Thursday, 23 October 2014

Pictures from an Exmoor Garden

Posted by Rosie


Mum's garden to be precise, up on the moors on the Devon/Somerset border, where I am currently staying with the boys. Despite the lateness of the season there is still colour to be seen if you look closely.





 
 


Linking up with Annie's HDYGG linky, if I can, as I have limited internet - I will try and catch up with other blogs and comments later too.

Manneskjur

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

A ferry crossing in the tail end of hurricane Gonzalo

Posted by Rosie

Photo from Maritime-Leisure.com
I chose yesterday (Oct 21st) to spend my day, with the boys, in the middle of The English Channel, on a ferry. 

Flipping 'eck - when the waves are crashing up over the windows of deck SEVEN of your ferry you know it is a bit rough. Actually that is the roughest crossing I have ever done... or ever want to do again. I hid in the cabin, Ben laid down on a sofa on deck and fell asleep and Tom played on the computer oblivious to sea sick people all around him!  You can begin to stop liking people who don't get sea sick!! 

Trust us to travel in the tail end of hurricane Gonzalo!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

We're off on our Holidays ....

Posted by Rosie

It's half term and the boys and I are going to England for a week.  Simon is however staying at Eco-Gites of Lenault to look after guests and the animals although he will get a holiday later with the boys.  He has only just got back from a week in the UK (not a holiday) so we are a bit like ships that pass in the night at the moment.

I have managed to schedule a series of blogs for when I am away.  There's limited Internet at Mum's so I won't be online too much (except when I can cadge some time on the computer at friends).  Do please still write your comments and I'll add them and reply when I can .... I might even risk turning off moderation and hope the spammers stay away for a while, we'll see.

Until next week then - au revoir mes amis :)


Monday, 20 October 2014

Christmas Holidays in Normandy

Posted by Rosie

Why don't you and your loved ones do something a bit different this year and spend Christmas in France?   We have availability over the festive period (although New Year is already let) so come and enjoy all that France has to offer at Noël.


The gite will have decorations and a tree and we will add some festive goodies to your welcome box.  The wood-burner will keep you lovely and cosy and the large well equipped kitchen will make your Christmas dinner easy to prepare.


Out and about you can enjoy the wonderful Christmas lights that the towns and villages out up as well as carol concerts, walks round the beautiful countryside and Christmas markets.  


However you may not want to be quite as mad as our boys who had a Boxing Day dip in the sea last year!!



One week at Eco-Gites of Lenault will cost just £400 sleeping up to 5 people and a baby.  

For further details and to make a booking please visit our website here or email us by clicking here.


Saturday, 18 October 2014

Our New Magazine Advert and Website

Posted by Rosie

We have had several families who live in Paris come and stay at the gite after a recommendeation by previous guests on a Paris forum.  "Message" is a website, forum and magazine for English speaking families with young children who live in Paris. We have therefore decided that rather than relying on word of mouth through the forum (however good that can be) that we would place an advert in their magazine.

I had never made an banner advert before but a random tweet led me to a site called Canva and after not very long at all I had come up with this.

 
Reducing it down to the right size was a bit of a challenge and I am not sure I did it the most logical way but hopefully I got it right and we will soon have our first ever advert in a paper (and online) magazine.

Oh and have you seen that our new website has now gone live too? ...

http://eco-gites.eu/ 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Word of the Week - Lost

Posted by Rosie

The Reading Residence


lost

lɒst/

adjective - unable to be found



This has been the week of the lost things. 

1. Car Keys


On Monday I went to take the boys up to the bus stop only to find that neither car key was on the key hooks.  Frantic searching drew a blank.  Time to get them to the bus stop on time came and went. Time to get them to school on time, if I drove there like the clappers, came and went.  More frantic searching was not fruitful.  Panic levels began to rise especially as Simon was in the UK and I was basically stuck here at Eco-Gites with no transport.  Eventually, after a couple of frantic (I know - over-use of the word frantic but needs must) phone calls another Mum kindly drove the boys to school and I set about wondering where on earth they could be.  

I knew both sets were in the car when I moved it off the gite parking area a couple of hours before gite guests were due to arrive and shortly before TAKING THE DOGS FOR A WALK. My only thought was they must have dropped out of my pocket on the walk .... and whilst it was not a long walk it was far enough and also through some areas of long grass.  Finding a couple of keys, one on a black loop and the other a brown leather key fob would prove exceedingly difficult.  I donned my boots and was just toying with the idea of searching out the metal detector when I had a light bulb moment.  When I moved the car I had just finished baking the cake to go in the welcome box for gite guests.  And there the keys were.  No - not in the cake but in the pocket of my apron!

** PHEW **

Having read this article on the cost of replacement keys I am VERY glad I found them but unlike for this cow, Google was absolutely no help at all in this crisis!


 

2.  Important Paperwork


Simon asked if I would make an important phone call for him with regard to his business.  Of course I would if only I could find the sheet of paper he had given me that had all the important information, phone number and codes I needed for said phone call.  Several more frantic (sorry) hours of searching and I did eventually find the the missing sheet, paper-clipped between 2 bills I had paid earlier and filed neatly on Simon's desk.

** PHEW **

3.  The dog


It's OK - don't panic, she's back ... and in big trouble.  TWICE this week Saari has waited for me to turn my back and then headed off into the maize fields. She goes in to pinch a maize cob which she finds very tasty, only I think that as soon as she gets into the maize she gets sidetracked with interesting smells etc etc and "forgets" to come back out for a couple of hours.  Thank goodness she did come back both times (she will be on the lead tomorrow) and I have to be grateful, I suppose, that this was not the reason for the lost car keys on Monday ...



Definitely a week of lost things ... although in a way maybe I should also be grateful to Saari, being the third thing I lost this week.  Otherwise who knows what else I might have lost?  Weight would have been good but I suspect my mind might have been more likely!!

What's the worst thing you've lost recently?

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Autumn Flowers ...

Posted by Rosie

... may not always be what you expect.  After all a cauliFLOWER is still a flower!



And this is a leek gone to flower:


Dill about to flower:


But this sunflower has gone over:



Even weeds can be pretty: 
Feverfew:



 And some sort of thistle:

 

 And my more traditional miniature dahlias are still hanging in there!


What flowers have you still got in your garden as we reach mid October?  I am sure there will still be plenty to be seen on everyone joining in with Annie's How Does Your Garden Grow linky over at Manneskjur.


Manneskjur

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Telephone Conversations in FRENCH!

Posted by Rosie

I am sure anyone who lives in a country where a different language to their mother tongue is spoken will understand straight away how absolutely terrifying speaking on the phone can be.  In real life, face to face conversations you have so many things to help you through the fog of foreignness:
  • You can see some-one's body language and facial expressions;
  • You can gesticulate to make yourself understood;
  • You may be able to have a dictionary to hand and pour over it with the person who you are talking with;
  • You can draw things on a piece of paper.
On the telephone all these things disappear and you are left with just the voice of the person at the other end.  No facial expressions, nothing.  Actually, not nothing, because there are other things to make telephone conversations even harder. You  know:
  • Background noise either at your end or at theirs;
  • Softly spoken people who seem unable to raise their voice (and please will some-one tell me why, when I get  a quiet person on the end of the phone, do I end up bending forwards until my head is nearly resting on the desk?!);
  • People who speak fast, in long sentences without giving you time to assimilate what they are saying;
  • People who just repeat what they said the first time when you say you did not understand, usually even faster, often louder and invariably with a hint of exasperation in their voice.
Humpf - well how would THEY cope if the language tables were turned I wonder??

Image from the Sunday Times

As you might have guessed today I had to make a phone call and it turned out to be to a lady who spoke quietly, fast, in long sentences with background noise at her end and more than a hint of exasperation in her tone.  She worked for a Government organisation to do with running small businesses.  Surely some-one working in an organisation such as this would only be employed if they had a decent telephone manner and could communicate slowly and clearly with the many English speaking people who I am sure must phone her throughout the week? 

I did get there in the end, more thanks to me repeating everything back to her as opposed to anything she said succinctly or clearly. 

In complete comparison I then had to phone the dentist and the receptionist there is lovely.  She is clearly spoken, does not waffle on and is so easy to understand ... even to the point that when she arranged the time for the appointment (14h45) she double checked by saying a quarter of an hour before 3.  She laughed when I said how much trouble I had both with numbers and the 24 hour clock and said kindly that I was not alone!  If only she had worked at the business office rather than Madam Slightly Exasperated!

Do you have any stories to tell when speaking on the phone in a foreign language ... or even any strategies for managing difficult conversations?

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Herb-Brined Roasted Turkey

Posted by Rosie




We rear our own turkeys and the question everyone tends to ask us is "Will you be eating one for Christmas?"  Actually, the answer is generally "No."  They end up being large birds and roasting a whole one gives too much meat for us and often the meat ends up a bit dry.  Instead we joint the birds and use the breasts in a variety of ways.  One of these is to brine and then roast them which gives a lovely meat, that slices well, similar to ham. It is not a quick recipe as it involves preparing your brine, soaking the meat, then drying it before roasting.  However the resulting meat is wonderfully moist and tasty so it is worth the wait.

Herb-Brined Turkey


Ingredients


1 - 4 turkey breasts: each approx 10cm thick
Brine:  This is enough brine for 4 breasts so reduce down the amount if you are are doing less.
 
  • 4l water
  • 225g salt
  • 125g sugar
  • 1 handful of tarragon, sage or marjoram (stalks included)
  • 1 handful of parsley (stalks included)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 head of garlic cut in half horizontally
  • 1 onion sliced (No need to peel if clean)
  • 3 tbs lightly crushed black peppercorns
  • 2 lemons, halved


Herb Brine


 Method


1. Combine all the ingredients in a large pan, squeezing the lemon juice in before adding the lemons and heat until the sugar and salt dissolve.

2. Bring to simmering point, then remove from the heat and cool thoroughly.

3. When cool, refrigerate overnight if possible.

4. The next day place your turkey breast in a container large enough to allow the meat to be totally covered by the brine. A large lidded Tupperware box is great.  Add the brine so the meat is fully covered, placing a plate on top of the meat to ensure it remains totally submerged.  Cover the container and put it in the fridge.
 
5. Calculate how long you will need to brine the turkey:  
  • A boneless turkey breast about 10 cm thick will need 12-18 hours but if it is smaller simply brine it for less time. 
  • You can also brine whole turkeys and chickens.  A whole turkey weighting around 7kgs will need 24-36 hours and a whole chicken around 1.5-2kgs will need 8-12 hours.

6. Once brined remove the meat from the brine, rinse well and pat dry.  Let it rest, preferably uncovered in the fridge for 3-24 hours.  If you prefer you can wrap it in a clean tea towel or muslin cloth to dry.

7. After resting and drying, roast the turkey for the appropriate time for it's size.  You need it to reach an internal temperature of 71ºC with clear juices seen when pierced.  

8. Leave to rest for at least 15 minutes if serving hot. Alternatively let cool fully and served sliced like ham.


Herb-Brined Turkey

Have you ever had a go at brining food?  Have you made bacon, for example, and do you have a foolproof recipe to share?


Recipe of the weekCooking with Herbs Lavender and LovageTasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com
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#NoWasteFoodChallenge