Friday, July 29, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
When I came over here I had a discussion with a friend about the area of France I was going to, and was advised that it was very gently rolling hills, but essentially flat. Thus I had images of the Canterbury plains in my head, and was rather disappointed when I discovered that I was to be living part way up a hill! I can cycle up to the driveway, but it is an effort, and if don't want to get all smelly then I really have to walk. Or if I am wearing sandals that are all slippery on the pedals. Damned hills!!!
Anyway, climbed up the hill, it was hilly. Took some pictures from the top. Also, at the end of the series is one of the castle. Just so you know I'm actually not kidding!!!
Another village which isn't far, maybe five kilometers away, give or take. I mostly took pictures of the river, which I assume to be the Loir, but I could be wrong, I didn't actually see any signs proclaiming it to be so. I think I found a massive nunnery here. I couldn't be sure because I really couldn't quite be bothered to stop and check, but I followed the sound of the church bells chiming 7pm and decided to see if there was also a lovely church here. I found instead a wall, which I followed up some hill and around a wee way, maybe a kilometer in total following the perimeter in a loop. All I could see over the wall was what looked like the top of a cross, and the roofs. When I got to the front part (which was of course the last side I reached) I could see a big building with some clothes drying in one window. Thus I have decided it is some sort of nunnery. Oh and it did seem to have a church as well at this part.
After circling most of the village in my loop around the nunnery perimeter I then had some dinner in a restaurant which appeared to have won many awards, which was nice. The waitress spoke some English, by no means good, but significantly better than my still reasonably non-existent French, so between us I managed to order fish, which was thankfully not creamy or fatty, like everything else I have eaten since I got here. I had bread, of course, which was nice to dip in the broth, and for dessert had icecream- I even had an idea it was icecream before I said I wanted it! Although I turned out to be maybe home-made icecream or real-fruit icecream, or something. Some was green and I think apple flavour, some was white, very icy (not so creamy) and possibly peach, although I really couldn't be sure. And I have no idea what the other flavour was, but it was decidedly the most normal flavour, maybe caramel biscuit or toffee or something. Hooray I am starting to be able to order food without translation!
After my dinner I came home, but not before realising that there were tiny traffic lights which I had completely ignored on my way in. I assume they were for cyclists, but clearly rather poorly positioned as I completely failed to see them when I came in!
Firstly, I cycled to Lhomme, a really sweet little village which is the closest to the castle. Really lovely. With the bakery where I bought brioche for my mini picnic, to be addressed in detail later. In New Zealand, and in fact England too come to think of it, brioche always had chocolate or some sort of filling in it, but this was plain. I shall thus assume that we have taken up bastardising a traditional food again by adding chocolate or some other sort of ingredient which changes the essential nature of the food. But anyway. There was this really cute church in the centre of the village, which looked to be really old, and was clearly not for tourists. So clearly not for tourists in fact that I felt totally ridiculous standing there taking pictures, so I took a bit of detour and found this really bizarre place, which I can only assume was somebody's garden full of lots of old machines!
In further strangeness, I stumbled upon a little house behind the church, with such an odd little garden, it immediately made me think of Hansel and Gretel!!! I took a few pictures, but I think it was somebody's house and garden, so I felt a bit weird and stopped! But such a huge old tree overhanging this garden which seemed made for children, little stone table, flower beds. Very strange, quite eerie!
Following my explorations of Lhomme, which is a pretty tiny village, I discovered this little stream with an old stone foot-bridge next to the new one for cars, so of course I had to play on it! I ended up having my picnic of brioche and nectarine there. So delicious, and such a lovely spot. I was disturbed only twice in my endless photography, by the same man. I think he went to pick blackberries or something, because he stopped on the way there and we had one of those oddly satisfying conversations where we both talk at each other in different languages, probably about completely different things, and then walk away smiling. When he came back again maybe 15 minutes later when I was actually about to take a last picture and leave, I had the presence of mind to ask him to take a picture of me on the little bridge. Yay for my awesome Franglish (not retarded Franglish, tyvm)!
When I was cycling away from the little picnic spot I also found this little spot with more wildflowers and a view over the wheat fields, which I love. Why don't we grow wheat like this in New Zealand? It's such a similar climate, we grow other crops the same, why not wheat? There is a lot of wheat here, as well as the wine which of course the Val de Loir is famous for.
And my other favourite crop here is the sunflowers! Fields and fields of them! Look at this massive one- again in someone's garden. It's a wonder I haven't been yelled at in French and chased away really, the time I spend photographing other peoples gardens without asking! Maybe I should add that request to the list of phrases I must learn in French.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Well it is a lovely little town where I am currently eating my dinner. Still on the Loir river I think. There is definitely a river, and I have taken pictures. I will post them when I am using my laptop though. I do not have magic powers to move pictures from my camera to my phone without a computer and several cables.
Anyway I have had a glorious afternoon cycling and exploring the French countryside. Really lovely. And I had a picnic on a stone footbridge :-)