Thursday, 30 July 2009

Strawhouse Players Summer Production 2009

Huge applause goes this year to Frank, Ned, Luc, Beth and of course Steve (scriptwriter extraordinaire) for their traditional summer production. This year "King Arthur & His Trusty Knights on the Quest of the Holy Grail" Maybe a tad pythonesque me thinks?

Posters are painted, costumes are made, tickets are designed, props are propped and the scene is set on the lawns of Plantagent Plantes in Argentay.

The Knights of the Round Table

King Arthur's Knights in search of clues to the Holy Grail

Knights of Camelot: [singing] We're knights of the Round Table, we dance whene'er we're able. We do routines and chorus scenes with footwork impec-cable, We dine well here in Camelot, we eat ham and jam and Spam a lot. / We're knights of the Round Table, our shows are for-mi-dable. But many times we're given rhymes that are quite un-sing-able, We're opera mad in Camelot, we sing from the diaphragm a lot. / In war we're tough and able, Quite in-de-fa-ti-gable. Between our quests we sequin vests and impersonate Clark Gable / It's a busy life in Camelot
Knights of Camelot: I have to push the pram a lot.

A snack during the interval? Escargot au Chocolate - hmm delicious.

Tickets are in high demand!

Bravo the Strawhouse Players
il était for-mid-able!

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Retro Grand Prix Grande Maison Drive Past

The cars have now arrived in Le Puy Notre Dame for the Retro Grand Prix tomorrow and there is a buzz of excitement in the air. The arrival heralds the start of a weekend of festivities and first off comes the drive through the vines and past La Grande Maison.

So every year we rush outside the gates and wave everyone on their way. There are always a few that take the wrong turning so we are there to put them right back on track. Or even push them up the hill if necessary!

Here they come arriving at the bottom of Rue de la Cerisaie....

....they pass the house.

....and then continue on up the hill and through the vines behind La Grande Maison.

.....the last in line being safely followed by the 'depannage' truck in case of breakdown.

The Le Puy Notre Dame Retro Grand Prix is always held on the last weekend in July so book early for next year's weekend of fun and frivolity Arrive on Friday evening for a delicious La Grande Maison Wine Sampling Supper, take Wine Tour through the vines on Saturday and finish off at the Retro Grand Prix on Sunday for a BBQ and glass of local Le Puy wine. No better way to spend a sunny July weekend. Hope to see you in 2010!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Le Puy Notre Dame Retro Grand Prix

26th July sees the Retro Grand Prix in our local village of Le Puy Notre Dame. This normally quiet corner of France comes alive to the sounds of convertible Morgans, Bugattis, Amilcars and the odd vintage Rolls Royce. Here are a few photos from last years event to whet your appetite.

Cordoned off by bales of hay, the entire village becomes a race track for the day. The local vignerons sell their wines by the glass and the BBQ's spring into action.

More to follow soon......opps mid-blog and got a phone call to say that our dog Willow had escaped and had made his way down to the local nursery. Quick diversion whilst I jump in the car and go to collect him!

Now back to the grand prix....

Vintage motorbikes are allowed compete too. This includes a side-car race and the opportunity to wear old leather helmets with ear flaps - very alluring. Here Olivier from Le Puy au Vin checks out a problem on his old vintage some thing or other.

Along with a few more photos of noisy engines....

.....and shiny badges of desirability.

...see how they shine!

...and to make our day there is even a convertible rainbow Amilcar.

Monday, 13 July 2009

From Potager to Loire Valley Vineyard

A pretty hectic couple of weeks has left little time for blogging other than 'micro-blogging' on Twitter where you can now find us at if you wish to join in with the tweets. Otherwise we have been pretty much out and about running Wine Tours and serving our delicious Wine Sampling Suppers here at La Grande Maison.

So what has been happening in the vineyard and the potager during this time? Well less than a month ago the bunches on the vines looked like this. Flowering went well in the end and we managed to avoid any heavy rain that might have knocked off the tiny delicate flowers.

Within 3-4 weeks the bunches are looking good and with the cooler evenings it has been the ideal time to go out and work on the few rows of Chenin Blanc that we have in the vineyard. When the vines were pruned during the winter eight buds were left on last years canes so each vine produced about eight vertical shoots. Each shoot usually produces two bunches so there are a total of around sixteen bunches per vine. This is too many for us as we wish to produce quality rather than quantity hence the job in hand. The extra bunches that didn't fit the bill were cut off leaving 8-10 bunches per vine.

It is hard to think that the grapes will be wasted but it will improve the quality and space available for what is left on the vine.

Back in the potager, secateurs still in hand and we have good crops of yellow and green courgettes, potatoes, garlic, shallots, peas and beans. All our produce is grown organically and our meals are based around what is available each evening.

Even the hens are coming up trumps and Vita produced her first double yolker bless her, she always was a hen of many fancies!

Dogs as per usual do their best to help. With the odd bit of baguette snaffling.

Humble Pie H.R.H

They don't look at all guilty do they?

Willow (aka Wills or Mr Beans)

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Gay Icons & Dykons at National Portrait Gallery Sponsored by Rose d'Anjou

We will be "drinking pink" this summer at La Grande Maison in celebration of the Gay Icons Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London, sponsored by Rosé d'Anjou. In honour of the event we have cases of Rosé d'Anjou wine to give away to all our lucky guests. The first guests to arrive at La Grande Maison to produce their ticket stub from the exhibition will win a case of six bottles of this delicious pink packed with summer fruits. Subsequent guests will receive a free bottle of Rosé d'Anjou with every room booked (on production of their ticket stub or proof of visit on arrival).

Rosé d'Anjou - making a meal of it.
Local Charentais Melon with Bayonne Ham & Rosé Shots

A few facts about Rosé d'Anjou:

Annual production: 155,000 hl Basic yield: 60 hl/haGrape varieties: Grolleau (the most frequently grown variety in this AOC area), Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pineau d’Aunis, Gamay and Côt Dominant growing practices: Density of 4,000 to 5,000 plants/ha. Single or double Guyot pruning. Residual sugar content: at least 7g/l (generally less than 20 g/l).

Tasting - Sensory characteristics: Bright, crystal clear robe of raspberry red or with glints of salmon pink. Notes of small red fruits (strawberry, redcurrant), rose, English candy, with a freshness, finale of mint and white pepper. The perfect wine for gourmands, tender rosés are round and mellow on the palate with a liveliness that compensates for the sweet sensation and refreshes the finish.

Serving temperature: Serve chilled to 6°C

Ageing potential: Should be drunk in its early years, although certain generous vintages can hold surprises in store for several decades.

A hint of Rosé - La Grande Maison tables decorated with local roses from our garden close to
Doue La Fontaine, Rose Capital of France.

Olivier Lecomte, President of the Rosé d’Anjou wine-growers syndicate, says: ‘Portraiture is an art which is easy to relate to, cutting across racial, social, sexual, educational and economic barriers whilst enhancing cultural appreciation and awareness. Viticulture shares many of the same values - it blends grape varieties, personalities and culture to create wines which are designed to be enjoyed in a diverse number of ways.’