Friday, June 24, 2011

Do You Have Leeks in China?

The writing and publishing of this blog was delayed because of a breakdown of our broadband system for nearly a week.

This week has been one of comparisons. With the arrival on Sunday of Bart, from Tasmania and Yan, who is Chinese, on Wednesday we have been talking about some of the differences between our cultures. As Yan, is studying at Bremen University we have added Germany to the mix. Some of our discussions have been interesting and I am sure as our relationships develop they will get more so. Both of the young men are quiet, helpful and polite. I foresee no problems.

One result of having the two workawayers here is my cooking skills are being revived. I am trying to provide meals which represent both British and French cuisine without being too ambitious. Afternoon tea has become a fixture and I am having to work hard keeping pace with the amount of cake needed for two hungry workers – three, if you count Jim. So, Lemon Drizzle Cake, Chocolate Courgette Cake and Welsh cakes are being produced along with some new efforts. I, of course, am on a diet so will not be eating any much.

Before we collected Bart on Sunday off the train from Toulouse we went to the pottery fair at Bouluech that we attended last year and it was just as good.

We bought two bowls, some porcelain buttons and a teapot.

Bart’s first experience of Auvergne weather was torrential rain so we set him to removing the wallpaper off the landing. The weather the rest of the week has been mixed but Bart has earned his keep by strimming the rest of the nature walk and cutting logs. Since the arrival of Yan, Jim’s vegetable garden has neat and tidy paths – finishing the job that Ben started and is nearly weed free!

We had planned for the morning out on Thursday showing the lads the market in Maurs but the heavy rain put paid to that so we gave them the morning off and dashed in ourselves to get essential groceries. Instead we went into Figeac on Saturday morning to visit the market there and to have lunch.
We tried a new restaurant Les Anges Goumandes, at the end of Rue Seguier. We had the menu de jour of three courses for €11.50 which included a glass of wine. Very good and the place was full of interesting décor and gentle jazz was played as we ate. Recommended.

A view of Figeac
View of Figeac market
I have a problem this week: I have found a flowering plant that I can’t identify. There seems to be only one example although I have searched extensively for others and I have never seen it before. I cannot find it in any of the books I have here, nor online – if anyone has any ideas I should be glad to hear of them. Here is a picture:

The plant is about 30cms tall with a lax habit. The purple flower is small - about 1cm across with five petals and a calyx with five, long, pointed sepals - you can just see them in the photograph.The leaves are simple and entire (no serration or unevenness) and are alternate. I am totally mystified. Just email me, please, with your answers.

My patchwork increases – 50 blocks now and I have begun to sew some of them together.

The second project has also made some progress, it now has a lining inside:

My pickled walnuts have also been transformed. Here they are drying after two soakings in brine. They have turned black.
Walnuts drying after their brine bath

The grapevine, pumpkins and sunflowers are growing although still no flowers on the latter two plants but several bunches of grapes coming along nicely. Potatoes are being produced from the vegetable garden along with spinach and salad leaves. Peter’s Black-Eyed Susan still flowering.

And to finish with a cluster of chestnut blossoms whose scent fills the evening air - delicious!

P.S. By special request - a picture of Rufus for Joni.


  1. Wow! Glad everything is coming along. But, well? Do you have leeks (reeks?) in China? I once tried to explain to a Bulgarian Chargé what a leek was. I didn't get far. He looked like a secret policeman. All the same you'd have thought he met a leek before. Have you planted leeks for the autumn? Maybe Yam could did a trench in the SB garden (and take out the rest of the Buddleias while he is at it. Do they have Buddleias (Budreias? They bird - no - brue or yellow/green) in China? Or Tasmania for that matter? The only thing I know about Tasmania is that is where the devils are, but I have a feeling they are extinct.

    Poor Yan - no doubt he pronounces his 'r's' perfectly - but there's a lovely passage involving two Chinese boys in 'The Road Home' (Tremain again) when she is on the same tack and talks of 'Bar Birriads'

    Must go: supper is calling. Could do with some workawayers to help with the play. Out of work actors and set designers would do nicely. Have just posted 48 copies of the newsletter with another 17 copies to hand deliver tomoz. It is all too much. Did you know we have 65 different props for this production? And I have just culled this from 75 and that is before costume, set or furniture.

  2. No - it seems they don't have leeks in China. Yan speaks English well, although rather quietly. His 'R's' seem perfect. He also is learning German.

    Jim has been working on the SB garden removing buddleias and your trashings.

    Bart would have made a useless Tasmanian Devil - we was much too quiet and agreeable.

    Why so many props? Just use one of the sausages. Eat the other one.

    Caro and Dennis dropped by today, just as I had taken a batch of scones from the oven. They are keen on my Shakespeare on the lawn idea.