The fields below La Grande Maison are now full of "taller than me " sunflowers. Here you can see the pigeon tower and the poplar tree that serves as a landmark for the property if you should get lost en-route!
The seeds we bought last year from Sarah Raven's Cutting Garden at Perch Hill Farm (UK) are now starting to put on a good display. The zinia are especially vibrant in the summer sun.
The hollyhocks are one of the floral symbols of the Loire Valley and can be seen along the banks of the Loire in all the riverside villages and here around the house and gardens at La Grande Maison. Closely guarded by Willow too....
....and not to be left out Humble puts on a display, looking pretty in blue. Not quite sure why she is looking quite so coy though?
MORE TO FOLLOW FOR JULY SOON....
End of June - ish 2007 - Fine Wine, A Fine Time and New Friends
How lucky we were to have the good fortune of hosting this merry gang of wine tasters from California and Arizona. Kate & Bruce and Terri & Gary kept us all amused as we delved into caves and tunnels to barrel taste the wines.
Kate and Terri enjoy their first sip of a local sparkling wine in the garden of La Grande Maison from Domaine des Noades in Argentay.
First stop Bouvet Ladubay in St Hilaire St Florent (Saumur) to taste the sparkling whites, rose, and reds! Traditions are very much kept alive here and the half bottles and magnums are still painstakingly labelled by hand.
Bruce is happy to have found a bottle nearly as tall as him at the famous Saumur Champigny provider Filleatreau at La Grande Vignolle near Turquant.
At Chateau Dupetit Thouars in Touraine we taste cabernet francs and rose but we all agree it is the property that is the most stunning!
Kate and Terri with the adorable Sebastian David in his private wine cellar in St Nicolas de Bourgeuil. What an experience we got to taste 2005 from the barrel but only after driving 2 km’s underground in the dark - the wing mirrors of my car all but scraping the tuffeau walls. Not for the claustrophobic or those with a fear of the dark and bats!
At Chateau du Fosse Seche a yellow machine harvester, just one or two dogs and two very talented wine makers, Widgie and Guillame who make the mouthwateringly delicious Tri de la Chapelle (White) and Reserve des Pigeonierres (Red) - yum!
When its too wet to picnic lunch becomes a candle lit affair at the Caves du Rou Marson.We go underground (yet again!) & sample rillettes & cassoulet served with fouees, a local bread delicacy that are made in the bread ovens and served piping hot to the table.
As we hauled all their luggage onto the train departing from Saumur station the following day they left with tears in their eyes and fond farewells. Au revoir we will miss you all!
Mid June 2007 - The Yellow Van in the Ditch and Other Events
It must have been a good party - but does anyone know who owns the yellow van in the ditch?
Micaela & Sue get ready to greet the guests for the summer party at La Grand'Maison....and I think they know who the yellow van belongs too?!?......
After the summer showers we finally decide to set the tables in the Grand Hall (...at the last moment we decide can accommodate 40 seated in the hall!...and another 20 - ish outside...) and the sun comes out to give a glow to the setting!
....as guests gather outside on the lawns of La Grande Maison.The sun shines and the day finally yields some warmth...
...and the party commences with friends and guests from all corners of the world to help us celebrate!.
...and a few local French friends such as Celine from Clos Cristal where they make superb Saumur Champigny and Veronique from Domaine des Noades in Argentay.
...and as the evening light dims the beauty of the stone shines and provides an ambient setting for the party to continue....
Early June 2007 - Wildlife and Other Animals at La Grande Maison
Sue's bird table attracts more than just birds these days. Here is our friendly little red squirrel who comes to feast on the sun flower seeds that we put out.
The family of Hoopoo's are back too! They migrate here every summer from Africa and they are one of the most beautiful wild birds seen in Northern Europe. They have a crest on their head that opens when they call "hoo poo hoo poo", long beaks, a pink breast and elegant black and white wings. They are shy and a little timid but can be spotted on a rare occasion pecking on the track outside the grounds of La Grande Maison.
I wonder where we will find Willow asleep today?Oh...here he is asleep in the hydrangeas.