Crooked House

A country life in France


The weather was vile on Thursday but that did not stop us from jumping in the car and going looking for some of the locally-produced gin. By “local” I don’t mean in the next village but it is a Limousin product. The Limousin is a large area. We needed a run of about an hour’s duration to get to the first stockist that was likely to have the flavour that we were seeking. In the event, we spent four hours tearing around the countryside in the teeming rain, and for fifty kilometres or so we were on reserve fuel… Happily we made it as far as Bellac and were able to fill the tank before coming home.

We had been looking for the Orange and Bergamot on a previous expedition and failed to find it so we were very happy to secure a bottle in the Cave at La Souterraine. They didn’t however have the Christmas Gin that we were looking for on this trip. We decided to run over to the village where the gin is made, as the local Proxi there stocks it and I had seen on Facebook that they had the Christmas variety on the shelf.

It turned out to be a lot further than we thought and the roads were not of the best. When we got there the store was very busy indeed and the Crooked Man had to queue for a long time with his booty. Sadly it was not the Christmas Gin (Chestnut, Pine and smoke!) but he had found a bottle of a special edition from earlier this year, with Lemon Balm and Sandalwood. Very sensibly, he also secured a net of lemons and a jar of goose fat.

It was by now very late, we were apparently over 70 kilometres from home and already on reserve fuel and also had a battery warning, the rain was getting heavier and the light was beginning to fade. We decided that trying other outlets was not sensible and we would do without the Christmas Gin.

Limousin Gin, difficult to find!

Maybe next year…

We had to lengthen the journey home in order to get petrol and it was half past five before we returned, having left at one-thirty. At least we didn’t have to go into the supermarket (which was mobbed) due to the foresight regarding lemons and goose fat.

I had been planning a Gin Sorbet but was just too tired by the time that we had sorted ourselves out.

Just when we had become used to the street light behaving sensibly again, it stayed on all night on Thursday because (I assume) of the absence of a curfew that night. The lifting of the curfew also meant that we had traffic going past in the night, something else that we haven’t missed at all. The light and the occasional passing car combined to keep us awake.

Although tired, we had a very pleasant day yesterday, just doing things simply and quietly. We walked the dog in some sleety rain, then sat by the woodburner and listened to music. We actually chose Christmas albums and sat and ate Stollen with a coffee and a glass of Bailey’s. That’s the most Christmas that we have done in many years. No gifts, of course.

Later on we dined on baguettes, chicken rillettes, goose-fat-roasted potatoes and a baked Mont d’Or – finishing with fresh lychees. All very delicious.

Today dawned very cold indeed. We had a heavy frost and as the light increased, so a fog rolled in. We decided to get up for our coffee rather than have it bed, so that we could light a fire to warm up the house to return to after walking the dog.

Frost and fog today

Christmas doesn’t outstay its welcome in France; today is a normal day, not an extended holiday, and we saw our postie on her rounds, farmers at work, and heard plenty of traffic on the Route Nationale.

I spotted this bucket of post-Christmas debris. It’s traditional in France to have Oysters on Christmas Eve, apparently.

That there is a lot of oysters!

I was quite surprised to see that the road had been salted, try getting that done on minor roads on Christmas night in the UK!

Everything was looking very beautiful today. I was happy to wrap up warmly, take a long walk and tout my camera around with me. Honestly, after spending three winters in Portugal and Spain, I am very happy to be experiencing some properly seasonal weather. It made me happy. However, my joints do hurt!

Brr – looks as cold as it felt!

It’s Date Night tonight and we are going 50/50 on the convenience/DIY scale. We are also indulging in some festive flavours. Preparations are well in hand, due entirely to today’s uncharacteristically early start. I have ironed the Crooked Man’s dress-up clothes, whilst he ran the vacuum cleaner round for me. Fair do’s, I say.

I made a Goat’s Cheese cream to tart up the Gazpacho that we are having for our starter. Cold soup might seem a little odd on a day like this but it has become traditional for our festive meals whilst we are down south and I see no reason to break that habit now. We have a little roast of turkey, stuffed with Morels and Armagnac (!) and some Truffled mashed Potato (both courtesy of Lidl). I have prepped some Brussel Sprouts for roasting with chestnuts and bacon and the Crooked Man has organised some Parsnips for roasting. Dessert is an ice cream out of a box, which we shall serve with the remaining lychees.

There will be cheese and port in there somewhere.

All that remains to be done is to make a decision on which gin to choose for an aperitif!

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