The Perryman holiday progresses. Charlotte takes a day out for an interview in Paris whilst Ted and Ry climb the Eiffel Tower then take lunch on a boat trip down the Seine. Ted enjoys fishing trips with his grandfather and brings mackerel, red gurnard, whiting and Pollack to the kitchen. He is in on the game of mastering a technique for fishing sand eels. He is the personification of glee when a line of the little wrigglers is brought on board. We turn some of these into a sand eel ceviche which involves the incredibly fiddly business of filleting the eels and marinading them in the same way we marinade filleted mackerel. When we eat chez Poulet at the weekend Nick’s sand eel appetiser is much appreciated.
We distribute our smoked mackerel pate wherever we are invited to eat; the last four days involve a Friday night fish supper with the Perrymans at Criee du Tomahawk, Saturday evening chez Poulet, Sunday lunch chez Taille, Monday lunchtime is spent with the Daniells and the Lerminez chez nous and later we enjoy a lovely cosy supper Monday evening with Bri and Georgy. She cooks us a delicious risotto. Over our meal we lay plans for our jaunt to the Loire to do the Chateau trail.
On Tuesday evening we board the ferry with a determination to eat less and lose some weight! I am afraid we have found that ‘Appetite comes with eating; the more one has, the more one would have.’
These dry summer weeks the garden has best been left alone….. apart from the pots and hanging baskets which are demanding children, flagging if not ministered unto. In particular the hanging baskets into which I planted salad leaf, and young basils; out of date seeds I found languishing in my basket of plant labels and cut up tights. They have provided pickings to mix into the constant stream of green salads which I make up as substitutes for other more calorific fillers.
But it rained the other day, finely and persistently and what a difference that hydration episode has made. The lawn is green and all the plants look as if they are now going to grow a bit more. We are definitely going to get a second show of delphiniums, my gorgeous blue boys who echo the azure heads of agapanthus.
I could spend many hours cutting back and weeding but time is a bit short so I concentrate on potting up young Echium and Helleborus plants to order, and put the Cerinthe and ?Hollyhock/Malva seedlings into the Yucca bed where I hope they will survive snail predation and progress to their next stage.
The great ripening of figs which we have enjoyed comes to an abrupt end, and we pick Victoria plums as they are ready until that crop is spent. I have not been bothering to buy any other fruit. We might just get a picking or two of our late raspberries before we leave at the end of August…….. wait and see.
August days trickle past. Anne and I aim to swim at Le Dranguet every day, which target we more or less achieve despite a decline in air temperature and an increase in cloudy skies and windy intervals. When Tatane comes to stay with Anne and Francois, she joins us for a swim too. We now enter the sea boldly, wade out and plunge under without ado.
The Perrymans settle into a holiday regimen. Not so much time is spent on the beach as last year, it just ain’t quite hot enough! But CJ and Ry discover a pleasure in games of tennis on the courts down by La Hougue. They cycle a lot. After our first Potjie evening I book the Perryman duo for two Potjies more. On Friday evening Brigitte and Georgy eat with us, en famille style, after Bri spends the afternoon attending to the nails on our hands and feet. The Ps produce the seafood version of yestereve, preceded by chipolatas to nibble with drinks, and after the contents of their cauldron, we eat BBQ steaks. And a peach tart from Gibon :)
The evening is happily rounded off when we play some games of pool. Ted, diminutive and Hobbit-like, approaches the table when it is his turn and wows the adults with his prowess; some mysterious, Gandalf-like being periodically swoops in for a bit of ball adjustment!!
And then we start all over on Sunday with a lunching event chez nous when the Magic Cooking Pot is called into service again and I say “Cook, little pot, cook” and it does!………. Belly pork, sweet and regular potatoes, black-eye beans, shallots simmer in juices flavoured with spices and fridge jar emptyings. Together with rice and red cabbage we offer this to the Tailles and the Tuttles and we rollick our way through a sunny Sunday afternoon. Quelle Bonheur.
Yes the Perrymans are back for another action-packed seaside holiday…. with a bit of good food and wine thrown in.
A super-excited granny scooped up a bundle of glee when the car pulled up in front of the house. Cue for lots of beach-oriented stuff like proper swimming in the sea, shrimping around Nick’s boats for prawns to keep in a mini-aquarium, kayaking. The structures around the recently pruned mimosa provide tree-climbing moments. The guys went fishing on Friday and caught mackerel. Cue for a mackerel fest; we now add ceviche of mackerel to our repertoire.
Market day was an ordeal to be worked through. It’s a bank holiday weekend here so the thoroughfare between the stalls either side of the ‘high street’ is packed. Fortunately I am feeling leisurely and in my wanderings find an amazing stall selling olives, tapenades and other preserved goodies. The adjacent stall has a wonderful variety of tomatoes.
Nick is at sea, Ryan services bikes, so after lunch CJ, Ted and I head for the beach at Le Dranguet to join Anne and Tatane where we all swim. In the evening the Tuttles join us for an apero and Ted meets their grandchildren, Emma and Matteo.
Netting the prawns was a fun moment. It being high tide we were not able to get low enough on the shore to turn a few rocks to look for small invertebrates for the tank. Instead Nick took Ted and me to the pontoon from which he moors his boat where we lowered nets into the water and ran them along the weed which grows along the submerged wooden structure. In just a few minutes we had caught about 50. Back at the house we put them in the small glass aquarium where Ted watched their antics and we talked about the prawn body plan and how they earn living. The following day we cooked the largest for our fish soup and returned the rest to the sea.
On Sunday evening I roast two chickens and we feast. On Monday Charlotte and Ryan provide a fabulous BBQ of swordfish and bream and a seafood potjkie which I would be quite happy to dive into and spend the rest of the week grazing. It’s like I said, good times, good food :)
I’ve been meaning to do it for years and finally there is a quorum of French ladies who would like to improve their English. So Fefe, Claire, Anne, Tatane and I gather chez moi for a smoked fish, prawn and garden salad lunch with an apple cake (Anne) and a pepper pound cake (Claire) to follow.
I love these ladies all and find that in the process of sharing refinements of the English language (and some of the profanities) I improve my French into the bargain. Next time we will meet at Fefe’s home and she will cook the only dish in her repertoire, Mutton curry! (Her husband cooks like an angel!)
Hotfoot after the wedding we cross the Channel in the company of Christina, Katie and the young folk. They have a week in view chez nous and I am very excited to be welcoming my sister to our French home. We all settle in rapidly and the children quickly discover the selection of riding toys under the small lean-to on the terrace. The soundtrack to the ensuing week is to be that of wheels, wheels and more wheels performing circuits of the terrace. The children never tire of this activity and when they are not wheeling, they are climbing in the mimosa tree.
The evening after our day of arrival Claire and Ty invite us to an American-style family BBQ: home made hamburgers, salad and some of Claire’s special cakes. Our young adapt very quickly to the challenge of communicating with Emma and Matteo who are Solange’s children. La soirée est genial!
The week whizzes by. Chrissie and Katie enjoying retail experiences and go home with ideas and trophies. Katie is shortly to move to her new home and we buy various items to add a French flavour. We lose nearly two hours in the Saturday market! Nick sits the children one evening so the three ladies can eat at Le Débarcadère; we all go for an entrecote and frites and there is live music from Klez sur mer, it being Traversées de Tatihou week.
All too soon it is time to board the ferry bound for Poole. We have all had a good time and they will surely return.
Exactly a week after Tom and Delphine’s wedding we find ourselves attending the marriage of Henry and Rebecca. The venue, St Audries Park Manor House, concentrates exclusively on weddings and it is a beautiful setting for a gathering of family and friends. There is plenty of accommodation both in the manor itself and in the various outbuildings, such as the stables (nicely converted!) and a cottage, house, lodge and rectory in the grounds of the Estate. This set up seems to be more popular these days, for those who do not require a religious marriage ceremony. Guests may arrive the night before the Big Day, stay on site for the entire proceedings, and fall into bed when they are footsore from dancing into the small hours.
How lovely it was to catch up with Lis, Siobhan, Caitlin as well as the Duke clan. Lis and her friend Susan had organised all the floral decorations which were amazing. They have stumbled upon this task late in life, taken on as favours to Helenour and Henry, and by combining cut and potted flowers and plants they set up themed decorations in the various rooms and most notably in the Orangery where the marriage ceremony was held.
This was a perfect setting for a shades of Jane Austen ceremony and the bride and groom were dressed for the part. Lis had introduced lots of potted Agapanthus and matching blue scabious which she and Susan would keep afterwards. On the morning of departure it was quite a task to dismantle and load up the decorations ready for a prompt departure. Some four vehicles were pressed into service. It is a requirement of the venue that breakfast be taken between 9 and 9.30 a.m. with check out before 10. In this way the conveyor belt process which enables a daily succession of weddings to take place is achieved!