As the driver – I took the liberty of choosing the long trip home – through Libourne! The beauty of the Acquitane Region is overwhelming. Summer has certainly painted the area with every colour – giving everything a wonderful sense of freshness. Personally I love this drive – it may take an extra 30 minutes, but it is certainly worth it. This trip takes us through the gorgeous villages (the highway is full of double length trucks – all rushing to meet their deadlines). There are so many amazing antique shops along this route, unfortunately we are so overloaded with suitcases and a keyboard (for Lizzy to practice for her Royal schools exam). I realized I would probably be linched if I tried to stop and have a little peak! (oh well next time……..)
We stop at Bergerac for a bite to eat and bought some groceries for later – and headed towards Lalinde and finally Tremolat. As we drive over the bridge that goes over the Dordogne river and head towards the village, the sun reflects off the water. Finally we reach Les Chouettes which almost seems to look happy to see us. The shutters are open – everything “smiles”. Simon (who takes care of the property) had opened the house and mowed the lawn and the pool sparkles – what a welcome!
It is Friday morning after a long full flight from Johannesburg – we race through the maze of corridors at Madrid airport with its many signs in Spanish – one only hopes you have the correct “arm” to this what seems to be a never ending concrete jungle contrasted by the beautiful shops that try to tempt you to stop and spend! We have little time to spare – so, along with loads of other confused travellers – the wave of people carries us forward until at last we see our gate – typically there is NO plane – at least there is time for coffee – whilst Nic lumbers off to check if we are in fact at the correct terminal and which gate we really are flying out of! The Continental departures are notoriously a little disorganised. They are never sure which gate they are using for your pending flight – until your plane arrives!
We finally depart – 40 minutes late and are now on our way to the beautiful Dordogne. It is a lovely sunny day – the sun highlights the various patchwork shades of greens and caramel colours that follow the windy trail of the magnificent Dordogne River. We can’t believe that we have finally arrived! After collecting our rather adorable gold Kangoo car (which fits 6 at a squeeze) and is now ours for the month, we set off towards our little spot in France!
After unpacking and enjoying a lovely refreshing swim – we head off to the Bistro which is in the village to enjoy delicious local cuisine of Duck, Rillettes and to end off with the best chocolate mousse around! A fantastic start to a fabulous holiday!
On Saturday morning I wake up to insistent knocking! I fall down my very narrow staircase (people in the 18th century obviously had very tiny feet! I make a mental note to use the steps sideways) – I fly out the door to see who my impatient guest is, to only meet up with a woodpecker knocking with determination on the tree outside – how lovely – the birdlife in the garden is awesome. I make myself a cup of coffee and sit at the table outside and watch quietly as this new world evolves in front of me.
Saturday market at Sarlat is not to be missed! – once the children were awake we head off to the typical medieval village which is a real hustle and bustle of market goers. Wonderful rich smells of the olive stall draws us like a magnet down a long path to join up with delicious other stalls that create a double chain. I have already decided on what to cook for our next meal.
Katy and Elizabeth have found the handbag and wallet stall and the boys were already nibbling on a crepe covered in Nutella and cream! How decadent and divine…It wasn’t long before Nic and Jon discovered the largest Paella they’ve ever seen – prawns are enormous – how delicious – unfortunately not enough room in ones tummy! I am still on the mission of dinner – superb duck breasts – larger than our chicken breasts – Alan has decided to cook them in a good old South African style – a BRAAI! `to go with the breasts Liz has offered to make Orange Sauce , we have found wonderful cheese especially buffalo mozzarella to go with fresh basil and awesome tomatoes – beautiful juicy, red, sweet tomatoes hmm! Lovely olive oil and most of all a delicious potato salad made by Katy, French style…….What could be better?
Alan and I decide to introduce the children to a little family history, (well sort of…. ) an amazing chateau du Baynac was once owned by the family BEAUMONT (my line- probably not my family) but however we decided to visit the chateau which had been owned by family Beaumont who had left it without repair until finally a concerned family member decided to repair the chateau as best he could and sadly ran out of money and had to sell it to the gentleman who owns it today! Luckily we are able to visit it. The best part of this history is that the Castle is positioned in such a way that it could keep a close watch on the Castlenaud Castle (Castle built by the British) during the 100 year war to be able to keep an eye on the French.