Let them eat cake at Bonsall Open Gardens

Each summer, many of the villages in Derbyshire open their gardens to the public. It’s a chance to wander around behind the scenes, collect ideas and eat cake! We opened our garden this year for the first time and became quite obsessive about preparing for it in the lead up.

More lovely cakes......

More lovely cakes……

No need to guess which was the most popular cake…the chocolate one went immediately

Last of the chocolate cake

Last of the chocolate cake

Thanks to Bern, Kev and Hilary for their weeding, planting and cake baking skills…..

Kev holding back the crowds...

Kev holding back the crowds…

Also on locally was an evening of opera with two professional opera singers Meeta Raval and Oliver Gerrish who have formed the New Georgian Opera company. http://www.newgeorgianopera.co.uk

The Bonsall Opera ticket

The Bonsall Opera ticket

Meeta and Oliver sang highlights from a variety of operas, they enthralled and at times left the audience gobsmacked at the sheer power, volume and sweetness of their voices. If you get a chance book your tickets well in advance for next year – this is an event not to be missed.  Check out Facebook.com/bonsallopengardens, http://www.bonsallopengardens.co.uk Meeta and Oliver were helping to raise funds for the Bonsall Field Barn Project. This project aims to save and restore the 115 little limestone field barns around Bonsall. http://www.bonsallfieldbarnproject.org

More cake

More cake – and scones!

Locals enjoying tea and cake

Locals enjoying tea and cake

It was a really lovely weekend. Some people make a proper weekend of it and do all the gardens, attend the Bonsall Opera and do one or two other villages at a time and stay over in a local pub. Here’s a link to find out when they are all open: http://www.opengardens.co.uk/open_gardens_in_derbyshire.php

Here's the link to find out when all the Derbyshire gardens are open: http://www.opengardens.co.uk/open_gardens_in_derbyshire.php

Here’s the link to find out when all the Derbyshire gardens are open:

I’m in love, I’m in love, I’m in love………..

Twiggy the chestnut mare

Twiggy the chestnut mare

Twiggy on right

Twiggy on right

With a beautiful chestnut mare called Twiggy……

What we’ve learnt looking after Twiggy the horse:

She likes being stroked and having her mane and tail de-tangled (you can get special brushes for this), Stella let us use her horse brushes, and a special de-tangling spray, but it’s better to spray it on the brush rather than the mane as it can scare the horse if they’re not used to it..

She likes the sound of your voice and to sing to her is very calming, she half closes her eyes and almost falls asleep her favourite song..  “I like you eyes, like your nose, like your fingers, like your toes…”

She prefers hay to frozen grass on the field in winter

She loves her oats, carrots and apples

She is very calm, even when you’re de-ticking her, it’s best to put her bridle on so she knows she needs to stand still

We’re going to miss you guys…..

New Year’s day lunch at Jollity farm…

Pears with black pudding

Pears with black pudding

It was minus 5 degrees here in the shade of the stable this morning and we had to break the ice in the water troughs for the horses. We gave all the animals extra hay to eat as the fields were frozen.

For lunch we’re having black pudding and pears. The French often pair black pudding with apple, but here’s something a bit different. When our friends (and what great cooks they are) Stuart and Sonya were staying here recently, Stuart cooked spiced pears with the black pudding. He fried the pear quarters in butter and chilli and served them with the fried black pudding. He removed the skin of the black pudding before frying so it’s extra crispy. I shall always cook my black pudding that way now – delicious!

H A P P Y    N E W     Y E A R!

Bordeaux wine St Emilion tastes of Plums, blackberry, licorice, chocolate and black cherry

One of the expensive wine Chateaus in St Emilion

One of the expensive wine Chateaus in St Emilion

We’re staying near St Emilion so had to go and have a look at this famous wine growing area. The wines from this small area of Bordeaux are really worth trying. They are expensive but when you try them you can taste why. Full bodied, earthy, spicy, chocolaty, plummy. We bought a few bottles for Christmas and as presents, not Grand Cru but from 2010 vintage. The taste….the smell…ummm

St Emilion - the famous wine growing town in the Dordogne

St Emilion – the famous wine growing town in the Dordogne

St Emilion is a beautiful town, set on a hill, with a backdrop of chateaux, limestone cliffs and vineyards as far as the eye can see. Most of the Grand Cru St Emilion wine is grown in the area immediately surrounding the town on the limestone cliffs.

A Grand Cru vineyard in St Emilion

A Grand Cru vineyard in St Emilion

What makes a good Bordeaux wine? It’s a mixture of  grapes, terroir, climate, minerals in the soil… nobody can really say exactly what is the ‘Bordeaux factor’ that makes it superior to other wines. The grapes used in St Emilion wine are Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

St Emilon town square

St Emilon town square

If you want to eat something unusual and from the classical French menu you could try lampreys cooked in red wine for example, or confit de canard.  The whole food experience is there from very haute cuisine at the top of the town to a range of inexpensive and sometimes quirky restaurants down the hillside.

One of the restaurants mid way up the hill - very quirky and interesting inside

One of the restaurants mid way up the hill – very quirky and interesting inside

If it’s a nice day and you don’t want to sit inside you could have a picnic from the bakery at the bottom of the hill, good variety of quiches (tomato and feta, quiche lorraine) and they also sell little bottles of wine.

View from a walk around the vineyards at St Emilion

View from a walk around the vineyards at St Emilion

There’s a marked walk around the edge of the vineyards taking in views of St Emilion and some of the grand Chateaux. The path starts to the left of the bakery….

Views of the vineyards on the little walk around St Emilion

Views of the vineyards along the walk around St Emilion

View of St Emilion from the walk

View of one of the grand Chateau from the walk

Here are some descriptions of the St Emilion wine:

The Merlot in St. Emilion offers tasters lush, soft textures, richness and concentration with flavours of plums, blackberry, licorice, chocolate and black cherry. The Cabernet Franc adds aromatic qualities like flowers and spice as well as tannin and structure. St. Emilion can also be earthy, spicy and deliver notes of tobacco and truffle, as well as fresh cherries when it ages.

Read more: http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/bordeaux-wine-producer-profiles/bordeaux/st-emilion/#ixzz3MTtmrJa6

 

 

Monsegur Antiques Market

Lots of interesting stuff at this market

Lots of interesting stuff at this market

A very cold, crisp but sunny day, just before Christmas – I bought a christmas present here for someone, can’t say who in case they see this! Also bought a lovely painting of flowers (see previous post on Christmas portraits it’s on the mantlepiece) in an old frame and an reproduction of an old Paris clock. This is one of the biggest in the area and is usually on the week before Christmas as well as during the year, check the tourist information pages. The stalls stretch all along the streets in town, vin chaud is served along with hot chocolate. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MonségurDSC_0055

Our local bar - good atmosphere when there's a market

Our local bar – good atmosphere when there’s a market

DSC_0078