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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

House for sale in the Charente-Maritime, France

My friend Gill is selling her house.
It is in a quiet hamlet 15km from the towns of St Jean d'Angely, Saintes and Cognac.
The house is partly renovated but needs more work to make it into a home.
The main house has a large kitchen/dining room, study, shower room, sitting room and two upstairs bedrooms and a new roof.
It is attached to two large barns and a hanger. There is also a large detached barn which could be turned into a separate house and a pig-sty and bread oven.
The large garden surrounds the house on three sides, there is also a mature orchard with cherry, plums, apples and pears and a large field which is currently meadow.
For further details and to arrange a viewing click here.

Hanger and pig-sty

detached barn


first floor bedroom

view from the kitchen

front of house

A weekend in the Charente-Maritime

Friends Kate and Louise came to spend a few days with us at La Verderie and we were lucky enough to have some sunshine! Friday morning we had a visit to Cognac, a wander around the shops, stopping to buy some chocolates for Kate to take home.

In the afternoon we went for a tour around the countryside starting with a visit to the beautiful church at Aulnay. A wealth of inspiration for knitting designs with textured stonework and beautiful stained glass windows.

Then on to the donkey sanctuary. The Poitou donkeys are huge, standing at around 16 hands with enormous ears, dreadlocks and gentle, inquisitive faces. Kate wants to take one home as a companion for her horse Bob.
Then on for a tour of the gorgeous Chateau at Dompierre
Saturday morning was a trip into St Jean d'Angely market, then in the afternoon a long walk with BeBop to Egreteau our local Cognac distillery for a tasting session and a few purchases of Cognac and Pineau.
On Sunday we went to the brocante at Varaize, it is always a good one stretching through all the back streets of the village. I bought two mirrors and some plates, Louise bought a table and Kate bought a little settee.

In the afternoon we drove down to Royan and had lunch in the sunshine at the marina, then back home for apero's in the garden. A lovely weekend.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A weekend in Dublin

 It was Culli's annual trip for the Heineken Cup rugby, so a group of 17 of us travelled from France to Dublin. The boys for two rugby matches and the girls for a weekend of retail therapy and a bit of sight-seeing.
lunch in Bordeaux

Dublin Bay

the first pint of Guinness
We had a tense start to the trip as Culli's new passport still hadn't arrived by Tuesday afternoon, the day before departure, so on Wednesday we had to leg it down to Bordeaux first thing in the morning to get him an emergency passport from the British Consulate at great expense. We had time for lunch by the river in Bordeaux before driving out to the airport.

As I had only been to Ireland once and Culli has never been we opted to go for 5 days to give us time to explore. Thursday was wet and miserable so we took the DART train around Dublin Bay from Howth to Greystones, starting with the first pint of Guinness of the weekend in Howth. It is a lovely train ride with part of the track right on the edge of the coast, giving good (at least on a sunny day they would have been) views across the bay. The rain stopped long enough for us to have a wander around Bray, then hop back on the train for the remainder of the trip and back to Dublin.

On Friday as it was dry we opted to walk around the city, starting with a wander through the side streets where I discovered some fantastic street art.

Dublin is renowned for literature having been the home to many famous writers and we were amazed at the amount of book shops that still seem to be doing roaring trade, many of them selling seconds at bargain prices so I snapped up a book on linen and Culli one on woodturning. Next stop was the Chester Beatty library next to Dublin Castle which housed a fabulous collection of manuscripts, prints and early printed books from Asia, the Middle East and North Africa including Japanese picture scrolls and woodblock prints, a really lovely exhibition. Then on to The Gallery of Photography to see the current exhibition on life in Ireland with images from the 1890's to the present day. Finding ourselves in Temple Bar it was clearly time for a pint of Guinness, followed by a wander along the river, then a quick stop in Avoca a lovely shop with wool sweaters and scarves, tweeds and fabric before meeting the rest of the group in the pub. With the boys safely dispatched to the first rugby match we wandered down Grafton street listening to the buskers then had an early supper of fish and chips in Bewley's, the legendary cafe. The beautiful stained glass windows and busy restaurant was the perfect place to soak up a bit of atmosphere.

Bewley's Cafe

On Saturday Culli and I walked through St Stephen's Green to the lovely area of Georgian buildings around Merrion Square then into the National Gallery of Ireland for a wonderful exhibition of 'The Sketchbooks of J B Yeats'. This inspirational collection makes you just want to grab a book and draw, I left with vows of taking one with me from now on. If anyone wants to learn how to create a diary Sketchbook our next painting course at La Verderie in July will be on this subject with tutor Pamela Slater.

Georgian doorway

Sketchbooks of Jack B Yeats

National Gallery of Ireland
It was time for the boys to head off for more rugby so we stopped at 'The Church bar' for tea and hot chocolate, then back to the hotel to meet them later for a meal and a bit of Irish music and dance.

The Church bar

a ghostly Irish dance
Sunday was the tour of the Guinness factory, which was well worth it for the building if nothing else. The presentation and layout of the tour was so clever, with modern graphics, metal structures and lots of glass alongside original tiles, ceilings and windows. The tour finishes on the 7th floor with a panoramic view over the whole of Dublin and of course a pint of Guinness!

Retro Guinness advertising

View from the top of the Guinness Storehouse

It was a warm sunny day, so we made the most of it by going on a tour of the city on an open top bus, followed by a bit more window shopping and then back to the hotel for a relaxing evening before returning to France on Monday.

Sketch book Workshop at La Verderie, France
7th - 12th July 2013