I had good intentions of blogging more frequently, but somehow work and general laziness always get in the way! When I get home from teaching, I usually spend half-an-hour reading emails and catching up on the Ship of Fools and blogs that I follow, but I don’t have the inclination or time to blog myself. Well,today is a free day. I could do some preparation work, but I’ve decided to mostly spend today doing “me” stuff – reading blogs, blogging, visiting friends, maybe cooking, and doing a little bit of paperwork too.
When I’ve written this post, I’ll probaly go for a wander around the market as well. It’s not the most interesting of markets, with Big Knicker Stalls being popular, but from time to time there is an interesting stall – melons from Cavaillon (although it’s a bit late for them now), the olive and spice man, or local saucissons. Usually I will treat us to a pain au praline as well – a brioche with lurid pink praline and stickiness galore! The baker’s van maybe sold out of these when I get there, but I’ll take that risk.
So, about our great weekends. The first was at the beginning of the month. Our good friends from the UK, Gary & Carlo, came to stay. Mr D and I have known Gary for quite some time (can it really be almost 20 years?!) and Carlo for a little less. Carlo used to be my hairdresser in the UK, and so I was thrilled to find he’d brought his scissors with him! They arrived on Saturday evening: we met them at Vichy station and we’d planned to go out for a meal there, but Gary wasn’t feeling well, so we came straight home. On Sunday we went for a tour of the local region, having lunch in a great little restaurant I’d not been to before, but will definitely go to again. It serves traditional Lyonnaise food – andouillettes, quennelles, sausages – and it was delicious!
On a clear day, you can see Mont Blanc
Mr D shows Carlo the sights from the tower at the Chateau d’Urfé
Three Great Guys
Mr D, Carlo and Gary
On Monday Gary, Carlo and I went shopping! Actually we didn’t buy much, but it was great fun. Mr D is not a Shopper, so he stayed at home to work. We’d planned to go to the Casino, but by the time Carlo had coloured and cut my hair, done a “Gok Wan” on my wardrobe and thrown out half of my clothes, it was too late! Mr D was a bit grumpy with me, but I think I was forgiven…we had a raclette, and salad instead and drank quite a lot and got squiffy.
We went for a walk in the morning (and Carlo cut my friend’s hair too!) This is the view of the chateau at St Just from the hill above the village.
I dropped them off very early in Clermont Ferrand when I went to work. It was too short a time and I hope they’ll be back soon. I need Carlo to advise me on my wardrobe!!!
Our second great weekend was last weekend. The Divine Comedy was playing at Montpellier International Guitar Festival, and Mr D (who has missed live music since we moved here) had splashed out on a couple of tickets for us. He and two friends had planned to cycle to Montpellier, while me and the WAGs drove the Support Car, stopping at B&Bs on the way and staying at another friend’s B&B (see link on sidebar) near Montpellier. Unfortunately Steve’s dad became seriously ill, so he had to go back to the UK, and so the plan came to nought. However, we were going to the concert, so we drove down on Friday, stayed with Louise & Razaq as planned, and went to the concert on Saturday evening.
So on Saturday, Mr D and I went out on our bikes. He’d planned a long 80 km ride to the sea and back, while I planned a less ambitious route. However, my map was too small a scale and I got lost amidst the vineyards in the area. I had a lovely ride, but at times I had to get off and push, as the tracks were too rough and/or stony and I risked punctures. I came across some sculptures, and some of the crosses that litter the French countryside.
The Sea! The sea!
After the ride we went into Pezanas, a pretty little town – but quite busy. I can imagine that in the height of summer it would be horrendous. We found an English bookshop (I bought 3 second hand novels and a jar of mincemeat!) and I could have been tempted in other shops, with such things as earrings, soap and wildly impractical clothing…but all were fripperies and unnecessary. I suppose mincemeat and books aren’t strictly necessary either, but cut me some slack!
Mr D has found a friend!
A number 10 for Les Stylos!
After an enormous late lunch (duck and creme fraiche pizza for Mr D and a mixed grill of beef, duck and lamb for me – we drove to Montpellier, stopping to see the oyster beds in the Etang.
When we arrived in Montpellier, we had a wander and then sat in the shade a drank orange juice, and then moved onto a large glass of red! No food though, we were still stuffed from lunch! The concert was great, even though Neil Hannon had a cold and had to stop to sneeze or cough occasionally! I really enjoyed myself.
On Sunday, we drove to the coast – but didn’t quite get there! We stopped in Agde to get bread for tea, and were seduced by the market, the folklorique display…
…and the fish restaurants on boats moored at the quai of the Herault River. We finally chose the restaurant run by the only remaining fisherman/restauranteur in the village (or so the lady said!) and had a very enjoyable meal. I had fish soup, (which I adore!) with aioli and croutons, followed by a white fish with a Languedoc sauce – tomatoes, garlic and bits of seafood such as cuttlefish, tiny squiddy things etc. I finished with fresh fruit salad.
On our stroll around the village I came across these amazing murals/ trompes d’oeil
If you look really carefully, you can see that what looks like a cluster of buildings, one behind the other, is really painted on a flat wall. It is fabulous – it is just a shame that some **** seemed to think it was a good idea to graffiti it! Why?! I can understand “tagging” on a bare wall (just!) but on a piece of art work that brightens a dull corner? It is beyond me!
Anyway, after lunch we meandered back home, stopping at St Flour for a stroll and a coffee. We got home to our kitties around 7.00. And here is a kitty from Louise & Razaq’s. Marnie was a very insistent cat: he shared our room one night, but wasn’t the best companion, as he wanted loving all the time. So we were quite relieved when he didn’t make an appearance on Saturday night! But here he is wanting to come home with us:
Look! I could fit in your handbag!
Mr D took a picture of me with Marnie. The cat looks cute, but I look blobby and unattractive. So you’re not seeing that!!!