It has been a while since I wrote a Chez Mimi blog and this is because I have been otherwise occupied visiting relatives both here in France and back home in England.
I was recently invited, by my lovely cousin Philippe, to visit him in Bordeaux and as I love spending time with him and had never been there before, I accepted with alacrity. He duly collected me one Friday evening, en route from Nantes and we set off for what was an absolutely fabulous weekend. That first evening was spent enjoying fabulous food in a lovely restaurant on the Quai by the Port of the Moon followed by a beautiful stroll around this stunning city.
Saturday, saw us visiting St Emilion and exploring this lovely historic area dating back almost 2000 years. It is built out of local yellow limestone, although its streets are paved with stones used as ballast from visiting English ships, obviously it was important to ditch them in order to fill up with all the beautiful wines!
I loved the atmosphere and thoroughly enjoyed the visit to the chapel. I think I understood most of what the guide was saying and of course Philippe was on hand to clarify any areas of uncertainty.
The next day we visited the quayside market, en route Philippe showed me his local boulangerie, the bread is delicious and the shop oven needs to be part of a film set.
I was particularly captivated by the cheese stall, so beautifully arranged that it was almost a shame to disturb it by buying the fabulous produce.
The rest of the day was spent exploring this fascinating city and being tempted by some fabulous chocolates and a cheeky glass of wine. It would have been rude not to!!!!
Sunday was spent exploring Cap Ferret and trying to spy the largest dune in Europe. Although the weather was warm and pleasant visibility was not so good.
Within weeks of my return from Bordeaux, I was then whisked away again for a big family reunion on beautiful Belle Ile. Several family members have had important birthdays this year so the party came together for a 50th, 40th and a 30th. It was only my second visit to this stunning island, my first was for the wedding of my cousin Cecile to our quiet man Andre and that was a superb time etched in my bank of memories. Andre's family has farmed the land for generations and together the couple have added several fabulous gites adjacent to their home, enabling visitors to experience this fabulous place. Below is an except from the folklore of the island:
"According to legend, the fairies were driven from the forest of Brocéliande. They shed so many tears that they created the gulf of Morbihan and into this they threw their flowery crowns and so were formed the 365 islands of the gulf. Three of these coronets escaped unnoticed from the little sea and formed Houat, Hoedic and the most beautiful, Queen of the fairies - Belle Ile."
Having had an absolutely fabulous time yet again, I had barely time to touch base, check on Chez Mimi and take off for a Granny visit and as it was half term I got to spend a few days, with them, in sunny, stunning Alston in Cumbria.
A highlight was the visit to Kilhope Mine. The underground visit was thoroughly enjoyed by the youngest member of our party, but much less so by his older brother, who showed his courage by seeing it through! The finding of treasure and a visit to the play area soon restored his equilibrium.
On the recommendation of a friend, we went to explore a very beautiful garden centre named Larch Cottage. What a beautiful place full of interesting nook, crannies and stunning plants guaranteed to inspire creativity. Added to this, their cafe served totally delicious food - we were lucky enough to be on the sunny terrace, with a lovely view and surrounded by stunning wisteria.
However, all good things must come to an end so I am back in the Vendee with glorious weather, tending to the garden, adding the last few touches to Boaty Mac Boathouse and polishing up the gite for our summer visitors.