Wednesday 30 November 2011

Dave's birthday

Dave's birthday dawned bright and sunny, so we decided to drive up through one of the mountain passes and find somewhere to walk. We parked at the top of the Port de Lers and walked upwards! Views both on the way and at the top were stunning yet again. There is still just a sprinkling of snow on the summits which adds to the beauty of the scenery. We drove on to a little lake with the most wonderfully clear reflections before returning home via the 'scenic route' and a beer stop.

Sunday 27 November 2011

A sunny autumnal day and a new bread oven!

This week I have been building a traditional wood fired Roman bread oven in the barn. Made from clay dug up from the back garden it has been very satisfying to finally make good use of some of the clay that caused us so many problems this time last year, when we were wallowing in it in the pool hole. Made of three layers of clay mixed with sand and straw the oven was finally completed on Sunday and has survived three fires during the building process to help dry it out. We are now looking forward to traditional Italian pizza cookery, and if I feel very brave even a roast dinner. All being well the oven should be able to reach temperatures of 300 to 350 deg C which allows pizza to cook in about 2 mins, or as it slowly cools it can cook a roast joint of meat in a very different way to a normal oven. That's the theory, but time will tell.

Lesley :
We had more chambres d'hotes visitors here for a couple of nights at the beginning of the week. They had booked the two rooms upstairs, so Dave and I decided to move into the Pyrenees Suite while it is empty. We settled in well and are still there!!

English friend and fellow artist Sara called for coffee one morning and we had a productive hour discussing printing and selling our work. We both agree that this is such a lovely place to live as an artist - we really are spoilt for subject matter. However there seem to be more artists here than there are customers, so selling is not quite so easy!
Sara's lovely paintings and photography can be seen here:
(Copy and pastethe above link into a new browser to see Sara's website)

Now that he has finished his metallurgy course, Jean Paul is doing some work experience to help him decide what to do for the rest of his working life. This week he has been trying out a boulangerie in Pamiers. The daily 'baguette' is such an important part of French life that it has been interesting to hear how it all works and how 4 people manage to produce over 800 baguettes a day!

Yesterday evening we hosted a dinner - there were nine of us altogether, six English, one South African, one Dutch and one French. Everyone helped out, bringing generous and delicious offerings of food and wine. It was great fun - the perfect way to liven up a dark evening, but I don't think I will need to eat for another week!

Here are some more photos of Dave's bread oven and of the garden in the autumn.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Back at La Maire

We have had 3 very enjoyable weeks back in the UK - it was very good to see everyone, both family and friends. The drive up through France was probably the best yet - not a cloud in the sky all the way, beautiful Autumn colours and a lovely afternoon and evening with Melanie and Steve at their house near Duras on the way

We returned to La Maire last Sunday, stopping off near Versailles on the way to deliver a painting to a family who stayed with us last Summer. It was lovely to see them all again, and the excellent coffee and cakes were very welcome as well. We were very glad of the SatNav, which got us safely away from Paris and on the route south.

Apart from one cloudy day since we have been back, it has been warm and sunny again. However the woodchip boiler has been giving Dave a headache as it really doesn't like mild weather and keeps going out! Believe it or not we are looking forward to some colder weather!!

We have had a sociable week - two dinners with friends, then all our neighbours here for lunch today. We served up traditional roast beef and lemon meringue pie for 10 of us altogether. It was a good chance to get back into the habit of speaking French and they were a lot of fun.

On Saturday, we decided to make the most of the lovely weather and go for another walk - at the 'Prat d'Albi this time, which is just the other side of Foix. The walk wasn't too strenuous and was very open and scenic. The Autumn colours, although just past their best, were really lovely.
There are some photos here