Saturday, October 22, 2011

Yellow-necked Marankas

After lunch we visited the Pumpkin Festival at Calvinet. Here are some pictures:

We have many apples trees in the domaine, mostly rather old and of unknown variety. I use one of them - a russet type for cooking but the rest largely fall to waste and lie rotting on the ground. Peter decided that some of them were quite edible and so we had a tasting session. He picked 11 possible apples in reasonable condition (many of them are a bit scabby etc) and labelled them for his own purpose and then cut them into slices for the three of us to taste and rate for juiciness, sweetness etc.

The Russet is the sixth from the left
There was a fair bit of discrepancy in our opinions but the 'russet' was a clear winner. The first one in the row was also praised. I think we have identified it's position in the domaine.

Tuesday - Set off early for Sarah's - she lives the other side of Auch in the Gers - an area in South West France known as Gascony. A five hour journey with a break for coffee so we arrived in time for lunch. Sarah lives here:
- in a domaine of rolling fields and woodland. Absolutely charming. We met two of her girls Jo Jo and Gabby and her mother-in-law Lucy, a remarkably lucid and interesting 92-year-old.
Sarah has chickens, a horse and some goats with curious horns.

On Wednesday the four of us went to see a museum devoted to D'Artangan, the Musketeer.
D'Artagnan was born in Lupiac. His father, Bertrand de Batz (de Baatz), was the son of a newly ennobled merchant, Arnaud de Batz, who purchased the castle of Castelmore. Charles de Batz went to Paris in the 1630s, using the name of his mother, daughter of an illustrious family, Fran├žoise de Montesquiou d'Artagnan. D'Artagnan found a way to enter into the Musketeers in 1632. While in the Musketeers, d'Artagnan sought the protection of the influential Cardinal Mazarin, France's principal minister since 1643. In 1646, the Musketeers company was dissolved, but d'Artagnan continued to serve his protector Mazarin.
The account of the exploits of the Musketeers as written by Dumas is highly fictionalised.

Thursday - Before we left Gascony for the Auvergne we went to the market in Eauze. We bought a few things and then had lunch in an open-air cafe it was so warm in the sun. 
Sarah, self and Peter in Eauze
Excellent. We took a different route home as suggested by Sarah - Condom, Agen, Cahors, Figeac, Maurs and it was indeed very pretty, especially with the autumn colours but, not, I think any quicker that the route we had used before.

Friday - A day for mooching about the domaine doing various jobs. Jennifer and I went shopping in Decazaville and I spotted some half-price fruit trees. I bought a cherry tree and managed to cram it into the car. Jim and Peter planted in the orchard.
Later in the afternoon when taking Rufus for a walk we saw and identified these birds:

They are Yellow-necked Marankas - quite rare! Also found three more Octopus Stinkhorns.

The Mourjou Chestnut Festival - the event of the year and where we were to have had a stall of our home-grown and Halloween carved pumpkins. Luckily we could not do this for several practical reasons, not least the failure of our pumpkin harvest. We have got pumpkins but not a huge amount and most of them are rather small.
Anyway we went on Saturday - the weather was fine and sunny.
Pizza Ovens

Caro Face Painting

A Group of Musicians
And to finish with - 
The Inukshuck


  1. What a great few days. I loved the little parade with children, horses etc - what fun!
    I was surprised to see the Inukshuk a the end o of your post - just like home!

  2. We first saw Inukshucks (or Inuksuit) in Canada (Jim was
    born there) and as we come from an area in South Wales that has the right kind of large flat stones we built one in our garden. We now have some here in France.