Medieval Garrison. – Part Two.

Medieval Garrison at Château de Castelnaud, (Chevalier et gens d’armes en parade).

Last Sunday was outstanding, entertaining and very informative. I personally learned a lot about the Medieval period. I studied Medieval costume as part of my course in dress design many years ago when I was at College however, I never studied weapons and armour in detail. What a privilege it turned out to be to gain knowledge from various Medieval historians about its use in that period in time.

Weapons handling demonstrationWeapons handling demonstration.

First the historian would show you the sword, dagger, pike or crossbow and explain what it was made from and why it was made in a particular way. Then he would demonstrate its use on the volunteer and where it would cause the most damage. We must have listened for half an hour or so. I found it so interesting probably because I changed my career from dress designer to psychologist, then specialised in forensic psychology, the why and how people behave in this way and what weapons they used still holds a fascination for me.


Medieval kitchenYou could smell the aroma of the kitchen from quite a distance away.

A lit fire, Medieval baking of pies, biscuits and bread.


Loading the trebuchetDemonstration of the firing of the trebuchet.


Firing of the trebuchetThere it goes.

A wonderful, educational and entertaining experience that I could not recommend more highly.


Events:-from the 26th to the 30th December you will be able to see Merlin at the Château de Castelnaud, telling stories with the aid of shadow puppets for the children.

Medieval Garrison. – Part One.

Medieval Garrison at Château de Castelnaud, (Chevalier et gens d’armes en parade).

What a treat last Sunday was at Château de Castelnaud, the deployment of a Medieval Garrison, weapon handling demonstration, presentation of armour and the firing of the trebuchet, brilliant.

On arrival at the Château Paul and I followed the growing crowd of people who were heading towards the Château’s main gate where we were greeted by “the guardians of the gate”, who proceeded to make everyone join two lines, one line was formed for the gentlemen and one line for the ladies. At this point the men at the front of the line were asked questions to establish if we were friends or foe. On hearing the answers to the questions posed, the guards ran inside and shut the gate shouting loudly that we were all foe. After which they shouted “parley”, this we did and the gates were opened to let everyone through.

Château de Castelnaud, Chevalier et gens d'armes en paradeUnsure if this guard walking towards me was going to detain me or not we quickly made our way into the Châteaus grounds.
The costumes of the Medieval Period where magnificent and were worn by historians of the period and volunteers.

Laid out on the lawn were various pieces of armour which were worn by the knights in the Medieval period. Each piece was described by an historian, stating who would have worn the armour and how it was designed and made.

Chevalier et gens d'armes en paradePresentation of armour.

I had often seen helmets in museums with a raised section along the centreline which I always thought was a design feature or that it was made in two pieces. How wrong I was, it was made in one piece and the raised section was there to deflect a sword and prevent it from penetrating the helmet. In fact everything about the helmets had a protection function, as did the rest of the armour.

Gorgeous, armoured waistcoatThis gorgeous, armoured waistcoat was worn by a Baron. Decorated red velvet on the outside and sheets of metal on the inside. They used sheets of metal rather than one piece of armour for ease of movement. This item of clothing was used at banquets!

Dressing of the armourA volunteer for the dressing of the armour. It took two men to dress half of his body in about five minutes.

Medieval Garrison at Château de CastelnaudWhen you watch films about the Medieval Period, the armour always seems to be cumbersome, when in fact it is was flexible and very easy to move about in. It was the chain mail that was the most difficult to manage.

Paul tried one of the armoured gloves on, although not a light weight the craftsmanship was excellent, you could move your fingers and wrist normally and use your hand perfectly well.


Events:- Halloween this weekend then on Tuesday 1st November it is All Saints Day, (the day of the dead) which is a National Holiday in France, shops and offices will be closed so that people can go to the cemeteries to honour their ancestors. Candles are lit and chrysanthemums are placed on the tombs.


Walnut Bread.

One of the culinary joys this time of year is the new season of walnuts, which Paul and I have been foraging along the lanes leading from the village of Daglan. The walnut trees produce nuts that have been awarded ‘Noix du Perigord Appellation d’Origine (AOP)’ and are grown in over 7,000 hectares, primarily in the Perigord Noir. Our area is known as ‘Route de la Noix’ because of the abundance of walnuts.

The walnuts are used in many delicacies and recipes such as walnut lacquer, which is delicious, walnut wine, walnut gateau, walnut biscuits, walnut flour, walnut bread, walnut oil, in fact the nuts can be cooked with almost anything and everything from the starter of the meal to the dessert.

Not only are they rich in fibres, an excellent source of manganese, vitamin B1, B6, B9 and E, high in arginine which contributes to a good blood circulation, low in sodium (ideal for a salt free diet), rich in in omega 6 and 3 lipids, but they are also ‘une pepite energetique’, a little nugget of energy, with a 20-25g portion providing 8% of the daily pep required for an adult.

This year I thought that I would try walnut bread which is gorgeous eaten with cheese.

Walnut Bread

Makes one small loaf and bakes in around thirty minutes.

250g (9oz) granary flour
1tsp salt, 1tsp sugar
75g (3oz) shelled walnuts, brake the walnuts in half or quarters.
2g (one sachet) dried active yeast
180ml (6) warm water
Baking tray lined with baking parchment
Roasting pan

1 In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix the flour, salt and sugar, add the walnuts, yeast and water and combine with a wooden spoon and then with your hands until it forms a dough. Cover and leave in the bowl for ten minutes.

2 Leaving the dough in the bowl, knead by stretching a portion of it up from the side and press into the middle. Turn the bowl slightly and repeat with another portion of dough. Repeat another eight times. The whole process should take about one minute and the dough should start to resist. Cover and leave to rest for ten minutes.

3 Repeat step 2 another three times. After the final knead, cover and leave to prove for about one hour.

4 Punch down the dough with your fist to release the air, then place it onto a floured work surface. Shape into a ball with your hands. Flatten the dough slightly into a neat round disc, then push your finger through the middle to make a hole. Enlarge a little, then place the bread onto a prepared baking sheet.

5 Cover the bread with the empty bowl and let it rise until just less than double its size, about 45 mins.

6 About twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 260C/fan 240C/gas 9 and place a roasting pan at the bottom of the oven to preheat. Fill a cup of water and set aside.

7 When the dough has finished rising, uncover it and dust with flour.

8 Slash a large square into the top of the dough, about 5mm deep, using a sharp knife.

9 Place the bread dough into the oven, pour the cupful of water into the hot roasting pan and lower the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas6. Bake for about 30 mins, or until it has turned brown.

10 To check if the bread is cooked all the way through, tip it upside down and tap the bottom. It should sound hollow. If not ready return to the oven for a few minutes. Place onto a wire rack to cool.

The walnuts add a wonderful flavour to the bread.

Bon Appetit.

Strange Encounter in the Launderette!

There was a famous advert a few years ago on British television where a young man took of his jeans off to be washed in the Launderette. Why am I writing about this? Well the same thing happened at the Launderette in Cenac this morning. Replace a young man with a much older and heavier man but the actions were exactly the same.

Paul and I go to Cénac most Tuesday mornings for the market of fresh produce but this morning was slightly different due to the fact that I wanted to swap a book at the book exchange section of the village Launderette. They have a really good selection of English and a few French crime novels which you can exchange for one of your own. I had just started to browse through the available books when the gentleman walked in to do his washing. After taking off his jeans and putting them into the washer (I must point out that he was wearing boxer shorts!) he sat down to eat his breakfast and I carried on looking at the books. It did not seem such an unusual event to the owner who came out from the back of the shop and said a cheery “Bonjour”. Could anyone tell me if this is usual laundrette behaviour in France? My husband and I have not stopped laughing.

Autumn is here.

Autumn is hereThis picture was taken on the edge of Daglan on route to Cénac, very Autumnal, the changes in seasons are profound here. It is something that we missed in England where, it seems you have one season all year around and it just gets a few degrees warmer in the Summer months. Here the colour of the landscape is changing rapidly now from verdant green to brilliant red, orange and gold it is superb.

Thick Fog Thick fog which had lifted away by lunchtime to give a pleasant afternoon.

On a different note, we have a new artwork in the village which has been created by carving figures into a dead tree, brilliant.

A young women wearing clogs. A young women wearing clogs.

This was taken from the other side of the tree,

a Gentleman in a top hat.A Gentleman in a top hat.

Events : This Saturday in Daglan is the “Walk for Cancer” which starts at two o’clock at the Salle des fêtes, 3km or 7km which ever you prefer.

Grand Inauguration of the Renovated Marie and Post Office

One of the many reasons that we love the village of Daglan is the coming together of the people that live in and around the village. There is an excellent community spirit for helping and celebrating the achievements of the village. The most recent achievement is the renovation of the Mairie which now includes the Post Office.

A few days ago we received an invitation to the Grand Inauguration which took place this morning and was attended by most of the villagers, the Maire and dignitaries from the Perigord.

Daglan Mairie Our splendid Mairie with its grand tower

Our Maire, Pascal Dussol, guided the dignitaries, followed by a precession of the guests, around the municipal projects of Daglan. First we went to the Presbytère which was used as a temporary Mairie during the renovations and will now be put to use as art rooms, a library and music room. Then the long parade were shown the new apartments which were created in an old building and are designed for young families. Next was the Cemetery which has been extended.

View over Daglan and the Céou valley.From the Cemetery there are gorgeous views over Daglan and the Céou valley.

Then the precession returned to the Mairie.

Scissors on a velvet cushionWhere M. Dussol was presented with a pair of scissors on a velvet cushion by a very cute little girl from the local Primary school.

After cutting the ribbon we were invited to inspect the renovation work. It looked splendid, keeping the original features it is modern and efficient. To the right of the reception area is the new post office. The building which used to house the post office is for sale which will generate money for Daglan and the community.

Exposed stone and the superb fireplace and bread ovenThe committee/conference room with the exposed stone and the superb fireplace and bread oven.

Grand Inauguration of the Renovated Marie, DaglanBefore the buffet and wine came the speeches from the Marie, and august dignitaries, the Prefect de la Dordogne, Depute de la Dordogne President du Conseil Departmental, Vice-President du Senat Senateur de la Dordogne and Conseillere Departmental du canton de la vallee Dordogne. It was an honour for the Marie and for the village for them all to attend. They all spoke highly of the village, one said, “Perfect location, perfect village and people”. Wonderful.

Cleo loves Pixar!

Our ten week old kitten whom we have named Cleo loves the Pixar “Birds on a Wire” animation, she taps the screen and follows the birds from left to right, when the short film is finished she will look behind the screen to see if the birds are hiding.

Birds on a WireA great fan of Pixar “Birds on a Wire”


In the past we have adopted stray or unwanted cats but we have never had a young kitten before. Everything is new and exciting for her, she thrives on exploration, she plays hard and sleeps often.

Cleo sleepingIt’s an exhausting life…Time for sleep.

Cleo the catI am wide awake now, get ready, it is play time again.


We thought of adopting another cat as companion for Angel because she was grieving the great loss of Phoebe who died in the Spring of this year. Angel would call for her most nights and look for her around the house at feeding time. So when the chance to adopt Cleo came there was no hesitation.

For the first couple of weeks Angel hissed at Cleo whenever she saw her but gradually Angel has mellowed and they have started to play together, they now rush about playing tag and kiss each other on the nose.

dscn1922Starting to get along together.


We have plenty of cat toys to play with but who needs toys when she can play for hours with an empty cardboard kitchen roll, or a pair of slippers.

dscn1875“They are my slippers Cleo”.

Angel has stopped shouting in the night and when food is ready she now looks for Cleo, wonderful.

dscn1921She is so cute.


New to Castelnaud

A few weeks ago we took a friend to Castelnaud were I am delighted to say they have a few new and interesting exhibits to see and to play! One of which is the new computer game where your task is to save a captured prince from the castle using your knowledge of Castelnaud. Our friend played the game while Paul and I observed and helped where we could. After successfully saving the prince and the game had ended, we were walking away when we heard the computer saying that our friend had won a prize and to write down the code on the screen to be presented at the reception desk. Armed with this knowledge we continued out visit and found another computer, on which my friend played the game once more and won another prize. After collecting both prizes she gave one to me.

CastelnaudNow we both have a poster which is great, ours is on display on our office wall and every time I see it, it brings back fond memories of her holiday with us.

Another new find at Castelnaud is the Nine Worthies: which is a new wall painting created as it would have been in the Middle Ages. The theme of the Nine Worthies was highly prized by the nobility for decorating their castle walls. These notable chevaliers illustrate a whole segment of narrative literature, painted using the traditional techniques of the period. Popular heroes and paradigms of chivalry are divided into three groups of three: the Pagans (Hector, Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar), the Jews (Joshua, David and Judas Maccabeus) and the Christians (Arthur, Charlemagne and Godfrey of Bouillon). They look brilliant and there is a film about how the artists worked and painted to create this piece of art.

CastelnaudArthur and Charlemagne
See the video of how the mural of the Nine Worthies was made

Event:- Château de Castelnaud 22 and 23rd October, “Chevaliers et gens d’armes en parade”. Where you will see the deployment of armed men, ladies, maids, blacksmith and a master chef. Weapons handling demonstrations, trying on armour and the shooting of the trebuchet, I can not wait.