INCLUDES LINKS TO SOME REALLY WATCHABLE YOUTUBE CLIPS
A very Happy New Year, and thank you again for your visits and many kind letters, we hope you all had wonderful holidays.
2012 was a big year for us, both for the holiday properties and for us personally. After some splendid Jubilee celebrations with the ex-pat community we celebrated our Ruby Wedding with 150 friends and relations, using the newly refurbished barn next to Chateau du Trichot. We now feature this huge entertainment area on the Trichot web pages, and hope that it will be appreciated for other people's celebrations, as there is no longer any need to hire a marquee for anything up to 200 guests. We were entertained by Michael Lunts (you can find him easily on the web) with an evening of Noel Coward, Tom Lehrer, Flanders & Swann and other songs, and there was a brilliant surprise introduction by Her Majesty the Queen, performed by our friend Amanda Duke-Woolley, and we ended with our niece Deborah delivering a creative version of Rule Britannia. Those with stamina went on after dinner to join in the Scottish country dancing, so there wasn't a dull moment. A scratch lunch the next day gave everyone more time to catch up with each other and relax. We used all 3 chateaux for family accommodation, and provided the rest with a long list of B & Bs, gites and hotels in the vicinity.
More activity in 2012 included the finishing of work on Trichot's cottage, previously unused, but now providing 3 extra double bedrooms, and a living room with 'coin cuisine' - this has increased Trichot's capacity to 20+ , and can also be seen on its web pages.
The extreme winter of 2011-12 had kept us all on our toes, but the only damage turned out be in little farmhouse Lafage, which we'd actually drained down completely. Unfortunately the plumbing turned out to have parts which didn't drain, so we found lots of bursts when we turned back on in the Spring. It was the cue for a new kitchen and the worktops and cupboards are greatly improved.
Finally we held a concert, for charity, in Trichot's barn at the end of September. It turned out to be great success, and we are holding another on Sunday 5th May 2013. Details are at www.chateau-rentals.com/concert.htm so do come along if you are in the area.
2011 has been a busy year for us - we were in France from February onwards, starting with skiing and quickly moving on to see 2 of the pools resurfaced and heat-pumps installed in all three pools. As a result we were swimming in 28C (80F) water from April until late October ! It really has made a big difference, helped of course by the exceptionally warm Spring weather.
Projects included more garden furniture from the nice oak salveged from Cardou's barn roof restoration, and a long awaited resumption of some work started long ago to turn Trichot's unused cottage into extra accommodation. We shall soon have 3 more bedrooms and a self-contained living room/kitchen, so that Trichot will be able to expand to parties of 18 or more, if and when required.
More work has started on the big barn at Trichot, to make it more easily usable for weddings etc - reflooring will effectively double its space, and we shall be christening it with a big anniversary party (for our ruby wedding) at the end of June.
The very dry summer led us to worry about the vines, but there was apparently just enough rain at crucial times to ensure an excellent crop. The 2 Hectares at Trichot should produce about 10,000 litres. By the way, there is documentary evidence that the high level of tannin in Cahors wine is good for you!
"These tannins are polyphenols, and an ideal consumption of procyanidins (polyphenols) is from 300 to 500 mg per day. Analyses show that some Cahors wines contain around 500 mg per 125 ml … Polyphenols have an anti-viral, anti-allergenic and anti-tumour function as well as offering protection from the growth of atheromatous plaques in the arteries. Their levels of concentration are directly related to grape variety (Malbec for Cahors wines), and to winemaking methods." See http://www.blackisphere.fr/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/cahors-the-black-paradox.pdf
So there you have it !
In 2010 we spent around 6 months in France, at one or other Chateau, as well as some frenzied activity at Lafage, after a long-term tenant had left. He was a Frenchman who stayed for over three years, while having a house built near Albas. I think he was very reluctant to leave, since Lafage's secluded position is so very hard to equal. The long winding drive up to it had to be resurfaced in 2010 as it was showing distinct signs of wear and tear. Also the local commune decided to resurface parts of Cardou's approach, and it will be a year or so before the pretty little weeds poke through the centre again !
Joanna's parents, aged 84 and 88 respectively, came out to Cardou in the Spring. They like Cardou because they can have a big en-suite bedroom on the ground floor. Their stay triggered the installation of yet another satellite TV, in bedroom 2, just in time for Election night. This time they had asked to be driven out from England in their own car, which we did, so they could then be self-mobile while with us. Later on nothing would stop them from returning home entirely under their own steam. Well, he was a WW2 fighter pilot, after all, and they are both quite incorrigible. At 86 he was still DIVING into the pools.
We had super weather for our house parties, one in May, the other in September. We were lucky to find Thezac holding a supper-evening in the village hall, complete with professional entertainment - a talented lady who gave us the full "Chanson Francais" treatment - all the Edith Piaf, Josephine Baker, Mireille Matthieu and others, even some ABBA favourites. Wine flowed freely and the food kept coming - the French really know how to keep their tiny communities together. I think that our house guests have recovered from being dragged up onto the stage for some of the performance, and they certainly will not forget the evening.
Thezac village hall - entertainment with delicious food & wine No hangovers, but why is Bill wearing a tie ??
Another sunny morning ! Pre-lunch Pimms (Cardou, May 2010) After dinner Sun-downers
It is always a pleasure to take our friends to see some of the glorious sights along the Rivers Lot and Dordogne. Saint Cirque Lapopie, Peche Merle, Chateau Bonaguil, Rocamadour and Castelnau are among the top favourites.
View of the enemy at Beynac-Cazenac, from Castelnau Castelnau's collection of siege engines are always ready for target practice !
The mediaeval village of St Cirque Lapopie is just breathtakingly beautiful, perched on a cliff and unspoilt by time
Swimming pools - following some exhortations from friends who live all year in France, we are finally succumbing to the installation of Heat Pumps, to extend the swimming season well into the Spring and Autumn. The pumps have arrived and our job for February (apart from skiing in the Alps) will be to have them installed and working.
People keep asking for a photo of Joanna !
Finally our year was blessed with the arrival of two more super grandchildren, twins born in October (10/10/2010, so easy to remember). Soon we'll have to build an extension onto the Wendy-house.
Our best wishes to you all,
Bill & Joanna
PS The new airport at Brive/Souillac has finally opened, and so far there are flights to & from London City airport and Manchester, as well as Paris Orly. It will be very convenient for Lamostonie, but stick to Bergerac for Cardou & Trichot.
(2010 Newsletter - )
Trichot and Cardou have had their Tennis courts repainted (Cardou) and resurfaced (Trichot). Trichot's had lasted 20 years so it wasn't too surprising that a fairly major renewal was appropriate. Now they are both as good as new and a joy to play on, we think. Also Trichot's has at last got floodlights, which like the others, permit 5-a-side tennis in the dark after dinner. If you haven't tried this patented Stuart-Bruges sport, then you must. With 5 on each side, no-one has to run anywhere, and the game is to just keep the ball in play. After enough bottles of Vin de Tsar or Chateau du Trichot the experience is quite surreal. Minor variations are permissible, eg 6 on either or both sides.
And talking of wine, Trichot's vineyard goes from strength to strength, under the care of Yannick Montel (son of the Maire of Thezac, proprietor of Domaine de Lions). We wouldn't like to admit to how much we bring back with us, to tide us over until the next visit !
Cardou has acquired a deluxe, huge, Wendy House, courtesy of Antoine Conde (Myriam's husband), who insisted that we had to have one for all the children, including our new grandson. It is a stunner, and contains its own mini picnic table. Some discerning smalls have apparently insisted on having all their meals inside it!
4-Posters: hitherto only Trichot had one, in the master bedroom. Now it sports another, in the previously 3-bedded room. So now that bedroom has 1 king size 4-Poster plus one single bed. Lamostonie also got a long awaited king-size 4-Poster, in the pink bedroom (with the tower bathroom). Cardou would have had one too, but the candelabra in the ceilings would have had to go, so it will have to wait for another year and some more inspiration. We do realise that 4-posters can engender jealousy between guests. One French family solved it by taking a team photo of the dominant male in the bed at Trichot with all 10 female guests at once. (not sure if it really solved the problem though...)
Trichot's kitchen - now has new twin fridge-freezers, which are always great help with big parties, and catches up with Cardou and Lamostonie, which are each equipped with 2 large fridges. Trichot hosted weddings in 2007 and again in 2009, with the barn cleared out for dancing.
Pianos - 2008 had been a big year for pianos - Trichot's nice upright got moved to Lafage and a beootiful Bechstein B Grand is now in the drawing room. It is a superb example from around 1900, and the stone-vaulted ceiling certainly helps it sing. Lamostonie 'only' had one Bechstein and one Pleyel (both grand pianos), but when the opportunity to acquire another vintage Bechstein B came up, well, the Pleyel was moved from the music room to the drawing room, and another wonderful Bechstein moved in. Professional musicians find they cannot leave it alone, so we think we did the right thing. And the Pleyel, far from sulking, is actually sounding nicer than ever. It must have risen to the challenge, and prefers the acoustic of its new surroundings. Chopin used to prefer a Pleyel, and Cardou's sounds as good as ever, although the extreme heat this summer did give it a few palpitations. Karl Stice, the microlighting and paragliding piano tuner, thinks that the windows and doors must have been open, blowing hot air through it for days on end. We are very fortunate to have Karl in the area - he used to tune for the rich and famous of Los Angeles, then he married a charming French girl, Antoinette, who wisely dragged him back to the Lot-et-Garonne. To see Karl in a TV documentary actually flying in to tune Cardou's piano (which is being played by James S-B), play this clip .......>> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lzr-fC6YOkI
More - the vaulted dining room at Trichot had defied all thoughts of having curtains over the window-doors - until this year, when a brave attempt was made, using barn door hinges to hang them. It does give a cosier feeling as night draws in.
Trichot's original huge garden bench-table has had new legs and new seats and probably new tops over the ages, but finally it had to go, and a new one has risen out of the ashes. Well not quite the ashes, but a major project to re-roof the giant barn at Cardou has liberated some decent timber, so Cardou got its Wendy House and Trichot got a nice new 10-12 seater barbecue table.
We had some very musical guests in 2009, including the de Miranda family-band, from Holland, who put their spectacular video tribute to Cardou onto YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OUBNHGEh_E
Lamostonie has benefitted from a lot of tree planting, and the removal of some of the foliage near the swimming pool. Visitors from Canada have kindly brought over and planted four Saskatoon seedlings, from which we look forward to future harvests of berries.
Lots of you have written or drawn lovely things in our house books, for which we are very grateful - many thanks. We wish you all the very best for the new year.
Bill and Joanna
STOP PRESS - The van Seben / Schwartz family made this incredible tribute to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody - with a few glimpses of Chateau Cardou:
Bohemian Rhapsody - Cardou from Edwin on Vimeo.