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Truffle time

Posted on December 31st, 2010

Truffle season runs from November to March and today the truffle man with Lou, his dog, paid us a visit.  He comes from Banon, a village up in the hills about one hour from here, famous for goats cheese.   Our house is on seven hectares, much of it truffle oaks planted around 10-12 years ago.  Lou can reliably sniff out truffles from 50 metres and on good days, up to 200 metres. Likely truffle sites can be spotted by a “broulee” around the tree, a ring where the grass does not grow. After locating a truffle, Lou will dig on the spot, then leave the site for her owner to retrieve the truffle. We found no good truffles today, only small unsaleable ones. On…

A minor emergency

Posted on December 25th, 2010

Saffy loves to dig for moles.  Unfortunately she found something sharp, perhaps glass, and cut her footpad quite badly, spreading blood around the house.  This necessitated a rapid visit to the vet, where she was anaesthetised and stitched up, before returning home looking very groggy.  Long walks are out for a couple of weeks.

Noel in the Luberon

Posted on December 20th, 2010

Christmas is nearly with us.  All the villages have put up illuminations and are holding various events and children’s activities.  Each village has a Christmas Market, with chestnuts, Christmas cakes, santons and decorations in addition to the usual produce.  Truffles are in season and each market has a stall selling black truffles at 800 euros/kg, truffle scented olive oil and tapenades.  Not much pleasant to say about aperitif wine infused with truffles. On Saturday we attended a carol service at the 12th century Romanesque church of Saint Sebastien in Goult where, in 2008, they discovered a 14th century fresco behind the altar. The few children present were surprisingly well-behaved; Saint Sebastien is the patron saint of cranky children. The carols were sung in a…

A dog’s life

Posted on December 13th, 2010

This is Saffy, our 18 month old Welsh Springer Spaniel.   She joins in most of our activities, comes to restaurants and covers guests in mud.  She digs for moles, chases scent trails of deer or sanglier and loves the many walks close by, through vineyards and forest.  Scroll over the pictures for brief details:

Kafka lives

Posted on December 8th, 2010

This is a Livebox.  Apparently such boxes provide internet services for other people.  Orange, the sales unit for France Telecom, confirmed our order for the internet on 10th November and shipped us the Livebox, which we received shortly after.  The box looks very smart and the lights flash.  Unfortunately that is the problem, because the orange flashing light second left should be green.  Orange have not switched on our ADSL line, so we don’t have the internet. Numerous calls have been made to Orange.  Each person provides different and generally conflicting information, with assurances that all will be fixed.  Today I spent twenty minutes on the phone talking with “support”.   The outcome is that after one month, I still have no idea what the…

First restaurants

Posted on December 7th, 2010

Many restaurants here are closed in the winter months, so we have eaten at those serving local residents year-round and generally offering better value. One favourite is the Auberge de Lagnes. The food is light – broth with quail egg, grilled fish and orange panacotta, all for twenty euros. Excellent for lunch after the Sunday morning antique market at Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. Another favourite is the Bistro le France, a lively cafe-bar in Apt and a great place to lunch after the Saturday morning market, at twenty Euros for three courses. The owner, Christophe, shucks oysters outside. When the power went off he squeezed past our table to the fuse box and then proudly announced to the crowd “C’est moi! Electricien!”. He also gooses the ladies.…

Left-over temptations

Posted on December 6th, 2010

Somehow we seem to have acquired quite a lot of food -temptations in the cupboard as we speak: Honey from beehives on the roof of the mairie in the Paris 4th arrondissement; three kinds of chocolate blocks; a box of chocolate biscuits with dark chocolate tops; some very exclusive caramel sauce friends bought from Paris; a jar of Speculoos – a paste that tastes like Dutch biscuits and is served with crepes, brioche or with ice-cream – I’ve only had it straight from the spoon; a packet of thin crepes that you can just heat up and pretend you made yourself; several kinds of very yummy yoghurt; a jar of yellow apricot puree that is to die for; another of red apricot; yet another…

Winter arrives

Posted on November 29th, 2010

The temperature has dropped below zero overnight and we experienced our first snow, at the feast of St Siffrein in Carpentras. The event lasts three days and has well over five hundred stalls, plus a funfair. More snow on Sunday in the village of St Simiane le Rotonde, north-east of Apt. There seem to be saints for everything, in this case, it seems, obesity. Speaking of saints, there is a restaurant near Goult called the Auberge du Fiacre. We’re reluctant to dine there because St Fiacre is the patron saint of haemorrhoids.

A visit to the vet

Posted on November 29th, 2010

A short journey to Robion, fifteen minutes away, to introduce ourselves and Saffy.  The surgery is clean, professional with six vets in attendance.  We asked about any new risks in the Luberon and which medicines are right for the area.   All seems well for the winter with the greatest danger being amateur hunters, recognisable in local bars by their army fatigues.  Saffy has a bell attached to her collar to warn shooters who are after sanglier, local wild boar.  Each day we hear plenty of shots, some quite close to the house and there is evidence of wild boar activity in our garden.  The vet’s advice was sanguine:  “You hear a shot, you head in the other direction”. The young man assisting the vet…

The colours of autumn

Posted on November 20th, 2010

We arrived in the Luberon to a blaze of autumn colours, from light yellow to deep rust ochre, such as the Auberge du Presbytere in Saignon below, where they serve excellent chocolat chaud and mulled wine on colder days. We were warned the autumn display would only continue a further two weeks and so it has proved.  Fallen leaves in our garden and nearby herald the approach of winter. There is a dry-stone borie three hundred metres from the house, hidden in the undergrowth.   Dotted around the area, some bories are more than five hundred years old.  They were used as shepherd dwellings with sheep-folds and perhaps as refuges in times of war and religious persecution.