Friday, 15 January 2010

Chenonceau for the Magical Mystery Tour

It has been Captain Sensible's birthday and he tells me he is not afraid to be proud for the approach of a 66th year and the achievement of the age of 65.
For the last 5 years, at the instigation of an idea by my daughter, we have been on a Magical Mystery Tour for each of our birthdays. When Captain S was 60 we went to Ely, Norfolk because Mr Oliver Cromwell is one of his greatest heroes. He, that is, Oliver Cromwell, evidently wanted to give one man (one woman) one vote, but life didn't work out that way for another 400 years! Now I am in UK as a woman I can't vote for UK! Silly!
After the very first Magical Mystery Tour it was not so magical when we returned home (in UK) to discover that the neighbours had made a hole-in-the-party-wall, but that is another story and an anniversary that is probably best forgotten!

Today, we went to a French chateau, Chenonceau. It was delightful, and to think that the motto, inscribed on doors and floors, was something like, "If I finish this construction then I will be remembered." Thomas and Catherine have certainly been and still are remembered since those medieval times. Unless we get that motto graffitied onto the floors and ceilings we won't be remembered at all for our small efforts on house renovation.

However, major renovation works being executed to the façade of Chenonceau Chateau, to the tune of 40 million euros did not detract from our pleasure, and of course every house needs maintenance! Look carefully... the scaffolding shroud is imprinted with the image of the chateau. The chateau has 9oo thousand visitors each year.

O, how I wish I had been such a woman as the six who influenced the development of such a fine building. I am wondering whether the Menier family who own this historical giant, and who were famous for making chocolates and who oncc influenced , and for all I know still influence this magnificent chateau, have been bought out by the Nestlé entreprise?
Quel horreur? ou peut-être pas?

It has been a very good MMT (Magical Mystery Tour), starting with a lengthy drive through the fog (le brouillard) to arrive at snow on the ground after St Aignan-sur-Cher, when in our region the snow has disappeared. Perhaps the comment that "warmer weather starts south of the Loire" is a truth.
Morning coffee at halfway of the journey was a disappointment when we chose a very French looking café-bar...the bitter coffee was not improved by the cold interior, absence of ambience and no nearby boulangerie to provide the expected croissant. But at 2.60e for two coffees can one complain?
For lunch we bought brilliant french-style pizzas from the boulangerie at St Aignan and these went well with our regular flasks of tea for me and coffee for him. Then we did not eat or drink for 7 hours.
Our evening meal starter was a tartine of grilled aubergine with prawns and a little spot of wasabi. Then, with a marinaded half leg of lamb from one of the former grazers surrounding our land, I created a lamb tagine with tagine spices, paprika, and saffron from Preuilly-sur-Claise saffron market (worth every euro). I also added prserved Moroccan lemon and whole, jarred artichoke hearts. Mmmmmmm. Served with was excellent with a bottle of Anjou.

We ate some of a pyramid goats cheese but forgot the salade verte. For dessert we had half an individual citron tart and then raided the box of English Bouja-Bouja hand-made chocolates whilst opening the "Eau de Vie de Cerises juin 2007"as a digestif. I am privileged to enjoy such food with a friend. But it does no good for the waistline!

This is of no consequence when shared happiness, culture, interests and history have been principle enjoyments. At Chenonceau the labyrinth was one of the easiest I have walked ... the glass cloches, willow baskets and plants in the potager were interesting even in the winter ...
I would like to return to the castle in Spring, Summer and Autumn to see the changes.

The day ended with some fine music from Jango! The Rolling Stones.... Dylan... Pogues... The Who...Eric Clapton.

I love this painting that was on display in the chateau.
With thanks to Captain Sensible and his Nikon for the first four photographs of this posting.

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