French Holiday Part II

We have spent the weekend extending the patio in our garden. There is dust and cement everywhere, all over my poor flowers. I am escaping from the chaos for half an hour to write another blog post!

After our amazing but very tiring week on the side of Alp d’Huez watching the giant cycling spectacle that is Le Tour de France and all that goes with it pass through (see previous postย https://lickingtheplateagain.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/im-back-french-holiday-part-i/) we headed to a gite in the Indre region of central France for a week of relaxation! (cue lots of eating, reading, eating, sunbathing and a bit more eating).

The gite, in a 200 year old longere in a rural hamlet surrounded by rolling fields, was the perfect spot to wind down following the madness of the alp. I was also rather glad to get out of the campervan, despite all my initial excitement about hiring one. We were both sporting numerous impressive bruises after a week in it! We didn’t venture out to eat too much during this week as we were mainly just too happy pottering around our lovely little gite and garden pleasing ourselves. We did have one special meal in a local restaurant (which I will tell you all about in my next post!) but mainly we enjoyed lots of barbecues, big hearty rustic salads and picnics!

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Warm potato salad with chives and piles of lettuce with liberal lashings of mustard salad dressing

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Delicious saucisson with a bit of a kick, juicy tomatoey marinaded chicken, charred courgette slivers

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Juicy barbecued prawn and cod skewers with a buttery basil sauce

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Tasty breakfasts (some healthier than others!)

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Perfect lunches

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Is there much in this life better than a wodge of gooey brie and couple of tomatoes shoved into a chunk of baguette? Biting into it and letting the juices from the tomatoes run down your chin? I think not.

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Peppy espresso served with little sweets

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Treats from the local boulangerie

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Lakeside picnics following a refreshing swim

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What do you do when you have a stale baguette to use up and a heap of very ripe tomatoes? Make a tomato sauce, slather it all over the bread, top with ham and generous amounts of camembert (perhaps I was a little too generous, this was pretty filthy! Sooooo good though!) and grill! Et voila! A French bread pizza!

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Moreishly plump pungent olives from the local market

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Late afternoon sunlounger snacks

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Barbecued burgers on toasted buns with grilled tomatoes and yes, more camembert (spotting a pattern here?)

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Rich and luxurious chocolate to accompany evening card games. This year’s favourite was Cote D’or’s dark chocolate with caramelised pistachios. Seriously good.

P1040635Bright happy flowers

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Field upon field of sunny sunflowers. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to look at a field of sunflowers and not smile.

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Pink skies

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It’s official; summer has arrived!

Rejoice rejoice! Summer has arrived! And living where we do, one must enjoy it while it lasts! I don’t know about you, but I literally feel like a different person in the sunshine. It just makes me feel so HAPPY and full of energy and like the little stressy things just don’t matter! Ahhh. And I just love summer eating too! ๐Ÿ˜‰

The weekend before last we were up in sunny Scotland for a long weekend visiting friends and family and enjoyed some really stunning weather.

A beach walk with friends on the North Berwick coast was, of course, enjoyed with steaming hot fish & chips (plenty of salt & vinegar), eaten with fingers not forks (then you get to lick all the vingeray salty vinegary deliciousness off your fingers at then end!)

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While walks round the loch were topped off with creamy ice cream

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And after a hot hike up the hill we enjoyed barbecued salmon with lovely crispy skin, juicy sizzled sausages and homemade potato salad with freshly dug tatties and chives from the garden – perfection!

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Even the lovely Scottish gorse was out in force, a riot of yellow against a clear blue sky, the heady coconut scent shouting Summer is Here!

The blissfully gorgeous weather has continued this week in Manchester while we’ve been back which has meant more al fresco eating opportunities!

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Toasted marshmallows at a friend’s barbecue. I love when the outside goes all charred and crispy and the inside is gooey, sweet and melting!

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And an impromptu picnic in the park after a sunny post-work walk along the river last night! (That’s a rounded meal there!)

I hope that you all have lovely weather where you are too (especially my long-suffering fellow UK bloggers!) and are enjoying some fun times and good food in the sun!


Let’s break out of this city…

I woke early this morning (a fairly rare occurrence for me on a Saturday!) and was suddenly overcome with an urge to get out of the city. I promptly woke the other half (he wasn’t best pleased at first…) and suggested we ditch our previous plans for the day and head out of Manchester for some proper fresh air, peace and quiet and a chance to have a proper stretch of our legs! We packed a quick picnic and set off for Formby, on the Merseyside coast, around an hour or so away.

I don’t know what it was that grabbed me this morning, but have a feeling that it may have had something to do with the fact that it was the first weekend that I can remember where it’s been dry, had a small hint of blue sky, and has not been absolutely freezing!! I don’t want to lull either myself or any of you readers into a false sense of security, but for the first time it feels like the end of winter is almost in sight…

The grey clouds rolled in fairly quickly, but luckily for us it stayed dry! We had some fun attempting to run up big sand dunes (made me think of the ‘travelator’ at the end of Gladiators! Anyone else know what I’m on about!?) and running down the other side squealing with arms wheeling in the air in that pure childhood delight of not being in any way in control and not quite knowing whether or not you were going to stay on your feet. (I only landed on my bum once, but fairly spectacularly!). It made me think, how often as grown ups do we ever really let ourselves lose control, even just for a minute? Hardly ever for most people, I bet. I think it is good for the soul to do so now and then!

We then had a good long march up the beach for a few miles and back, breathing in that lovely salty fresh sea air. There is something about being at the seaside that I just love. It’s so invigorating but also I think grounding. I like to see the sea, to contemplate our smallness in comparison to everything else ‘out there’. I like to see and contemplate the boundaries of this little island we call home. I can’t imagine living in a land locked country. I used to live a 10 minute walk from the beach when I lived in Aberdeen while at university. I loved being able to go for a walk or run along the beach whenever I felt the need. To be able to just go and stand and look at the sea. I could see the sea and a lighthouse from my bedroom window if I craned my neck to the right angle. It gave me a lot of comfort at night to see the beam from that lighthoue flashing out, a reminder that there is other stuff out there beyond what is currently pre-occupying us in our day to day lives. I wish we lived closer to the sea now.

Soon it was time to perch a-top a sand dune with a lovely view of the sea and offshore wind farm, and enjoy a cup of tea from my new Orla Kiely flask (I am so in love with it!) and a toasted bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese and a little squeeze of lemon juice, yum! A perfect weekend lunch if you ask me ๐Ÿ™‚

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