‘Tis the Season to be Jolly

Over recent weeks Sarlat has been transformed from a beautiful medieval town to a wonderful Christmas village. The highlight being Sarlat Christmas Market (this year with a Spanish theme) and outdoor skating rink. Open until the end of December, with up to forty wooden chalets selling traditional arts and crafts, mulled wine, cakes, hot roasted chestnuts and caviar! But I saw no tapas on our morning visit!

Snow flakes flutter down in this tableau scene at the entrance to the Christmas Market.
 

I particular like the traditional Christmas tree ornaments for sale in quite a few of the chalets. Glass baubles, wooden hearts, and lots of red bows that are very popular in this area of France.

Incidentally, many French Christmas traditions originate from Alsace and it was in the town of Selestat that Christmas trees first appeared in the 11th Century. People used to decorate their trees with real fruit but one year the harvest was poor and a local glass blower from Goetzenbruck in Moselle tried to replicate the fruit by creating glass balls to hang on the branches. However, I have heard of a few more places that have been named for the origination of glass ornaments! Wherever they came from, they are gorgeous.

Facade of a Spanish Finca welcomes visitors to the market.
 

I do love this little donkey standing outside the chalet of the Donkey Sanctuary where you can buy gorgeous soap, aprons, tea towels etc. The profit goes to the upkeep of the Sanctuary.
 

New to the Christmas Market is a chalet selling Neuvic Caviar.
 

Spanish Flamenco dancers or matadors decorate many of the chalets.
 

Prints of Salvador Dali paintings hang from the trees. This painting is a particular favourite of mine.
 

Paul admiring the traditional wooden Christmas tree decorations in this chalet.
 
 

Event:-Daglan Truffle Market every Sunday from 11am until February.

26th to 30th December Merlin at Château de Castelnaud-la-Chapelle. This is a narrative show for young children in sound, shadows and light. Shows are at 11 o’clock, 2.30 and 3.30.

Sarlat Truffle Festival 19th and 20th January.
 
 

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Club de I’Amite Meal At Le Tourepique.

Yesterday was the Generations Movement, Club de I’Amite Daglanaise Autumn Meal. Where we all come together to enjoy each others convivial company while appreciating delicious food which is of course accompanied by a few glasses of wine.

At Le Tournepique restaurant in Castelnaud-la-Chapelle you can enjoy excellent Perigordian or Basque food. Or a taste of both. They have set menus or a selection of à la carte foods of a wide variety to tempt everyone’s palate. The Restaurant is situated on the bridge at Castlenaud overlooking the Dordogne River, below the Medieval Château.

We have eaten at Le Tournepique often and can highly recommend it for the excellent food and service. Not forgetting the terrific views of the River Dordogne. They also cater for Vegetarian or Gluten Free eaters.

Menu
For the Meat Eaters.
Kir
Soup Maison (pumpkin and chestnut soup deliciously spiced)
Terrine De Foie Gras
Roti De Veau sauce cepes with Pommes Sautees
Coupe De Glaces Aux Pommes (et Alcool De Pommes) – very delicious.
Cafe
Vins – Rouge ou Rose

For Vegetarian
Kir
Soup – same as above
Courgette salad with a gorgeous vinaigrette and walnuts dressing.
Fish cooked in a cream and white wine sauce encased in a delicious herb omelette.
Dessert – same as above
Cafe.
Vins – Rouge ou Rose.

Paul, enjoying the conversation while waiting for his soup course.
 

Looking good but where is George Clooney!
 

Bon Appétit Ladies.
 

Our Maire in deep conversation. I love the gentleman on the left facial expression and the witches hat in the background of the picture.
 

Wonderful seeing you looking so well Roy.
 

“Yours will be on the table in one minute”. Eyes down and enjoy.
 

Enjoying the alcoholic dessert. I must say thank you so much to our friend sitting beside me for being so patient in trying to teaching Paul and I to speak French over the Spring and Summer months.
 
 

Events:-
Halloween 31st October
All Saints Day 1st November
 
 

Praise for the French Health and Veterinary Services.

We have had a bit of everything this week but things are getting better. First my husband Paul had to have more tests at a excellent Jean Coulon hospital in Gourdon. Paul had an operation for prostate cancer a year ago, which I am pleased to say was a great success, he is now cancer free. But when more tests were needed this week due to passing a little blood, we were both worried once more. However, so pleased to report that after the tests were completed no cancer was found. Wow, de-stress was needed in the form of Yoga and a drink or two.

Secondly our little Angel was so ill last weekend that a visit to the Veterinary Clinic in Gourdon was needed first thing Monday morning. I hate going to any vets just in case it is bad news. However, the vet gave her a good checking over, Angel purred at the vets ministrations, she loves to have a massage and seems almost pleased to see him. No temperature and after two injections she was able to run back to her pet carrier. So armed with medication and a big sign of relief, we all returned home. More Yoga and more de-stress.

Angel is still not a hundred percent but she is slowly getting better each day and is now able now to go outside to relax in the sunshine.

And, unsuccessfully, hide in her box.
 

The veterinary service that we use is called Clinique Veterinaire Des Fauvettes on Route de Salviac in Gourdon. We highly recommend the service to everyone. Their help and advice is second to none.

They cover domestic and farm animals and are open everyday but Sunday. They have two consulting rooms, an ultra sound consulting room, x-ray, digital camera, surgery room for domestic and another room for farm animals, recovery rooms plus stables and paddock at the rear. There is a very handy shop in the reception area were you can buy a variety of products, for example food, dietary needs, medicine and pet toys etc.

Angel with her “I do not feel well” look on her face.

Glad to say that she is eating now and looking more like her normal self.

Bless her.
 

Events:-

Vide Grenier at Saint Cybranet, 8:00 to 18:00 on 7th October

 

Something New to Castlenaud, Knights Time with Massenie de Saint-Michel. The leisure activities and entertainments for the Lords and Ladies in the Medieval Period. 27th and 28th October.
 

Sarlat Movie Festival 17th and 18th November.
 
 

The Dark Knight from the Tower of London.

We had a brilliant afternoon last Saturday at Château de Castelnaud where a Medieval Heritage Weekend was being hosted.

There were artisans who make swords and armour, demonstrations of various techniques and moves in sword fighting and the why and when you would perform the moves in medieval combat. With the highlight being James Hester and Stephen Pasker Shellenbean giving their extremely interesting talks and demonstrations of sword fighting from the 13th and 14th Century.

James and Stephen are historical experts in Medieval combat. James was curator of Tower Collections at the Tower of London no less. Both of the men gave talks and demonstrations in English and it was translated into French.

James Hester the Dark knight.
 

Waiting to start the tournament.
 

Stephen and James demonstrating how to win against a larger and stronger opponent.
 

James stated that the swords were extremely light and that every part of the sword could be used in hand to hand combat. Unlike those epic tournaments depicted in movies a typical fight would only last three or four strokes of the blade. While Stephan talked about the education of the Medieval Knight which consisted of geography, sciences, Latin, mathematics and music. For example, mathematics for judging how near the opponent is to you, their arm span, height and weight. Music for timing and movement, so that you strike at the key moment and move quickly out of the way. But first a knight was taught wresting from a young age, which helped to build muscle and agility so that they could use the skills in the practice of sword combat.

The tournament begins with a challenge from Kevin. The score was calculated by how many strokes made contact with the opponent.
 

A presentation of civil fencing in the 12th to 14th centuries by Olivier Gourdon and Franck Cinato.
 

An artisan describing his work producing amazing custom made armour. You could have a complete set made and be armoured head to toe in only two months for a suit of plain armour, somewhat longer if a pattern was introduced.
 

Amazing work.
 

I have always pictured myself as the next Arogorn or Legolas from the Lord of the Rings. Well a girl can dream. This sword was perfect, so light allowing me to give a good swing, it was excellently balanced.
 
 

Event:- Daglan this Saturday evening at 7 o’clock – Soiree Cabaret with Paris-Londres at the Salle Des Fêtes. With an aperitif and nibbles. Ten euro per adult and three euro for children.

 
 

“The Envy Of The Whole World”.

This is how President Emmanuel Macron described the French baguette earlier this year when he backed calls to have it listed as a UNESCO cultural treasure.

Intrigued and delighted by this, I just had to find out more information about the baguette, why that shape, how did it become so popular in every corner of France, in short what is the history of the tradition French Baguette.

Delicious.

 

Starting around the 14th and 15th century people had to use a Communal oven to bake their bread, which was mostly round in shape. However, even though they were called Communal they did not belong to the Community. The oven was the property of the local Lord or the Church who would charge the surfs for baking their bread. Following the French Revolution, the ovens became the property of the village; no more fees.

 

Once a week the oven was fired up and the locals would carry the dough they had prepared at home to the oven. Each family would mark the top of the bread with a distinctive cut to distinguish their bread from the other families.

 

The ash created during the baking was collected, mixed with water and used for the laundry.

Baguette’s really took off in the 1920’s after a new law prevented workers starting work before 4am. In older to get the bread baked in time for breakfast, bakers started to make long, thin ‘wand”s of bread. Although the dough at that time was still made at home and then taken to the Boulangerie to bake.

 

Bread oven’s can be seen all over France in the Boulangerie, or in the centre of the village, in the grounds of a property or in the property itself.

So if you are looking for a new home …

 
 

Event:-Le château de Castlenaud celebrates the European Heritage Weekend on the 15th and 16th September with a Medieval Fencing Tournament.