Monday, 30 April 2012

Le Morvan Uncovered

Take a peek at this film, Balade dans le Morvan, and discover the unspoilt Morvan. Thick forests, rivers and lakes, bright country flowers and a rich patchwork of fields outlined by hedges

A remote region of Burgundy - undiscovered for many years.  
Still a secret hidden away from the main tourist trail - and that's the way we like it!

Friday, 27 April 2012

Le Morvan Has Got Talent

An exciting initiative has launched in Le Morvan,   a knowledge exchange network,  cooperative des savoirs created by L’universite rurale du pays Nivernais Morvan.  It is open to everyone, individuals as well as groups or associations, living in Le Morvan to enjoy the sharing of knowledge, experiences and skills.
The idea has come from the Reseau d'Exchanges Reciproques des Savoirs (RERS), the first was launched in the Paris region in 1970 and now there are 400 across France.
I give English conversation classes in exchange for French conversation classes.  One of my “pupils” offers sailing classes on Lac des Settons….. and that is how the network works.
We are lucky to have so many talented artists and artisans in Le Morvan.  So there are lots of interesting skills to choose from including bee keeping, dancing, embroidery, photography, mosaic making, music lessons, sports,  French, Moroccan, Italian cooking and of course, we couldn’t live in Burgundy without wine  tasting being on offer.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Anis, A Love Story

Les Anis de Flavigny, aniseed bonbons, are  produced in Flavigny, a medieval village high on a hill in northern Cote d’Or.  Just one hour and 30 minutes out of Paris, this historic village is close to the ancient town of Alesia where Julius Cesar fought a hard campaign against the Gauls.  Cesar is said to have bought aniseed with him for the wellbeing of his troops.  Then with the founding of a Benedictine abbey in 718, it is likely to have been the monks who first developed the recipe.

Generations of anis lovers including Louis X1V and Madame de Pompadour have enjoyed the small, hard sweet.  The Anis seed is believed to traditionally symbolize happiness and fertility. The distinctive oval tins feature romantic, pastoral scenes of sheperds and shepherdesses taken from original engravings and illustrations, in the Abbey’s archives.   

For 500 years the small sweets have been made to the same recipe in the same place, the Abbey.   A free tasting and tour of the factory takes place Monday - Friday 9am - 11am.  The small anise seed is rolled in fine layers of syrup and takes 15 days to make.  Today’s third generation of family sweetmakers produce 10 flavours including violet, rose, ginger, tangerine, mint, all made without any artificial flavouring, colours or sweeteners and exported all over the world. 

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Swishing in Le Morvan

I found out about Swishing on the internet.  The idea is simple and has really taken off in the UK.  You invite friends to bring old, unwanted clothes, in good condition to swop.  As I had spring cleaned my wardrobe it seemed the perfect excuse for a party, an ethical way to recycle  old clothes and find some new ones - saving money at the same time.
I explained the Swishing concept to my French neighbours who were initially incredulous that a) there was no charge and b) strictly no men were invited.  But they all entered into the spirit and arrived with bag loads of clothes.  It was an international event with French, Dutch, Australian, Welsh and English women joining in the fun.  Everyone went home happy with clothes, handbags and  even a pair of brand new wedge shoes. 

But best of all was Isobelle’s outfit that she had worn to get married in, a chic, cream skirt and matching mandarin collared jacket with satin trim.  Another friend fell in love with it as soon as she spotted it on the rail.  After a few excited explanations and tears of joy, the swish was made.
Swishing was a great success and the friends who missed out want another party..looks like we will be swishing again soon!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Shopping For Sperm

My neighbour  Odille knocked at my door and asked me to help her buy a horse  she had seen on an English website ….or so I thought.    It turned out it wasn’t a horse she wanted buy but the sperm to artificially inseminate one her ponies.    And the Stud Farm wasn’t in England it was in New Zealand. Well…. my knowledge of the French language was definitely stretched and knowing nothing about breeding horses I found  myself asking  questions such as “Was the sperm fresh or frozen?...”What was the quality, how much did you get and how quickly could it be delivered?”

It was  hilarious  and definitely one of my more bizarre experiences.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Springing Into Summer

What do you think are the first signs of Spring?

Is it the wild flowers splashing dots of colour by the side of the road or the birds singing their hearts out?  I would probably say that the sight of lambs, hopping and skipping  across the field heralds the spring for me but this year I have loved watching the cherry tree in our garden blossoming in front of my very eyes.

A couple of days ago there were a few brave blossoms now the tree is smothered in white frothy flowers.  The cherry tree is now dressed for Summer.

Let’s hope she survives the forecasted snow!