24 May 2013


I had a BBQ here the other night – friends turned up with some red wine – in this!  Thanks Dev and Joanne...... it holds 4 litres!  Bought at a vide-grenier for the princely sum of €4.00.

23 May 2013

Bea and Michel’s 70th birthday

I felt very privileged on the weekend to have been invited to some French friends’ joint 70th birthday. I was the only non-French person there but fortunately all three of my students (English classes) were there so that made things a little easier. Especially as it started at noon, and went through until 11.45pm. I wasn’t prepared for that, but it was a great day.

It was held in the wine domaine Saint Michel Archange in the heart of the village. The food unsurprisingly was delicious. Aperitifs and nibbles (by which time I was feeling like I’d had a meal), then a FIVE course lunch which went on to about 4pm … a 1 hour break when the local librarian/historian took a group of us on a really informative walking tour of Bize. And then back for dinner.

I inwardly groaned at the thought of more food but was told it was only going to be a ‘light’ meal …. just salads, cold roast pork, and dessert. deargod…….

20 May 2013

Les Halles

Let them eat horse ….

Nicky and Alan were here for a few days – a stopover to their annual stay in the Lot-et-Geronne. Nicky said she would like to visit the traditional bar in Les Halles (food hall) in Narbonne. And that’s exactly what we did. We ordered: 1 horse, 1 liver, 1 steak. For the record, I ate the steak. The verdict was that everything was delicious.

This is a very popular bar in the main market (must book before 12 as they’re lining up for a place soon after….). The owner is an ex-Narbonne rugby player who likes a bit of theatre. The bar is directly opposite the beef butcher, and a right next door to that is the horse butcher. So he calls out his orders as he takes them from the customers – with a megaphone – to the respective butcher.

The butcher  then wraps the meat in paper, and throws it to him, above the heads of those waiting and those lucky enough to already be seated. The chips are home made and delicious. Not the place for vegetarians or anyone squeamish about what’s being eaten here.  

Actually one of the most popular dishes at this bar is the tartare dish (raw mince with a raw egg on top, with a little side serve of finely chopped shallots and capers that you mix in yourself) – made with either beef or horse.

14 May 2013


More fledglings in the garden – I was lucky not to tread on one on the veranda yesterday! They’re Black Redstarts and they certainly churn them out quickly – already I think they're getting ready to lay a second batch of eggs in the nest in the garage…..

12 May 2013

Sculpture walk

Each year there is a “Sculpture Walk” at Mayronnes in the Corbieres. It’s in its 19th year and there are many permanent sculptures in place along the length of the 2.5 hour walk. Every April, a new set of temporary pieces are added and they stay in place through to September.

The opening day is held in May and this year I’d organised a group of six of us to go, in two cars, to the event. Apparently there were to be aperos to start, and a picnic (take-your-own) for lunch, with the opportunity to meet most of the artists at their respective sculptures.

We arrived with ten minutes to spare – to an empty car park. Which we thought was puzzling. We were sure we were in the right place. We were. The opening day was today, Sunday 12th May. I’d organised everyone for the Saturday 11th. Woops ….

Yep - the only two cars in the car park!

However, there’s always a bright side. There were no crowds to contend with. In fact, we didn’t see another living soul on the whole walk! And we actually all conceded that it was probably better anyway – no waiting to take photos with crowds of people milling around the artwork!

The walk in the Corbieres hills was stunning and I found the sculptures for the most part to be really interesting. I took lots of photos, and have put some of them up here.

And the picnic – well, we pulled off to the side of the road about a kilometre up the road, next to a small stream. No harm done by missing opening day – all was forgiven …...

10 May 2013


We’ve just had Wednesday and Thursday as public holidays – so went with my friend in the village Miki on a day out. And we decided to visit Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert … one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (the most beautiful villages of France). 

It’s only about an hour and half drive from Bize and another place I’d yet to visit. Just reminds me how much there is to see in this region and of course it’s a gorgeous time of year to be out – poppies everywhere……

Abbey of Gellone
Dog carrier / carrier dog
A dried ‘cardabelle’ – on quite a few doors in the village and recreated in gift shops in plaster and pottery. It’s supposed to bring good luck and also act as a simple barometer. Apparently the points of the plant’s leaves curl inward when bad weather is on the way. It’s now an endangered species and cutting them (even for the purpose of weather forecasting!) is forbidden – though it does seem that this is not strictly adhered to ………
More of those endangered and 'forbidden to be picked' cardabelles!
Ceramic downpipes

Ruins of a castle, high above the village
Hérault River 

Tres elegant!

A pit-stop at the market in the village of Aniane - delicous warm tarts of goat cheese and onion....
… and a kilo of asparagus which is now in full season – €4/kilo

This huge plane is famous in the village – it was planted in 1855. It is said that during a flood in 1907 a donkey tied to the plane at the centre of the square was driven by the force of the water inside the abbey, through the open doors, left on the altar at the bottom of the apse and was saved from drowning………….. Perhaps a legend – but has a nice ring to it!

Moving sideways

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