Friday, 31 January 2020

Silk Drapes for the Chapel


The Chapel of Saint Hubert at the Royal Chateau of Amboise.
Chapel of Saint Hubert at the Chateau Royal d'Amboise.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Cloth of Gold, that fabled textile from the Middle Ages, has a long association with the city of Tours.

In 1495, twenty-five years before the royal camp that became known as the Field of the Cloth of Gold, the silk workers of Tours delivered to the King more than six aunes (nearly 7 metres) of Cloth of Gold embellished with fleurs de lys, for the new chapel constructed at the Chateau of Amboise.

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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, 30 January 2020

An Old House in Preuilly


Old house.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The view you get from the neighbour's yard reveals that this house is older and less cohesively grand than its street side indicates. It follows the line of the old defensive town wall, and has very small simple window openings and signs of many alterations. The street side is smartly classical and 17th century.

No one except the neighbour who owns the garden I was standing in gets to see this view usually.

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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, 29 January 2020

Walking from Chambon


The Thursday 23 January walk was from Chambon. The weather was cold and frosty. I was the most bundled up of any walk recently. Along the way, French, English and Russian was to be heard spoken by the walkers.

Starting the walk in Chambon. I'm in the orange gloves on the left.
Walking group.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

A village house in Chambon.
A village house.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

And its neighbour.
Village house.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Chateau de Rouvray in the Creuse Valley.
Chateau de Rouvray.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

A new terracotta tile roof on an old limestone barn. 
There are a lot of new roofs in Chambon, after a hail storm a few years ago. 
But one does wonder what the insurance assessor made of this particular arrangement.
New tile roof on an old limestone barn.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

A forest ride (track) in winter.
Forest ride in winter.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Two donkeys in a winter landscape, field beans the crop in the foreground.
Two donkeys in a winter landscape.  Indre et Loire, France. 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. 

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Wrangling Wood


This year has been difficult in terms of keeping up our supply of firewood. Our regular supplier has not had any available all winter, due to it being inaccessible to his heavy equipment in the wet weather. He dropped off half a stère early one morning, but subsequently, every time I rang, said he couldn't help. (A stère is more or less a cubic metre.)

Monsieur A delivers wood.
Firewood delivery.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

So then we turned to Le Bon Coin, where private individuals list stuff of all sorts that they have for sale. I contacted a young man from Lésigny and he brought over what he said was three stères, but looked to me more like two stères. But it was dry, so I paid up and said nothing.

5 cubic metres of firewood, a mixture of oak and hornbeam, and cut to 50 centimetres long.
Firewood delivery.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Quickly the two stères was used up, so just before Christmas I rang Nicolas, the brother of a friend. He'd supplied us with wood once before, but I'd already spoken to him earlier in the winter and he'd said he couldn't take on another client. Nevertheless, with me pointing out it was coming up to Christmas, and any other pitiful tale I could think of to sway him, I finally succeeded in him agreeing to deliver three stères. I was very grateful, because we could genuinely have had a miserable Christmas if he hadn't been generous. I gave him some nice red. 

 I tackle the pile, which needs to be stacked neatly in the garage.
Moving firewood.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

I mentioned our firewood struggles to my friend Alan, who I volunteer with at the local food bank. He suggested I phone Monsieur G as he had heard he had wood. I did that and Monsieur G said that he didn't have enough to supply me, but 'not to worry, I could rely on him, he would phone around and find someone'. And he did. He told me to phone Monsieur A and say I was referred by him.

 Stacking the wood in the garage.
Stacking firewood.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Monsieur A said he could deliver a minimum of five stères and would come and have a look at our driveway to check that his tractor and trailor rig would get up it. He rang me while I was at the ophthalmologists, apologised profusely when he realised, then rang again the next evening to say he would deliver on Wednesday morning around 9am.

The pile when we went for lunch.
Firewood.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Wednesday was fine and frosty, perfect for a wood delivery. Monsieur A reversed carefully down the drive and tipped out his neatly stacked wood on to the ground into an untidy pile. It was a nice mix of oak and hornbeam, good and dry.

Simon and I were getting over a bout of bronchitis, so the thought of moving and stacking five stères of wood didn't sound like the ideal way to spend our day. But needs must. We worked in half hour bursts, with 10 minute breaks. There was a good deal of huffing and puffing, and nose blowing. Then we took a two hour lunch break. After lunch another round of hauling and stacking, for an hour. Then I had an appointment with my GP. Finally, at 4pm I was back, and we finished off the last little bit. Phew! Exhausting. 

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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, 27 January 2020

Crepes


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

Every year in late February our walking club hosts a public subscription walk which finishes by serving the walkers crêpes. Members of the club are asked to contribute by making dozens of crêpes. French families spend 2 February together making crêpes for Candlemas (Fr. La Chandeleur) and they are a universally popular dessert or seasonal snack here.
Cooked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

If you live in rural France or have school aged children in France one of your required life skills is to be capable of making crêpes. They are one of the most popular devices for club or association fundraising. Once you volunteer to make crêpes you'll be issued with flour and milk, but no other instructions apart from how many to make (and maybe 'leave them plain -- don't sprinkle them with sugar!'). I used a scaled up version of Delia's recipe (as did at least one other British volunteer).
Cooked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

Ingredients (for 46 crêpes)

660 g flour
1/2 tsp salt
12 eggs
1200 ml milk
450 ml water
250 g melted butter (plus some extra for greasing the pan)

Method
  1. Allow 3 hours to make this quantity of crêpes.
  2. Put all the ingredients in a stand mixer bowl and whisk until you have a smooth batter. Start on a slow speed and work up to medium.
  3. Put the batter in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Set up a work station on the stove, with crêpe pan on the left and batter on the right if you are right handed.
  5. Heat the crêpe pan on a medium flame and brush with a little butter.
  6. Lift the pan and pour a scant soup ladle full of batter into the pan, turning the pan to swirl the batter thinly over the entire surface (I find turning clockwise works best). Stop pouring batter once you have enough to cover the pan. The idea is to get them as thin as is practical.
  7. Cook until set and will shake loose.
  8. Lift the pan and ease the crêpe over the edge of the pan opposite the handle. Quickly flip the crêpe by flicking your wrist forward and up, catching the crêpe on its way down.
  9. Gently smooth out any folds and cook until the second side is starting to brown.
  10. Slide the crêpe off the pan and on to a plate. The crêpes can be stacked directly on top of one another.
  11. Repeat 45 times, or until you've used all the batter.
  12. Serve, reheated in batches in the microwave, on a plate and under some paper towel. They can be sprinkled with sugar (with or without lemon) or spread with jam or chocolate and/or nut paste, folded into quarters.
Cooked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

My crêpe pan is a cheap 24 cm diameter non-stick version from the supermarket. It works very well.
Cooked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

The flour and UHT milk (this is France, so milk is a storecupboard ingredient, not a fresh product for consuming on its own) came from the village EpiService (corner store). The eggs came from a local farm. 



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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, 26 January 2020

A Sad Australia Day


After bushfires have killed an estimated billion wild vertebrates in Australia I thought an appropriate Australia Day post would be to publish some of our photo archive of Australian native fauna.

Eastern Grey Kangaroos in a cattle paddock on the Darling Downs, Queensland.
Eastern Grey Kangaroos in a cattle paddock, Darling Downs, Queensland, Australia. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Brush-tailed Possum in Brayshaw's Shepherd Hut, Namadgi National Park, 
Australian Capital Territory.
Brush-tailed Possum in Brayshaw's Shepherd Hut, Namadgi NP, ACT. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Crimson Rosella, on a verandah rail.
Crimson Rosella, Australia. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Emus on the roadside, west of Thallon, Queensland.
Emus on the roadside, west of Thallon, Queensland, Australia. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Koala in a Eucalyptus tree in a paddock on the Darling Downs, Queensland.
Koala in a Eucalypt tree in a paddock on the outskirts of Pittsworth, Queensland, Australia. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Koala mother and baby in a Melaleuca tree in my parents' garden, Darling Downs, Queensland.
Koala mother and baby in a Melaleuca tree in a garden, Pittsworth, Queensland, Australia. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Lace Monitor (known colloquially as goannas), up an Ironbark Eucalyptus tree, 
Darling Downs, Queensland. Australia is a land of reptiles.
A Lace Monitor (goanna) up an Ironbark Eucalypt tree, Darling Downs, Queensland, Australia. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Tawny Frogmouth sitting in a Eucalyptus tree, Canberra.
Tawny Frogmouth sitting in a Eucalyptus tree, Canberra, Australia. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Eastern Water Dragon, at the Australian National Botanical Gardens, Canberra.
Eastern Water Dragon at the Australian National Botanical Gardens, Canberra. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Common Wombat, on the side of the road in the Australian Capital Territory.
Common Wombat, on the side of the road, ACT. 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. 

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Burg Gutenberg


Burg Gutenberg, in the town of Balzers in Liechtenstein, is one of only two surviving castles in the principality. These days it is a museum open to the public, rather than a princely private residence. It sits on a hill in the middle of town.

Burg Gutenberg, Liechtenstein. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The hill has been occupied since prehistoric times, but the castle only appeared in the 13th century. The castle itself began life as a church with a cemetery, but over time the church became fortified and the cemetery disappeared. By the 14th century it was in the hands of the Habsburgs and used to guard their territory against the nearby Swiss independent cantons.

Burg Gutenberg, in Balzers, Liechtenstein. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Maximilian I gave it an overhaul after the Swabian War in 1499, but by the middle of the 17th century it was just a princely residence with no military function. It suffered a number of fires and building materials were salvaged by the townsfolk and used throughout the town. Finally, in the 19th century it was purchased by Princess Franziska von Liechtenstein.

Burg Gutenberg, Liechtenstein. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Early in the 20th century it was acquired by a well regarded local architect who restored and enhanced the complex. After his death the town used the castle as an events venue and eventually as a museum. 

We stopped off to photograph it on our way to Switzerland, when we deliberately drove out of our way to take in Liechtenstein on our route.
 
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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. 

Friday, 24 January 2020

Girl Power at the Chateau of Candé


A little known fact about the Chateau of Candé is that it was briefly home to a girls' school.

The view from the terrace of the Chateau de Candé.
The view from the terrace at the Chateau of Cande.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Charlotte Claire Spitz was the second wife of Santiago Drake del Castillo, the anglo-spanish planter who owned the Chateau de Candé from 1853 to 1871. He doubled the size of the chateau to what we see today, and she founded a girls' school, primarily for those who lived too far from the town.

The back of the chateau.
The back of the Chateau de Cande.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Situated in one wing of the chapel, Charlotte designed the curriculum herself. Girls could do a dressmaking apprenticeship, cooking and tasks associated with the natural resources around them on the land. It was an instant success, and local families were enthusiastic supporters, because the teaching reflected the reality of life on the land. The school gained professional accreditation from the education authorities and was able to offer well regarded qualifications.

The entrance to the 19C wing of the chateau.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Sixty students attended.

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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, 23 January 2020

Quailing in the Road


Japanese Quail.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

At the end of last summer my friend Paris Bruno rang me up. He and his wife Sylvie had been coming home the night before and in the middle of the road as they drove past the police station there was something small, white and fluffy looking. Sylvie insisted Bruno stop and they realised it was an injured bird. They didn't feel it would survive if they simply moved it to the side of the road, so they bundled it up and brought it home.

Yolande and Michel's little flock of Silkies.
Silkie hens and rooster in a garden.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The reason they rang me up was because they couldn't figure out what the heck it was! It looked kind of like a small chicken, but not quite. When I got round to their place the bird was sitting listlessly in their backyard. Every now and then a fly buzzed by and it perked up, but didn't manage to catch one. Nevertheless, I thought it was a good sign. I also thought it might be a quail, and a quick internet search by Bruno confirmed this. It seems it is a Japanese quail, presumably an escapee from someone's aviary.

The chook shed -- formerly a dovecote.
Hen house in a garden (formerly a dovecote).  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

It looked like its wing was broken, but it had survived the night, so we thought it might recover. The problem was that Bruno and Sylvie were returning to Paris the next day. So we decided to ask neighbours and friends Yolande and Michel if they could take the bird. We knew they had poultry, so I was a bit worried that the hens might peck and bully a helpless newcomer.

Clean straw, wine boxes to lay in and homemade hazel ladders and perches. 
What more could a chook want?
The interior of a garden hen house.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Anyway, it turns out that the quail is now living happily, in splendid isolation in its own little cage on the other side of the garden to the hens. Some of the wheat it has been fed with has sprouted and given it a lovely little tuft of green to hide in. On very cold nights it gets moved into the hen house, but otherwise it is just left to its own devices. It remains a rather nervous little bird, so the least disturbance the better. Yolande keeps a stern eye on the neighbour's cat, who is a little too interested.

The neighbour's cat, who makes himself quite at home with Yolande and Michel.
Ginger cat in a basket.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The quail in its new home.
Japanese Quail.  Indre et Loire, France. 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, 22 January 2020

How to Build a Fairytale Castle


The Chateau of Rivau that we see today was constructed in 1420 and was part of her dowry at the time of her marriage in 1438 of Anne (or Annette) de Fontenay, along with land at Champigny sur Veude and Ile Bouchard. Her husband Pierre de Beauvau used her dowry to finance the fortifications that were completed in 1442. The couple chose to focus on this property because of its proximity to the main residence of the young King Charles VII at Chinon, only 15 kilometres away.

Chateau de Rivau.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Pierre de Beauvau du Rivau (to distinguish him from his grander cousin, who was also Pierre de Beauvau) was a counsellor and chamberlain to Charles VII, part of his inner circle of friends and advisors. Anne de Fontenay was an heiress, in her own right the Lady of Saint-Cassien (a small community in the Vienne). Pierre died in 1453, of wounds received at the battle of Castillon, the last great battle of the Hundred Years War, where the French decisively defeated Henry VI of England. It was the first battle in which artillery was used on a large scale.

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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, 21 January 2020

Walking From Abilly


On Thursday 16 January I went out with the local walking club. It was a beautiful clear sunny and surprisingly warm day, with no wind. This was only my second walk since October as I have been forced to spend months resting my tendonitis. I can't tell you how happy I am to be able to manage a ten kilometre hike with just a dull ache rather than absolute agony and a leg that goes rigid. So here are some pictures from the other day. Not vast numbers, because with the low winter sun the photo I wanted was often looking into the sun, so I didn't bother taking the photo.

Water mill at Abilly.
Water mill, Abilly.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Church, Abilly.
Church, Abilly.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Sign advertising a rabbit and poultry farm. 
I buy most of our chicken, guinea fowl and rabbit from this producer.
Sign advertising a rabbit and poultry farm.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Deep wheel ruts in a field.
Deep wheel ruts in a field.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The lodge, with the Chateau du Bois d'Aix in the background.
Lodge and Chateau du Bois d'Aix.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Coming upon the newly installed gates of the Chateau du Bois d'Aix.
Newly installed gates at the Chateau du Bois d'Aix.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
We think the chateau must have new owners as these ostentatious gates have appeared. Several of my French friends are convinced they are 'anglais', as they appear to have ignored regulations about the distance hedges can be planted from the edge of the road. According to them a French person would never do such a thing (ha!).

Detail of the new wrought iron gate. 
Sadly, they've used gold paint, not gold leaf, so the effect is not as good as it could be.
Detail of new wrought iron gate at the Chateau du Bois d'Aix.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Chateau du Bois d'Aix.
Chateau du Bois d'Aix.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Babette and Fabrice walk down a rural track. 
One of my companions revealed that this was the spot she had her first fall from a horse.
Walking down a rural track.  Indre et Loire, France. 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.