BEETROOT AND PAELLA IN FRANCE

It is difficult to find a good restaurant in France but I can always rely on beetroot baked in an oven.

Beautiful beetroot baked that has been baked in an oven, on display in Leclerc
Beautiful beetroot that has been baked in an oven, on display in Leclerc.

I have come to realise how spoilt we are in North London surrounded by so many good restaurants with a wide range of cuisines.  Normally we choose an Indian when we go out but are looking forward to eating at the Lebanese restaurant I’ve been told of and there is a Japanese one near it.  As I have written in a previous blog, my favourite non-Indian restaurant , L’Orangerie is just 8 km away so all is not lost though a decent Indian restaurant would be perfect. 

We recently  went to Fouras and had a lunch on the point where oysters are harvested.  The oysters were just magnificent the rest of the meal less so. 

The oysters were magnificent.  Wish I'd had a couple of dozen!
The oysters were magnificent. Wish I’d had a couple of dozen!

Next time I’ll just have a dozen of so oysters and fish soup I think.

There is a quaint restaurant nearby in the small hotel “Au Bon Accueil“.  It does not have a web site but there is a small picture of it and map on Google.  For some reason it is described as an Italian restaurant but it has a French menu with paella and accordion on Fridays.  The ambience is superb and the husband and wife who own it delightful welcoming hosts, hippies I think.  The paella was not as good as it has been but the cold buffet for hors d’oeuvres and the atmosphere of the place made up for it, especially the accordion.  I certainly recommend it.

Finally I need to mention brown shrimps, or grey shrimps as the French call them.  I always buy them in the market and have them for lunch on Saturday.  I am sure Leclerc sell them so I could have them more often.  I’ll have a look.

RAIN IN WALES, SWANS IN WINDSOR, POPPIES IN ENFIELD

My sister is over rom the USA and we thought to go to Wales for a couple of days.  We stayed in a delightful  B&B Cwmbach Cottages Guesthouse.  It was quiet, except for the glorious bird song, and the owner wonderfully gave me Bara Lawr with my breakfast on the last day.  It is lovely with egg and bacon. Nearby is the Crown and Sceptre pub which serves delicious, hot food which was a decided bonus.  Monday Valerie visited a friend in Neath and Sarah and I went to see my brother-in-law in Pont-y-Berem a small village 10 miles southeast of Carmarthen.  It was an enjoyable reminiscing visit.  The village is much spruced up since the days I would visit (see my collection Poems from Wales).  John told me that as well as being a drinker, Mr. Rednose as the children called him, was a prolific womaniser with mistresses all around and in the village.  I may have to rewrite that particular poem!

After another meal in the Crown and Sceptre that evening Valerie suggested we went to look at the sea at Aberavon.  It was pouring with rain, grey with a strong and cold wind.  Muggins foolishly left the car to video whilst sister and wife sat warm and dry in the car.

I wondered why the camera was shaking until I realise that I was so cold I was shivering.  Idiot!

The next day we drove back and decided to stop in Windsor for lunch.  The Royal Standard was flying which was a bonus for me.  Swans gathered by the river cruisers; the kiosk was selling food for them.

Swans Waiting for their lunch which I was pleased to provide.
Swans Waiting for their lunch which I was pleased to provide.

I’m a sucker for this and bought some for us all to feed them

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which was appreciated by the swans though they may have been better off scouring the river.

I love being close to birds and animals and would hand feed swans when we took a narrow boat to Hertford on the River Lea. They would swim up when we were moored to the bank.  So when a large gentleman swan nudged my posterior I was delighted to feed him.

I was quite disappointed when the food ran out but, it was time to leave for home.

Here it was sunny, dry and welcoming.  The poppy in the garden though past its best was still beautiful.  It is one of my favourite flowers.

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Past its best but still lovely.
Past its best but still lovely.

FORTY HALL

Forty Hall is another of Enfield’s garden and open spaces with the added benefit of a wonderful early Jacobean Manor house. Enfield Council has renovated the house and now the garden so it is much as it was when first built.  Down by the river there are the remains of Elsynge Palace where Henry VIII is supposed to have planned the dissolution of monasteries.  As the Gunpowder plot was supposed to have been discussed in nearby Whitewebb’s Enfield breathes revolution it seems.  With farm and vineyard it is a wonderful place to visit.  We walked there the other day and I just want to post a few of the photographs I took.

As we have family and a house in France we are often there and I just love to see mistletoe growing in the trees and there is magnificent collection on one of the trees near the river.

Joyous mistletoe in Forty Hall
Joyous mistletoe in Forty Hall

There are many oaks and for the first time  I saw some Oak flowers.  Never noticed them before.

Well they need flowers to reproduce.  It's just I had noticed them before.
Well they need flowers to reproduce. It’s just I had not noticed them before.

The Azaleas were in full bloom and wonderful  At one time I would travel to Japan and I remember how beautiful they were there. Well, they are beautiful in Enfield too.

Azaleas on the path from Car park to House in Forty Hall.
Azaleas on the path from car park to House in Forty Hall.

Finally some bluebells.  Not many but it always gives me a thrill to come across them.  They were growing down by Maiden’s Bridge where Raleigh was supposed to have laid down his cloak on a puddle for Queen Elizabeth I to walk on.

Some Bluebells.  Not many but pretty all the same.
Some Bluebells. Not many but pretty all the same.

It was a lovely walk.

MYDDLETON HOUSE

We are lucky to have many open spaces and gardens in Enfield and Myddleton House has one of them.

Wisteria planted in 1903
Wisteria planted in 1903 by the bridge in Myddleton House Gardens

Magnificent wisteria planted by Edward Bowles in 1903 by the bridge that crossed the New River when it flowed here. It’s trunk is almost as thick as my waist and the flowers beautiful.

Poppies and Daisies Myddleton House
Poppies and daisies are such pretty flowers

I love poppies and daisies and a step away from the bridge is a tiny meadow of them.

Iris came to earth on a rainbow with a message from the gods  for mankind.  Not sure what that was but these blooms are lovely behind the greenhouse, maybe she bought these?

Black Iris
Black Iris and Golden Panther

There are many seats and benches where you can sit, read, gaze into space or do nothing at all.

Reading on a Bench enjoying the shade.
Reading on a Bench enjoying the shade.

Or you can be photographed

Succulent Mydleton House cropped

behind these great succulents.

Succulent Myddleton House 2 cropped

I could not resist taking a picture of these flowers looking like characters in Dr Who.

Cacti Myddleton House 2

For 20 pence you can buy some food to feed the  carp but the lazy duck and few feeders makes me think they are over fed.

It was approaching 1700 and someone was ringing a hand bell so it was time to leave.  I did not want to be locked in.

PERTISAU AND THE CHALET SCHOOL BOOKS AND AVE MARIA

We were in Pertisau to see the village that inspired Elinor Brent-Dyer to write the Chalet School series of books.  There is a plaque in the library commemorating this.

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The building that became the school is still standing though it has been empty for some years.

Now empty and surrounded by trees this is the building that became, in the books, the school.
Now empty and surrounded by trees this is the building that became, in the books, the school.

The little church is probably much the same as it was when Elinor visited it in, I think, the 1930s or maybe late 1920s.

Pertisau Church with the ski lift showing as a brown streak down the mountain.
Pertisau Church with the ski lift showing as a brown streak down the mountain.

On our last evening at 6pm I heard music and rushed out. Ave Maria was being played over the loud speakers in the sharp spire of the church.  There was no time to retrieve my digital recorder from my bag so I whipped out my trusty, ever-ready iPhone and recorded the sound.  It was beautiful listening to music that filled the valley with birds doing there best to join in.

 

Earlier we had seen an extraordinary fence made out of split pine and held together with flexible branches.

The split pine was held together by flexible pine branches.  It was strong and firm.
The split pine was held together by flexible pine branches. It was strong and firm.

So then it was back to Salzburg.  Getting to the Hotel was a struggle as all the roads seemed to be closed because of a marathon the next day.  I had to throw through a fit, beat a tattoo on the steering wheel whilst Valerie held her head in her hands.  The guard was so impressed he let us through the final 30 metres.  We had driven past him several times over an hour!!!

The Golden Hirsch was a great place to be for Valerie’s birthday and for our last evening in Salzburg.

 Hotel Golden Hirsch
Hotel Golden Hirsch

The next day we left for the airport and home.