Published: July 15th 2011July 9th 2011
Finally we get to meet Adeles family, and see Adele again after two years. I got to the station first and the whole family were there to meet me. It was quite emotional. We had a drink while waiting for Gerard, Olivia and Sophia who arrived 45 minutes later. Adele had said her parents didn’t speak English, but they certainly knew quite a bit and we didn’t have too much trouble communicating. Adele hasn’t changed a bit, apart from now being able to drive which seemed weird.
The week has been amazing. Francoise and Thierry are lovely lovely people and we get on so well. Thierry has a dry witty sense of humour that I love, and Francoise is so caring and enthusiastic. They are both so generous and welcoming. We have so much in common with them (not those qualities I’ve just mentioned but our interests and views on things). Thierry has taken the week off work to spend time with us. Francoise, being a teacher, and Helene and Jean are all on school holidays, so we have done nearly everything all together (going in two cars every where). Helene and Jean speak as much English as we do
French (ie next to nothing) so we are only getting to know them through their interactions with each other (and the odd translation for us on what they’ve said).
The food and drink has been divine. Thierrys wine collection is very impressive although he claims it’s very small by local standards. And he really knows his stuff – vintages, wineries, how long to age everything etc. He sometimes bottles some bulk purchased wine – of vintages he knows are likely to be good, from good wineries, to age the appropriate number of years. The benefit being, to enjoy top quality wine for a very reasonable price. He also preserves foie gras, air dries duck, and they have a large stock of preserves of other fruits and vegetables.
Meals have been so enjoyable. Long relaxed affairs, mostly outside in the shade from the heat. They always start with an aperitif, normally champagne or a champagne mix, like kir royale. My favourite though is rose wine with pamplemousse (grapefruit) syrup. Aperitifs are served with foie gras, slices of duck, and other tasty little nibbles. Before the main we have a slice of rock melon. The mains are normally fairly light,
and salad or vegetable based. Like baked sliced tomato/aubergine/zucchini/ on a base of sliced potato, ratatouille, rice salad, and Spanish omelette. For meats we’ve had whole fish barbequed and roast chicken. The mains are followed by the cheese platter with lettuce and bread, and dessert is normally strawberries. It all sounds quite light, but with bread each step of the way, so many courses, and a different wine at each stage, we end up stuffed.
Thierry loves playing Petanque and there have been many games over the week. We’re all getting the hang of it, but none of us has managed to beat Thierry yet. We’ve also played a bit of table tennis. As the tour de France has been on all week, we’ve tried to get back to the house by 4pm to see the last stages of each day (with it finishing around 5pm). Olivia has been particularly keen on it. It’s been great seeing all the sights and countryside we’re now familiar with. It was particularly exciting when we saw the helicopter view around Chenonceau castle which we’d visited. It’s even quite watchable in French, we can figure most of the necessities out, and get translations
Tea with Carole & Bernard
Note harvester in background
on the rest. Gerard was very excited to have the opportunity to go and watch the stage on the day it was nearest to us (still a four hour drive away).
We’ve eaten out on a couple of occasions, most notably their friends Carole and Bernards restaurant called Charbonnel in Brantome. The food was exceptional and it was one where we got given all the extras like canapés, pre main sorbet, a mini chocolate mint pre desert, and a plate of petit fours with coffee. The menu was very local with a lot of duck and foie gras. YUM. We also went to a New Zealand restaurant in a neighbouring village run by a couple from Hamilton. He spoke perfect French but then real kiwi English when speaking to us, it sounded weird. The food seemed normal to us but the others were pointing out some strange things – like sweet (fruit) elements in a savoury dish, a very spicy curry, mint with lamb (they’re only used to it with chocolate) and a hot tomato soup (as opposed to gazpacho).
We have met a lot of their friends and they are all so lovely. They all make the
effort to speak in English to us, and make sure we are included or know what is going on with conversations they have.
There are more photos below