Archive for August, 2011

Homeward Bound

After cleaning up after ourselves, hanging the freshly washed bedding over a clothes horse and locking up Angela and Billy’s house tight, we set off home on Saturday morning – a little later than planned at 9.20am.

The day was overcast and threatened rain, which in fact took about three quarters of an hour to start.

We stopped in Belac, on route to the motorway north of Limoges to look for bread. Our plan had been to stop in St. Junien, but the rain had started at that point and in Belac it had abated. Here though, we fell foul of the French custom of August holidays (i.e. whole towns go away at once) as only one Boulangerie was open and its queues were huge! We spent a fruitless half an hour wandering round the town and the market (which was still taking place) before deciding that the rain was too hard to bother queuing. We eventually stopped in small town en route to buy bread.

The rain was so hard that I decided to give the motorway a miss and we followed the ‘yellow’ road (obviously the road that was replaced by the motorway) pretty much all the way to Chateauroux and then the ‘green’ road as far as Chartres, where we planned to spend the night. On this secondary road I was able to maintain a legal maximum of 90km per hour (60ish) without worrying about spray, reckless drivers or overtaking (or being overtaken) in such awful conditions: we rarely saw another car and the worst period of driving was through a short patch of surface water just after beginning that part of our journey.

We stopped for a (damp) picnic lunch when the rain stopped (and started – then stopped again) somewhere on route. Sharon then drove all the way to Chartres in cool but dry fairly sunny weather. We stayed at the Ibis in Chartres, which is quite a nice version of that hotel chain, with proper bathroom + showers and a restaurant serving passable food. Sadly, we weren’t over impressed with the city itself but that might have been the weather, which became wet once again as we walked around the outside of the magnificent cathedral and its surrounding tourist traps.

We completed our journey to Boulogne-sur-mer on Sunday in almost continuous sunshine. I say almost, because it decided to throw it down again just after we’d packed up our windy lunch on ‘the front’ at Quand Plage near the Baie de la Somme.

Tonight is our 7th Wedding Anniversary meal and I’m right looking forward to it! More on France, the French and our meal – later.


Thursday – Limoges

Today, we took a trip out east and visited Limoges.

As always on our first visits – I’m not sure we gave Limoges the looking at it deserved but we tried.

We shopped, we explored and we ate there (see: ). We will at some future time, re-visit the city. Unlike Angouleme, which we visited on Tuesday. Neither of us can see any reason to re-visit Angouleme!

On the way home from Limoges, we stopped off in St. Junien and had a nice walk around (and a rum and raisin flavoured coffee ice cream …) They have interesting roundabouts here. We also called in at Rochechouart, where we found another Chateau to look at! I’m not usre that I mentioned the Chateau we visited yesterday in Rochefoucauld. Hey ho.

We then planned sautéed veal escalope for tea with pommes dauphinoise and ratatouille, but there was so much dauphinoise (scrumptious garlicy, cheese, creamy potatoes) that we had just them with a bottle of Gewürztraminer and an olive fougasse from Paul’s in Limoges.

Monday – Brantôme et environs

It’s so quiet here.

I think we forget (or don’t realise) just how much noise pollution we have to put up with at home. The silence here each night, puts Ty Llwyd and parts of the W.A. Outback to shame. However, this morning you’d have thought there was a circus in town! Cattle, poultry, general birds and a more specific Wood Pigeon all decided to kick-off about 7.30am. They had a good hour of verbalising before they began to fade into the background. If it hadn’t been for the preceding silence, we probably wouldn’t have noticed. What a racket!

Anyway, we decided to visit Brantôme today as it’s only about an hour’s drive from here. Brantôme is a beautiful town on the road from Angouleme to Perigueux. But it’s also a very busy town with lots of people and lots of traffic.

We gave it about an hour and a half before getting too hot and fed up of all the tourists. I know I’m part of that particular problem, but neither Sharon nor I like places to be quite this busy. We’d packed a picnic, so we wanted somewhere quiet to eat it (however, that’s another story) and drove off in search of some such place. I had stayed here in Brantôme once before in a previous life, when Sue and I were taking Ben and Emma somewhere down south west France – Bidart I think, close to the Spanish border, but I couldn’t place the hotel we stayed in! Mind, it was about twenty years ago – maybe more.

We drove on and found Bourdeilles a few miles s.w. of Brantôme on the D78 and spent the best part of an hour looking around the town. There’s a big château here which we could have visited but lunch was calling, so we eventually drove up and down the countryside surrounding the River Dronne, as far as Ribérac and up to Verteillac, where we finally had our picnic. This was a pleasant place too, with commanding views of the area. The town square reminded me of something out of North Yorkshire!

We made our way home via another strong coffee in Montbron and are just settling down for the evening. Carmargue Rice Risotto!