Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Fruit picking in Gascony

I must say, it was a bit of a shock to the system getting up early this morning, but Megan my oldest daughter has just got a summer job fruit picking at the local farm. Unfortunately, she speaks no French just yet so is a bit worried.

We arrived at the farm yard bright and early, to be met with a mini bus full of locals and Polish workers chomping at the bit ready to get going. Within minutes they had dissappeared off into the distance along the country lane towards the orchards with their ruck sacks of provisions for the day and ladders.

This week she is picking plums or apricots, but next week it could be melon, peaches or nectarines. The grapes are not quite ready yet, which she is pleased about, as she had the preception that she would have to take her shoes off and get into a vat to squash them, not nice with her feet!!

We will see how long she lasts in the heat, I predict a few days, and I am sure the seasoned workers have taken bets too!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

artists competition images from today!

Thought you might like to see some pics I took this afternoon of Auvillar of a sculpture exhibition and the paintings in the competition! enjoy

Well I am back with avengence! Feel I have neglected the few that read my blogs over the last few weeks so am making up for it now!

Well, our first guests arrived yesterday, and after collecting some of them at the TGV Station in Agen, while the others got the hire car sorted, we made our way back to Le Farat. The toll is only 1.90€ for one junction on the A62 so timewise, it is worth taking the motorway rather than the scenic route.

As we drove through Auvillar I pointed out some interesting land marks and as we rounded the corner and Le Farat came into view, I was so pleased as I got the reaction I was hoping for, they loved it.

The best thing is that they are seasoned gite travellors and know what is good and what is not! We have had to provide everything in our first rental, in that there is a baby, so cot and high chair are required, use of the sofa beds so a quick shop for extra linen needed to be done and my sister who is coming in a couple of weeks is bringing extra supplies from the UK

After a quick tour of the premises and facilities we left them too it. After reporting the news this morning about the art competition in the village they disappeared off to take a look, whilst I picked more fruit in the orchard.

Farmers Market

Every sunday morning in Auvillar there is a farmers market selling local produce held in the round market halle. Organic produce, honey, duck products, wine, nuts, fruit and veg as well as olives and cheeses are all produced here and freely available.

This morning however the market was slightly different and around the village were dotted numerous artists painting our beautiful village from different perspectives. Some using pastels, some oil and others water colour. The children were catered for too and a number of tables were set up under the arched walkways where they could paint, can create different things in paper mache and design an Auvillar plate. (Any pottery collecter may be aware that Auvillar pottery is very rare and sought after. The lady we bought our house from had her own collection and each plate was worth over 200€!)

This afternoon all the artists will gather in the centre of the village to display their work and visitors will judge the best. Afterwards the paintings are available for purchase, I must say last years winning painting that was on display in the town hall, was superb, so I will be off there this afternoon to take a look.

Must go now, off to make damson jam!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

OMG gite finished!

After 3 and a half months of hard slog, we have done it, the first gite is finished and we now need a holiday!

I have kept quiet as to our progress over the past few weeks as I was secretly worried that we would not finish in time before our guests arrived.

We have had so much to do and my husband and I have been working 15 hour days to get it to a certain level as to attract customers as the market is tough.

We have sealed stone walls, put in electrics, adapted the plumbing to install a kitchen, fit a kitchen with all applicances, tiled floors, built steps, put in a deck, put doors in where windows were , treated everything for woodworm, cleaned carpets, (the nice bit - shopped for furniture!) and I must admit I am very pleased with the end result. There are a couple of things that we ran out of time to do but we will finish these at the end of August in time for our september guests.

Comments please as I want to ensure we have got it right!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

What a difference 24 hours can make!

After the wash out of events in Auvillar on Friday night, the Fete of St Jacques de Compostelle last night was a roaring success!

In a re-run of timings, we arrived at just about 10pm and walked to the Place de Halle where hundreds of others had gathered to watch the spectacle. The weather was warm and dry but more importantly the sky was clear! At 11pm it was still 27 degrees.

We joined in a candle light procession through the streets of Auvillar stopping at historic points of interest where we were told of the significance of the monuments and the story of St Jacques. We were then treated to a short play by locals in traditional costume in front of the beautiful old church. After half an hour it was all over and we were ushered away to chat elsewhere as the second batch of people arrived.

I am so impressed with village life here, there is something interesting going on here most of the summer, antiques market next week!

The next big event is the "au fil de l'eau" in valence d'Agen 10 mins from Auvillar from 3-14th August, which is a historical play scripted and directed by a famous playwrite from Paris which tells the story of the river and canal since the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The setting is the canal port in the town and some 400 members of the town take part in an extraordinarily professional and entertaining production. I am told by many it is a must see..

We clearly have chosen a fantastic place to live and look forward to showing others life en France as we know it! Come and stay chez nous and see first hand what I am rabbiting on about! www.lefarat.com

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Le Fete de St Jacques de compostelle!

Yet another celebration in Auvillar this weekend.

All week the locals have been preparing, costumes, sound systems, lighting, scripts etc to celebrate the history and the route of St Jacques de Compostelle, People come from miles around to whitness the spectacle.

Just so you are fully aware of the significance of St Jacques, I thought I would give you a brief rundown (like it or not!)

The route to Santiago de Compostella was a Roman trade route through France to the Atlantic Ocean. One legend holds that walking the route was a pagan fertility ritual; this would explain why the scallop shell is a symbol of the pilgrimage, the scallop being a symbol of birth. An alternative interpretation is that the scallop, which resembles the setting sun, was the focus of pre-Christian Celtic rituals of the area, and that the Way of St. James originated as a pre-Christian Celtic death journey westwards towards the setting sun,terminating at the "End of the World" (Finisterra). To this day, many pilgrims continue from Santiago de Compostella to the Atlantic coast of Galicia, to finish their journeys at Spain's westernmost point, Cape Finisterre. Although Cape Finisterre is not the westernmost point of mainland Europe (Cabo da Roca in Portugal is further west), the fact that the Romans called it Finisterrae (literally the end of the world or Land's End in Latin) indicates that they viewed it as such.

There............ history lesson over.. And back to last night, we arrived at 9.45pm and walked to the church with heavy black clouds looming above. We exchanged pleasantries with friends and took our places for the event to start.

Unfortunately, 10 minutes before kick off (so to speak) the heavens opened and we witnessed a spectacular display from mother earth herself. The roads resembled rivers, the sky was illuminated almost permanently and fork lightening was striking church spires and water towers on a regular basis. The view across the Garonne valley from the look out was awesome.

Then the village took a hit and all the street lights went out. People were scurrying around with torches hurriedly trying to cover the expensive sound systems and salvage anything from the rain they could. I must say, it was slightly eerie to see monks in their habits with hoods up and priests in their regalia running about streets in the semi darkness and splashing through the puddles!

After a short address by the organisers the event was abandoned until Saturday night and everyone dispersed rather quickly to their cars.

We however, returned to my friend Natalie and Pascal’s house to moan about the weather (good old British topic of conversation!), and have a drink to wash away our sorrows!

So tonight round two.... weather still looking suspect, such a shame after two weeks of 30+ degrees!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

The Tarn et Garonne region

After a few trips out to look around the region, I thought it might be nice to show you all the area that we live in. Hope you are impressed, more pics over the coming days and weeks!


Just picked our own apricots! they are huge, much bigger than you get in the uk and sooo juicy!

not quite enough to make another batch of jam.......never mind I will just have to eat them!

Photographers and artists dream

In a previous life many moons ago, when living in the UK I studied photography as an evening course.

It was in the days before digital and I spent many an evening in my makeshift dark room developing my own black & white photos. After 3 years I had passed with distinction all but one section of the photography. I would have liked to have finished the course but a new baby got in the way!

So I went off into the the big wide world with my new found knowledge, looking at things from a different perspective, with my trusty camera at my side. I too soon became sucked into the digital age and upgraded my equipment, mothballed my developer and embraced new technology, so pleased I did too, no more wasted film and expensive developing!

During the course I studied different elements of photography, portraiture, close up, landscapes and black and white photos too. Now living in France with the children older I am getting back into it again, the photo opportunities are endless and I am so excited. So much to choose from, different textures, sunflowers, churches, old buildings, village life and beautiful scenery.

I will post what I can here when I get something you might be interested in! First image attached to this blog is the bridge at Auvillar over the river Garonne.