Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rose Petal Jelly

Large vide-grenier in Flagnac on Sunday and a beautiful sunny day for it. We had agreed that we wouldn't  buy anything large - so no stuffed animals, jig-saws or tools. We are looking for some half litre bottles suitable for the walnut oil. I managed to buy a few old photos - here are two
One pretty little girl and two nice looking dogs
and a couple of large spoons.
On Monday we waited for EDF to come and cut off the electricity as they had threatened. They say we owe them money. We do not. They have overestimated the bills and can't do the sums. They admit to errors and send their 'sincere excuses' and then send another silly bill. We are standing firm and Rufus is ready for them. I did all the washing and ironing just in case. They didn't come.

My friend Johanna posted a lovely picture on Facebook of some Rose Petal Jelly she had made and said it 'tasted divine'. I can do that I thought and we collected some petals from the wild pink rose that grows in the vegetable garden and the deep pink one in the Sleeping Beauty Garden. Both are highly scented. Steep 500ml of petals in 500ml of boiling water and leave overnight.

Then boil for about 15mins and strain into a bowl. Add the juice of a lemon which will turn the liquid a bright colour.

Add 500gms preserving sugar and some pectin if you have it and boil until setting point. From these quantities you should get four small jars.
I have already printed more labels with the correct date. It does indeed taste delicious and another bonus is that during the cooking the kitchen was perfumed with a delicate scent of roses. Place your orders now.

The tent is still standing and I have mended the holes and ordered some waterproofer. Jim is blowing up airbeds as I type to test for leaks.

We were invited to visit Ann and John from Australia who have a summer apartment in Autoire. They visited us last year here with some other friends from Cowbridge. 
Autoire is another of 'the beautiful villages of France' and we were going there for lunch.
John and Ann's house is the one on the far right with the flowers at the windows
We had an excellent lunch and it was good to meet John and Ann again. We had plenty to talk about.
They are lucky enough to have a bar and restaurant in the village
And a fairy castle
This place is owned by some Americans I believe who come once a year
John, Ann and Jim
We were told to stop up the hill from the village and take a look at the cascade which we did.
The fine view of the village from the top
and the cascade

Thursday - market day then I waterproofed the tent. Still lovely weather.

Friday we expected Axel but he did not come. We have heard nothing all the week from EDF either.

Wildlife this week includes this baby snake discovered when clearing rubble

I think it's a grass snake but you can never be too sure. It was about a foot long.

And this, on the path across the crags:
Common Stinkhorn Phallus impudicus
When we went back the following day something had eaten part of it and it had collapsed. No other sightings of other specimens as yet.
Common Red Soldier Beetle (Rhagonycha fulva) on Yarrow
The Nature Walk is full of wild flowers especially the section before it meets the 'rough road'.
Scabious  Scabiosa columbaria
Self-heal Prunella vulgaris
St John's Wort, Yarrow, Knapweed and Common Mallow

And walnut oil makes a delicious nutty mayonnaise!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Shakespeare Show Number Two

On Monday of this week we took an outing to the working mill at Espeyrac near Entraygues. We took 16 kilos of shelled walnuts and brought back 7 litres of walnut oil. We want to bottle it up into small (500ml) quantities for our friends. I have designed some labels for the bottles. Here is a sample:

The mill wasn't old or interesting so no photos were taken but the process is described and pictured below: 
(Click on the link and after viewing click on the back arrow on your browser to return here)

A friend on FB is interested in a supply of walnut ink so I may have a go making that. It seems easy enough. 

After leaving the mill we went on to Estaing, one of the 'beautiful villages of France' that we had recently passed through and thought it worth another visit. We had a very pleasant lunch there overlooking the river and then did a tour of the town.

Our lunch spot where we watched the swallows swooping back and forth

A few more pictures including an interesting sign in one of the shop windows!
The Church
View of the chateeau

The Chateau is owned by the past French President ValĂ©ry Giscard d’Estaing although he isn't 'at home' on Mondays.

As the day dawned fine and sunny we put up the tent. All seemed well with it except that the flyscreen is torn and needs replacing. Also there are a few holes that need better mending. We decided to get some cans of waterproofing   as last year I seem to remember Daniel and Amelia complained of getting a bit wet. Question is - where are the camping supply shops here in the Auvergne?

Jim swings a cat around inside to demonstrate it's roominess

Enjoyable evening in Den and Caro's with their Welsh friends from the next valley Ann and Tony.

Friday morning Axel arrived to fix the items left over from his previous visit at Easter. He left an hour later thinking he has mended the dishwasher and promising to come back next week to do the rest. No such luck - the dishwasher still doesn't work!

And - neither does the tent!

During the night it has collapsed. Jim testeds all the clamps and the nozzle on the top in which I had inadvertently trapped the string. After being re-inflated it collapsed again! Jim tested the nozzle on the top - nothing wrong with that - and muttered about Plan B. We don't have a plan B. Perhaps we can find a camping shop in Figeac having tried some places in Decazaville that might stock camping accessories.

Saturday - Figeac. We have managed to get some patching material for the holes and some net curtain material for the flyscreen. No camping shops. However we saw this poster:

What a coincidence! Another Shakespeare show and tonight! (Yes, I know I am very liberal with exclamation marks, but that is because life is so amazing!) We decided to go but after we got back home and had a siesta the long drive back into Figeac did not seem so exciting. Later on we began to discuss the venue which we thought was probably the ruined Chateau beyond Figeac that we had tried to visit last year and found all shut up. This rekindled our enthusiasm so Jim rang the number and I hastily made some sandwiches. 

We were glad we went. The performance against the back drop of the chateau was impressive. The show began in daylight on a lawn at the side of the chateau:

and then we all moved to another location for 'the balcony scene' from Romeo and Juliet. 

After that we traipsed round to the front of the building for further Shakespearian excerpts.

Bottom from A Midsummer Night's Dream
Bottom and Titania

The acting wasn't so much better than ours but they had the advantage of more and adequate rehearsals and were not encumbered by fanning themselves with scripts as we were. Our costumes were certainly better and we started on time. We haven't yet been to any kind of show here, in France that has begun at the stated time. However, we enjoyed the evening which ended with free drinks and petit fours.

Just before we went out Jim fixed the tent. He found that the air inlet valve wasn't tight and after rectifying this re-inflated the tent and it has now remained up since then. Result!

A vide-grenier tomorrow at Flagnac and EDF may come on Monday to cut off the electricity as they keep sending us bills for vastly overestimated amounts. In fact, they owe us. I shall give them a piece of my mind in English while Jim will try and placate them in French. He has already spent a considerable amount of time writing to them with explanations and photos of the meter readings but to no avail.

Note no animals were harmed during the tent demonstration - the cat was stuffed.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Nothing Much Happened

We returned Peter and Jennifer to Rodez on Sunday but as their flight wasn't until late afternoon we took a picnic and set off for the Don pottery.

At the Don there was an exhibition by a Spanish sculptor, Teresa Girones. Here is a selection of her pieces:

I liked some of them but we decided to wait until the next exhibition was staged before we made a major purchase. So I bought a little Raku dog by Cherryl Taylor that I had seen there before.

After our picnic by the side of the river in Entraygues we carried on towards Rodez. We came to Estaing, a town we had not previously visited. It was charming and we stopped to walk around and take some pictures.

Made some delicious (even if I do say so myself) wild strawberry jam this week. Wild strawberries are prolific here and Jim is a willing harvester.

The walnut chore is nearly finished (I still haven't done my share) and the bag of cracked shells put in the barn for use on the fire. However, the bag has been interfered with. Something has emptied some of the shells onto the floor presumably during a search for edible remnants of nut. You can see the neat heap of nuts to the left of the bag. Mysterious?

Another odd thing is that the head of the Inukchuck was dislodged somehow. It seems possible that stones could have been thrown at it from the path and we did have a pair or walkers go that way who were pestered by Rufus - retaliation? Anyway Jim climbed up and replaced it.

Weather very mixed this week with some storms overnight and too much rain. Sometimes rather chilly.

On Saturday afternoon we did the walk up to the village and down the valley to the departmental road and round back to the Moulin along the 'rough' road. A very pleasant afternoon walking in the sunshine. We met Cyprien as he was working on his vegetable patch as we went past. He has a new granddaughter born this week.
I took a few pictures along the route of flowers and views.

We could hear a little bird calling from this hole
'What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare'

White Briony Bryonia dioica (Old Man's Beard)
Rufus leads the way
A nice example of the Foxglove Digitalis purpurea

View from the 'rough' road- you can just see the river in the valley bottom
And to finish and splendid specimen from the gite garden:

A Peony