Saturday, 31 October 2020

Porcelain Flowers in Moeze Cemetery

There are quite a few graves in Moëze cemetery, in the Charente-Maritime, that are decorated with these colourful porcelain wreaths.

A grave in Moeze cemetery, Charente-Maritime, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

A grave in Moeze cemetery, Charente-Maritime, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

Moeze cemetery, Charente-Maritime, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

 


************************************************

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, 30 October 2020

Back in Lockdown

From midnight last night we are back in full lockdown. That means that non-essential shops are closed, tourist attractions are closed, people are only allowed out of their homes for necessary shopping, medical appointments, to help a vulnerable relative or for a maximum of an hour's outdoor exercise no more than one kilometre from home. If you do go out you need to be carrying an document which states why you are out and when you left home.

For us, it's the restrictions on going out into the countryside for leisure that will make the big difference. No more meeting up with friends to go walking through all the forest trails and hamlets in the Sud Touraine. No more Sunday drives to discover chateaux we didn't previously know existed. 

The lockdown is fairly similar to the previous one in the spring, but this time with some tweaks that will be important for many families. It will be possible to visit relatives in aged care facilities, and family graves in cemeteries. The florist in our town has a derogation allowing her to stay open until midday Sunday, because it is Toussaints (All Saints). Yesterday we encountered several people bearing chrysanthemums on their way to the cemetery. Over the weekend there will be many more.

Bars and restaurants have to close. That's really hard on them. They've struggled all summer with the new regulations and tried their best to earn at least something. Some of them will do takeaways, but at least one small establishment we know is closing until February. The government will offer income support to businesses forced to close, but it is still tough.

We haven't worked since mid-March and have been living off government support. We are eligible until the end of the year, then we don't know what will happen. 

According to the map which shows numbers of cases in each municipality, there must be one or two people with Covid19 in Preuilly, but we don't know who they are. We know for sure there are cases in Le Grand Pressigny, and it's got into the aged care facility in La Celle Guenand. Loches isn't looking too good a colour on the map either. But mostly around us there are very few cases. The pandemic in Indre et Loire is concentrated in metropolitan Tours, as you would expect with a bigger centre of population.

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Chateau de la Tour de Marmande

The Chateau de la Tour de Marmande is one of the most striking yet little known monuments in our area. It is in Poitou, right on the northern border with the Touraine and Anjou, with a tall thin tower that overlooks the landscape. The lords of Chatellerault, l'Ile Bouchard and Sainte Maure de Touraine faced one another off for centuries, near the strategic confluence of the Creuse and the Vienne. The name Marmande has a similar meaning to the English term 'marcher', meaning border lands. The history of the chateau's ownership is like reading a history of France -- the successive lords here were at all the battles that mattered and closely linked to the great events of French history. One died at Crécy, another at Agincourt. One fought pirates in the Mediterranean, another was right hand man to a sad mad king.

Chateau de la Tour de Marmande, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Looks like a truffle orchard beyond the buildings in the middle distance.

Finally, after its life as a defensive stronghold was finished, it was sold as a farm in 1830. The current owner, Véronique Kleiner, inherited it in 2014 and is descended from the man who purchased it 190 years ago. Everyone told her to get rid of it, but she decided to live in it. It is thanks to her that it is now listed as an Historic Monument but initial surveys revealed a building in a very parlous state.

Chateau de la Tour de Marmande, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

 

She and her partner are science and history documentary makers, so they had good contacts to help research the chateau's history and archaeology. They also began to stabilise the structure and open every now and then to the public. They found that people were very eager to help, both physically with clearing the site of vegetation, and financially. Many people feel like it is 'their' chateau.

Chateau de la Tour de Marmande, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

 

The oldest walls in the chateau complex date from 1000, when the feudal wars of the local barons meant that this area was regularly a battleground. Also dating from this period is a network of tunnels, with about 300 metres of underground galeries still extant. By the time these conflicts were resolved the Barons of Marmande were amongst the most powerful in France, holding high offices at court. Around 1300 the walls of the chateau were reinforced and in 1330, according to the dendrochronology, a 30 metre high watchtower was constructed. It is this tower which is still visible for many kilometres.

Chateau de la Tour de Marmande, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

 

During the medieval period women inherited the chateau several times, and so by marriage the ownership was transferred to the lords of Sancerre, when Marguerite, Lady of Marmande, married Jean, Count of Sancerre, Chamberlain to King Charles VI, in 1357. This couple only had girls and in 1370 their oldest daughter Marguerite, Countess of Sancerre and Lady of Marmande, married Gérard V of Retz, companion in arms of the great Constable of France, du Guesclin. Gérard was almost immediately killed in battle and his widow, still only 16 years old, then married Béraud II, Dauphin d'Auvergne. Their daughter Marguerite brought the Chateau of Marmande with her as dowry when she married Jehan IV of Bueil. This marriage united l'Ile Bouchard and Marmande, and Jehan was Lord of Bueil, Montrésor and Courcelles, governor of Loches and Grand Master of the Crossbowmen of France. He fought alongside du Guesclin at Preuilly and La Roche Posay, and was killed in 1415 at Agincourt.

Parking, Chateau de la Tour de Marmande, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The parking has clearly been a tennis court in a past life.

 

Their son, Jehan V of Bueil, was a companion of Joan of Arc and fought with her at Orléans, Beaugency and Meung, earning himself the nickname of 'the scourge of the English'. He was one of the companions of Charles VII when he went to be crowned at Reims, and reinforced the defenses of Marmande with large scale works. He died in his bed in 1477, at the age of eighty.

Chateau de la Tour de Marmande, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Repairs being undertaken on the watchtower.

 

Eventually the family died out completely and the chateau was sold in 1730. It became nothing more than an easy source of building stone. The dwellings were dismantled, although the medieval defensive features like the watchtower, the curtain walls and the main keep were spared. Then it became a farm, and little by little its extraordinary past was forgotten.

Driveway, Chateau de la Tour de Marmande, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The driveway.

 

Today it is hardly known outside its local area, but those of us familiar with the chateau recognise the historical value of the architectural remains and how they reflect the development of the fortress from the 11th century to the 16th. The very tall watchtower is one of only a few remaining examples of its kind, and the main keep has some fascinating grafitti depicting knights jousting on horseback.

Chateau de la Tour de Marmande, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
What the chateau looked like in 2012.

 

Until four years ago there had never been any research or archaeology done on the site and much was shrouded in mystery. But now, with a team at work its history is revealing itself little by little. The chateau is built on a spur of friable stone, made even more structurally unsound by the extensive quarrying of underground galleries. Estimates of the cost of the work required come to 2 million euros, well beyond the means of the owner, even with a 40% grant from the Department of Arts and Culture. So they have approached D'Artagnans [link], a heritage charity which has organised a fundraising campaign for them. Their target was a modest €6000 (enough to do one metre of curtain wall), and they received more than twice that much in donations. They now have a 'Friends of la Tour de Marmande' type association which can help with fundraising and support. A programme of natural history and heritage events will take place when the building works and Covid19 allows.

Finally, they have been accepted as a project with the Mission Stéphane Bern [link], which means that work seems to be progressing apace, and the site is closed to the public for quite some time while the builders are in. You can keep up to date with their progress on their Facebook page [link].

We look forward to making a proper visit some time in the future.



************************************************

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, 28 October 2020

An Autumn Walk From Paulmy

 On 8 October the walking club did a 10 kilometre circuit from Paulmy. Here are some pictures from that walk.

Terrier hunting voles in a ditch, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Terrier hunting voles (spot the vole bottom right).

This is one of Jane's small terrier type dogs. It leapt into the ditch and a bank vole simultaneously leapt out. It was like a circus act. The dog then proceeded to look everywhere except at my feet, where the vole was cowering.

Donkey in a field, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
One of two donkeys in a field on the outskirts of Paulmy.

Abandoned troglodyte cave home, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Abandoned troglodyte cave home on the outskirts of Ferrière-Larçon. I like the use of the overhang to provide eaves.

Male Great Banded Furrow Bee Halictus scabiosae on Greater Knapweed Centaurea scabiosa, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Male Great Banded Furrow Bee Halictus scabiosae on Greater Knapweed Centaurea scabiosa (Fr. Centaurée scabieuse).

Village houses, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Dominique called me over to make a short detour to have a look at this house in Ferrière-Larçon. The owner makes charming rustic bird nest boxes out of found wood.

Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea Lathyrus latifolius, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea Lathyrus latifolius (Fr. Gesse à larges feuilles). English gardeners here often mistake them for the closely related Sweet Pea when they appear spontaneously in their garden.

Church at Le Grand Pressigny, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The church at Le Grand Pressigny.

Walking across a valley, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Crossing the Saint Mande valley, designated a 'Sensitive Natural Space'.

Rustic stable, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Rustic stable.

Notice forbidding shooting, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
A notice forbidding shooting in the Saint Mande valley, due to the number of people, including children, who use the public right of way, and the valley's status as a 'sensitive natural space'. Neither Joël nor I had ever seen anything like this before and were intrigued and impressed.

Walking through open farmland, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Walking through open farmland.



************************************************

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, 27 October 2020

Chateau de la Moraliere

Chateau de la Moraliere, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The east entrance.

 

This dinky little half scale chateau appears in front of you as you round a corner in the Vienne. We had no idea of its existence until a few weeks ago.

Chateau de la Moraliere, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

 

The entrance to the east of the property is marked by two small twin towers flanked by two small pavilions. One enters a courtyard bordered in parallel by nineteenth-century ground floor and first floor buildings to the north and the south. The dwelling consists of a ground floor and a first floor, topped by a large slate hipped roof pierced by a large dormer window with triangular pediment. The facade, built of stone and rubble, opens to the south, on the garden side, with five regular bays. It is completed by a two-storey hexagonal tower. To the west, a two-storey projecting pavilion is surmounted by a gabled attic in which a dormer window sits. The false machicolated turrets, mullions and transoms of all the windows, the false machicolated cornice, and the play of decorative features and stone all seek to give the house an ancient appearance.

Chateau de la Moraliere, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

 

The chateau is privately owned and not open to the public.

 


************************************************

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, 26 October 2020

Chicken Soup


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

Chicken soup is a great way to make sure you make the most of a whole chicken.

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

Ingredients

Stock
A whole chicken
A leek, washed and cut into chunks
2 carrots, scrubbed and cut into chunks
Half a bunch of parsley
Celery leaves from 4-6 ribs
15 peppercorns
4 bay leaves
4-6 sprigs of thyme
5 litres water

Soup
Meat from the cooked chicken carcass, shredded
The stock made from the ingredients above (about 4 litres)
2 carrots, scrubbed and cut into tiny dice
4 celery ribs, washed and cut into tiny dice
A leek, washed and cut into tiny dice
5 cm fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
1 hot red chilli, finely sliced
4-6 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil or chicken fat
1 cup vermicelli
1.5 tsp salt

Method  

Stock
  1. Remove the giblets from the chicken, cut off the wing tips and neck and remove the wishbone. Put all these bits in a large stockpot.
  2. Remove the legs, breasts and wings from the carcass. They are not required for the soup so put them aside to make another dish.
  3. Cut the carcass from vent to neck horizontally and cut the breast part across into two. Cut the spine part across into three.
  4. Put all the ingredients in the large stockpot. It should be quite densely packed with chicken and vegetable flavour ingredients. Top up with water if necessary.
  5. Bring to the boil, then simmer very gently for 4 hours. Stir once or twice during cooking.
  6. Leave to sit off the heat for several hours with the lid on, then put in the refrigerator to cool completely (overnight).
  7. Put a colander over a large bowl and lift out the larger pieces in the stock and place them in the colander, then pour all the stock through the colander.
  8. Set the liquid stock aside for the soup and separate out the pieces of chicken from the colander.
  9. Discard the cooked vegetables.
  10. Pull the meat off the cooked chicken carcass and set aside for the soup.
Soup
  1. Heat the oil in a large stockpot, then add carrots, celery, leek, ginger, chilli and garlic; sweat for 10 minutes on low heat with the lid on.
  2. Add the chicken meat then the stock, bring to the boil.
  3. Add the vermicelli and boil for 10 minutes.
  4. Add salt.
  5. Serves 10.
 Ingredients for chicken soup.Ingredients for chicken soup.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

I bought the chicken at the market from my local poultry producer, who comes to the market in Preuilly on Thursdays and the market in Loches on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The veggies came from the organic market garden and orchard Les Jardins Vergers de la Petite Rabaudière on the outskirts of Preuilly. They come to the market on Thursday, and sell direct from the farm on Monday evenings. 

Diced vegetables being sweated.
Diced vegetables being sweated.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Poultry and rabbit at the market in Preuilly sur Claise.
Poultry and rabbit for sale at a market.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Organic vegetables sold direct from the farm.
 Farm sales of organic vegetables.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.


************************************************

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, 25 October 2020

Anemone Stinkhorn

Anemone Stinkhorn Aseroe rubra. Australia. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
 Anemone Stinkhorn Aseroe rubra is one of the delightfully stinky Phallaceae family of fungi. The species is commonly found in temperate eastern Australian gardens that have been mulched with wood chip, as in this photo.


************************************************

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, 24 October 2020

La Croix Hosanniere de Moeze

Every heard of a croix hosannière ('hosanna cross')? Nope, us neither. But we kept seeing signs for one when we took a short break in the Charente-Maritime back in June, so in the end we gave in and went to look at it.

 

Hosanna cross, Moeze, Charente-Maritime, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

The structure is 16th century, located in the cemetery. It is a rare monument in the region with its Corinthian colonnade whose four corners are oriented to the four cardinal points and surmounted by a pyramid ending with a cross.

Hosanna cross, Moeze, Charente-Maritime, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

 

And that's it -- the limit of what we have been able to find out about it. But our reading has revealed that there is one at Villaine les Rochers, in the Loire Valley, too, so we had better go and check it out sometime.


************************************************

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, 23 October 2020

Historic Floods in Tours


Tours sits on an alluvial plain between two large rivers -- the Loire to the north, and the Cher to the south. In the 19th century the city started to expand beyond the higher ground that never flooded. The local inhabitants were of course used to floods, but now they had more devastating consequences.

Flood markers on Pont Wilson in Tours.
Flood markers on Pont Wilson, Tours.   Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The floods which came every decade in 1846, 1856 and 1866 were particularly etched into people's memories, particularly the flood of 1856, which could truly be called the 'flood of the century'.

During this flood, for several weeks the cemetery of Saint Jean des Coups was inundated (where the current Parc Mirebeau is). The water saturated the soil, then started to move the bodies and bring them to the surface. The horror of the situation meant that the municipality had to close two ancient cemeteries that were still in use in the centre of town up until that point. A new cemetery on a piece of isolated high ground called La Salle was opened.


************************************************

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, 22 October 2020

Chateau de Valencay, Antran

Dovecote, Chateau de Valencay, Antran, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
17th century dovecote.

 

This isn't the famous Chateau of Valençay in Berry that belonged to Talleyrand. This is the Chateau of Valençay near Antran in Vienne.

Chateau de Valencay, Antran, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.


The chateau is built on a natural mound and was used for military purposes until 1944. It belongs to the type of 15th century military architecture with machicolations, battlements, and a moat. Only the windows have been altered, enlarged in the 17th century and the rear has been redesigned. Square in plan, the chateau is flanked by four round towers. It is built on round-arched vaulted cellars built on a network of galleries. Its eastern side is occupied by a 33 metre deep well. The first floor comprises three rooms, in one of which are monumental tapestries from the 17th-18th centuries which came from the chateau of Richelieu. The tower adjacent to the living room is topped by a vaulted dome. To the south-east of the chateau are the 17th century outbuildings. The dovecote dates from the same period.


************************************************

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, 21 October 2020

Saint Ustre

Tower, Saint Ustre, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
One of three towers of the old chateau.

 

There isn't much to Saint Ustre. On one edge of the village there is a large equestrian centre. On the high ground there is an extensive old walled enclosure. You can see the ruin of an 11th century church but not much else. Inside the perimeter wall is a grand 18th century house and a camp ground. 

Saint Ustre, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
This is more or less the whole of Saint Ustre.

 

It's in Vienne, near Ingrandes and Chatellerault. Below the village is the site of a large First World War military camp. It is now the industrial estate for Ingrandes. 

Tower, Saint Ustre, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Ruined church tower.

 

During the Second World War the Germans took over the military camp and it was heavily bombed by the Allies in July 1944, causing it to be abandoned. After the War it was home to a French artillery regiment, then it was an American military base until 1967, with a thousand American servicemen based there and an equal number of French staff employed on the base. Around the time the Americans departed the rubber boot and outdoor apparel manufacturer Aigle moved their factory shop and administration on to the site. [Link] There are also two foundries making parts for Renault and a distribution centre for a supermarket buying cooperative. Altogether they employ around 1500 people.

Houses in Saint Ustre, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Houses and vegetable gardens.

Ruined church, Saint Ustre, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Ruined church.


************************************************

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 October 2020

The Grave in the Woods


There are lots of graves in the woods in the Touraine Loire Valley. Most of them date from the summer of 1944 and are the graves of Resistance fighters. But there is one that is different. It's virtually unknown and is a much grander affair than what you can glimpse above ground would lead you to believe.

The small isolated wood where the Porcherons are buried.
Woodland on the plateau between two river valleys.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

A few simple stones mark the entrance to a sealed mausoleum where the remains of artist Lucien Porcheron and his wife are buried. Lucien decorated the interior of the tomb and was buried there first. When her time came his wife joined him in the vault. According to a friend who lives nearby their beloved dog was supposed to be buried there too but there was no one left to organise it when the dog died. She says she thinks of them every time she walks by.

What you can see of the grave today.
Grave of Lucien Porcheron and his wife, near le Grand Pressigny.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

When I posted a photo of the grave on Facebook our friend, the artist Bryan Eccleshall immediately suggested the poem The Two Graves by William Cullen Bryant. So here it is.

On the Alert (an oil painting by Lucien Porcheron, depicting himself on the left, and Monsieur Hilaire on the right, out hunting probably in the very woods where he is now buried).
 Oil painting by Lucien Porcheron, showing himself and a local farmer out hunting.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.


'Tis a bleak wild hill,--but green and bright
In the summer warmth and the mid-day light;
There's the hum of the bee and the chirp of the wren,
And the dash of the brook from the alder glen;
There's the sound of a bell from the scattered flock,
And the shade of the beech lies cool on the rock,
And fresh from the west is the free wind's breath,--
There is nothing here that speaks of death.

Far yonder, where orchards and gardens lie,
And dwellings cluster, 'tis there men die.
They are born, they die, and are buried near,
Where the populous grave-yard lightens the bier;
For strict and close are the ties that bind
In death the children of human-kind;
Yea, stricter and closer than those of life,--
'Tis a neighbourhood that knows no strife.
They are noiselessly gathered--friend and foe--
To the still and dark assemblies below:
Without a frown or a smile they meet,
Each pale and calm in his winding-sheet;
In that sullen home of peace and gloom,
Crowded, like guests in a banquet-room.

Yet there are graves in this lonely spot,
Two humble graves,--but I meet them not.
I have seen them,--eighteen years are past,
Since I found their place in the brambles last,--
The place where, fifty winters ago,
An aged man in his locks of snow,
And an aged matron, withered with years,
Were solemnly laid!--but not with tears.
For none, who sat by the light of their hearth,
Beheld their coffins covered with earth;
Their kindred were far, and their children dead,
When the funeral prayer was coldly said.

Two low green hillocks, two small gray stones,
Rose over the place that held their bones;
But the grassy hillocks are levelled again,
And the keenest eye might search in vain,
'Mong briers, and ferns, and paths of sheep,
For the spot where the aged couple sleep.

Yet well might they lay, beneath the soil
Of this lonely spot, that man of toil,
And trench the strong hard mould with the spade,
Where never before a grave was made;
For he hewed the dark old woods away,
And gave the virgin fields to the day;
And the gourd and the bean, beside his door,
Bloomed where their flowers ne'er opened before;
And the maize stood up; and the bearded rye
Bent low in the breath of an unknown sky.

'Tis said that when life is ended here,
The spirit is borne to a distant sphere;
That it visits its earthly home no more,
Nor looks on the haunts it loved before.
But why should the bodiless soul be sent
Far off, to a long, long banishment?
Talk not of the light and the living green!
It will pine for the dear familiar scene;
It will yearn, in that strange bright world, to behold
The rock and the stream it knew of old.

'Tis a cruel creed, believe it not!
Death to the good is a milder lot.
They are here,--they are here,--that harmless pair,
In the yellow sunshine and flowing air,
In the light cloud-shadows that slowly pass,
In the sounds that rise from the murmuring grass.
They sit where their humble cottage stood,
They walk by the waving edge of the wood,
And list to the long-accustomed flow
Of the brook that wets the rocks below.
Patient, and peaceful, and passionless,
As seasons on seasons swiftly press,
They watch, and wait, and linger around,
Till the day when their bodies shall leave the ground.


************************************************

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 October 2020

Rustic Pork and Bean Soup


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

Pork, white beans and cabbage. All very typical ingredients for a winter stew or soup in the Touraine. Very humble, fresh locally grown produce, simply cooked to provide a surprisingly delicious and comforting meal in under an hour.

Dried white beans, grown by my orchard neighbour.
Cooked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

Ingredients:
500 g pork mince
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp chilli powder
An onion, chopped fairly small
A small green cabbage, shredded
A large tin of chopped tomatoes
A litre of chicken stock
1.5 cups cooked white beans
Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Lightly brown the mince in a soup boiler.
  2. Add the herbs, chilli and onion, and cook on low heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cabbage, tomatoes, stock and beans.
  4. Season with salt and pepper (I suggest about 1/2 tsp salt and half a dozen good turns of the pepper grinder).
  5. Simmer for 20 minutes. Serves 8. (331 calories per serve).
 Preparing curly cabbage.
Cooked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

The sausage mince I used is called chair à farci (stuffing flesh). It is usually seasoned with garlic and parsley and can be purchased from any local supermarket or butcher, especially in the summer, when it is used to stuff big tomatoes. The fresh vegetables came from my local organic market garden, Les Jardins Vergers de la Petite Rabaudière. They sell from the farm every Monday evening and at the market in Preuilly every Thursday morning. The tinned tomatoes are just standard supermarket fare.

Browning the pork mince and adding the onion.
Cooked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

The chicken stock came from poaching a chicken that was used for another recipe. The white beans came from the Aged One who grew them in his garden, dried and shelled them. In French they are called lingots or mogettes. There must be some difference between the two, but I've never worked out what it is. I soaked 500 g of beans for several hours, then simmered for 40 minutes in plain water. The excess that I didn't need for this recipe I divided into two lots and froze for later use.

**************************************

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, 18 October 2020

Phantom Buildings

 

There has never been much money available for the restoration of Glengallan Homestead, near Warwick in Queensland, Australia. It doesn't get very high visitor numbers (about ten thousand a year), so the curators and the Trust which manages it have had to resort to creative solutions to present the property. At the back they have erected metal frames to signify the dimensions and position of outbuildings such as the kitchens. 

The rear of Glengallan Homestead, Queensland, Australia. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

 

In fact, due to the bankruptcy and subsequent death in a bush fire fighting horse riding accident of its builder John Deuchar, Glengallan was never completed. It remains a bit of mystery what the finished building would have looked like, so this tentative conservation approach is entirely appropriate.

At the time I took this photo, soon after it opened to the public in 2002, about two million Australian dollars had been spent on preparing the property for visitors. It is very visible if you travel the main road in that area, and many people visit because they have seen it from their car and are curious.

Although the building could be considered a white elephant, sending its builder broke and being unoccupied for more than half of its life, it offers a unique insight into the life of early pastoralists in Queensland.


************************************************

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, 17 October 2020

The Church at Moeze

The church at Moëze in the Charente-Maritime is a building of two distinct parts. The belfry is Gothic, but the rest of the church it was once attached to was destroyed in the Wars of Religion. It was a Catholic church, and the population of Moëze was strongly for Protestantism.

The church at Moeze, Charente-Maritime, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.


The church was completely ruined during the Wars of Religion in the 16th century. Of this original building, only the bell tower remains. Judging by its architecture, the bell tower seems to belong to the 14th century and would have been constructed by the English. It consists of a square shaft with buttresses at the corners surmounted by triangular pediments and hooks. An eight-sided stone spire dominates it. It has hooks on the edges and a series of triangles on the openings. Four pointed belfries intersect the four corners. Four others similar to the first intersect the curve at the base of the spire on each side. At the bottom, an ogival border simulates a window. The spire was used to guide sailors to the entrance of the port of the island of Aix.


************************************************

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, 16 October 2020

Domaine de la Groie

No longer officially known as a chateau, but two perimeter towers from the 15th century can be seen, as well as a grand 17th century gatehouse. The first written record of a chateau here, near Ingrandes in Vienne, is from 1425, when it was in the hands of the powerful Poitevin Aloigny family, close allies of a succession of kings and later given the territory around Le Blanc and the Chateau of Ingrandes in Indre. 

Grand gateway to Domaine de la Groie, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Grand 17th century entrance gateway.

 

The castle belonged to the Viscount of Châtellerault (presumably one of the many titles held by the Aloigny family). The first castle was built at the end of the 14th century. The building was rebuilt in the middle of the 18th century, on a larger plan, while preserving and using the general lines of the previous buildings. On the site of the medieval castle, stables, sheds and communal areas were built around a rectangular courtyard with a large entrance door. Next to it, a master door led to the completely new pavilion. During the Revolution, the building was sold as a national asset and only ruins remained, as much of it was used as architectural salvage to construct several houses in Châtellerault. Of this ensemble, only the two corner towers of the 15th century enclosure, which flank the buildings to the east, remain. They appear to date from the 15th century and mark the end of the old enclosure on this side. They are machicolated, with narrow arrow slits. These 15th century buildings were vast and formed a right angle with the north tower at the top. There also remains a half-ruined watchtower, the entrance door, the outbuildings and stables, transformed into farm buildings and huge "fruit cellars".

Domaine de la Groie, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
One of the 15th century towers.

 

The Aloigny (or Allogny as it is sometimes spelled) family sold the chateau in 1662 so it was the new owner who rebuilt the place. During the 19th century it was owned by a farming family and transformed into a farmhouse and agricultural buildings. The current owners, who are extensively restoring the chateau, bought it in 1995.

Domaine de la Groie, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

Domaine de la Groie, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.


************************************************

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.