‘Tis the season

We are slipping and sliding into winter, with frosted windows on our cars in the morning, and a fire roaring away in the living room log-burner every day. Vacationers have left, as have people who own holiday homes in the region. So in the Greater Daglan Area, ’tis the season to be shutting down.

The campgrounds have long been closed, more and more restaurants are shuttered for a month or more, and our village convenience store, the 8 à Huit, is no longer open on Mondays.

One sure sign of approaching winter is the huge amount of pruning that takes place in late autumn in the GDA, as trees are pollarded. An example is the large tree that stands in front of the restaurant Le Petit Paris, and beside the village’s war memorial. All of its smaller, longer, leaf-covered branches were chopped off recently, leaving only the nubs at the ends of main branches. Here’s a look:

A tree grows in Daglan.

In keeping with the situation, I’ve decided to take a winter break from blogging as well. So this will be my last posting until sometime next year (unless something really dramatic happens, of course).

I leave you with a final holiday-season touch, which is a look at our village’s Christmas tree, installed and decorated in the past couple of days. I think it looks just fine; how about you?

All decorated for the holidays.

And with that, there is little more to be said than “Merry Christmas! And a very Happy New Year!” Best wishes to all our readers.

 

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Posted in Flora and fauna, Holidays in France, Life in southwest France, Weather in the Dordogne | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

A last Thai fling (for 2017)

I have written quite often  about Sawadee, the Thai restaurant in Cénac, a village about 10 kilometres from Daglan — most recently on November 6. But I can’t help myself, and here I go again.

The occasion was the last meal at Sawadee for this year, as the restaurant closes for the winter. So today my wife Jan and I headed there for a Sunday lunch, and again had the special season-closing menu. (I posted a similar piece on December 4, 2016, called “Our last Thai meal — for the year, that is.”)

Here’s how the 28-euro, three-course menu looked on the blackboard or slate (ardoise, in French):

The menu on the ardoise (slate).

And here’s how those words translated into food, glorious food — starting with the entrée.

Todoay’s starter was a tube of calamari (squid), filled with a spiced pork mixture, and accompanied by pieces of chicken on a skewer. The calamari was tender, the filling delicious, and the chicken was succulent (instead of the dried-out meat that often is served on a skewer). Two delicious sauces went along with the dish, which I’ve shown here:

A wonderful mix of tastes.

The plat principal was a bowl of soy vermicelli noodles, deliciously flavoured with a brown sauce, and served with quite a few large shrimp. Here’s my serving:

The vermicelli noodles were perfect.

To finish things off, I had the special dessert (Jan passed, as she had had enough food by then), which seemed just right. It was a plate of fresh mango pieces and a small serving of sweet sticky rice, plus a small bowl of coconut milk. Here it is:

Fresh mango, sweet sticky rice.

We accompanied our meal with a bottle of rosé wine and finished it with espressos. And once again, we left quite content — and already looking forward to the first meal of the season, next March.

Posted in Food, Life in southwest France, Restaurants in France, Restaurants in the Dordogne | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A ‘perfect’ day for our November 11 ceremony

We were  gathering at Daglan’s war memorial this morning, as 11 a.m. approached, and I said to one of our neighbours: “A perfect day for this, I think.” Just then, the sun peeked through the clouds a bit and my neighbour replied with a smile. “Ah yes, perfect,” she said. “I hope the sun stays here.”

Her comment was just fine, but in fact I hadn’t been referring to the sun coming out. I meant that the otherwise grey day seemed just right for what I regard as a meaningful, necessary, but still very sad day. Seems to me that November 11 is a day that should always be grey.

The gathering this year was relatively small; our Mayor was away on vacation, and other officials filled in. The ceremony began with flowers being placed in front of the memorial, and the French flag being raised. Here’s a look:

The flag is raised.

As always, reading out the names of those villagers who were lost in World Wars I and II was another step in the ceremony. As each name was read out, we said quietly: “Mort pour la France,” which is to say “Died for France.” Here is a look at the reading of the names:

Reading out the names of the village’s fallen.

After the speech was given — providing some history of the war, and how peace was achieved — a bugler played La Marseillaise, and the small crowd sang along. Here is the bugler in front of the memorial:

Playing the anthem.

The ceremony is short — perhaps just 15 minutes or so. As I wrote at the start of this posting, I do appreciate the ceremony on November 11 each year (as well as the May 8 ceremony, marking the end of the Second World War). My wife Jan and I attend both ceremonies in the village, whenever we can.

What I regard as particularly sad is not just the memories of those who lost their lives in previous conflicts, but the fact that vicious  conflicts keep happening. All around our world.

 

 

 

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Dishes du jour (5-11-2017)

When we want to dine out for Sunday lunch, but aren’t in a Michelin-starred frame of mind, my wife Jan and I often head over to neighbouring Cénac for a wonderful Thai meal at Sawadee. And that’s what we did yesterday, Sunday, November 5.

Once seated, with kirs ordered, we were delighted to find that friends Rosemary and Richard had also been in a Sawadee frame of mind, so they joined us at our table.

I’ve written several times previously about Sawadee, so I’ll keep this brief. But in case you’re not familiar with the restaurant, it’s friendly and casual, with prompt service, a large (but not too large) menu, and most important of all — wonderful, fresh, authentic Thai food.

I think the next couple of photos will show you how tempting the dishes are. Whatever the protein (beef, pork, chicken, shrimp) the dishes typically are also loaded with fresh vegetables.

First, here is Rosemary’s glistening dish of spicy shrimp with vegetables:

Spicy shrimp and veggies? Yes!

For me, I nearly always have the same dish — which consists of small pieces of beef, sautéed with vegetables, and rich with dark brown (and somewhat sweet) oyster sauce. But not yesterday. My dish yesterday was chicken with cashews, and was delicious. Have a look:

Chicken and veggies and cashew nuts? Yes!

There aren’t many more Sundays left before Sawadee closes for the annual winter break (with a trip back to Thailand for Chef and her husband, who is the restaurant’s host). So we’re planning to head back there next Sunday too. Y’all come!

Posted in Food, Life in southwest France, Restaurants in France, Restaurants in the Dordogne | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Halloween? Not so much

When my wife Jan and I lived in Toronto, we eventually became pretty strong fans of, and participants in, Halloween —  as a holiday and party-time for people of all ages.

Of course we had lots of candy for the kids who were trick-or-treating. But we went well beyond, with decorations for the house and (sometimes) costumes for us.

When we moved permanently to France, seven years ago, we noticed that there were several differences in the local reaction. Here’s a bit of what I wrote in a blog posting (“Trick or treat, Daglan-style”)  on November 1, 2010 concerning our first Halloween here:

A few things struck us. First, that there doesn’t seem to be any French version of “Trick or treat!” The kids just showed up, said “Bon soir” (or nothing at all), and held out their bags. Second, they all looked pretty great; the costumes seemed surprisingly good, without much attempt to be scary or horrific. Third, they all seemed genuinely thrilled that we actually opened the door, and actually had very nice treats for them (large, individually wrapped chocolates). And finally, they were wonderfully polite. As my wife and I would say “Bonne soirée” to them, they would answer back politely, “Et bonne soiréee à vous, aussi.” Quite adorable, really.

As time went on, we tried to keep our traditions alive — buying lots of candy for the kids, carving pumpkins, and so on. Some years we had several young visitors, some years we had very few. In 2013, for example, we had a visit from these two:

Scary, eh?

This year seemed to be a turning point, because (well before October 31) I told Jan that I had pretty much given up on Halloween, in the sense that I’d lost interest. So we didn’t waste any energy hunting for a pumpkin, or putting up any scary decorations. And frankly, I’m quite happy with the new approach.

Beyond the obvious — that is, fitting in with the traditions of our new home, where Halloween is a minor event — I have gone off the idea of “scary things.”

While popular culture lately seems consumed with werewolves and zombies and weird creatures, I find that I prefer enjoying the “nicer things” of life — good friends,  good food, reading good books, the beautiful scenery around us, and so on.

But speaking of good friends: In our immediate neighbourhood, there is just one young family with children, who would be likely to venture out for Halloween, and we are quite friendly with parents and kids.

So yesterday Jan did buy a couple of bags of candy, and made up a nice package for each of the kids. Before dark, she took the candies over to the young mother, who was delighted with the gift.

Then, during the evening, Jan and I simply kept the house dark. If there were any trick-or-treaters out last night, we never heard them.

 

 

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GDA projects: Completed, and just started

Residents of the Greater Daglan Area, and regular visitors here, will no doubt be desperate to know the status of various construction projects. Are the old ones done? Are any new ones started?

There is obviously no one better to ask, given the civic pride I exude these days. So here you go.

We begin today’s posting with the re-making of the Carrefour Contact supermarket in Cénac, the commercial centre about 10 kilometres from Daglan. Earlier this year (May 6, 2017), I described the construction then taking place at the popular store in “The mystery project (yes, another one).” First, I published a photo of the sign that described the work. Here’s what I wrote back in May:

What [the sign] announces is the Relooking et mise aux normes d’un supermarché “Carrefour Contact” — in other words, the renovation and upgrading of the supermarket. (No indication of what standards the store is being upgraded to.) Then there is a bunch of information showing all the individuals and companies responsible for the project.

In Toronto, where I spent most of my working life, a large sign would explain what was being done, what amenities were being added, and how this would benefit the shopper. In fact, there probably would be an architect’s rendering of the finished exterior. But not here.

During construction, the project seemed pretty big to me, with lots of steel work being added to the front of the property. Have a look:

Some serious construction.

At the time, I wondered what the benefits would be. More space for merchandise? A boutique selling treasures from exotic parts of the world? A coffee bar?

Now the work is all done. The parking lot has been reorganized a bit, and freshened up. And the front of the store looks more modern and swish. There’s a proper sign on the front, although there is only the Carrefour logo (not the name) in front of “Contact.” Is there more retail space? As far as I can tell, no. It’s just that an extension to the front of the store adds on a bit of interior space.

If nothing else, this should keep things more comfortable for staff members at the cash registers (are they still called that?) when winter comes, as there will be less cold wind blowing in. In any case, here’s the finished store front, as of yesterday (Monday) afternoon:

A quiet time at the newly renovated supermarket.

Regular visitors to Daglan will be amused by the fact that my photo shows just one shopper heading into the store. During the summer, approximately one-quarter of the population of England, and one-half of the population of The Netherlands, are all vying for space in the parking lot, and crowding into the store. But not these days.

(By the way, it may be Carrefour Contact, but virtually everybody we know still calls the supermarket Shopi.)

Now for a new project — the re-making of the terrace in front of the popular little shopping centre at Castelnaud, about 10 kilometres north of Daglan, and sitting beside the Dordogne River.

In the shopping centre (which is just across the parking lot from the best bakery in the area) is a convenience store, a beauty salon (where my silvery locks are trimmed), a butcher shop, and La Plage. (That’s a café/bar/pizzeria where my wife Jan and I often go on a late summery afternoon for a coffee or a drink.)

Now the terrace is all looking pretty torn up, for some serious construction work. Here’s how it was late yesterday afternoon:

 

Rocky vistas. Lots of work ahead.

And here’s a sign that explains the work, with — wait for it — an actual drawing of how the finished terrace will look. See for yourself:

Details of the terrace work in Castelnaud.

Although it looks like a big project, I can’t imagine it will take months and months. But then, one never knows, does one?

 

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The Village Fleuri signage

Yesterday (Sunday), I changed the “header photo” on this blog, to show one of Daglan’s Village Fleuri signs. (Inserting a different photo is a weekly task.)

This has prompted me to re-post part of what I published earlier this year on a variety of attractive projects in the village (the full posting was headlined “Progress report — early July 2017,” and was published on July 8). Here goes:

I am a resolute supporter of progress, believing that a Continuous Improvement Program should be part of everyone’s life (and that includes every home, every business, every government, and so on). And I am delighted to report that our little village is demonstrating progress on a broad range of fronts.

Take, for example, Daglan’s status as a Village Fleuri. A month or so ago (June 11, 2017, in “Some sunny summer Sunday joys”) I showed off the first official sign commemorating our achievement, located as you enter the village from the north, which is to say from St. Cybranet. At the time, it was the only such sign at any of the three entrances to the village. But now the other two signs are up, and here is the one at the Pont Neuf entrance to Daglan:

New sign, freshly painted bridge.

But that’s not all. Also in the photo is a view of the Pont Neuf, our bridge over the Céou River. It had been looking pretty ratty. But now it’s been thoroughly sand-blasted, then primed, and then painted in a restful beige. Okay, not exciting — but still nice evidence of civic progress.

 

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