Mortisha

Before we moved to France we sorted through a lot of items, some that would fit well in the French property and much that would not. Sometimes difficult decisions were made about what to keep and what to dispose of. One of which was the old wrought iron candelabra, I thought no, it should be left behind, Paul wanted to take it for personal reasons. Yes it was and I am so glad that we did.

It was not until I started to renovate the candelabra that I began to remember where it came from so many years ago. It was a gift from my father in law who died seventeen years ago. So while I worked fond memories of him came flooding back. Recalling our first meeting when he welcomed me as ‘Mortisha, from the Adams family. Well I was dressed in a long black dress with hair flowing past my waist and wearing a large black floppy hat. In my defence I was only seventeen at the time and it was in the late 1960’s.

Fond memories Fond memories of a man who is still missed today.
 

Cheers DadI think that he would have loved sitting on the veranda by candle light sipping a drink or two. Cheers Dad.
 

Now that the warmer days are here, flowers are starting to develop and open in our courtyard.
apple blossomMagnificent is the apple blossom on our new tree which looks and smells gorgeous.
 

I just had to take pictures of our babies relaxing in the spring warmth.
relaxing in the shadeCleo on the veranda steps dappled by the sun.
 

This is the life...Angel, or as she has affectionately come to be know Groucho Marks, she was not in a good mood that day.
 
 

Vide-greniers and Brocantes:-

Sarlat 27th May.
Daglan 3rd and 4th June.
Castelnaud-la-Chapelle 13th July.
Saint-Cyprian 26th and 27th August.
La Roque-Gageac 3rd of September.

 
 

Nearly Easter

The next two blogs will be on my favourite time of year…, Easter. As a confirmed chocoholic, being faced with the mastery of the chocolatiers in the Perigord is pure delight.

So first, the array of Easter delights at Maison Carré at Castlenaud-la-Chapelle.

As I entered the shop this morning my senses were hit with the outstanding display of chocolate creations which are produced by the Master Chocolatier.
 

 Easter themed cartoon charactersHere are just a few examples from the large selection on show.

There are Eggs from small to large and Easter bells, bunnies, and chickens, to pretty flowers and Easter themed cartoon characters, all displayed on the tables and cabinets throughout the shop.
 

too gorgeous to eatSome are just too gorgeous to eat, well nearly!
 

Service with a smileThey also sell the most delicious macarons and gâteaux, petit and grand, that you have ever tasted. Plus an assortment of fine French breads and pastries, which are always served to you with a smile.
 

The youngest member of the team. The youngest member of the team at Maison Carré. It is a delightful Boulangerie, Patisserie and Master Chocolatier in one shop.
 

Sunday breakfastPaul and I go most Sundays mornings to buy our breakfast treat of the week and to stock up with their delicious breads.
 

delicious french  breadWe have found that French bread will freeze well for short periods of time of up to a week if wrapped in cling film.
 

Next blog:- The Easter delights of Sarlat and Périgueux.

Childrens Carnival

The Judgement of Pétassou

Last Wednesday on a gorgeous sunny day the children from Three local Primary schools got together for the Children’s Carnival and the Judgement of Pétassou.

The tradition dates to the Medieval period and is performed all over south western France to welcome the start of Spring. Pétassou was the object of a thousand evils from theft to explosions, he is tried by the children and condemned, then burned for his faults, therefore bringing an end to the cold and frosts of winter.

The Carnival ProcessionThe Carnival Procession was lead out of our local Primary School and around the village by Maire P. Dussol and 2nd adjoint Thierry Cabianca.

You can see the effigy of Petassou in the trailer on the back of the tractor.
 

So cuteSo cute, dressed in animal or insect costumes.
 

Superb head dressersAnother school sported superb head dresses.
 

Walking FishThis class had made themselves up to be fish.
 

Bless her,Bless her, a sit down at the front of our home. She did rejoin the Carnival on their return through the village.
 

Anita, and one of the mothers  enjoying the day.Anita, and one of the mothers in face paint enjoying the day.
 

Singing and dancing was performed by all of the children.
 

Burning of PetassouPétassou’s effigy is burned in the open ground at the Salle des fêtes in the village.
 

Spring is hereSpring is here.

More pictures at the schools of the RPI vallee du Céou website.
 

 

Events:-

Château de Castelnaud-la-Chapelle from April 1st to May 1st, sword fighting lessons for children aged five to fourteen. From April, Demonstrations of a crossbow from the Hundred Years War.

Easter Monday, Sarlat Easter Egg Hunt around the Medieval Town.
 

 

Truffle Festival

This is undoubtedly the highlight of January, Sarlat Truffle Festival which ran for two days last weekend. There are not many things that would entice me to leave the warmth of a log fire when the temperature outside is -2 and I have a bad cold but the prospect of buying a truffle wins every time.

At up to one thousand euros a kilo the fusty, musty, heady truffle is among the worlds most expensive foods, comparable to caviar that is a similar price.

You can find truffles used in moose, macerons, chocolate, and thinly sliced on top or in various meat and vegetarian dishes. When Paul and I had a holiday in Umbria many years ago we were introduced to truffle ice cream, sounds a bit icky but it was so delicious.

Due to the fact that it can be used to flavour foods before you actually use the truffle it can be quite economical. Dropped in with other foods such as eggs, pasta, chicken or rice so the truffle aroma and taste will permeate most food products you can make a small truffle last for several meals.
 

Medieval Quarter in Sarlat Medieval Quarter in Sarlat where truffle hunters and Chiefs from all over the Perigord Black sell their truffles and truffle creations.

There have always been truffles in the Perigord Black but due to the First and Second World Wars, the nurture of the truffle went into decline, on one hand due to the loss of the smallholders and on the other hand the shrinking forests due to changes of land use and the exhaustion of truffle friendly trees. Across France in the 1930’s, the truffle harvest was roughly 1000 tons. During the 1960’s replanting of trees such as the French Oak was introduced plus other trees to test the growth of truffles. Now however is the constant threat of climate change. Hotter Summers and less rainfalls in other parts of France is reducing the growth of the truffle. So as the harvest starts to decline so the price increases. Today in sharp contrast it is only about 50 tons.
 

Truffles on displayVery proud owners of the truffle selling their finds at various weights and quality.
 

Truffle mooseTruffles made into moose with grated truffle on top, or thinly sliced between pate.
 

Two young Chiefs Two young Chiefs competing for the best truffle macerons. We did buy two macerons from them and ate them while the Chiefs waited for our response. Truly delicious boys.
 

Truffle maceronsOf course we had to buy two large macerons from another Chief to take home with us. You can not beat coffee or chocolate macerons made with truffles, the flavour is magnificent.
 

Our little truffleOur little prize along side a dessert spoon, we only paid fifteen euros so a really good price. We placed the truffle on top of eggs and left them over night. The truffle had permeated the egg shell by the morning giving the scrambled eggs the luxury flavour of truffle. Now the truffle is sitting in the rice container to flavour the rice.

A pig or a dog is usually used to sniff and find truffles in the forests, however I think that we may have the first truffle cat! Our kitten Cleo loves the smell of truffle.
 

Events:-

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle 28th and 29th January for the International Céou Canoe Race.

Daglan 19th March for the Second Spring Festival of Flowers.

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.

 
 

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.
http://castelnaud.com/en