11 November 2009

Home Away From Home

The more time that passes here in Ventenac, the more we are actually starting to feel at home. The rhythm of each day has become routine and the landscape familiar.  So, maybe it’s only natural that every once in a while, we start fantasizing about the possibility of actually making this place our home.  

We got to fantasizing during a walk the other day...

We arrived in the lovely little village of Canet. 

It is a peaceful little French town like a thousand other little French towns: narrow streets, pretty old church, a tabac, a few men in the lone bar, and an old women who carefully matches her shoes to her turquoise blazer...

And then:

We found it!  Our new home!  It's hard to capture the full effect on camera, but it is a thing of beauty.  Big lawn, lots of space, garage/barn in the back, cute shuttered windows.

Now, friends and family, don’t get too worried. We’re not really planning on abandoning all of you at this point. The place we found would be a second home.   We'll happily split our time between France and the United States.  And, it is plenty big, so everyone is welcome to come visit or stay. (If any of you would be interested in making a little investment, we’d be ever so grateful.)

We actually emailed the real-estate agent, just for fun, to see what kind of deal he'd give us.  The price isn't too bad!   We plan on writing back and getting a tour next week.

Don't we just seem at home here?

10 November 2009

"Chateau Ventenac Here!"

Here is a little glimpse into our lives at our current humble abode...the appropriately named "Chateau Ventenac."  We are help-xing here with Julia Bristow, a delightful English woman who runs courses here and rents the place out to families for holidays.  

The chateau is an impressive and substantial piece of architecture.   From a distance, it is the most distinctive building in Ventenac, extending from the grey tower on the left to the white section on the right.

Our work here has been getting the place ready to close down for the winter months when Julia returns to England.  Lots of stripping paint, filling cracks, retouching the walls, organizing rooms and the like.  Such a big house is a constant work in progress -- there is always more to be done.  

Here is Nina, our new friend from down under, mopping the front stairs.  

The Chateau is actually divided into three properties.  Julia's section is in the middle.  The tower belongs to a French doctor and the right hand side belongs to another French family. 

The king of the Chateau is unquestionably this guy -- Teg (short for Tegwyn, meaning "handsome" in Welsh).  He pretty much runs the place.  

And ooooh the ducks.  Their constant quack quack quacking was almost endearing at first.  Now it is getting annoying.  And have you EVER seen such an ugly duck as this guy on the right?  We have not. Our new fav activity is feeding the ducks, and on this lovely afternoon we decided to throw ugly the extra large piece that apparently doesn't quite fit in his mouth. Too bad. 

During our free time, we are still loving our walks along the Canal du Midi.  It never gets old.  The London Planetrees (thanks Kathryn!) have turned from green to yellow and started dropping their leaves.  Many of the vineyards are now a stunning shade of red.  

We'll leave you with this little tidbit: In France, if you don't make eye contact with the person you are toasting, you get SEVEN years of bad sex.  We are being very careful.  So next time you find yourself in France with hopes of a lil' som'n som'n, take note!  A votre sante!

09 November 2009

The Essentials: Sun & Food

We've gone back to basics here in Ventenac. 

One of the greatest pleasures of this trip has been the slow pace of life -- it has allowed us to truly appreciate each little moment like this one...the sun rising over the canal.   

Another basic pleasure...BREAD!  We've been testing out a new recipe and are closer to perfection than ever!

Good crust: an essential.  

We've been having some extreme weather the past few days making for intense winds, mysterious mist, and dramatic cloud formations.  

Chilly fall weather calls for soul-warming comfort food.  Squash stuffed with spinach, mushrooms, quinoa, creme fraiche and topped with goat cheese...pas mal, pas mal du tout!

A match made in heaven: Julia Child's ratatouille and creamy dreamy mashed potatoes.