and Zucchini. I'm a keen collector of apple cake recipes since we always have boxes of apples from our own trees in the pantry.

Baked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

Ingredients
125 g butter, melted
500 g apples, peeled and cut into eighths (using my small homegrown apples this was 10 apples, but commercial apples are about twice the size)
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp almond meal
A pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder

Method
  1. Heat the oven to 180C and butter a 20 cm diameter soufflé dish. Line the bottom of the dish with baking paper.
  2. Arrange the apples on the bottom of the dish.
  3. Beat the eggs and sugar for two minutes with a stand mixer on high speed.
  4. Stop the mixer, add the combined the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt) and continue on a low speed.
  5. Pour in the butter and continue to mix until just combined.
  6. Spread the batter over the apples and bake the cake for 40 minutes.
  7. Cool the cake for 10 minutes then run a spatula round the edges and tip out onto a plate.
  8. Eat while still warm. Serves 8. 
Baked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

I used butter from the Laiterie de Verneuil, available in local EpiService corner stores (Preuilly and Le Grand Pressigny) and the Intermarché supermarket in Yzeures sur Creuse. The eggs were supplied by a local dairy farmer who calls at the house twice a week. The flour came from Farine du Berry and is also available in the LeClerc supermarket in Yzeures. If you don't grow your own apples I recommend the organic fruit from Fruits O Kalm, the commercial orchard on the outskirts of Preuilly. They come to the market in Preuilly on Saturdays and sell juice, apple sauce (bottles of stewed puréed apple) and a range of apple varieties.

Baked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

Baked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

Baked and 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.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

The HMAS Sydney Memorial

On Bradleys Head in Sydney Harbour is this memorial to HMAS Sydney, the first Australian naval vessel to engage a German ship in combat in World War One. The memorial consists of HMAS Sydney's tripod mast, mounted about one of the 19th century gun emplacements built to defend Sydney.



The mast was installed in 1934 and is a prominent feature along the ferry route from Manly to Circular Quay.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

More Heritage Train

Last Saturday I shared a video of the heritage train ride from Davos to Filsur, this week a few of the 200 odd photos we took:

Across the Wiesener Viaduct

...and into a tunnel

and all the time, mountains...

and gorges.

We have plans for next year which involve riding the train again. I am making plans that involve me riding the train again. Susan may be too embarassed to join me


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.