The weather this autumn has been simply amazing; the warm temperatures (up to 27deg c) combined with the Autumn colours has provided a simply magical environment for walking, riding and for those of us who love their rugby, watching the flare of French rugby in shirt sleeves!
The vendange has been and gone and thanks to the beautiful weather more than made up for the backbreaking work. Difficult sometimes to focus on the job in hand when one is surrounded by such beautiful scenery and stunning views – hey ho, someone has to do it!
The traditional chestnut fare at one of the local towns was, as usual, a great success. We have an abundance of chestnuts locally, shared with our feathered friends; we’ve had our first chestnut roasting session over an open fire – delicious, dipped in salt with bacon lardons!
At Durantie we’ve had a very hectic Autumn with preparations moving a pace for the filming of a movie coming out next year starring a very well known British actress and produced by an even better known Hollywood icon………….more to follow!!!! A truly amazing spectacle with cameras and lights everywhere, one hundred and fifty people scurrying and standing around in equal proportion in the magical setting that is Durantie. A great crew, all of whom stayed in local farmhouses and gites, all of whom seemed to have loved the area, commenting on the beautiful countryside and how kind and welcoming the locals have been. To a person they all said they would love to return and explore the historical villages and towns, also of course renewing their acquaintance with more Gaillac wines and lovely local food!
We remembered “the fallen” at a very moving ceremony at the “Monument aux Mort” here in Castelnau De Montmiral, a truly memorable event with the ensemble parading through the village in quiet remembrance both French and British alike – a very good example of how Europe should be; where the local children read out the names of the “fallen” from the village during the First and Second World Wars, very often a family losing all their sons and a nation losing virtually an entire generation of their young men. A retired British Women’s Royal Army Corp Major made a very moving speech (in French) to the community gathered commenting on the history of the “poppy” and how the new generation of young men and women show the same courage as they did nearly a hundred years ago. Next year it will be the 100th Anniversary of the start of the Great War, which will be commemorated by the residents of Castelnau De Montmiral with a special event.
We have had our first “casserole sanglier” of the season, delivered by one of our local farmer friends, hunted in the local Gresigne forest, which is one of the largest oak forests in Europe ; cooked in the Aga for 12 hours, beautifully tender having been marinated in local Gaillac red wine along with locally produced fresh autumn vegetables – Rick Stein eat your heart out!!
The Hoopoes have now flown south, the buzzards, falcons and kestrel swoop and hover respectively in search of field mice, voles and rabbits all in abundance. I notice the song-birds are frantically feeding up on berries in preparation for winter . Sightings of red deer and sanglier, a common occurrence, tempting the hunting instincts of the local chasse!
Wood gathered for winter and now we look forward to those crisp clear mornings, evenings by the fire and of course it won’t be long before we take to the slopes of the Pyrenees in December and Christmas of course………..!