Tuesday, 25 July 2017

This is What Summer Looks Like Here

In the background wheat is being harvested, in the foreground, sunflowers at their most glorious. (This photo is from last year.)

Monday, 24 July 2017

Translating Tintamarre

Emile serving Tintamarre to Joy and Jheanne.

Our friends at Chateau Gaudrelle very kindly invited us to the launch of their new wine, a natural sparkling chenin blanc that they have dubbed Tintamarre. We asked our South African friends Joy and Jheanne if they wanted to go and they were delighted, since they hadn't had a chance to visit a winery so far while they've been here. The wine is gently bubbly, fresh and fruity. We liked it a lot (I bought a case for our apéro yesterday).

Rillettes (pork paste) and Sainte Maure de Touraine goats cheese to go with the wine.

We asked Laetitia what 'tintamarre' translated as and she thought a bit and said 'hurly-burly', but acknowledged that she'd need to double check that. It is what you get when you put the word into Google, but having consulted widely (well, Christophe at l'Image and Jill, who looked in her big serious dictionary...) I don't think it's the best translation. We think it's more like 'hullabaloo', as it doesn't seem to refer to movement, but to noise, particularly a din or racket with percussive or chinking glass sounds.

Chateau Gaudrelle Tintamarre.

Sadly, Joy and Jheanne returned to South Africa today. The town of Preuilly had adopted them for the duration of their stay, and they received considerable encouragement to buy a house here and move here permanently. I reckon they'd easily win a vote of 'most popular new resident' if such a thing was held. We will truly miss Joy and Jheanne a lot. Thank goodness we've got a ready supply of Tintamarre available, to raise a glass to them on a regular basis.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Don't Panic!

Yesterday was the first day in ages (probably 6 or 7 years) where we didn't have a blog post. This was because we went out for a pre-lunch apero at 11.00am on Thursday, and didn't get home until 8.30pm, and then had to do office stuff before going to bed early in order to leave home at 6.45am yesterday to work.

Then I was going to do an "on the road" blog post from Chenonceaux using our "smart" (it isn't) phone, but I couldn't remember my password,

But here's a photo of Claudette in Amboise from yesterday afternoon instead...


Tomorrow is our monthly apero evening. If you're in the area (Preuilly sur Claise) and haven't received an invitation drop us a line using the links on the right (click on Susan's name)

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Le Gros Chillou

One day a couple of years ago I was driving to Chinon and I happened to take the route which runs parallel to the north bank of the river from l'Ile Bouchard. On reaching the tiny hamlet of Briançon, in the commune of Cravant-les-Coteau, I saw to my astonishment an enormous prehistoric ruin on my left. I didn't have time to stop but vowed to look it up on the internet to find out exactly what it was and to return with Simon.

Last week when he came up to Chinon to pick me up after I had spent a few days there working with Walking Adventures we took the opportunity to stop off at Briançon and check out the monument.

The dolmen, made of Turonien sandstone probably sourced 2-3 kilometres away on the Vienne valley slopes, is at least 15 metres long and 3 metres high. The name 'gros chillou' means 'big rocks' and it would have taken considerable effort to move them from the valley sides to their site near the river. It is the biggest dolmen in the Touraine.

It is right on the roadside, on the D8, on the left if you are heading for Chinon, tucked up against a house. Unable to move the stones, the 19th century owners simply partially incorporated it into their house. Nowadays, tipped up and ruined, it was uncovered in August 1956 by a group of amateur enthusiasts. A local archaeologist said at the end of the 20th century, 'like all those on the right bank of the Vienne, it was constructed in the valley, and not much above the level of the water. It must have been submerged more than once by floods. The opening is oriented towards the east.'

The two front supports remain in place, about 3 metres apart. The slab which they supported was broken into two parts, one of which, almost vertical, rests on the right-hand support, the other, which exceeds 6 meters in its largest dimension, remains raised obliquely on the left-hand support. Beyond that, we can identify 3 other slabs, a support on the right and the bottom, in two parts, joined on each side by buildings 4 meters apart. 

Archaeological investigations were undertaken in the 19th century, but found nothing of interest.

Further reading: The Touraine Insolite page on the monument, in French, but with maps and diagrams.