Monday 28 October 2019

Convivial weekend

A couple of outings this weekend.  Saturday night was the special, 30th anniversary dinner-dance organised by the Ste Suzanne Harmonie.  The dinner-dance happens every year, it's a fund-raiser for the group, and a good night out.  Many of the players participate in serving the food and drinks, but we decided to opt out and just pay for the meal.  The theme was Bavarian, and thus we saw about 650 French people pretending to be German.  In any case, it was good fun.

On sunday we went to the Euromayenne craft fair.  Euromayenne is an organisation set up to welcome people into the Mayenne, and also acts as a sort of anglophone ex-pats club.  The fair features local crafts people, who make exactly those sorts of things that make useful Christmas presents.  There is also a floor show, this year the themes were cabaret and magic.

We met this lovely lady of Irish origins, who was expertly spinning some wool.  The thread was fine and uniform, and she explained that she had carded the wool to make the task easier.  Apparently, once you have a couple of spindles full, then you can make a 2-ply using two source threads, spinning them in the other direction.  (The turned wooden bowl on the chair is what I bought at a second-hand stall that was in aid of an animal sanctuary.)

Sunday 20 October 2019

Remy: Tweets resurface

It's not my habit just to repost other people's satire, but I couldn't let this one go.

Thursday 17 October 2019


Self-seeded Cyclamen peeping out from between a couple of stones in the garden.

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Borlotti beanz

I planted runner beans this year, and, as a trial, some Berlotti beans.  The runners didn't do anything much, but I got a decent harvest of Borlottis.   You can use them in cassoulet and other, Portugese or Spanish dishes that call for dry beans.

You can eat them fresh, keep them dry in jars (put Bay leaves in to stop bugs from eating them), or freeze them.  We have a cassoulet planned for this week, so I'll see how they taste.

I will plant more next year (assuming they taste OK).

Sunday 13 October 2019

Holiday snaps

You didn't expect to get away without some of these, did you?

Thursday 10 October 2019

Roscoff gardens

We visited two gardens while staying at Roscoff; both are well worth a visit.  The first that we saw was the Roscoff Exotic and Botanical Garden that is situated just a short drive from the town centre, and is maintained by volunteers.  It's a small garden in just over 1.5 hectares, well laid-out, and crossed by paths that show it off very well.  The plants are well-described, and I was impressed by the collection of cacti and succulents under a plastic greenhouse.  It's hard to keep cacti in good condition, and these all seemed to be in excellent health, like the rest of the garden, in fact.   There is a big rock at one end, that you can climb, and that helps keep the garden warmer and sheltered in Winter.   It gives you a good view too.   I was a bit disappointed that they didn't have any kind of souvenir book for sale.

The Ile de Batz lies just off the coast of Roscoff, separated from the mainland by a shallow, dangerous, rock-filled channel.   A passenger ferry chugs back and forth throughout the day, there is even a very long jetty for it for when the tide is low.  The fee is 9 euro return, and the same for a bike.  We took our bikes, since the walk from the ferry terminal to the Jardin Georges Delaselle is a bit uncomfortable for Anita.  This garden is on a bigger scale than the Roscoff one, and offers some more expansive vistas.  The plants are in similar good health.  They had a souvenir book so I bought one.

After the garden visit I took the bike on a short circuit of the island.  The feel is very reminiscent of the Scilly Isles where we stayed for a holiday many moons ago.

Saturday 5 October 2019

Onions and Johnnies

Brittany is a big supplier of vegetables to French and international markets.  The ground is fertile, the climate mild, and tere are huge fields of cauliflowers and artichokes.  I saw some fennel being grown, and other veg in smaller quantities.  Absent were the famous pink Roscoff onions, although I think they had already been harvested.  We bought a bag at the local market.

I have vague childhood memories of seeing an occasional French onion vendor, on a bike with onions hanging from the handlebars.  I found him rather frightening and shouted at him, I think.  I was very young.  Apparently they are called onion johnnies, although I had always thought that johnnies were contraceptives, manufactured from rubber, or, according to popular song, knitted from indiarubber tyres.

The size and vigour of the cauliflowers in Roscoff  gave me some understanding of why my weedy plants only make small curds.  I noticed that they are earthed up, like potatoes, something I had not seen before.  The field above is quite close to Roscoff town centre (easy walking distance), is enclosed in a wall and could well have been a back garden. 

Thursday 3 October 2019

Biking in Bretagne

I have had a bicycle for most of my life - riding a bike is pretty much second nature to me.   I can ride over pretty much any thing, though I do draw the line at "stunt riding".     Anita grew up in Southern California, where cycling is less encouraged in the young, and as a consequence is less confident on a bike than I am.  For her, the ideal cycle routes are for, example, disused railway tracks that have been refurbished into bike trails, or towpaths of rivers or canals.

There is a converted disused railway line that runs from Morlaix to Huelgoat, and we chose this for our ride.  We joined it about halfway along, at Scrignac where there was a station that is now a gite, plus parking and easy access to the track.

After the ride we went on to Huelgoat for lunch.  There are pizza restaurants and crêpe restaurants everywhere in Brittany.  We both had a pizza; mine was huge and digesting it took all afternoon.

There is a pretty lake there where you can fish, and an ex-mill where the hydro-electric potential has been destroyed by EDF, if I understand the signs correctly.

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