After visiting Sarah, the next stop has been Ian and Sylvia's, near Bergerac, where I have been staying for the weekend. It has been just so lovely and in between eating, chatting and visiting wonderful neighbours, Ian and I have actually got some gardening done - the first since I left home nearly 2 weeks ago.
We cleared out the pumpkin patch, planted leeks and spring onion seedlings from the Villereal market, broccoli and fennel seedlings Ian has raised and enlarged the bed by another third....soon it will rival Villandry!
It seems quite unreal gardening in blogland, and seeing all the things Ian talks about on his blog, including the Saturday visit to the Villereal market and a stop in to Bernard's to buy his 2004 Monbazillac.
We have spent quite some time with a French couple who live just down the street and they are such fun and so kind, cooking special Perigord dishes for me for dinner at their house on Saturday night and showing me around their vegetable garden as well as a wonderful slide show of Michel's beautiful wildlife photos that Ian regularly posts on his blog.
I tried a cocktail that Michel made which Marie-Sylvie assured me was not too alcoholic..... luckily I didn't believe her!
We had so many courses I lost count...so see Ian's post for details!....aperitifs, amazing garlic soup, delectable confit de canard, local organic vegetables, cheeses to die for etc etc and an apple pie I made for them. We had so many laughs and it was incredible and I thank them all very much.
Ian and I went early to the Villereal market and started by having coffee and croissants as of course one must when in France....very nice. The market fills a square which is surrounded by shops, and spills out onto the streets. It is just as I imagined from Ian's photos.... picturesque, down to earth, authentic, friendly and fun.
I was so lucky to have Ian and Sylvia take me to visit another neighbour, Gabriel, who grows vegetables, fruit trees and ornamental plants and is a man with an affinity with his land, his life and the health of the body and soul. I didn't take any photos.... it just didn't seem appropriate. He speaks a broad dialect but made a real effort to speak so I could understand, which surprisingly, I mostly did....as it was all to do with propagating and growing vegetables and fruit in his own wonderful way.... The quality of his produce was exceptional and from his vegetable patch we could see 35kms in one direction down the rolling land of the valley to Chateau Biron. and 55kms another to...... He grows a lot of tomatoes in polytunnels, and he gave us one which weighed 500g, which we are going to have for breakfast tomorrow. It was so special to listen to him telling me so much, in French, there in the south of France, and to see in his eyes his passion for all the things I too care about. Like Richard, in Singapore, Gabriel is connected and in tune with himself and all about him.
Tonight I am cooking mussel risotto for Sylvia and Ian..... starting right now!
As always, there are more photos on the link.They will have captions soon....hopefully before I go to bed tonight!