Monday, 31 December 2012

January gloom...or not?

The new year is just a few hours away with those gloomy January days ahead when all the christmas cheer is slowly fading and the extra kilos are hanging on......................................................

Here is something to remember...the sun will shine again, we shall feel warmt on our backs, the kilos will drop off when we get out and about again in our gardens and we shall smell tantalising bbq's and the smell of freshly mown grass hanging on well into the warm nights...the sound of the crickets...are you there yet?

Here is my thought of the day...1st January is not the day to start dieting and it's not the day to deprive ourselves of a nice glass of wine at the end of the day. It's the day to start planning what to do in the coming year...

Hang out with friends...
Arrange a breakfast al fresco cooking bacon on a camping stove...
Plant some new bushes...
You see a beautiful face in the mirror every day...

Never stand still...
Eat something new every week...
Walk in the woods...

Entertain lots...
Ask someone special to share that expensive bottle of wine you were given at Christmas...
Roam across summer meadows with a flask of tea insted of your mobile...

Happy New Year from Spot the Dog!

                      HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! BON ANNEE!!!

                                          (I had SUCH a fantastic Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Picnic on the river!

River picnic - the perfect way to spend a perfect summers day!

Sorry for not doing any blogging for a while - we have been so busy looking after our guests!

We just had to share todays outing with you though - we awoke to the must fantastic summers day. Clearblue sky, 35 degrees and endless sun! There was only one thing for it - head for the river!

This place is called Roc d'Enfer - Hells's Rock. It is about 10 mins drive from La Maison Verte. There are huge rocks here, hence the name, where you can abseil etc. There are rapids, currents and swirls and generally heaven if you like rafting and cayaking! Or, like us, you can just sit on one of the little sandy beaches and enjoy the scenery with some wine, olives, brie, salami and baguette! Much safer!!

Spot the dog loves the river! He is a really strong swimmer and the only way you can get him to fetch a stick is by throwing it in the river.

As we were sat there on the rocks, dangling our feet in the river, we suddenly got a terrific rafting display. A couple of rafts from the local CPA (Open Air Centre) came past - it looked great and we might just have to have a go at that one day! Eeeekkkkk!

Anyway, we save that for another day...a bientot!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Nature watch in France

French wildlife - we were just sitting out on our new veranda last night enjoying a wonderfully warm evening with a bit of food on the barbeque and a nice drop of wine when all of a sudden we spotted a little bundle making its way across the lawn. The bundle turned out to be a baby hedgehog coming out for a few juicy insects. How cute is this:

Look at those little tiny legs and snout!!!
Spot the Dog also spotted the bundle and was with a few sharp words made to stay in his basket. He was a quivering wreck with excitment but stayed put.
I had to get close to the baby hedgehog to take the photo and he just sat there and looked at me. Nature is truly a wonderful thing!

Here is our new veranda - it is just a fantastic place for outdoor living...

A bientot!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Spot the Dog's Life in France

It's me again!

Sorry it has been so long but I have been very busy. I assist with the gardening at La Maison Verte and as you can imagine this is a busy time of year.

I have also just recently been on my holidays in Cornwall. I spent lots of time running around on the beach.

You can spot me there in my blue holiday neckershief...this action shot is quite pleasing.

Here I am in front of St. Michaels can see the neckershief better here I think.

I am very partial to a Cornish Pasty...Berryman's are the best. Lovely juicy chunks of is a little pasty moment in Marazion...mmmmmmm

I managed to snaffle a squeaky chicken. Here is a good tip to all dogs: if you see a basket on the pavement outside a shop then look inside that basket. If it has rubber chickens in it then grab one quickly before anyone notices. I made the mistake of chewing it and it made an intriguing squaking noise so I was discovered and the fowl had to be paid for. Worked out well! It lasted about 20 minutes before it made its last squak and was ready for the pot! Happy days!

That's it from my Cornish holiday - it was very nice but I am looking forwards to get back to Franze - the sun shines there and I am a sun-bug!!

Woof, woof!!

Producers Markets in Le Dorat

Local Producers Markets in Le Dorat - dates confirmed for 2012!

La Maison Verte is located a few kilometers from a lovely little town called Le Dorat. Every summer they organise a number of evening markets for the local producers to sell their "goodies". It is a great event as everyone seems to flock there and the atmosphere is fantastic! The really nice thing is that you go there not just to shop but also to eat what is on offer. The town sets up a huge bbq area, lots of tables and chairs in the church square (in the sun, of course) and a huge bar selling bottles of local wine at ridiculously low prices. So you simply go and buy what you fancy eating and take it to the bbq area where a lovely Frenchman will cook it to your liking! How great is that? There are lots of stalls selling all sorts of meats, local Limousan beef - sirloin, rump, veal - there are stalls selling marinated magret du canard (duck breast)  - they are huge and delicious! We tried them last summer and we can highly recommend it! Then there is the french fries stall - lovely crispy "frites" cooked in duck fat of course (all part of a calorie controlled diet), salad bars, crepes stalls, ice cream, cheese stalls not to be forgotten.
There is live music to accompany everything and it is a thoroughly nice evening out!
Just what France is all about! Outdoor living, food, families, wine, accordion music - yep, it has it all...

The dates for 2012 are as follows: 28th June, 12th and 26th July and 9th and 23rd August.

Perfect start to a long weekend...

A bientot!

Microlight flights in France

Yet another activity close to La Maison Verte - Microlight flights!

Not so long ago we met up with another English couple here, Dave & Amanda Lord, who run microlight courses from their lovely property about 10 minutes drive from La Maison Verte. They are a super couple and you can look at their website and see all the details. They also do leisure flights if you just want to have a lovely experience of going up in a microlight. The birdseye view of the Vienne will be quite spectacular!
Why not plan a surprise weekend for your "other half" - a weekend stay at La Maison Verte where you will be looked after like royalty (how about a romantic supper by the campfire under the oak trees... candles...a bit of bubbly...highly recommended!) and a surprise microlight flight?
We can arrange everything for you - just get yourself here and let the fun begin! (-:

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Springtime in France

Spring has sprung at La Maison Verte!

Just thought I would share some cheerful photos of some wonderful spring colours that we have at the moment. I missed the photo opportunity of all the blossom we had. This year the blossom only lasted a few days - last year we had the most magnificent blossom for well over a week so I thought that I had lots of time to capture it. I assume this means that we will not get many plums this year whereas we had tons of them last year? If anyone knows please let me know.

The Rhubarb is coming on very well. It got replanted a few weeks ago and is taking off like mad. We shall have lots of Rhubarb Crumbles!! With home made vanilla sauce..mmmm!

Last year we had some wonderful guests from Bicester (you know who you are!) staying with us and they just returned for a weeks holiday over Easter which was so nice. One day they returned from the market with some gorgeous Geraniums for us - how nice is that!? You can spot them on this picture - they have just been planted as hopefully we will not get any more frosts now and they look so pretty by the front door.

It is so lovely with the thought of a long, hot and sunny summer ahead of us. Lots of projects in the garden, swimming in the river, lots of BBQ's on the campfire and snoozes in the dappled shade of the cherry trees. Come on - join us! Our rates are very reasonable! (-:
Au Revoir!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Visit Poitiers, France

Poitiers, capital of the Poitou-Charente region, in the Vienne department, is a place to visit!

Poitiers , the town of a 100 steeples, is a leisurely 45 mins drive from La Maison Verte taking the scenic route and if you are staying at our guest house then this is defenitely a day out not to be missed.

We went last weekend with our lovely friends over for a short break. The weather was fantastic with 25 degrees and a glorious sun shining from a clear-blue sky.

You arrive in Poitiers and park in the very handy underground-carpark from where you come up right into the most fantastic market! It is partly indoors where you find endless stalls selling local meat and fish and of course, cheese of a million varieties. The market then spreads out onto the main square by the "Notre Dame" church, where the fruit and vegetable stalls compete for the most beautiful display. Here is also quite a few "bric-a-brac" stalls with both antiques and fun "old junk" (as my husband calls it) stalls for you who like to take home a little bit of French memoribilia.

Whilst you are wondering around you are tantalised by the cooking smells from the squares Brasserie "Le Gil". Inevitably this is where we soon ended up. It's tables spread out on the square, in the sun, and it is glorius sitting here with a chilled glass of white wine soaking up the atmosphere.
We had a fricasse of veal kidneys which had possibly the best sauce I have ever tasted! Also barbequed seafood brochettes with huge crevettes and juicy chunks of fish and pave de boeuf which melted in the mouth. All served with perfect french fries cooked in duck-fat! Let's not mention the calories but the flavour is divine!

The shopping centre is sprawling and all is pedestrianised which is lovely. There is every shop you could possibly wish for. Designer and quirky shops and shops with great French chic things for the house.

If you are after a cultural fix then you can go on the Poiters Cathedral route - there are no less than 6 huge churches and of course the main cathedral. There are marked routes for you to follow to take in all the sites. It is really well set up and maps etc are available from the tourist office next to the market.

What is so nice about Poitiers centre is that a lot of it is pedestrianised so it is really peaceful and still there is a such a lovely buzz and atmosphere.

We ended our visit in a old fashioned tea-room with every tea-blend under the sun. They serve "English Scones" on a Saturday and they were great! They specialise in jams infused with different teas - for example, we had raspberry jam infused with Violette tea - they are really nice and it is so cute sitting in the little court yard. A very nice ending to a fantastic day out.

We picked up some great stuff from the market to cook on the campfire on our return home - happy days!!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Spot the Dog's digging Adventure

This week we are digging out a base for a covered veranda so that I will have some really nice shade in the summer. Here you can see me digging. I am helping as otherwise it would take forever to get this job done and of course I LOVE DIGGING!! My little legs are like pistons and soil is flying everywhere. When we first came to Franze there were so many garden projects to do that I wore my claws right down to the soft bits and I was very sore - and I couldn't dig for a whole week!

Sometimes I get so excited I just bark and bark. It's very noisy and I drive everyone mad - great!! I occasionally get shouted at but I never worry about it as I know that when I turn on the charm I am instantly forgiven. I only bark when I am digging so surely that has to be allowed as all other times I am such a good boy?
I  know lots of other hounds that bark most of the time, and for no apparent reason. I don't understand that. They must be bored.

It's tiring work digging though. Here I am taking a little break
from it all. I like to still stick around to make sure that nothing
exciting happens. I don't like to miss out on things. By now I am quite
wet and cold and I am hoping that we are maybe going in soon to all
curl up on the sofa in front of the fire. That is my favourite pastime of all...well, apart from eating maybe. I am sure we will be back out digging tomorrow. I wish for my very own chair on the veranda when it is finished.

Hooooooray!! It's time for the sofa!! Just look at that fire - I can lie in front of it ALL DAY!!! And there are rays of sun coming in aswell - sun and fire - sorted!!

WOOF, WOOF!        

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Idyllic places to stay in France!

We are very excited today as we have just been informed that La Maison Verte is advertised in the Saturday Guardian in the UK! What great news - and we have already received a booking from that advert.
Alasdair Sawday is running an article about holidays in France and we thought you might find this article interesting.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Medieval town of Montmorillon, France

The medieval town of Montmorillon is our local bigger town. This is a really beautiful place with 2 impressive cathedrals and 2 beautiful bridges over the river Gartempe, one of them goes back to medieval times. Montmorillon is known as "Le Cite de l'ecrit" which translates to "The Writers City" - this is due to the large number of both vintage and current bookshops, calligraphy studios and illustrators workshops which are all located in the old part of the town which is steeped in history. This part of town really comes alive in July and August and it is well worth a visit.
There is a restaurant which holds one Michelin star, Le Lucullus, and several other nice restaurants and bistros. Every Wednesday there is an adorable little market with local vegetables, meats, cheeses and lots of other stuff. It also boasts some really great gift and clothes shops.
Montmorillon is only 20 minutes drive from La Maison Verte so great for a morning or afternoon out.

Spot the dog's life in France cont.

Today I have been mostly digging for moles - I didn't catch it.....hmmmmmmm.
My post is quite short today as I am very tired...
Woof, woof1

Monday, 27 February 2012

Spot the Dog's life in France

Woof, woof!
Here I am in France.
I very much like warm blankets. I do feel the cold a lot. I know it is a bit "girly" but I can't help that I have very silky, thin fur. I also very much appreciate candles and flowers - you know, it just makes you feel good to have some nice things around you. I would have liked a bowl of chocolate pralines but apparently they are not good for, I can't see why not but this is what "they" tell me...

I don't like being on my own. Whenever "they" go out they tell me they will be back in a minute. Well, sometimes they are away for 2 or 3 minutes at least and I know they feel guilty when they get back because they often bring me left-overs from their lunch out. That's ok. When they are out I spend most of my time looking for them in the window. I see other things going on outside sometimes but I can't really concentrate on anything else than how many minutes it might be before they get back.

Here I am ready for my walk. I do get very good walks here in the new
country we live in. I think it's called Frince...or maybe Franse. It is just
miles and miles of woods and fields and I can chase deer and rabbits.
They always get away but I think they at least get a real fright which is
satisfying. Specially when I bark. I always like to get dressed up properly for walks in the winter. There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad preparation. The only thing that is a bit of a bother is having a wee in my fleece jacket, sometimes I can't help but wetting it a little and that is very, very unpleasant.....woof, woof!!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Hiking in France

Walking in the French country side is absolutely blissful now that the temperatures are steadily rising and the sun has got some strenght to it. Today we have had a fantastic day with clearblue sky and the birds are getting really chirpy! There are spring lambs everywhere you look and you do get the feeling that everything is waking up again. We have a Jack Russell called "Spot" so we do a lot of walking. The area around our guest house is brilliant for long walks. There are several mapped walks which take in the mighty rivers and the woods and also a couple of local Chateaux. The French seem very keen on hiking so there are lots of organised walks throughout the year. In fact, I noticed that a "Walking Schedule" has been put up on the notice board in our little hamlet and there is an organised walk every week. Anyone can join and it is a great way to integrate with the community and to get to know the countryside around us. Happy walking!

Look at that sky!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

French Cheese!

A great ingredient for a fantastic holiday is without a doubt the French cheese and wine! French cheese is a huge subject and it just has to be delved into! This week we tried the Comte cheese. It is a hard cheese made in the Franche Comte region of France, close to the Swiss border. It comes in lots of different varietys and we tried the aged (12 months) and the "fruite" (fruity) version. Both were very nice, great with soem ice-cold white wine. It gave me the idea of offering cheese tasting evenings here at our Guest House - that would be really fun. Right, my favourite TV program is starting - Raymond Blanc's The very hungry frenchman! I will return with more "Cheese Facts".

Thursday, 16 February 2012

France is waiting for Spring!

my wonderful craft room
Here in my wonderful new craft and art space, I do my sewing, make my own greeting cards and just generally feel like I have a space to have it all out, laying around for me to look at and get inspired by, is that not wonderful? .... as the last bit of winter turns to spring, and with that, my attention will turn more towards garden and getting the first lettuce in the ground....... for now, it is still hearty winterstews, if you have a recipe you want to share, I am so all open ears!