Sunday, 31 July 2016

The Loire week one

Saturday evening

Arrived at Saumur, met by parental and taken to the new homestead, gite very nice, tres rustic in a one horse town that's lost its horse. Hail and well met with family and friends, much wine and beer consumed.

Sunday 24th

Race day in Puy de Notre Dame. Local town organises an annual race around the town for vintage cars and bikes. All amateur and mostly local, hay bales for protection and good fun all round. In the centre of the track, in a winery, big tents set up, one for food and one for drink. 2 euros for a half pint of beer, after watching the first couple of races (crazy, some real nutcases out there, including a side car woman passenger doing yoga to keep the bike on the road) the gentleman retire to the bar and don't appreciably move for the rest of the day.

Picked up later a bit wobbly for dinner at the gite, arrived home to find Marcus with a bite from something that has swollen to a big blister, not good. BBQ skewers and wine form dinner, cracking day.

Monday 25th

Marcus's finger more swollen so decide to head for doctors. Arrive and ask at the pharmacy as doesn't appear to be a doctor about. As Marcus raises his hand to show the pharmacist he catches his finger on the counter and busts the blister! He yelps, the pharmacist screams and everyone jumps backwards. As all are watching the dripping blister the bit of skin that was covering it and was subsequently sticking to the counter drops to the floor with a small squelch. Ushered out very quickly to a nondescript door which is the dr's surgery. Nice people waiting look worriedly at his finger let us go in first. Eccentric French dr reassures Marcus and parents with a 'hmm, yes, French bugs are very bad'. Various checks and says it's not too bad, writes prescription and charges us 23€, probably straight in his back pocket. 24€ in the pharmacy and we're done.

Back to the homestead then a visit to the supermarket which is always interesting. After head into Thouars for a mooch about, lovely couple of very old churches and a chateau that's now a music school, very picturesque.

More eating and drinking in the evening and as new game called Mölkky that involves throwing bits of wood, good fun, can see it being a good drinking game.

Tuesday 26th

Visit to the chateau at Montreuil-Bellay. Lunch first, intended restaurant closed so we have to hunt around, find the Hotel Splendide, not quite up to the name but nearly there. Chateau most interesting, like one of the previous owners as he had a drinking club called the Sacavins, sound like jolly good fun. Also find nice restaurant to take the folks to later as a thank you to them.

Think I am going to die due to over consumption of paté, rilette and fromage...

Wednesday 27th

Off to meet friends of the folks, Harry & Joan. Meet at a restaurant for lunch, most convivial but food not great apparently. Back to theirs for the afternoon more drinks and silly games. Pa and I lose at snooker but I beat him at table tennis and darts (!).

Reason for waiting around is that we're off to a Japanese garden for a night time viewing. Sure the garden is very nice but too dark to tell and their idea of lighting not too illuminating. The experience is meant to be enhanced by traditional Japanese folk tales at various points around the garden but as all in French with no English audio guide it all gets a bit lost. Nice try but lot of work for a midnight finish.

Thursday 28th

Quiet day. Visited some picturesque towns around the area for a mooch, again some lovely old churches and an abbey. Lunch at the Café des Arts, very nice with a huge beer collection. Food better than previous day, and excellent mixed grill and more cheese.

Harry & Joan over for a BBQ in the evening, more wine and Mölkky.

Friday 29th

Puy du Fou park. Enormous theme park quite close. Essentially 7 or 8 big shows, like The Vikings and The Coliseum, really well done, fighting, chariot races, explosions and action. Cast of thousands set in a beautiful park. Weather very drizzly but better than being too hot. Highlight was the bird show, hundreds of birds of prey dancing around the sky and skimming just over your head, awesome.

Dinner at the park with odd French 'entertainment' involving drinking wine from shoes. Afterwards went to the Ciniscene spectacular show about the history of the area, amazing, photos I took won't do it justice but huge show spanning the last 1000 years. Home at 2am.

Saturday 30th

Quiet day but went to Thouars festival in the evening, from being completely dead when we visited on Monday now full of people, more beer at the Café des Arts, stronger stuff this time, all very enjoyable in a community having fun. Not a good night in the family backgammon tournament, lose a game to 16 and 13-34 down overall...

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