25.08.2010 - 25.08.2010 21 °C
We all really slept in this morning. No alarm needed to be set as Marc's internal alarm clock would rouse us. We and his alarm were on a vacation, as I for one, did not wake up until a few minutes before 9 am. It was decadent and luxurious to sleep in this late. I obviously needed it as it was an accumulation of our busy schedule.
Showered, dressed and packed and into Marc's car for 9:45 am. Now driving to go have breakfast at a special place.
We stopped briefly in a small village called Kirrwiller where there is a cabaret called Royal Palace. www.royal-palace.com/en. It is the third largest music hall after the Moulin Rouge and the Lido. I agree with Margy that it is most curious that a sleepy village such as this one would have a music hall with exotic dancers. By the way, some dancers are topless. There are male and female dancers and no, I already asked, the males do not go bottomless. Tant pis! (Too bad)
On the way we travel along very pleasant country roads. Some are straight while others wind through villages between houses. I really love the roads when you see the variety of homes on each side.
We pass fields of corn as well as bales of hay. Large plastic rounds also sit on the fields and Marc explains that it contains the food for the cows in the winter. The bales of hay are used in the barns. I, city woman, enjoyed seeing fields occupied by cows, sheep, and geese.
We arrive just after 10 am at Bernhard, a wonderful bakery where we will have breakfast. We dine on the typical French breakfast of coffee, juice, baguette, jams and croissants. When we leave we purchase a baguette for later today. They have a trés cool sink in their toilette. It was like a tall vase.
There is a strong Germanic influence in the style of the homes as well as names of streets in Alsace. Here is a sample of what I mean, there was a sign with the name “Alteckendoorf” and another read “Mertzwiller”. Both are names of places.
We are back on the road shortly after 11:00 am. We got out of the car to walk to a bridge to see a little house which acts as the gift shop and is built on a rock. There was no opportunity to go inside and in any event there was a good chance it was closed and would not reopen till later in the day, probably 3:00 pm.
We arrived in La Petite Pierre to see a castle but first we go to the tourism office to get information.
We then went to the small church there called Eglise Simultanée de l’Assomption. Our timing was fortunate as we arrived just before noon and got to hear the marvellous church bells chimes. I have always loved the sound of church bells. It is a beautiful and unique music of its own.
We were unable to go inside any of the many museums or shops or the castle as everything closes at noon. We did however walk all around the base of the castle which was really interesting as the castle is also built upon a rock. One section of the rock even rested on a brick wall built as a structural support. There was a dramatic and a bit scary statue outside the church called “Les Dames Vertes” by Deny Lavoye which looks very familiar but I am not sure why.
We walked around the area for an hour. It was really enjoyable as the air was fresh and clean. There were signs explaining the various features and construction of the castle. Lots of greenery as there is a fair amount of rain here. There are no cicadas here but frogs instead.
We were back in the car around 12:45 and on the road again.
Arrived at Durstel by 2:00 pm. Marc, Margy, Marc's aunt, his parents, oh and lest I forget, Marc's beloved cat Minette all live in homes on a large piece of land. The name Minette is French and for a female and means “faithful defender”. A great name for a cat, but this princess doesn’t dirty her paws by killing. She is much more interested in being loved and admired which we all enjoy doing.
The parents are in the first home on the road, then the aunt and Marc and Margy are part of one house. It is like a duplex as they each have a separate entrance.
Marc's house is large, three stories, the top floor is dusty, not renovated and used for storage. You can see just how old the house is by being in the attic. When they were alive, his grandparents lived in this house. The house was built in the late 19th Century.
In the backyard is a pond with a little bridge and fountain. Flowers planted by Marc enhance the surroundings. There is a picnic table, numerous fruit trees and a vegetable garden. The trees are pear, apricot, two apple, two prune plum, and a mirabelle which is a small plum.
The garden is Margy’s pride and challenge as plants tend to grow on their own time and terms. They currently have no lettuce as the chickens got out and ate all of it.
In their vegetable garden are herbs, zucchini, and tomatoes. I absolutely love the yellow tomatoes. They are like beefsteak tomatoes with an incredible sun kissed sweetness to them. Margy teased that I would like to bring a box home with me. She is so right. They are amazingly good. I already really love tomatoes and these are the Rolls Royce of tomatoes.
There is also a large cement deck for a patio table that seats 6 to 8. A retractable awning above keeps out sun and wind. No mosquitoes here but flies.
We had a lovely lunch of breaded veal in a chive cream sauce, cucumber salad, tomatoes with minced red onion, and boiled potatoes. Dressing by Marc was simple and really good. Vinegar, dijon, sea salt, and maggi seasoning.
We all helped out with the preparation of the meal. This is the most enjoyable way for me to prepare a meal and I miss this.
For dessert we had fresh melon and cheeses. Beer with our meal and tea and coffee for after. It was a wonderfully leisurely meal and we dined from about 2:15 to 3:30 pm.
After that it was time to deal with some housekeeping. Laundry, but first the monumental task of unpacking to locate bits of dirty laundry.
I had purchased a lot of things on my trips to Paris, Nice, Eze, Cannes, Villefrenche-sur-Mer, Monaco, Monte Carlo, Marseille, Lyon, Strasbourg and Durstel and numerous little places between Strasbourg and Durstel and beyond. I have yet to shop in Durstel as we were at the house all day. I told Margy that today was one of my most happy days in France as we just puttered.
My room is absolutely lovely and Margy wasn’t kidding when she said I had a large room with lots of space to spread out all my things and that I did. I had a table to put things on, a second twin bed as well as lots of floor space. There was a large wardrobe as well as a second smaller wardrobe and I still had lots of room. I couldn’t have really done it any earlier as I was still shopping and so I didn’t know what I would need to pack or not pack.
I happily sorted out my things and probably spent 2 hours doing this. It was pretty exhausting when I finally got it all done. In the end I will be bringing back a larger suitcase and leaving my smaller one here with Margy and Marc to bring with them when they come to Vancouver. I needed that much more space to store my things, old and new.
I also never ate all the snack bars that I had packed and I expected that might be the case. They will be easily used up on Margy and Marc’s many cycling trips.
We got to the task of sorting laundry and Margy put on a few loads. I got to help with putting a load on the clothesline which is a habit long gone from my life since I have no laundry line. It was a nice blast from the past.
I finally had a look at my watch and saw that it was 6 pm. I couldn’t believe that I had spent that much time sorting out my things. I went downstairs to the kitchen and it was time to bake. We had bought whatever supplies were needed for us to bake my chocolate chip cookies.
They don’t have chocolate chips or if they do they were not good, I think the latter is the case. Anyways purchased some Nestle baking chocolate and Marc’s job was to cut up the chocolate into small chunks. Margy helped me with getting all the supplies out and helping me with the mixing.
We baked 4 dozen cookies and they turned out good. Less salt is needed as the sea salt has a bolder flavour. Also the butter was different and even though the dough was quite stiff the cookies still spread out a bit. Flour was not 100% whole wheat but a blend of whole wheat and white which still worked fine for our needs. Most importantly I wanted to bake for my friends and to do that in France was sweet.
We had aperitifs at about 8 pm or maybe a bit earlier. A sweeter white wine. Along with this there were peanuts. We then sat down to a simple dinner of croque monsieur which is a much nicer name for grilled ham and cheese.
Blogged a bit and then we sat down and watched on the TV a DVD that I had bought in Paris called “France the visit”. Enjoyable and we learned a lot about history although it didn’t cover all of France. We were all yawning quite a bit near the middle of the DVD as by this time we were getting quite tired and finished up by 11 pm.
Into bed and I read for a bit and then I went to sleep shortly after midnight for me.