The Green Finger of Knowledge.

Last Sunday morning we needed to replace a few of our plants because our kitten Cleo had sat on them a few days earlier. Being squashed to pieces did not do them any good at all. Usually we get our plants from Sandrine at Daglan Sunday market but she was not there.

Sandrine is truly a marvel with information on plants, tell her what type of plant you are looking for and she will advise on colour, flowering period and instructions on where and how to plant them. If you plant them in an unsuitable place she will wag her finger at you advising you to move the plant.

This she did a few weeks ago when we bought plants from her. She ran across the main road pointed to the plant we had just bought and said ‘non’ and them spread her arms on the wall to show that it should be planted against a wall with a trellis. Yes, we moved the plant! Well she is the expert and we are only the learners of what will grow and where in our village so any help is always appreciated.

Back to the story, Sandrine was not at Daglan market but we’d seen posters that Cénac et Saint Julien was holding a flower festival so off we went. We found the main road in Cénac was closed to traffic to be used for their Flower Festival.

I am on the right buying basil from one of the many stalls.
 

I was so tempted by these gorgeous roses, the colours, the aroma, wow, but space being at a premium, practicality won.
 

We did buy flowers to replace the squashed ones from the stall above.
 

We found Sandrine with her magnificent display.
Just a few of the large selection on offer from the expert gardener.
 

I think that we need more help from her in order to achieve the above.
 
 

Event:- France Election this Sunday for the second and final round of votes for the two remaining candidates. Keeping fingers crossed all day!
 
 

Hidden and not so Hidden Gems of St Cyprian

Arriving at St Cyprien you are first greeted, by the commercial area with Carrefour Supermarket which has a very handy chemist, plus other stores including a DIY and a household electrical stores which we have found very useful. Head up to the town and you reach the main street the Rue Gambetta.

Along this charming road there are many restaurants and bars, a good fresh fish shop and a number of boutiques, there is also an excellent shop selling beautiful cabinets and stone hand basins for the bathroom. If you are looking for a coffee, a meal or simply a stroll taking in the French atmosphere, this is the street to head for. The tourist information office is on this street and they can give you a very useful map for exploring the old town.

Our not so Hidden Gem. If you use the Credit Agricole bank in St Cyprian you will have noticed across the road from the bank a very interesting Roman style sunken garden which is I am afraid to say is somewhat neglected now but you can imagine how wonderful it once was.

It looks gorgeous even now.
 

A market is held every Sunday morning throughout the year and Wednesday mornings in the summer season.

The array and variety of fresh produce is outstanding.
 

Every basket you could possibly want is on display
 
Our Hidden Gem. A weekend Brocante is held each April and is hidden away at the back of the Sunday market in and around the Salle des Fetes.

Does anyone remember these dress makers models? My mother used to have one like the model to the back, right. Very awkward to use, she had to take it apart and rebuild every time she needed another size. With my help due to the fact that it was always very difficult to attach the pins.
 

Our purchases from the Brocante. Blue and gold leaf coffee cup
 

Plus a red and gold leaf tea cup and saucer
 
 
Event:- Cenac this Sunday, 30th April for the Flower Festival
 
 

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.

Doctor Zhivargo comes to Sarlat!

Sarlat Christmas Market.

The Christmas market in Sarlat consists of about forty chalets, all offering artisan products from Christmas decorations, toys, paintings, candy, macaroons, chocolate, scarves, hats to beer, mulled wine, snacks and more. Our first visit to the market was last Thursday but I am sure that there will be more. I love Christmas and the Christmas market in Sarlat fills me, and I am sure many others, with joy. This year the Christmas market and indeed the Medieval Quarter and the main streets all have a Russian theme, which looks brilliant.
 

Entrance to Sarlat Christrmas MarketEntrance to the market along the red carpet, which is to be found in the main car park in Sarlat. The Commune have spent over a month getting the car park transformed into a winter wonderland.
 

Russian Winter sledgeRussian Winter sledge which brought back memories of the film Doctor Zhivargo, I could just picture myself sitting wrapped up snug and warm alongside Hugh Jackman. I know he was not in the film but a girl can dream.
 

Russian dolls I love this collection of Russian dolls for sale, such vivid colours.
 

Fresh baked PretzelsFresh baked Pretzels, oh my another temptation, trying to loose a few pound before Christmas has never been so hard, I think that I will leave the diet until the New Year!
 

Artisan potteryAll hand made pots in different colours.
 

St PetersburgSt Petersburg back drop in the centre of the Market.

There is also a large ice skating rink for all ages and of course Father Christmas is to be found at the entrance. The market is open until the 30th December.

Recup’acteurs

This was our first visit to Recup’acteurs warehouse who are holding a craft market today and tomorrow, ten until four.

Recup’acteurs is an eco-citizen activity with the idea of reducing waste, it is an excellent recycling centre run by a none profit organisation for the Perigord Noir. If you have any goods you no longer use that could be given a second home they would be welcome. It is to be found at ZAE du Perigord Noir, Vialard, Sarlat. It is well worth a visit on any Friday or Saturday when it is open to the public from 10:00-19:00.

Recup'acteurs The various craft stalls at the entrance to the warehouse.

We were told that the lady displaying gorgeous table lamps makes the shade from Victorian linen bloomers, brilliant idea and fantastic quality.

There are refreshments of home made cakes, biscuits, coffee, soup and mulled wine, all made by the expert hand of Judith, the proprietress of Le Thé Vert. Paul had a coffee, I opted for the mulled wine, it was very warming on a cold day and delicious too.

Everything to buyThere is everything to buy including chandeliers, tableware, glassware, pottery, furniture, electrical goods, books, linen and much, much more.

Toy and Teddy And a wide selection of toys and teddy bears.

dscn2015I did buy two items of Limoges pottery, price… one euro the pair, The water jug will be on display in my bedroom and the dish will be used for storing soaps in the bathroom.

Recup’Acteurs websiteFacebook page
 

Events:-

Christmas Fair at Vitrac on Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 to 16:00

Sarlat Christmas Fair opens on the 7th December

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.
 

Heart of gold – Our first year in Daglan

I was reminded by our son that it was one year ago today my husband, son and cats began the long drive to Daglan. I followed by plane a few days later and the year has just flown by so quickly with some ups and downs along the way, we made it here and eventually so did our furniture!

When we look back over the year and through our extensive photograph collection, the pictures that mean the most to us are our pictures of the people here in Daglan, they are truly “the heart of gold.” We have meet so many new and interesting people that it is those people that stand out the most in our lives. From the very start of our new life here a warm “Bonjour” made us welcome by the doctor, dentist, government officials, the plumber and chimney sweep, our new friends who gave us lavender plants and friends that we have known for a few years thank you so much, it has been a good year.

Before I start to shed a few tears here are some of our most memorable pictures from the past year.

Le La VertDaglan fête was a time of celebration at Le Thé Vert.

 

Daglan fêteThe parade with our Maire in the middle of the picture, wonderful.

 

Sunday market at DaglanThe view from our balcony over looking the Sunday market.

 

Train A Vapeur De MartelI so loved this steam train ride, fabulous.

 

SunflowersPeople here have asked me what the weather was like in Blackpool during the Summer. These are a few words that I jotted down before we left England.

July in England. Billowing wind that has whipped up the many seagulls from the coast and has now drifted inland across the house tops and buildings of Blackpool. Then the sharp, stinging drizzle fell growing in strength until the grey clouds were turned into black sheets of unforgiving rain.

In contrast.

July in Daglan. Summer gasped upon the village like the mouth of a great oven. Even in the shade of the canopy in our courtyard it was too hot for me to sit outside for long periods. This was the time of flowers, butterfly’s and moths which would glide and dance around our growing vine. We took our walk down the lane beside the river Céou to see the horses, dragon flies and lizards much earlier in the day than during the Spring time. The cries of the cicadas seemed to become more insistent with each hot day until they hit a crescendo. This was the time for barbecues, for visiting friends old and new and to sit back and enjoy our first year.

WelcomeWelcome to the village party, it does not get any better than this.
 

Our first year in DaglanWe have completed a lot of decorating, DIY and renovation work this year, from the completely new bathroom, to the corridor floor, to painting the window frames, shutters, balcony, and veranda and much more too tedious to tell. Our next project is to focus on the rear of the property, however, a rest is in order as our son is arriving from the UK this afternoon. On second thoughts a rest might not be the right word, for I am sure a Cro-Magnon cave or two will be visited, canoeing on the Dordogne and we will visit our favourite medieval town of Sarlat.

A final word, if your dream is to move to France but you are feeling a little trepidation, a new country, different culture and way of life. Do not let apprehension stop you, go for it, you will never look back. The French love life and so will you, Bon Courage.