Day out to Giverny – 20th April 2018

For our trip to Giverny, near Vernon, we were blessed with perhaps the
warmest day of the year. Due to an early start we arrived in Giverny
before it became very busy and we had a wonderful opportunity to see
the garden without crowds of other visitors.  After a cold spring the tulips were still glorious and the blossom was breathtakingly beautiful throughout the village.

Monet’s house has also been re-created in its original style using many of Monet’s own furniture, fittings and artefacts.

We had an enjoyable and memorable day.

Write up and photos courtesy of members.

Hambye walk – 18th April 2018

On Wednesday 18th April, 15 people and a couple of dogs enjoyed a walk in Hambye in glorious spring weather. As it seemed that we had had a long cold & wet winter it was nice to get out in such wonderful weather. Unfortunately because we had all got accustomed to dressing for winter some of us [particularly the writer] were not dressed for the good weather we had.

The walk started from adjacent Hambye Abbey

and progressed through the woods and meadows and crossed the river Sienne a number of times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t worry we crossed the river Sienne by bridge and not through the water, I have tried walking on water but it does not work.A lot of walking groups must have started from the car park adjacent the Abbey, a lot of people were down at the car park for walks. I didn’t know that so many people existed in France.
After the walk we had a very good meal at Hotel de la Gare in Gavray with plenty of drinks flowing.

Write up and photo’s courtesy of members.

Walk at Gouville sur Mer. – 27th March 2018

The walk on 27 March started from Gouville sur Mer. The morning rain stopped as we arrived in Gouville for the start (spring is still not here!). 13 people took part in the walk through the dunes. We took the Grande Randonnée path through Gouville’s famous multi-coloured beach huts.

Next we followed a sandy path through the fields and past some magnificent horses. After a few km, we discovered a Cabane Vauban surrounded by the dunes.

Cabanes Vauban ( Vauban is the name of the military architect) date from the 17th century, and were military look out posts to spot enemy ships ( often English!). Later they became used as customs posts to catch smugglers. They were often built on cliffs, eg at Carolles and St Jean le Thomas. Gouville’s Cabane Vauban was entirely covered by the sand over the years, then the sand was removed and it was restored.
Now we arrived at Gonneville, a small beach between Gouville and Blainville. We returned on the beach with views over the oyster beds and the oyster farmers hard at work.

For the whole of the walk there was not a drop of rain, but neither was there a hint of sun.
We finished in the ‘Le Pierrefeu’ restaurant in Anneville sur Mer, near the church. A few other Anglophones joined us at the restaurant where the lunch was both lovely and inexpensive.

Le départ de la marche du 27 mars (Walks Group) était à Gouville sur Mer. La pluie du matin s’est arrêtée en arrivant à Gouville au moment du départ (le printemps n’est pas encore tout à fait arrivé !!). 13 personnes ont participé à cette promenade à travers les dunes. Nous avons pris le sentier (GR) en passant devant les fameuses cabanes de plage multicolores de Gouville. Ensuite nous avons marché sur un chemin sablonneux dans la campagne avec des herbages et de magnifiques chevaux. Après quelques Kms nous avons découvert une cabane Vauban entourée de dunes.

Les cabanes Vauban (Vauban est le nom de l’architecte militaire) datent du 17ème siècle. Elles permettaient de surveiller la mer. C ‘étaient des postes de garde militaires pour guetter les navires ennemis (les anglais sans doute !!). Ensuite elles sont devenues des postes de garde douaniers pour surveiller les contrebandiers. Elles étaient souvent installées sur des falaises comme à Carolles, St Jean le Thomas. La cabane Vauban de Gouville a été entièrement recouverte par le sable au cours des ans puis le sable a été enlevé et elle a été restaurée.
Nous sommes alors arrivés à Gonneville, petite plage entre Gouville et Blainville. Le retour s’est fait sur la plage avec bien sûr la vue sur tous les parcs à huitres et le travail des ostréiculteurs. Toute cette marche s’est déroulée sans une goutte de pluie mais aussi sans un rayon de soleil.
La matinée s’est terminée dans le restaurant « Le Pierrefeu » à Anneville sur mer près de l’église. D’autres anglophones nous ont rejoint dans ce restaurant où le déjeuner était très bon et  inexpensive.

Write up and photos courtesy of members

Curry Lunch 23rd March – 2018

As expected last month’s curry lunch proved its popularity by being oversubscribed.

David and Louise house and garden had been transformed for a day into the Gouville Balti House restaurant and car park together with a neighbour’s gite being requisitioned for overflow parking. Polly and Donna, otherwise known as the Pop-Up Restaurant, provided the catering.

Members began arriving at 12 noon and, welcomed by a pre-lunch drink and nibbles, were soon mingling and exchanging news and banter. In what seemed no time at all luncheon was ready to be served.

Two long trestle tables and benches set up in the lounge with a table of eight in the dining room saw 32 sit down in readiness for some genuine Indian style cuisine, no doubt quite a few harking back and recalling past times of regular visits to their favourite local “Indian”.

Press-ganged into service, our affable and attentive waiting staff appeared carrying a starter of Punjabi samosa with raiti and pickles made by cleverly combining the right mix of turmeric, tomato, cucumber, potato and complementary spices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, the main course, a choice of a chicken, a beef or a vegetable shamba dish, was brought to each table in separate large serving bowls allowing everyone to select their own preferences. The Murgh Makhani chicken, a spicy tandoori from the south of India, was cooked in cream and butter with fresh chilies, these chilies grown by Chris  generated a worm glow on the tongue and lips. The Kashmari beef rogan josh utilised a cut of bourguignon beef flavoured by yoghurt and chilies.

The vegetable shamba followed a traditional recipe given to Polly’s parents by locals they had met during their travels in India. This recipe was representative of the wide range of vegetables typically used in cooking across the Indian sub-continent and included green lentils, chickpeas, broccoli, aubergines, tomatoes and onions. These three main dishes were accompanied by tarka dahl, basmati rice and naan bread.

A dessert of either pistachio ice cream or mango sorbet cooled the palate and the lunch was rounded off with tea or coffee.

 

 

The spices used in the meal also came from India thereby adding to the authenticity Polly seeks in her menus. She very much prides herself that all her meat and vegetables are both fresh and locally sourced apart from specialist items such as the superb lime pickle.

Polly and Donna received an enthusiastic and well deserved vote of thanks for providing an excellent meal. It is no easy task to satisfy the varied appetites of a large group of diners.

Write up and photos courtesy of members.

 

Shrove Tuesday – 13th February 2018

Pancake Tales Rumour has it that the French Légion d’Honneur was awarded to a Belgian wizard for his legendary skills in the kitchen.

The story goes that some thirty pilgrims descended on his hostelry, babbling in English and all he was armed with was eggs, milk and flour. After calming them with some alarmingly cool cider he set about feeding them.

Suddenly a large plate of steaming pancakes arrived and the travellers lost the ability to speak. Then another steaming plate came, and the pancakes simply kept coming. Someone tried to count them but there were more than a hundred and then they lost count. They said that they were the best pancakes that they had ever tasted.

Eventually one of the pilgrims ventured into the kitchen to thank the host but all they could find was a man with a cheeky grin. Someone else said that they saw Gandalf somewhere and that he had been to the barber’s. You see, you really don’t know what to believe. That is the trouble with tales.

The pilgrims were extremely grateful and very lucky. Apparently, if they had been just one day later it would have been Lent and they would all have gone hungry. You can trust your editors to get the tallest tales.

Write up and photos courtesy of members

The Pruning of Roses – 31st January, 2018

The Pruning of Roses … in the rain of course! on the last day of January, 2018 and, suddenly, there was a garden-full of cars bringing visitors through a wet and cold Norman day to John and Janet’s house. A goodly crowd of members had braved the weather to come to learn about pruning roses from David.

Soon we were all settled in the conservatory, listening to a talk from David, clearly an expert, a rose grower for some 30 years, who used to have well over a hundred roses in a garden in the UK.

He quickly had his audience very impressed and keen to hear his every nugget of info. Within minutes, questions came from all corners of the room and it was clear that a lot of hints and tips were being hoisted in by the wide-eyed students and clear, too, that David is going to spend 2018 having his sleeve tugged by his new rose-growing friends!
He spent time carefully defining bushes, shrubs, climbers etc for us (plus brief histories of roses as a whole) which led to queries and advice about the seasons when different types of rose plants should be pruned as well as the thorny (!)
question of where the best plants can be bought.

Soon it was time to go outside, to examine roses and learn more of the practical part of pruning, so, of course, it started to rain. But we budding (!!) rose-growers of Normandy were not to be put off and we gathered round each rose example to hear and see as David quickly and easily gave each the beginnings of the treatment it should have and explained why.


The whole get-together was a great success, and sent us all off keen to do better by our roses ….but not before we had all enjoyed a most welcome feast of sausage and bacon sandwiches to fend off the weather! (Thank you for your hospitality
and superb grub to round off the outing, John and Janet)
We all thank David for his informative session, which he has kindly followed up with notes which broaden the information he gave and add much more.

Write up and photo’s courtesy of members

New Year and our 25th Anniversary Year – 13 January 2018

More than forty members met to celebrate the New Year and our Anniversary Year at Chris R’s gîte, where a generous spread of buffet food, Galettes des Rois and an anniversary celebration cake was provided by the Committee and accompanied by Crémant d’Alsace.

Annette, our founder member, attended and was quizzed by many about the early days of the Association,before cutting the cake.

Members were able to browse a selection of earlier Newsletters, photographs and the archive of the records of the Association, which charts its activities and events from 1993.
Louise’s speech confirmed that the Association was going from strength to strength with an ever increasing variety of activities and interest groups.

Write up of the visit and photos courtesy of members.

 

 

Christmas Luncheon at Le Tourne Bride – 8th December 2017

We were blessed with a bright and breezy day for our much anticipated celebration lunch, although latecomers were greeted with a hail storm. The log fire was most welcome and so was an aperitif, which was followed by a continuous selection of delicious warm and cold canapés. Starters of terrine or baked salmon were equally tasteful, but all were upstaged by a wonderfully rich sauce that accompanied the duckling main course. Green vegetables were something of a scarcity, it seemed, but I kept spooning up the sauce by way of recompense. The gourmande sweet was politely proportioned, reflecting a French reserve rather than English Gluttony, which will need to wait until the 25th of the month. Service was prompt and the conversation was lively.

The raffle was competently fixed with the Committee members winning several of the prizes. The raffle raised the princely sum of 173 € and the auction, which included table decorations by Stevie, raised 109 €. Profits will go to our charity, Parentibus.

 

The Craft Group’s Christmas wreath was greatly admired and secured with a generous bid, apparently by a man from Belgium, although I believe it will stay in the country.

Write up of the visit and photos courtesy of members.

 

Quiz and Buffet Lunch -18th November 2017

Quiz and Buffet Lunch chez Catherine and Jacques C’est 31 personnes qui se sont réunies le samedi 18 novembre 2017, chez Catherine et Jacques à Roncey à l’occasion du Quiz and Buffet Lunch.

 

 

 

 

Un accueil très chaleureux nous a été réservé par nos hôtes où un petit verre de l’amitié était servi. Un très joli et copieux buffet était dressé, où tous les participants ont pu apprécier les préparations culinaires des uns et des autres. En cette période de préfètes, les mince pies étaient bien évidemment à l’honneur. Une fois ce très bon déjeuner terminé, un quiz musical, basé sur de la musique française et anglaise ainsi qu’un questionnaire de culture gé- nérale nous ont été proposés par Dave et Louise Wilson. Des équipes étaient constituées et, chacun a fait appel à ses souvenirs et connaissances pour répondre le mieux possible. Après cette très sympathique et conviviale épreuve, chacun est reparti, non sans avoir remercié encore une fois Catherine et Jacques pour leur accueil.

Write up of the visit and photos courtesy of members.

The Last Walk of the Year along the River Soulles – 10th November 2017

The choice of route for November’s walk reflected the fact that autumn in Normandy can often be wet. Starting at the Yeti bowling and ice rink in Coutances, we followed the gentle contours of La Soulles river valley as we headed towards our destination, the ruined bridge at Pont de la Roque. Despite starting grey and slightly coldish, the morning brightened and, with the temperature rising, jackets and raincoats were carried rather than worn. The well constructed path proved fit for purpose, being solid and dry underfoot, even though the surrounding fields held a great deal of surface water. As we strolled by old river mill buildings, now redundant and silent, the many cows and horses happily ignored us and continued grazing. The path also seems popular with both leisure and more sporting runners, and we saw some of the more serious runners again as they returned apace to Coutances.

Eventually the path emerged onto the road near Pont de la Roque and very shortly we had arrived at the stone bridge.

We spent several minutes inspecting the three adjoining, destroyed arches and reading the commemorative plaques to the Allied servicemen who lost their lives when the bridge was bombed and then captured in the months of June and July 1944. The stone bridge dates from 1852 apparently replacing a wooden structure which existed before. A “Bailey” bridge was erected at the end of July 1944 and the current modern road bridge inaugurated in 1967.

We rounded off a sociable morning at La Taverne du Parvis, opposite the cathedral in Coutances, where members unable to attend the walk joined us for lunch.

Write up of the visit and photos courtesy of members.