mon coeur de campagne

living a simpler, rural French life


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Journées du Patrimoine

Le Jardin de Cuy

An oasis of charm in the wild Morvan

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It was cold and wet for this year’s Open House weekend so I decided to stay close to home and explore a garden that I had never visited before.

Le Jardin de Cuy is a Jardin Remarquable designed around a maison forte. The origins of the fortified house date from the 14th century and until the French Revolution it was the home of the Seigneurs de Cuy.  In 2001 the present owners began to transform one of the meadows into a garden full of romance and charm.

The paths through the two hectare sized, contemporary garden lead along fruit trees, a terraced garden with dark leafed plants,  potager or kitchen garden,  and a cut flower enclosure, an oval with tall grasses; and there are herbaceous mixed borders around the ancient courtyard.

There is an ancient cypress tree standing sentinel-like alongside the house, an avenue of 25 swamp oaks and lots of interesting plants – even a pistachio tree.

Water adds to the sense of calm with four small lakes in a row, hedge homes for wildlife and a gently sloping valley with Charolais cows.

Until the end of September the garden is acting as the perfect backdrop for sculptures made using local clay created by sculptor Andrew McGarva.

http://www.acmcgarva.com/sculptures/

To find out more http://www.journees-du-patrimoine.com/DEPARTEMENT/journees-patrimoine-58-nievre.htm

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A Gorgeous Glut

It’s harvest time and everyone has a huge amount of courgettes. Last year we hardly had any!  This year if you mention the word courgette, friends and neighbours widen their eyes and step back in horror with a shake of the head and a quick “Non!” Friends have even taken to arriving for aperos clutching a selection of courgettes or courgette apero cakes – even better!

One lovely friend had too many tomatoes and bought a big bag along to a party.  I love tomatoes so it was a great present for me.

The freezer is full of courgettes and runner beans, haricots espagnole and a variety of different soups.

Our vine hasn’t given us so many grapes as usual but they are sweet and juicy.  We have turned them into juice and are eating the rest.

We will just have to get inventive with the courgette recipes.  There’s ratatouille, chutney, soup, braised, grilled, roast, stuffed, pureed, shredded, salad, cakes and bread.

Any other ideas?

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Letting Go

 

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It may be another National Holiday here in France and talk of politics is everywhere. Le Penn, la blonde, got well and truly beat.  Macron will be the new President. I live in La Nievre where Le Penn won the first round.  I was holding my breath but over 76% of the local population turned out to vote with Macron winning 59.92% of the votes against 40.8% for Le Penn.

It’s time for all of us to let go of stress whether it’s politics, health worries, not enough money or too much work and not enough time!  It’s the start of another working week for me. Life goes on and that’s great…but sometimes it can be overwhelming.

How about combining learning techniques and gentle exercise to help you de-stress with a holiday in the beautiful Burgundy countryside? You can’t fail to relax when you are surrounded by green hills, forests and  lakes with the freshest air in Europe.  A three day Letting Go workshop is being held by international life coach and therapist Orsolya Rist in July.

For more visit http://shineconsciously.com/lessstress.htm

 

 


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Bon 1er mai!

Happy May Day!

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May Day started with a friend wishing me a Bon 1er mai and sending a Lily of the Valley posy.

The tradition started on May 1st 1561 when King Charles IX of France offered the ladies of the court a sprig of Lily of the Valley or Muguet as a lucky charm.  Over the years it has evolved into a way of showing friendship.  The florists and markets are full of Lily of the Valley in the lead up to the 01 May.  The local Prefrecture had to issue a warning this year not to pick too many from the woods.

The sunshine, bird song and wild flowers mean that spring is finally here.  The dark nights are over and there is a feeling of celebration in the air.  The long holiday weekend also celebrates the Fete du Travail.

spinning wheel

We spent a sunny afternoon with friends showing us how to spin and weave.  Spinning has been used for thousands of years as a way of producing yarn.  Charlotte enjoyed using a Spinning Wheel using wool from local sheep, a method in use for centuries since the Middle Ages.  She might be taking up spinning as a new hobby and wants to make a rug using wool she has spun herself.  A good start to the month.

 

 

 


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Verre de L’amitié

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Last night, the Mayor invited everyone in our commune to toast the New Year with a verre de l’amitié, a glass of friendship.  We made it through the snow thanks to a lift from friends with winter tyres on their car.  The snow was so pretty and the Christmas lights in the centre of the village made it look very festive.

It was nice to see so many people there from our small community.  The Mayor welcomed and thanked everyone who had managed to get there.  He then thanked everyone who works or volunteers for the village, the school, the library and various associations.   He outlined what work had been done around the commune and plans for the coming year.  There was a poignant moment when he asked us to remember everyone who had been touched by terrorism and for those that had passed away.

The champagne was flowing but as we are having a dry January we politely declined.  A first for both of us!  Despite lots of attempts to fill my glass I managed to stick to orange juice until the Mayor handed me a glass of champagne – it would have been rude to say no!  I discreetly passed it to a neighbour who was more than happy to drink it for me.

For a small commune of around 200 people we are an international and friendly bunch made up of mostly French, a couple of Dutch (the numbers of Dutch increases in the summer!!), an English family (us), a German couple, a Texan and a South African.

We thanked the Mayor and asked if he could organise more evenings like this!