Cleo, the new addition to our family

We have adopted a two month old kitten who has been renamed Cleo. Last night was her first night with us and to say that she was frightened is an understatement. Around about four o’clock this morning little Cleo started shouting for her mother and siblings, low key at first which grew and grew until I am sure her voice could have reached the outskirts of our village.
 

CleoIt took her a few hours more to start to relax and feed, drink and explore her new environment. This throw became her comfort blanket for a while.
 

CleoExploring the kitchen-”this looks interesting”. After an hour or so exploration, I was able to pick her up for a cuddle.
 

CleoEnough for now, zzzzzzzzzz. Relaxed enough to fall asleep next to me on the chair, gorgeous.

What a wonderful week!

Our friend of many years, (about thirty five); came for her first visit to the Perigord Noir last week and what a wonderful time we had, catching up on the latest news from England and visiting some of the attractions of the area. There is never enough time and we were sorry to see her go last Saturday, however we were already planning her next trip while we waited for her flight at Bergerac airport, which will include vineyards and horse riding, wonderful.

I just had to take her to see the home of Josephine Baker, Château des Milandes and its park. When we were last at Milandes last May with my sister, part of the park was being transformed, so I was particularly pleased that it was now open to the public and we could look around.

In the 1900’s Charles Claverie had the entire park laid out by Jules Vacherot who was the landscape architect in Chief of Paris at that time. Through Jules Vacherot guidelines the park was then set out into a large grid with lawns, terraces, balustrades and sculptures to create and enhance the park.

Since 2003, a succession of works have been completed such as boxwood hedges surrounding the terraces and flower garden at the front of the Château.

In the spring of this year work was started on the “Renaissance” of the Château and the park. The restoration of Jules Vacherot park now blends the Renaissance Period, with Art Nouveau and the Modernism periods together.

 

Château des Milandes dscn1811One fascinating thing that I had missed on previous visits to Milandes was the bell at the front of the Château. Unsure what it could be used for I imagined sitting in the garden and ringing the bell to summon tea or perhaps is was a fire bell?
 

Château des Milandes dscn1807How gorgeous is this? It certainly has the Wow factor.
 

Château des Milandes dscn1802Cascading water features and the infinity pool.
 

Château des Milandes dscn1803This fountain is to be found on the right of the new garden with excellent seating area to relax for a few moments shaded from the sun.
 

Château des Milandes dscn1799I just had to take another picture of the gargoyle
 

Château des Milandes dscn1791This is Monsieur Steene the Chief Falconer at Milandes with one of the protected birds of prey that he presents several times a day until the end of October. I love the moustache on this little bird.

The falconers look after about seventy birds of prey at Milandes and their shows are always a treat to see.
 

Château des MilandesThis is a new bird which has been added to the collection of birds of prey. We do not recognise the bird, if anyone can tell me please I would be very grateful. It hopped and ran alongside the falconer and only flew when it could not keep up.
 

Summer is ending!

As Summer slowly passes in the Perigord I am reminded that one of my favourite things about living here is experiencing the advancing of the seasons. Each season arrives over a few weeks with gradual alterations to the countryside that makes watching the newly progressing season a constant treat. As summer winds down it brings cooler air in the mornings and more and more of the forest transforms to a wonderful rust coloured brown. It is still quite warm in the late Summer sun with temperatures in the higher twenties or lower thirties, but not the “wow I am so hot”, feeling that Paul and I have experienced over the last month or so. Eating alfresco and long walks are certainly more pleasant through the months of September and October.

“But when fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favourite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.”
Stephen King, Salem’s Lot.

 

changing of the seasonFirst signs of Autumn, the falling leaves in the lane as we walk towards the old mill.
 

changing of the seasonThe old former mill in Daglan on a gorgeous late summer day.
 

changing of the seasonTaking a relaxing few minutes, watching the gentle steam of water go by. It is hard to believe that the water level in the Céou has reduced so significantly over the Summer months.
 

changing of the seasonThe Summer months have exposed the various islands in the Dordogne river at Castelnaud-la-Chapelle
 

changing of the seasonHeron hunting for fish it completely ignored Paul while he was taking this picture.
 

changing of the seasonThe chalk cliff face on our walk from Castelnaud-la-Chapelle to Milandes. Well to be honest that was my plan but I think on that particular day we walked half way then had to turn around and walk back. We need to get fitter.

September is the ideal month for visiting the Perigord, with much reduced tourist traffic and more comfortable temperatures. On that note we are having two lots of visitors to our home this month. The first is a friend whom I have known for at least thirty five years. It will be her first visit to the area and I am so looking forward to seeing her and showing her our gorgeous village of Daglan and the surrounding area. The second visit is from our son, so we have been making a list of things for him to see and experience, One or two of the many Cro-Magnon caves in the area are in order and canoeing on the Dordogne with Paul, while I sit on the bank, camera at the ready ;-)… or read my book.

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America.

Alien garden at La Roque-Gageac

Part two of our trip to La Rogue-Gageac.

 

Last Sunday morning we paid a visit to the brocante at La Roque-Gageac. We have been to see the tropical gardens there many times but this time after we had parked the car I noticed a small lane at the back of the car park that we had not previously explored. So after looking around the Brocante we meandered our way up the small lane and through the tropical undergrowth.

This tropical style exotic garden is well worth a visit or two. The variety of plants is made possible because it is backed by the south facing cliff behind the village which stores heat all summer long and protects the plants in winter by slowly releasing the heat, giving the garden an all year round tropical microclimate. It was created by Gerard Dorin in 1970 and has grown and flourished ever since.

DSCN1767Tropical plants with their curious alien like seed pods.
DSCN1769Here is a close up of the pods, they reminded me of a scene from the film “Alien”, not a pleasant thought for me, far too much imagination!
Tropical garden at La Roque-GageacThis view was taken from the car park looking up towards the cliffs.
DSCN1768I wish that I knew what this plant was with its gorgeous red flowers, if anyone knows let me know please.


Events:- 10th Organ Academy Master Class which is run by Michel Bourard and Yasuko at 8.30 from the 7th to the 11th September at Cathédrale Saint Sacerdos, Sarlat.

Also, in Sarlat:- on the 17th September at 8 o’clock Sarlat will be lit by ten thousand candles to celebrate European Heritage Days. This year the theme is; Heritage and Citizenship. There is also an evening concert in the Cathedral.

It will be the 17th Castelnaud Canoe/Kayak Marathon on the 11th September, everybody is welcome to join in the fun.


The last Crusade and the curious iron!

Part one of our trip to La Rogue-Gageac.

 

The Brocante at La Rogue-Gageac was wonderful and it was so large that it extended from the road to the water front, in one direction and from the cafes through to the end of the car park on its South side. Brimming with everything from Dinky cars, antique and not so antique furniture, paintings to linen and lace.

I love looking at the most curious items while searching for the particular pieces that I would like for our home.
 

La Rogue-Gageac Brocante, antique fair, DSCN1764This selection remaindered me of the scene in the film The Last Crusade, when Harrison Ford had to pick which chalice to drink from.
 

La Rogue-Gageac Brocante, antique fair, DSCN1761This desk took Paul and I back to the late 1950’s when we were at school learning while sitting at desks which were similar to the one above. I was lucky though I had fountain pens rather than the ink wells in this desk. You could also buy the class photographs from the 1930’s, 1940’s, plus end of term school reports.
 

La Rogue-Gageac Brocante, antique fair, DSCN1765Believe it or not this stack of cushions are porcelain, they look so real. They were so interesting that I was tempted to ask the price but where would I put them?
 
La Rogue-Gageac Brocante, antique fairTemptation over with, I have always wanted a flat iron as a kind of homage to the women who had to use them, who I have great respect for. This particular one is fascinating due to the fact that it seemed to have belonged to the Gendarmerie which is cast into the iron along with the Gendarme emblem. After we had purchased the iron we were talking to another antique dealer who said that it was unusual and rare!

I do seem to find linen and lace from a long distance away, I know exactly where the various stalls are, (Paul calls it my linen magnet). One stall had displays of manufactured lace and hand made lace. Resistance was very futile, this particular hand made lace is from about the eighteen hundreds and absolutely gorgeous. There are two possibilities for the lace, either on a pillowcase or a white linen top – It is so special that I think it should be the top.
 

Event:- the last Brocante in our area will be held in St-Cyprien on the 24th and 25th September.
 


Honey Lemonade

On a hot day there is nothing more refreshing than home made lemonade.

This particular variety is made with honey.

Honey Lemonade

Half a cup of water.
Two cups of fresh lemon juice (about 8-10 lemons depending on their size).
Two or three cups of honey depending on taste.
Zest of one un-waxed lemon.
6 cups of water.
4 or 5 sterilised empty bottles.
 

In a large saucepan, heat half a cup of water, lemon juice, honey and lemon zest.  Keeping the mixture just under a boil, stir constantly until the honey is dissolved.  Remove from the heat and let the lemonade cool. Add 6 cups of water or more according to taste, pour into the bottles and store in the refrigerator or in the pantry, the lemonade lasts for a few months on a shelf, once opened keep in the refrigerator.
 

The Purple Pansy Eater of Daglan!

After filling our tiny border with pansies last Spring a curious thing happened over night, something had selected pansies to eat and not just any pansies but only purple flowering pansies! Whatever it was left the yellow, orange and the white pansies alone. Thank goodness my sister was visiting, she remembered an old Yorkshire trick of putting a glass in the soil which was part filled with beer, the slugs love beer and would fall into it quite happily. No more problems we thought… incorrectly, during the Summer months another curious thing happened, again it seemed at night when another selective insect or slug had arrived which eats every leaf in sight except our jasmine plant!

Purple Pansy

An example of one of our tomato plants which resembles worn lace curtaining after a cat had played with it for a while – large and small holes on every leaf. After a few weeks the beast strips the leaves and in a few cases it kills the plant. We tried several home made remedies and some shop bought repellent which the insect or slug seemed to love because they returned for more. Then friends of ours were talking to an artist, who was exhibiting his paintings in Daglan, about garden problems and he told them that this problem was new to the area and had happened in his garden in Beynac. He went on to tell them what the problem could be and how it could be treated.

DSCN1656

The culprit that the artist described was this particular moth, it’s the larvae that does the damage. So armed with this local knowledge we can now make up a spray for the moth larvae and a backup of slug pellets which are both animal and environmental friendly. So far so good no more problems we hope!

If you have this problem the moth treatment is called Pyrale du Buis and the slug pellets are called Anti-Limaces Ferramol which you can buy from a DIY store or Garden Centre.

DSCN1664

Now for the wow factor in our garden, two bunches of grapes ripening in the sun. I know not many and we will never be in competition with the local vineyards in our area but it is our first ever grape vine, so our first babies. The vine was bought as a twig which blossomed, the instructions said not to let it set fruit for the first year, but…

 

DSCN1739

Now they are nearly ready to eat, Paul and I just tasted a couple of grapes – wow

 

DSCN1738

A couple of new additions to our meagre garden, we have a well which we were not using until a few weeks ago. Now we have a water pump that has helped tremendously in the hot weather to water our plants which seem to thrive on the fresh spring water.  We also have a water feature that looks great and our cat, the birds and bees use it to drink from.

Event:- Brocante 4th September at La Roque-Gageac.

News:- Johnny Depp has relisted his French estate for sale at wait for it … €50 million, which is double its original asking price. The former village near St-Tropez was marketed by Sotherby’s International in June 2015 but was removed from the market after a few months. It centres around a village square and includes a church which was converted into a guest house, his former five bedroom home has a pirate themed wine cellar, two pools and a art studio… any takers?