The clean-up (done properly)

This will be a short posting, with one key message: All hail Cirque Cancy! The cirque is the travelling circus that I described briefly in yesterday’s posting. Here’s a reminder, using the photo of the booth where circus-goers could buy their tickets:

The big top is just behind this ticket booth, or caisse.

At the time, a loyal reader (and good friend) speculated that there might be trouble at les poubelles (the garbage and recycling bins), because the circus would be held very close to them. A mess? Vandalism? Who knows? I promised to check.

So this morning I carried out my duties, and went to the site of les poubelles, which is just outside our village of Daglan. And guess what?

Not a hint of trouble. No litter, no broken equipment, nothing left behind. All trucks gone. All animals gone. And believe it or not, even the posters for the circus — which were tacked up just about everywhere, including in neighbouring villages like St. Cybranet — were gone.

Now that is how to clean up after yourselves, folks. Well done, Cirque Cancy!

Posted in Life in southwest France | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

At last — publicity for our “fun fair”

I can’t say that this will have the tourists pouring in, but a poster has finally been completed and displayed for Daglan’s Fête Foraine de la Saint-Louis, or fun fair, which begins on Friday (yes, just three days from now) and runs through Sunday. Until now, there has been no promotion, other than some dry information from the Mairie, or Mayor’s office.

Actually, today I saw two of the posters, one taped to the front window of our village’s convenience store, and the other on a post just outside the village. Are you ready for it?

Nice looking but short on details.

Note the lack of specifics — not even the location is shown. What’s being played up is a “sound and light” show of “dancing fountains.” It takes place on Saturday night at 10:30, and perhaps the best news is that it’s free. Of course, the poster does point out that there will be “many attractions,” which should really pull in the crowds at the parking lot behind the Salle des fêtes.

On the other side of the publicity spectrum is the Cirque Cancy, one of the small travelling circuses that tour our area in summer. Posters for tonight’s 6 p.m. show have been plastered all over the place for days, and then this travelling clown-construction has been in our village’s main square all day:

Lots of tourists were taking photos of this guy.

And in case you were wondering what a travelling circus looks like, here’s a photo of the place where you buy your tickets, with the big top just behind it:

An eye-catching display that says “circus” all the way.

By the way, if you’re planning to attend, a face mask is obligatory.

Posted in Festivals in France, Life in southwest France, Tourist attractions | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The sausage king comes to Daglan

Yesterday at noon I drove the 20 or so kilometres from Daglan to the village of Cazals, to pick up some goods from a guy in a van in a parking lot. Sounds like shady business, right? Nope, nothing illicit. Just getting my order from Ian Kilgarriff, the jovial owner of La Saucisserie and a specialist in English-style pork products.

What I had ordered were 10 Cumberland sausages (large, English-style sausages), half a kilo of bacon (cut to a thickness of 2.5 mm), and an individual steak and kidney pie. This came to just under 23 euros. I also picked up some good news from Ian.

In the past, Ian has driven his van to a series of villages, to meet up with customers who had pre-ordered his products by email. But Daglan wasn’t on the list of designated stops — and now it is. Starting this coming Saturday, Ian and his van will be in Daglan near the Salle des fêtes, or community hall. I’ll show you some of the products I bought, but first here’s a look at Ian in the Cazals parking lot:

The man and his van.

For breakfast this morning (Sunday), my wife Jan cooked up a nice feast, including a couple of slices of the bacon for each of us. Here’s my plate before I devoured everything on it:

A pretty full plate, for breakfast.

Steak and kidney pie is one of my “pub favourites,” I suppose one would say, so I thought I would try Ian’s version. Here’s how it looked on my plate, before I opened up the crust:

A nice-looking crust.

And here’s how the individual pie looked when I split it open, to show off the filling:

Revealing the filling.

The pie was very good — nice and moist, with both the steak and the kidney cut into very small pieces so they would be in proportion to the pie itself. It may look small, but it’s quite a filling dish (in part because of the pastry), so I probably didn’t need the potatoes with it.

If you’re interested, here’s how it works: First you email Ian to introduce yourself, and he adds your name and email address to his general list. Then, a week or so before he heads out on delivery, he emails everyone with the products available (they can vary a bit, from week to week). You then email your order to him, and he comes back at you with the cost. On delivery day, you just show up at the van at the designated spot, hand over the money, and take away your goodies.

To get on his list, email him at:   sausages2446@gmail.com

Local-knowledge note: If you’re wondering why the numbers “24” and “46” are in his email address, they are the numbers of the two départements in France which are his territory. Dordogne (home to Daglan) is 24; the Lot (home to Cazals, Cahors and many more) is 46.

 

Posted in Food, Life in southwest France | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Our fun fair — some news, and some fake news

Daglan’s office of the Mayor, the Mairie, and just about everybody else conceivably involved, are being very stingy with details about the Fête Foraine de la Saint-Louis —  a three-day “fun fair”, which is to begin next Friday (August 21). I wrote about this recently in “Unfair? No — fun fair!” which I posted on August 13. In that post, I confirmed that our traditional four-day Fête de la Saint-Louis had been cancelled, because of the pandemic.

But now I have some actual news, of sorts, plus a tiny bit of what I’ll call fake news. It was fake for not very long, and it took place only between my wife Jan and me, but I’ll start with it simply because it’s a bit amusing.

It was yesterday (Friday) when Jan and I were driving out of the village to do some shopping. As we left Daglan, gaining speed, she asked me if I had seen the poster for the “fun fair.” I had been concentrating on the road, so no, I hadn’t seen it. What did it say?

She told me she had got only a glimpse, but that it said the activities would be at the stade, Daglan’s rugby pitch, which is about a kilometre from our house. So, even if the loudspeakers on the bumper car ride were played until very late, it wouldn’t bother us.  We both cheered. Yay!

But the good feeling lasted only until we drove back to Daglan after shopping. As we arrived, Jan asked if I had seen the poster for the fun fair. No — where was it? There — there’s another one, she pointed out. Hah! It turns out it was a poster for a travelling circus, which is putting on a show at the stade on Tuesday evening. You can see why Jan made the mistake, since we were driving by quite quickly:

Well, it does look a poster for a “fun fair.”

And now for the real “news,” if you interpret that term quite loosely. Jan found this in a recent bulletin from the Mairie; I had missed the item completely, because I had assumed the brief paragraph was part of a bigger article. Anyway, here it is:

How to avoid getting attention.

The paragraph conveys just two points: La Fête de la Saint-Louis has indeed been cancelled, and the amusement rides will be located on the esplanade of the Salle des Fêtes, or community hall. With any luck, that means we won’t be kept awake by the bumper-car loudspeakers until 2 a.m.

Posted in Festivals in France, Life in southwest France, Tourist attractions | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unfair? No — fun fair!

When it comes to Daglan’s August festival, the Mairie has been providing information in the same way that Trump tweets out major policy statements — a little bit at a time.

Recently (in fact, on August 11) I posted “Daglan’s mystery festival (2020 version),” in which I wrote that 1) our usual Fête de la Saint-Louis was cancelled, but 2) there would be some sort of Fêtes de Daglan on the weekend starting August 21. But there were no other details on exactly what was happening.

Then this morning I received an email bulletin from the Mairie with the following bold notice, announcing that our village would be having a Fête Foraine de la Saint-Louis — that is, a “fun fair” — from Friday the 21st through Sunday the 23rd. On Saturday night, there will be some sort of water spectacle, starting at 10:30. No other details at this point, so stay tuned.


Posted in Festivals in France, Life in southwest France, Tourist attractions | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Daglan’s mystery festival (2020 version)

Regular readers will be aware that I refer to Daglan’s August event known as the Fête de la Saint-Louis as our village’s Festival of Heat and Noise. Much of the activities are just fine (games for kids, small rides, booths for snacks) but in the village’s main square there is always a full-sized bumper-car ride, which plays loud music over raised speakers until 2 a.m. It’s awful.

Since our home is not far from the main square, Jan and I usually plan to be away for several nights during the festival. But this year, we figured we’d be safe — because of the Covid-19 pandemic, surely the village wouldn’t hold the fête, would it? Instead, we have a bit of a mystery going on. Here’s what’s happening, starting with information I’ve just copied from the Mairie‘s official website:


Le Salon de la Gastronomie et La Fête de La Saint Louis n’auront pas lieu cette année due au COVID

Okay, so no fête, right? But literally next to the Flash info notice is a calendar for the month of August, showing that from Friday, August 21 through Sunday, August 23, the village will host the Fêtes de Daglan. Note that the word Fêtes is plural, so maybe it’s going to be a different kind of activity? I’m not sure. Here’s more to consider:

Late last week, Jan was heading over to a friend’s house for some morning exercise, when she was almost run over by another friend, whose house happens to be right on the square. Our friend was red-faced and furious: She had just asked one of the village workers why he was taking measurements in the square, and he replied that he was preparing for the Fête. So our friend went off running to the Mairie, to ask just what was going on.

She later told Jan that, at the Mairie, she was informed that the Fête was going ahead, but that all the activity would be in the square, instead of being spread through the village. She was aghast!

Now here we are at August 11, and so far there is no publicity for any kind of festival, at least that I’ve seen. In the past, yellow banners are hung throughout the village, heralding previous festivals, and the themes of the Sunday parade. So far, no banners, no posters.

At Daglan’s convenience store, Jan asked what the well-connected couple there knew about the fête; Christian told Jan that there would be some kind of festival, but that everything would take place behind the Salle des fêtes or community hall — not the main square.

Today I drove there, and could see no evidence of any preparation for any kind of festival.

And here’s one more item: Late this morning I was out for a drive and found trucks and vans lined up at the stade, or village rugby pitch; these usually carry the vendors and other staff who take part in the festival, and who arrive early to set up. Here’s a look:

Now, who are these people?

And further along the road, at an open area where large vehicles are often parked, I saw this rather imposing truck:

Just what is inside this vehicle?

To you, it may look just like a typical long-haul transport of some sort. To me, it looks exactly like the truck that carries all the equipment for setting up the bumper-car ride.

Stay tuned, because surely this needs a follow-up.

 

Posted in Festivals in France, Life in southwest France | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Heat, sun and a plenitude on the plate

How hot has it been in Daglan, I can almost hear you asking. Well, if this were The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Ed McMahon would ask: “And how hot was it, Johnny?” And Johnny would say something like, “Well, yesterday our chickens were laying hard-boiled eggs.” And that’s how hot it’s been here in Daglan.

Late yesterday afternoon the fan in the upstairs room where my computer resides was showing 35 degrees Celsius (about 95 American). Earlier in the day, I had to park my car in full sun, because some unspeakable moron had parked in my spot, next to our home. When I eventually moved the car to its rightful place, the car’s thermometer was showing 43 degrees (109).

But of course we are surviving. And since I grew up (well, spent my adolescence) in Florida, I am pretty well used to heat and sunshine. With my Florida-boy background,  I also am a big fan of the hibiscus plant, with its bright and showy blooms. And now Jan and I have one growing in a pot on our front steps, occasionally gracing us with a sunny flower, like the one shown here:

How’s that for summer brightness?

A plate that’s over the top: Regular readers will know that I’ve often written in praise of Sawadee, the authentic Thai restaurant in Cénac, not far from Daglan. But we’ve had a couple of less-than-wonderful experiences with take-out food: On two recent occasions, the normally excellent Pad Thai was, well, off. It was much darker than usual (too much soy sauce?) but also lacking in flavour.

So when we decided to try Sawadee take-out again yesterday, we both chose the yellow curry, featuring chicken, an assortment of vegetables, and a variety of fruit, like pineapple. It was great, and here’s my plate:

Unbelievably, I ate it all.

What was a bit surprising was the size of the portions — Jan thought that each one seemed like a double portion. Was the chef just feeling generous, or rewarding us for being regular customers? Either way, we both enjoyed our lunch, although Jan couldn’t quite finish all of it. I managed.

Posted in Festivals in France, Flora and fauna, Life in southwest France, Restaurants in France, Restaurants in the Dordogne, Weather in the Dordogne | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A fresh start for our “bio” store

We have not been regular shoppers at the “bio” store in St. Cybranet (seven kilometres north of Daglan), but we have stopped there occasionally because, for one thing, the medium-sized supermarket has carried a decent range of gluten-free products for Jan, including breads and pastas. It’s been a somewhat peculiar place, as I’ll soon explain, but it’s now under new management. So — does this mean a fresh start?

In case you’re wondering, bio in French means organic. Thus, the store has sold a wide variety of organic products, including some very tasty chocolate bars, as well as some strange organic vegetables — often under-sized and mis-shapen, often with odd patches of colour (rust?), and with the additional quality of being able to go bad in just a day or two.

The store has had been lots of other products for what Jan calls the “peace, love and nuts” set — you know, thick hand-knitted wool socks; home-baked breads; various wooden beads; and a wide range of creams and lotions featuring exotic ingredients like whipple grass, toad’s umbrella, slumworth, and lemon cremora berries.

An especially notable feature of the store, however, has been the service. Once the staff members are in front of you, at the check-out counter, they are invariable friendly. The challenge is getting them there.

Sometimes a single staff member will be on duty, stacking cans of organic peas on the shelves, as a line of customers builds up at the counter. Other times, they are simply too friendly and helpful. One day not long ago, Jan went in the store to buy a couple of items and came out fuming quite a while later, with nothing in her hands. As she waited at the counter, it appeared that the sole staff member on duty was helping two customers choose olives from the store’s vast selection — and Jan told me it seemed that they were choosing one olive at a time. So Jan walked out.

Over the past few weeks, we figured something was up, because the shelves seemed emptier and emptier, as if the owners were unloading inventory. Was the place about to change hands? As it happened, it was. And here’s the new look, starting with a sign out front:

Right this way, says the arrow.

And here’s what the store itself looks like:

A sign announces the new ownership.

So the new focus, evidently, is not only on bio products but also Saveurs du Terroir, or Local Flavours. We’ll keep an eye on the store, to see how it evolves. On Tuesday afternoon of this week, we happened to pass by it, and so Jan stuck in her head for a quick look.  Back in the car she told me that it looked like the shelves were still poorly stocked. We’re hoping that changes.

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

A smoother ride

Perhaps you have a holiday home in the Greater Daglan Area, and haven’t been able to visit because of pandemic-related travel restrictions. Even so, you’ll probably recognize the view below — and you’ll also know what’s new about it.

Yes, it’s the road into Daglan from the north, and what’s new is that the road has a smooth, grey surface.

Over the past couple of weeks, the road from Daglan has been re-surfaced all the way up to St. Cybranet, a distance of seven kilometres. While the work was of course disruptive to traffic (and there is a lot these days, at the height of the tourist season), the change is welcome. One of our friends told me that his wife — who has back problems — really appreciates have a smooth ride, without the bumps and jolts his car used to experience.

The surface appears to be a very fine gravel, presumably pressed into some kind of tar. One thing I don’t know is whether this is the end result, or whether the road will be coated with blacktop in due course. Have a look:

A fine grey surface.

While the resurfaced road means a much smoother ride for cars, one of my friends who is an avid cyclist said the gravel surface is a bit tricky for cyclists. Too bad, because cycling is a popular activity in these parts.

An unnecessary sign:  I was amused by the following sight this morning, as I made yet another trip to les poubelles (the garbage bins) near Daglan’s rugby pitch. What you’ll see below is the bin that was burned out, an act that I described recently in my blog as either arson or stupidity. The bin has been completely covered in heavy plastic, and wrapped with tape. Fair enough. But did we really need the sign saying Do Not Use?

All dressed up and nowhere to go.

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

“This place is heaving!”

In the title of this posting, I am quoting my wife Jan late this morning as we escaped the parking lot of the Shopi supermarket (okay, it’s been renamed Contact, but that is just silly). We were in the neighbouring village of Cénac, about 10 kilometres from Daglan. There we had visited the pharmacy (to buy face masks) and the supermarket (to buy food and other essentials), and were glad we weren’t stuck in the village forever.

(By the way, I believe that “heaving” is more commonly used in the U.K. than in North America, to mean “packed with people.”)

Tuesday morning in Cénac in late July is to be avoided, unless you truly enjoy outdoor markets and crowds, and traffic that barely moves. This is the day of the weekly market, and the hoards of people (plus their vehicles) told us that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, tourism is back with a vengeance.

To kick off this visual tour, here’s the view through my windshield as we crawled south through Cénac, often having to stop dead for long periods:

Just crawling along.

Tuesday’s Cénac market is a particularly good one — with stalls selling not only meat, fish, cheeses, sausages, vegetables and wine, but also clothing and ready-cooked meals, utensils, spices, and more. Here’s a look at the entrance to the northern end of the market:

People crowd around the market stalls.

And here’s a look at the southern (or main) entrance to the market, with shoppers strolling along:

Marché hebdomadaire simply means weekly market. 

On the plus side, Jan and I managed to buy virtually everything on our shopping list, and came away feeling glad that tourist levels are up to near-normal — which is essential for the survival of local businesses.

Posted in Life in southwest France, Markets in France | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments