Limousin, France – Day 1 & 2


Day 1

Consisted of an early start, 06:00, to drive up to the “chunnel” terminal at Folkestone. We made good time, with none of the anticipated delays on the M25. So much so that we were placed on an earlier crossing.
So, very soon we were underway, across the channel and plugging down the French autoroutes, heading for the B & B which was to be our bed for the night. Apart from a couple faux pas on my part, minor deviations, caused by my misinterpretation of the satnav instructions, the journey passed without incident. After approximately five hours motoring time punctuated by coffee, cake & pee breaks we arrived at Le Petit Nancay in Thenioux which is near Vierzon. Here we were given a warm welcome by Clement who greeted us with a big smile and showed us to our rooms.

This being our first evening in France, we asked Clement to recommend an eatery. He gave us several choices but pushed us to try a local establishment in the village. Taking his advice we strolled alongside the river to the local Auberge de la Coquelle.

From the outside this establishment is not very inviting. With it’s tired plastic patio furniture scattered under the trees and grouped under an equally tired pergola, of the type that looks like an old frame tent with the sides removed. All were deserted.

Dubiously, we stepped forward and studied the menu board. Not a large number of choices, but interesting ones. Starters included Goats Cheese Salad, Veal Kidneys with Black Pudding and Poached Egg with Foie Gras in a creamy sauce. Mains included Pave of Rump Steak, Duck Breast, Cod in a white wine and tomato sauce and Chicken (coqulet).

While we were studying the board we were approached by, as it transpired, the owner. He informed us that they didn’t open for another forty minutes. However, he offered us drinks so we sat and the drinks duly arrived. Our host also talked us through the menu and the local nuances then left us to talk amongst ourselves while we enjoyed the warm evening and listened to the birds in an adjacent stand of bamboo.

An unexpected bonus was the arrival of a hot bowl of mussels to share. They were presented in a white sauce and were delicious.

After an apparently short time, during which our wine, beer, and the mussels, had all miraculously disappeared, we were invited into the restaurant and duly seated.

As usual, no matter how many times a menu is read nobody is ever ready to order. However, with some guidance from the owners wife, we managed to order our meal.

Three of our group ordered the poached egg with foie gras while I had the kidneys which were very tender with a beautiful flavour.

For the mains we had all selected different dishes. Cod, Duck, Veal and Beef, all agreed our selections were beautifully cooked. All the dishes were accompanied by green beans and a gratin of potatoes. One of our group has an intolerance to cooked cheese so the chef created a separate, cheese free, version. Good service.

This was followed, for me, by a selection of local cheeses. Most of these were covered in a black mould which was not, visually, very appetising but they were, nonetheless, very tasty.

When it came time to settle the bill, the bottom line was so reasonable I actually enquired if they had included our pre-drinks and mussels. We were assured that all was in order and so we headed back to our B&B and on to bed. A fitting end to a long day.

Day 2

After a light breakfast, which included a kind of potatoe based pizza with ham and the usual selection of breads and croissants, we set out to continue our journey south.

We were making such good time it was decided to make a detour for lunch. And so it was that we found ourselves in the centre of La Souterraine. After a brief meander we settled in a fairly busy restaurant for a relaxed lunch.

On our return to the car we plumbed the address of the gite into the satnav which showed we were just one hour away from our destination. I then phoned Mrs. Santoni, the owner of the gites local agent. She suggested that we were four hours away. I argued that we would be just one hour and we agreed that we would call when we arrived in La Porcherie.

And so we set off and were almost immediately caught up in a diversion due to roadworks which then meant we were heading north. The opposite direction to which we needed to travel. Worse still we ended up stationary on the autoroute with no exit in sight. This less than delightful interlude added an hour to our journey and we began to think that Mrs. Santoni knew more than she was letting on. Eventually we were able to get clear of the traffic jam and made good time to the gite where we called Mrs. Santoni and advised her of our arrival. She duly arrived and soon earned herself the title of “The Crazy French Lady”. With much bowing and hand shaking we were led into the gite and shown around. She seemed to obtain much humour from introducing the toilet as the “water closet”. Further delight was derived from pointing out, belatedly, that we, or rather I, should watch out for the low beams and door lintels throughout the building.

Chortling away to herself she wrote out the locations of the nearest supermarkets, boulangeries and boucherie. Also she advised us of a brocante at which she herself would be running a stall.

And then she was gone, we being left to move in and get a brew on.

Why do the french not have kettles ? Water boiled in a saucepan does not taste the same. At least this gite had a teapot, but only big enough for two. Our last gite had neither kettle or teapot.

After a cup of tea we decided this being Saturday, we had better obtain supplies. So we headed into Magnac-bourg where we had been assured we would find an Intermarche.

We did.

It was shut.

Thank god for modern day satnavs. We were soon heading back up the autoroute towards Limoges where we found a Carrefors. Suitably stocked up with provisions, beer, wine and, oh yes, some food, we were back on the road to La Porcherie. To rest after two pretty full on days.

Blenheim, Bampton and Burford


Earlier in the year, we had the rellies over from Oz. During their stay we traveled up to visit Blenheim Palace, stayed overnight in Woodstock and did a small vaguely Downton Abbey related tour of the locale. The following are a few photo’s taken over the weekend.

Winston Churchill - No visit to Blenheim is complete without an acknowledgement to the great man himself.

Blenheim Palace – Winston Churchill – No visit to Blenheim is complete without an acknowledgement to the great man himself.

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Blenheim Palace – Water Gardens

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Blenheim Palace – Main Entrance

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Blenheim Palace – The view below the Water Gardens

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Blenheim Palace – Tranquility

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Blenheim Palace – Rose Gardens, a blousy pink.

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Blenheim Palace – Rose Gardens, I can still smell the scent.

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Blenheim Palace – Rose Gardens, a luscious red, which is just how I like my wine.

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Blenheim Palace – Rose Gardens, for shear exuberance. Reminds me of the Can Can

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Blenheim Palace – towering, or is that lurking, above The Boat House

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Blenheim Palace – Hidden Treasure

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Blenheim Palace – Dainty

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Blenheim Palace – view of the lake, from The Boat House

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Blenheim Palace – Butterfly House, resident.

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Blenheim Palace – Butterfly House, fancy some fruit ?

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Blenheim Palace – Butterfly House, cheeky chappy.

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Blenheim Palace – Butterfly House, this cheeky chappy followed us around and harangued us from every perch.

Bampton

Bampton in Oxfordshire is the “real” name of  Downton, a name familiar with all Downton Abbey fans. As one would expect the real thing looks very different to the images presented on screen.

Bampton - Church View  appears regularly in the series. It is here that two pubs, The Grantham Arms & The Dog and Duck are located.

Bampton – Church View appears regularly in the series. It is here that two pubs, The Grantham Arms & The Dog and Duck are located.

Bampton - Church View - Apparently No. 2 gets quite a makeover to become a pub in the series.

Bampton – Church View – Apparently No. 2 gets quite a makeover to become a pub in the series.

Bampton - Church View - A real cottage garden.

Bampton – Church View – A real cottage garden.

Bampton - The old Grammar School building, which now houses Bampton Community Archive, served as ‘Downton’ hospital. Unfortunately closed when we were there.

Bampton – The old Grammar School building, which now houses Bampton Community Archive, served as ‘Downton’ hospital. Unfortunately closed when we were there.

Bampton - St Mary’s Church, renamed for the series as St Michael and All Angels

Bampton – St Mary’s Church, renamed for the series as St Michael and All Angels

Bampton - Cottages

Bampton – Cottages

Burford

Burford is a small town on the River Windrush in the Cotswold hills in west Oxfordshire, England, about 18 miles west of Oxford, 22 miles southeast of Cheltenham and only about 2 miles from the Gloucestershire boundary.
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Burford – With a name like Huffkins and the crooked windows this place looks like something out of a Harry Potter film.

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Burford – Going down to the shops is a doddle. Coming back is the real issue.

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Burford – Just popping out to the shops is part of the local fitness regime.

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Burford – Alms Houses, Founded in 1457 by Richard Earl of Warwick. Rebuilt in 1828.

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Burford – Nearly at the summit. The locals must feel like planting a flag each time they make it to the top.

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Burford – Minutes just fly by here. So much so that the minute hand has flown away. Obviously the right place to sit and while away the hours.

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Burford – Hope you have left the handbrake on.

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Burford – I wonder what’s down there ?

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Burford – Something quaint and interesting round every corner.

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Burford – Nothing is straight.

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Burford – Hidden charm.

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Burford – More Wonky Windows

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Burford – I was holding the camera straight, honest I was.

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Burford -

Flash Sale – Glam & Glitz Boutique of Southsea


Glam & Glitz Boutique of Southsea A unique Ladies Boutique in the popular location of Albert Road. Offering a selection of high fashion and classic ladies wear in sizes 8 to 26.

Glam & Glitz Boutique
of Southsea
A unique Ladies Boutique in the popular location of Albert Road. Offering a selection of high fashion and classic ladies wear in sizes 8 to 26.

A unique Ladies Boutique in the popular location of Albert Road.

Offering a selection of high fashion and classic ladies wear in sizes 8 to 26.

Aubergine – Bangladeshi & Indian Cuisine Restaurant


Last evening we popped down to see how my daughter and her husbands new venture was progressing. They have just opened Glam & Glitz Boutique in Albert Road, Southsea. Since it was near closing time we all decided to go out for a meal. Albert Road is a great place to go if you are hungry. There are eateries catering for just about every taste imaginable.

We chose to try Aubergine, a small Bangladeshi and Indian Cuisine restaurant. aubergineWhat a good decision that was. There were six of us and we hadn’t booked. This didn’t phase them and very quickly they shuffled some tables and chairs and we were quickly seated.

I ordered a starter, “Luck Now Ke Seek Kebab” described as “Minced lamb with chefs own spices, coriander, cheese, moulded on to skewers” which was quite tasty. This I followed with “Juicy Gosht” which was effectively a lamb shank in a spicy sauce. My description is probably doing it a disservice but it is not on the internet version of their menu so I couldn’t plagiarise their description. However, it really was juicy and the meat was oh so tender. This was the star of the evening, and, ably supported by  Pilau Rice and Bhindi Bhajee was a meal fit for a king.

Two of our family group kicked off with the the mandatory “Onion Bhajee” and two more decided to try the “Tandoori Champan”, which comprised “Tender of lamb chops marinated with fresh garlic, ginger and other spices”. For their mains two brave souls, including my wife, went for the Lamb Jalfrazi.

All agreed that the service was good, the staff friendly despite my introducing confusion by ordering a refill beer brand that they didn’t sell.

I would say that Aubergine stands out as one of the good restaurants in the area and I heartily recommend a visit. I for one will certainly be going back.

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Hollywood Legend Lauren Bacall Dead At 89


siskinbob:

A beautiful lady. Another star will be missed. What a legacy.

Originally posted on K-EARTH 101:

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Legendary film star Lauren Bacall has passed away at the age of 89.

The verified Twitter account of Humphrey Bogart’s estate, run by their son Stephen Bogart, posted a message confirming the news Tuesday, after he said the actress died in her New York apartment upon suffering a stroke.

“With deep sorrow, yet with great gratitude for her amazing life, we confirm the passing of Lauren Bacall,” the message read.

Read the complete story on CBS LA.

Click here to see photos of Lauren Bacall through the years.

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