21 Sept 2011

Hallelujah !

The wall is finally finished.

18 months after I started, it’s done. No point in hurrying these things. Actually, as there was no pressing urgency, it’s been very much a stop-start affair. It all depended on the weather forecast, visitors, my levels of energy and enthusiasm, etc.

I’d mix a bucket full of the sand and lime mixture, prepare a section of the wall, plug in my earphones to listen to an audio book and do about a square metre at a time. 

I have to say that seeing the wall being slowly transformed was very rewarding. And though I won’t be hanging my shingle out any time soon, I feel I’ve got a bit of a handle on something else now. The very least 'fun' bit was getting off the concrete rendering - made a little easier when I borrowed a compressor and percussion drill thing. Now that WAS slow work. I wasn’t able to complete the whole project myself – I guess I did about two thirds. It was just too high and I had to get someone in with scaffolding to do the very high bits.

A little recap:

The east wall: BEFORE

The east wall: DURING - and to the height I was able to do

The east wall: AFTER

The west wall: BEFORE

The west wall: AFTER

It did involve draining and moving the fish pond while I did the section of the wall behind.

And while the fish seem happy swimming around in a large rubbish bin - their temporary home for more than a week now - I reckon they’ll be pretty pleased to be back in the pond.

And here’s an aside - and nothing to do with walls. 

Lunch in the nearby village of Ginestas last week with a group of friends. Nic drove, and we had trouble finding a park nearby. We finally found a place, didn’t notice a ‘no parking’ sign (really…) and parked the car.

After lunch, walking back to the car, we noticed fire engines AND police – we heard later that they were trying to get someone from a building, perhaps a stretcher case from an upper floor? There wasn't any smoke or any real sense of urgency thank goodness. Anyway, we stood by, wondering what was going on – this was before noticing the ‘no parking’ sign – and realised we were getting tickets. Well actually, one of our group was.

And here he is (to remain nameless) – hot-footing it down the road. To no avail – a €35 ticket was given out on the spot. Ouch.


Nic and I and Barbara ran to the car just as one policeman was preparing to write a ticket, but we managed to drive away before that happened. Well, we didn't exactly do a runner, we proffered our apologies and said we were just moving (?). 

But not before he pulled out his digital camera and took a photograph of the number plate. 

I think a ticket will be heading to Bize in the post some time very soon….

5 Sept 2011

Domaine Borie de Maurel

I recently went with three friends to the Domaine Borie de Maurel in Felines-Minervois, and enjoyed a great lunch and tasted some delicious wine.


Felines-Minervois Рabout 25 minutes form Bize-Minervoisis one of the six villages that come under the La Livini̬re appellation Рrecognised as the best of the Minervois wines.

And who was our host? - a local Bizoise – the lovely Marie Binisti previously of Les Raisins des Soleil here in Bize. 

She has now moved on to the Domaine Borie de Maurel, sharing her passion and extensive knowledge of the Minervois wines.  


It was just one of those days – temperature mid 20s (not quite spring yet, but it certainly had that feel about it), not a cloud in the sky, a gorgeous drive through the vineyards, excellent wines, food and company. 

It’s not set up as a typical restaurant and there is no set menu. What you get is a plate of delicious tapas-style food – Tapas Occitan – and you get to sit under the shade of an enormous pine tree and gaze over the vineyards towards the Black Mountains.

All of the food is locally sourced, with the fruit and vegetables coming from the Domaine’s own gardens and the unpasteurised Lucque olives from Bize.

Our Tapas Occitan lunch consisted of a plate of olives to start with, toasted bread with tapenade and confit of onions with anchovies, slices of dry cured ham, a bowl of tomatoes,
sliced dried sausage, thinly sliced raw yellow courgettes, braised courgettes  - all in olive oil. And after, a small plate of three different cheeses with sliced figs, and finally a bowl of watermelon and rock melon/cantaloupe – or as it’s known here in France, simply melon.

Food is served only during the summer, and as they are now gearing up for the vendange, we managed to get one of the last lunches of the season. 

The vendange started around here about two weeks ago – very early this year. “The word” is that it’s going to be a very good year ….

We’d done our wine tasting before lunch, so when we were ready to leave we collected our purchases. My favourite was definitely one of the reds - the Belle de Nuit. Divine.

And while I’m looking forward to drinking this, I’m not sure I’ll be cooking tiny wild birds, on a stick (brochette) or otherwise – as suggested on the website write-up:

Accompanying dishes: young, Belle de Nuit goes well with spicy dishes, a beef stew or paella. When it matures it’s time to imagine higher flying dishes such as a song thrush with streaky bacon or a brochette of skylarks.


Marie suggested that it’s best served slightly chilled – definitely not warm. Sounds good to me, and I can’t imagine a thing that it’s not going to go well with!

The courtyard - with its own outdoor chandalier
Kids in a lolly shop....

Look at these hands - what an amazing image .....

Moving sideways

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