A quick flit to Venice for the weekend….. .

We had another mini break from work at the weekend and headed down to the Venise Verte (Green Venice).  It’s situated in the Marais Poitevin area of Poitou-Charente which is the second largest wetland in France.  We parked up for the weekend at an Aire in Coulon, known as the capital of the Venise Vert,  on the eastern edge of the Marais Poitevin.

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Sevre river at Coulon.

The area is criss-crossed by a system of canals lined by willows and poplar trees .

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Coulon.

The canals are essential to control the water levels in the region.  Coulon itself sits on the banks of the Sevre Noitaise river and is a very pretty village with much character and charm with waterside frontage lined with restaurants, galleries and fishermen’s cottages.

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Coulon Centre Ville!

Boats and canoes can be hired to explore the many canals nearby.

It’s a really lovely tranquil spot conducive to doing not much of anything.  However, if Tim thought he was in for a lazy weekend by the river he was sorely mistaken!  We couldn’t come to this area without exploring it by bike as this really is the best way to see it if you are tight like us and don’t want to pay the extortionate fee to hire a boat!

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Pretty houses line the banks of the Sevre.

The area is as flat as a pancake though so Tim needn’t have worried – wait till we get to the Alps and then see the fear on his face!

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Tres belle maison.

We had a very leisurely tootle around and about on the bikes taking in the lovely stone cottages lining the river and the little tiny holiday shacks which would have done us as our main residence.

P1060485.JPGWe went out at the quietest time in France, between 12.00pm and 2.00pm, when everyone was having lunch which meant lovely car free roads and tracks for miles.

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Little holiday homes – we could live in one all year round!
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Holiday Gite available to rent.

We stopped and had a stroll around Arcais which is a very old and interesting village with a mix of derelict and renovated houses crammed in down little alleyways and lanes.

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Arcais.
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Lots of interesting places in Arcais.

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We didn’t know it when we planned on visiting Coulon that the Fête du Miget was being held over the weekend right next to the aire.  The fete is a celebration of all the old traditions of the area with demonstrations and exhibitions depicting traditional farming methods, schooling, washing, rope making etc.

P1060498.JPGIt kicked off at 2.30pm and was a really good afternoons entertainment. Oh, and free!

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Traditional schoolroom.

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A big part of the day was a three course set evening meal served on long trestle tables.

P1060536.JPGA quick flick through my French-English dictionary revealed the main dish was stuffed eels………………err, mmm,  hmpf I think I’ll give that a miss then!  The finale to the days activities was a parade of traditional boats skippered by people in traditional costume.

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P1060535.JPGMy favourite was the goat boat but if those goats got a bit restless it could have been ugly.

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Goat boat!

On Sunday we called in at Niort with its medieval houses and buildings.

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Niort.

We were able to have a stroll around the 19th Century Market Hall made out of glass and steel and quite impressive.

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Niort’s 19th Century glass and steel market hall.

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It was all very lively in Niort for a sunday.

Niort had a cosmopolitan feel to it and the new blended well with the old.

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Finally, on our way back to Sue and Ralphs we stopped for a mooch around Parthenay.  We weren’t too impressed to start with as it looked a bit neglected and run down but we soon found the attractive 15th and 16th century medieval part of the town and the castle whereby we quickly changed our minds!

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Parthenay’s old town.

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13th Century fortified gateway to old Parthenay.

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We have decided to stay on a little longer with Ralph and Sue to help them get some fencing done before their next pair of helpers arrive from Russia no less!

Bonne Soirée.

A big tick on the bucket list…. .

Well, I think it about time to meet some of the animals at Sue and Ralph’s.  First up we have the two Tamworth pigs.

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Tamworth porkers.

They are about five months old and don’t have names as yet.  I’ve taken to calling them Bert and Ernie as they remind me of the two characters on Sesame Street.

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Bert and Ernie have a certain likeness to the pigs I think.

They are brothers and Sue is keeping them as pets.  Très lucky pigs these two are!  They are like puppies and will come racing across the field whenever we go out to see them.  They love a belly rub and will lie down on the grass for some attention.   They are supposed to earn their keep by eating the bracken in their field but so far they don’t seem to be that interested in it and would rather have a baked potato! Last week Bert, or was it Ernie, escaped from the field and had a little soirée up and down the road outside the house.  We were alerted, whilst having dinner, by the dogs that something was amiss and sure enough a pig was on the loose!  Apparently it was Ralphs pig – when any incident happens it is always Ralphs pig in the thick of it!  Said porker had got out under the fence.  Three sides of the field have an electric wire around but one side if just wire fencing.

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Enticed back into the field by Dr Doolittle!

After much tooing and froing we enticed Bert (or was it Ernie) back into the field with some food and secured them in with another line of electric fencing.

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This little piggy goes to market!

That’s another job in the pipeline for us to help out with – pig proof fencing.

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Don’t you give me the eye!

Then we have the three donkeys.  Chocolat and Café are sisters.

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Chocolat – with her fly mask on.
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Cafe.

I felt sorry for them at first as their necks looked a bit odd and, having an over active imagination, I assumed Sue had rescued them from an awful situation.  It turns out, and I didn’t know this, that donkeys store fat in their necks so instead of being poor mistreated animals they are just fat!  Sue has had them from foals!  They are now only allowed out for a limited time in one of the fields to try to stop them eating so much and slim them down a bit. Kind of like Weight Watchers for donkeys.

Then we have Wonkey Donkey.

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Aww Wonkey Donkey is sooo lush 🙂

So named because she trips over her own hooves when she walks and is a bit, well, wonkey.  She is like the Ile de Ré donkeys with a thick shaggy coat.  She is just adorable!

I fulfilled one of my bucket list items on Tuesday with Chocolat and Café.  Tim and I took them out for a 5km walk around the lanes and through the forest.

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Roadtrip with Chocolat and Cafe 🙂

I’m not sure what motorists think when confronted with two donkeys on a lead on the road ahead but I’m sure they’re used to it in these ‘ere parts.  They were both incognito anyway with their fly masks on hoping not to be recognised!

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Chocolat wanted a selfie!

We were armed with a carrot each and we weren’t afraid to use them.

P1060454.JPGNeedless to say we did have to entice both of them with the carrots as once they decide they’re not going anywhere they mean it even if a car is coming.

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Cafe says NON!

It’s not easy trying to shove a donkey over to the side of the road to let a car pass when they are adamant they want to have a rest and a ‘chat’ with the cows in the adjacent field. 

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At least the roads around here see few vehicles.

Suffice to say, with much cajoling, we got them round the 5km circuit in one piece and then let them go free range in the top field for an evening snack to replace all those calories lost on the walk. 

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Free range at last.

They need to keep up their fighting weight!  People would pay good money to do this sort of stuff you know! 

À la prochaine.

A ‘Grand’ day out…. .

On Saturday Ralph and Sue took us to see some of the local goings on in the region starting at 11.00am with the grand opening of ‘La Moulin à vent du Chêne’.

 

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Le Moulin a vent du Chene.

The windmill dating back to the 17th Century has taken three years to restore with the help of donations from public funds and private individuals.

 

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Grand opening of the restored windmill.

It will now be used as an educational facility and will also be open to the public.  The grand opening attracted a fairly large number of people and it was really good to see the local people out in force supporting their heritage.

 

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In full sail.

We were able to see the windmill in action producing three different types of flour.  Well that’s what I think he was trying to tell me in French!

 

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Three different types of flour being collected.

Of course with anything done by the French everyone had an aperitif of Rosé to celebrate in style!

 

 

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Millstone above our heads.

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After the windmill we went to ‘Le Nombril du Monde’ at Pougne-Herisson.  Roughly translated it means ‘Navel of the World’.

 

 

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The entrance to ‘Le nombril du monde’ garden.

It’s a garden now open to the public which was created by the village blacksmith.   I can honestly say it was one of the most bizarre, surreal but interesting and enjoyable places we have been to in a long time.

 

 

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Mmm, not sure what this is meant to represent?

On the day we visited I couldn’t really get my head around what it was about and having scanned the internet since then I’m not sure I’m any the wiser now!

 

 

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This was something to do with a Sputnik.

Google translate is all very well but it gives a direct translation of what is written which makes the text even more confusing I think, or maybe that’s just me!

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Erm, ??

All I have gleaned is that ‘Le Nombril du Monde’ is a garden that was created by …. Jarry, who was , at one time, the village blacksmith and compulsive inventor who died in 1976.

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This was the ‘arbre mort’ – the dead tree.

He created the garden using recycled materials and a wacky imagination.  Hopefully the pictures might make sense more than I can but I doubt it.

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These poles had red lines on them (we think) depicting the heights of different characters in fairtales.
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I think I was number 19 – ‘Le chat Botte (non botte) – whatever that means!

Going round the garden I didn’t quite understand what it was getting at and I still don’t!

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The seven sons of the giant??

It was free to wander round though and we wiled away a happy hour there!

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Woodhenge!

The garden is also used for story telling, poetry, theatre, umm, err, mmm and other stuff!

P1060361.JPGThey even have a Biennial Navel Festival! I think we’ll probably give that one a miss though!  

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Anyone care to translate?

If you’re interested (highly unlikely) and want to find out more about it for yourself, Google it and get back to me with what you think it all means! 

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They could use these on Top Gear – there was the top of a car above it for a gazebo effect!

The finale to our day out on Saturday was the Grande Prix Historique de Bressuire. 

P1060389.JPGThis was a brilliant evening’s entertainment….. and free!  The Grand Prix Historique de Bressuire re-enacts the original Grand Prix race which was held in the small town of Bressuire in the early 1950’s.

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And they’re off.

Hundreds of vintage cars descend on the town for two days of demonstrations and racing around the town’s tight streets.

P1060392.JPGThe racing goes on well into late evening with the last race finishing at 11.30pm.  The pictures hopefully give a flavour of what it was like but unfortunately I can’t upload any video footage to the blog.

WARNING:  What follows are many pictures of old cars – if you are not the least bit interested in cars then I suggest you look away now!! And don’t ask me to name the types of cars as I haven’t a clue!

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Nice ‘H’ van now an ice cream van.

So, a jolly good time was had by all on our Grand day out which all had a Wallace and Gromit kind of feel to it!  Cracking!!

 

 

 

 

Back to ‘work’…. .

We left the Ile de Re on Sunday 19th June 2016 and headed over to Secondigny, a small town near Parthenay in the Deux-Sevres region of Poitou-Charentes. We were due to start our next Helpx assignment on the Monday so we stopped overnight  in the village of L’absie on an aire which was free and provided free electric and free water!  Result! We didn’t know it at the time but the only hotel in the village was having a Karaoke night!  Now, I think all French chart music sounds like a eurovision entry so imagine all those songs being  murdered in French and you will get the idea of how dire it was!  We battened down the hatches and put the blinds up to try to block it out but it still crept through assaulting our little ears (well, my little ears……………….Tims aren’t so little!).

A leisurely Monday morning followed with a brew of fresh coffee before we drove the 10km to Sue and Ralphs near Secondigny.

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A very civilised start to a Monday morning!

We were welcomed by Sue and shown around their smallholding and given an idea of the type of jobs they could do with some help with.  They have about 10 acres of land and run a small kennels and cattery.  They also have two dogs, two cats, a horse, three donkeys and two Tamworth pigs:) You’ll meet some of those characters in later posts!

 

There are lots of jobs that need doing so we cracked on with clearing and cutting back the edge of one of the fields so that Ralph can put up a second fence to keep horses in.

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Cutting back all the vegetation to make way for a new fence.

Sue is offering a couple of fields to a friend who needs somewhere to keep her horses but the fields need a secure fence first.

 

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Taking out the old electric fence.

Tim spent an enjoyable afternoon with Ralph cutting and clearing the vegetation back to the original fence whilst I took the mother of all lawnmowers down to the bottom field to trim back the pathways in and around the pond.

 

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A happy man with a power tool!

On Tuesday we set to work clearing more of the field.  On Wednesday we helped finish off Sues polytunnel.  A quick gander at a Youtube video on how to erect a polytunnel and we were off!

 

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Poly tunnel frame befpre we started.

The framework was already in but we needed to put tape on all the outside edge of the frame first before the plastic sheeting went on.

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Taping up the frame.

The tape is there to prolong the life of the plastic and protect it from the heat when the metal framework gets roasting hot in the sun.  Ralph had roped a couple of friends in to help get the plastic sheeting on.  Fortunately Tim and I had just finished the taping up as they arrived.

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Reinforcements arrived at 10 o’clock to help get the plastic on.
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Yay, the plastic sheeting went on a treat!

Surprisingly, despite its size, the plastic went on pretty easily which then led to a prolonged discussion on how to get the front and back ends secured.

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All that Dockyard training has now paid off – no matter where or when I looked Tim seemed to be leaning on a pole of some description!

After much ‘chat’, chewing of the fat, reading instructions and leaning on poles we finally got all the ends secured and battened down.

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Voila, a poly tunnel!

A quick whizz round with that mother of all lawnmowers again to tidy up and Voila, job done!

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Un grande lawnmower.

Sue was delighted to be able to start getting all her tomato plants and seedlings in.

Wednesday saw us clearing the pond of the weeds and reeds.

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Just don’t think about what is underneath.

The easiest way to do it was to just bite the bullet and get in there and pull it all out.  No messing!  No thinking about what was under my sandals and potentially nibbling at me.

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Pond cleared of reeds and weed.

I did have a fleeting thought about leeches which freaked me out a bit so I did do a leech check when I got out.  There are tonnes of noisy frogs in the pond though but Sue assured me that they would get out of my way and I wouldn’t step on them! We cleared about two thirds of the weed and left the rest for the frogs to perch on.  After we’d finished we spent twenty minutes watching the frogs that had all come out to bask in the sunshine.

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These little chaps make lots of noise.

I took a video clip of them as they are really noisy but I can’t upload it on to the blog.

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The pond is now clearer of reeds and weeds.
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Another one 🙂

Now that the poly tunnel is up and running we helped move and clean out a large water butt to use for watering the plants.

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Cleaning out the water butt.
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The ‘A’ Team – Ralph, Brian and Tim.

That evening Sue and Ralph took us to a village about 10km away that do English fish and chips and have a quiz night.

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Fish and chip night at a French bar.

Safe to say Tim and I weren’t much help with the quiz as we are completely rubbish at that kind of thing!

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The glasses are an illusion – I’m not the least bit intelligent at quizzes.

We came last but we did win a Mars bar!  It gave us an insight into the rock ‘n’ roll life these British expats live here in France!

Yesterday we finished off clearing the rest of the field ready for the fence posts to go in to make the field ready for the horses.

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More power tools!
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We’re getting there.

We’re really enjoying the physical work and we are working pretty well together too!  Tim just agrees to do everything my way and we’re all happy!  Simples!

A toute a l’heure 🙂

 

Our final week at Le chateau… .

We returned to the chateau on Sunday evening (6/6/16), after our mini vacances, refreshed and ready for the next tasks that would be thrown at us!  The weather had improved and we awoke on the Monday morning to bright sunshine and clear skies. Yay!  Now that the music festival has ended, the apartments have been furnished and most of the investors have returned from whence they came the majority of the work that needs doing is in the grounds of the chateau.  The large bulk of the work is done by a team of guys who come once a week to cut the grass and strim some of the grounds but there is sooooo much to keep on top of that we weren’t going to be short of things to do.  Our first job was to clear the ivy and weeds from the front wall at the top of the chateau drive and to cut back any low hanging branches from the trees lining the drive and strip them of all their ivy.

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Cutting back the vegetation on the approach to the chateau.

We spent two days working hard at clearing the ivy on the trees on the right hand approach to the chateau.

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Clearing low branches and ivy from the trees.

You can see in the pictures the difference – the ‘naked’ trees on the left!

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It took two days to clear one side – 30 plus trees in all!
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Trees now ‘naked’ of the ivy!
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We’re leaving the trees on the other side to the 4 kiwis who arrived on Wednesday!
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Now there’s a man satisfied with himself!

Tim was finally able to unleash his new speedos and have a dip in the pool on Tuesday.  He bought new trunks before we left the UK as in France it is forbidden to wear shorts in the swimming pools. It was a real treat to swim in such salubrious surroundings.

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We had the pool to ourselves – and it is heated too!
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Tim learning French after ‘work’ – I think he’s nodded off though!

Wednesday saw us clearing the area behind the Helpx accommodation which is affectionately known as the ‘Hi-de-hi’.  I set to with the lawnmower and Tim broke out the strimmer, or ‘whipper-snipper’ as Jenny called it!  I think whipper-snipper sounds better than strimmer so it will forever be known as that from now on!

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I didn’t have to do all that grass!
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Clearing the land behind the Hi-de-hi with the ‘whipper-snipper’!
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Dumping the waste vegetation, from behind the Hi-de-hi, in the woods.

We had another  trip to the Super-U on Wednesday as four new helpers from New Zealand were arriving that day and we needed to make sure we had enough in to feed them.  Tim particularly liked the basket trolley thing which we hadn’t noticed on our previous trips. He looks like a true pensioner ready to do his shopping I think!

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Bloody pensioners holding me up when I go shopping!

Thursday saw us dealing with all the weeds on the pathways in the chateau garden.  Jenny had been beavering away for the last two days treating the weeds with a mixture of vinegar, salt and washing up liquid which kills them without the need for pesticides.

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Vinegar, salt and washing up liquid mixture to kill the weeds!

However, with a garden this size, hundreds of bottles of vinegar were needed.  Jenny can probably be seen on every CCTV camera, at every supermarket in the Loire area, clearing their shelves of white vinegar!

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Only another 2 miles of path to go!

Our final job on Thursday was a trip to the local recycling area 10kms away in Longue-Jemelles to dispose of the last load of packaging from the apartment furniture.

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Recycling all the some of the packaging from the apartment furniture.

We called it a day early on Thursday as it was our last day at the chateau and we went for a tootle on a couple of chateau bikes.

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Tim on Jonathans retro bike!

We called in for a beer at the local tabac in Vernantes villageon the way back.  This drink was courtesy of my friend Claire in the UK who had wished us luck for our travels with a card containing Euros – that’s my kind of card!  So, thank you Claire:)

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Cheers to Claire for the drink:)

Jonathan and Michael very kindly took Tim and I out to a bistro in Saumur on Thursday evening for a slap up meal as a thank you for the work we had done over the last two weeks at the chateau.  We were able to sit outside in balmy temperatures and soak up the French ambience!  The food was superb and a real treat for us to sample the kind of food France is so famous for.  We both agreed that the dessert was the best deconstructed lemon meringue pie we had ever had!!

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Bistro in Saumur -sorry should have got a picture of the four of us but forgot to get the camera out…….again!

Thank you so much guys, we have had a superb time here at the chateau and have felt very privileged to have been a part of something so special even if for a short while.  Jonathan, Michael, Jenny and David have been tip top hosts and have made us feel so welcome and involved us in everything that has been going on at the chateau.  It’s an experience that neither of us will forget and we are so grateful to everyone including Eric (handyman)and the two cleaners (one was called Michelle but I’m not sure what the other one was called – sorry) for helping us practice our near non existent French over our lunches together – you were all very patient! Thanks:)

It’s all go at le chateau………. .

Well time is moving on apace here at le chateau. I’ve been a bit slack with the blog again as we have been so busy and I’ve been too tired to write it up!  I was hoping to get this blog post out on Friday but we’ve had flaky wifi for the last three days so my plans were scuppered.  Being so busy at the chateau has been our choice, though, as we are enjoying all the tasks that have been thrown at us and we have felt like we are being useful.  I’ve spent a lot of time in the kitchen doing various catering tasks which have stretched my culinary skills to the limit!  We had ten people to provide a meal for before the first concert of the Chamber Music Festival.  Michael bought all the food and Jonathan and I were earmarked to do all the preparation.  Jonathan happened to mention that he needed to pick up some more musicians from Nantes airport and may not be back in time to help.  Oh crap. He detailed ‘his vision’ to me for what he wanted everything to look like.  Jonathan did tell me the French name of what was being served but I can’t remember what it was but it was basically a posh French buffet.  There wasn’t much cooking as such as most things were pre prepared but presentation was key – yeah right, like I do presentation!!  You know how foodie the French are, so no pressure like!  Everything I cook is normally just slapped on a plate and grudgingly dumped on the table with a look that say’s  ‘if you think you can do better, do it yourself’!  Ah well, keep calm and carry on as they say. So, armed with blunt knives, I set about presenting a posh buffet fit for a French audience.  All I can say is fiddly, fiddly, fiddly.  I know how they feel on Masterchef now.  Fortunately Jonathan did get back from Nantes in time to give some help and guidance which was much appreciated.

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It always helps to have a glass of something sparkling when under pressure in the kitchen!

Tim, meanwhile, had been helping David complete the finishing touches on one of the apartments putting up pictures and mirrors etc.  I sent him a text to see what he was doing as we could use some help in the kitchen to which I got a reply that he and David were sitting on the settee, in said apartment, having a beer whilst tuning in the TV!!   I won’t say what my reply to that one was.

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More apartment prep.

Anyway, the buffet apparently went down a treat and everyone was happy.  Needless to say I was so stressed I didn’t get take any pictures.

Just when I thought I was in the clear Jonathan let me know that twelve people were booked for a traditional English afternoon tea the next day.  Just as well I’d had a bit of practice scone making on our last Helpx assignment then.  Fortunately, lots of helpers were roped in for this one though so scones and butter icing were my tasks.  Jonathan did look at me like I was some sort of imbecile when I asked how to make butter icing though! As I’ve said before baking has never been my forte and I can’t remember the last time I made a cake – we’re talking thirty plus years ago. What can I say?  It’s been a steep learning curve!  Again, I completely forgot to take any pictures.

Despite being so busy we did get out to go to the church mass in the village last Sunday. We went because the musicians were playing with the choir for the service.  It was a Catholic Mass and Tim freaked out when it came to the ‘Peace be upon you’ part as, this being France, we would have to kiss the people around us!  We got away with shaking hands in the end though. Tim freaked out even more, however, when the collection plate came round and he didn’t have any change whatsoever and I made him hand over a crispy five euro note!  It took him a while to recover from that one!

Tim has also helped set up the crypt under the chapel for a wine tasting evening which we were able to catch the tail end of.

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Tim’s crypt creation! (shame about the fire extinguisher).

Unfortunately, the pictures came out really badly and this was the only one I could put on the blog, which is still rubbish.

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Rubbish picture but it gives you the idea.

We were also invited to a talk on the history of the chateau and a tour of the apartments and caves.  I didn’t take any pictures of the apartments but just managed to capture this one of an old wine press in one of the caves and some pictures of the moat.

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The chateau moat.
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Entrance to the moat.

On Thursday we took two guests to the railway station in Tours and stopped off in Langeais on the way back which is a very pretty small town with a chateau.

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Pretty street in Langeais with Chateau in the background.

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We saw a couple of these music sculptures.

 

We had a mooch around and then decided to have lunch at a little cafe.  We opted for the formule which is a set meal of three courses including coffee.

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Entree.

Entree was self service and I had good intentions when I put this snail/winkle type thing on my plate but after Tim suggested it might still be alive I went weak at the knees and had to leave it!

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Non, je n’ai pas manger!!

 

There were two choices for the main meal so we ordered one of each and hoped for the best as we weren’t able to translate the menu!  Mmmm, a giant piece of black pudding for me (yum….not) and a chicken liver/kidney (read Offal) stew for Tim.

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Mmm, black pudding, my favourite……not!

The black pudding was a step too far for me so we swapped and I ate the stew which wasn’t actually too bad but I can’t say I’d be having it again any time soon.

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The coffee was good though.

Thursday evening was the final day of the Chamber Music Festival which was celebrated with guests attending a gala dinner served in the chapel.  Thankfully outside caterers were in for this gig! We snuck up onto the balcony where no-one could see us and supped wine whilst listening to the music (two pianos and two flutes).

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Tim on his way up to the balcony above the chapel.
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View of the gala dinner from the balcony above the chapel.
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Selfie in the balcony!

Now that the music festival has finished we are taking Friday, Saturday and Sunday off to have a break and a bit of the tour around the area.

Welcome to our home for the next two weeks…… .

After a wander around Chateaudun on Monday and the obligatory stop at the boulangerie for bread and pastries we made our way down to the Loire region for our next Helpx assignment.

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Boulongerie at Chateaudun.

We stopped off along the way for some lunch and a 5km walk around the lake at Chateau la Valliere.

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The lake at Chateau la Valliere.

We parked up for the night at another free aire in Giseux.

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Another free Aire at Giseux.

Giseux, even though a tiny village, also sports a chateau which is the largest inhabited chateau in the Anjou-Tourraine region.  There are more chateaus in this region than you can shake a stick at!

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Chateau Giseux

We arrived at our next Helpx at Chateau de Jalesnes in Vernantes on Wednesday morning and began to settle in.  Later in the afternoon we met three of the owners Jonathan, Michael and Jenny who warmly welcomed us to their chateau.  This will be our home for the next two weeks or so!

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Chateau de Jalesnes, our ‘home’ for the next two weeks.

Well, around the back in the Helpx accomodation will be our home!  Information about the chateau can be found here..  The chateau isn’t open to the public as such but does host public events and we have arrived just in time for their first Chamber Music Festival.  One of our first tasks on the evening that we arrived was to help unload a lorry load of new furniture which Jonathan had driven back from the UK.  There were many helpers roped in and we were so busy I didn’t think to take any photos.  Everyone pitched in to get the job done followed by a barbeque out in the garden.

 Jenny, who’s Australian, showed us how to cook beer chickens on the barbecue.

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Beer can BBQ chicken.

For anyone that’s interested you just put a half full beer can into the cavity of the chicken and stand it upright on the barbeque, put the lid down, and let it do it’s stuff.  Simples!  The idea is that the meat keeps moist and falls off the bone when cooked.  

All the helpers enjoyed the BBQ and it was a chance to get to know everyone and try out our near non existent french!  We are trying to do some french learning everyday when we can so hopefully we’ll get better.

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All the helpers – little ones too!
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View of the chateau from the garden.

On Thursday our task was to take the packaging off all the furniture for one of the apartments and assemble what needed to be assembled.

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Unwrapping and assembling the furniture for one of the apartments.

I offered to prepare ‘le diner’ for the evening using up the leftovers of the chicken from the BBQ.  I played it safe with a chicken pie made with white wine from a handy box on the table.

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I didn’t use all that wine in the food!

Jonathan, meanwhile, knocked up something for the musicians that were here!

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Tim doing his usual ‘stand around and look pretty’ routine!

The chateau is magnifique.  We haven’t seen all of it yet but we will as the days go on.  We were able to go out on to the roof terrace off one of the apartments on the second floor yesterday to have a look see.

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Roof terrace.

The space is fantastic with the views over the garden and surrounding countryside.

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View from the terrace on the second floor of the chateau.

With the music festival going on and apartments to furnish we have been really busy helping out with whatever needs doing including catering for guests arriving for the first concert last night which was a bit stressful but all came good in the end.