Monday, 10 August 2009

Oh France, how do I love thee - part 2

Part of what I love about France is the feeling of somehow going home - I've been going there for so long that I understand the language, the culture, driving on the wrong side of the road, even some of the daft French rules! And, as one of the best things about being at home is meeting up with friends, so one of the joys of this holiday was meeting up with new friends - blogger friends!

Rob of 'Our French Garden in the beautiful Dordogne' lives about 2 hours drive away from where we were, so we went to meet him and his wife, Karen. I was suprisingly nervous ........Rob and I have been following and commenting on each others blogs for quite some time and you get to feel like you know someone when you do that, but meeting him face to face - scarey! What if he didn't like me, what if we didn't get on, what if we had nothing to talk about .........??!!

Rob, Karen and me on the terrace - don't you just love the colour of those shutters?!

I had nothing to worry about! Rob and Karen were wonderful, warm, friendly people - just as I'd imagined really! They welcomed us Gnomes with open arms, showed us round their gorgeous gardens and gave us a proper French 3 hour lunch in the dappled shade of the vine covered terrace as we all put the world to rights! It was a joy!

It was also a bit like having been doing a jigsaw without the picture and then being given the box lid with the picture on it ....... all the different parts of the garden that I'd seen on his posts suddenly all fitted together and made sense.

The picture below is the back of the barn and, if you click on the photo to enlarge it, in the doorway niche you can just see the Roman head that Rob featured a while ago.

This is the front of the barn/games room, which is opposite the main house and terrace.

Karen showing Himself and the Gnomelets the stream at the bottom of the garden - and explaining about the slightly hairy bridge that Rob negotiates with his wheelbarrow to go get mole hole loam from the field across the way!

Walking away from the house and stream we crossed the meadow and inspected Rob's pegola en route ...... remember that early post? Rob wasn't very satisfied with how quickly his plants were growing, but I thought they were looking good, strong and vigourous - so by next year he'll be moaning about having to cut them back!!! That's us, never satisfied - stuff either grows too slowly or too quickly!
The building in the background is the back of the barn. The niche with the Roman head in it is in the top right hand corner where the ground slopes up.

I loved these Cannas that Rob had grown in a circular stone planter on the terrace. I thought the combination of colours was fantastic - especially in bright sunlight. They were perhaps a little too close in colour to the shutters, but hey!
Rob and Karen's winter job this year is to repaint all the shutters in a gorgeous shade of green .......... I have volunteered my services to go and help!

So, all in all, we had a great time with them - and Rob (bless his heart) had even remembered that I'd like the Corydalis he'd featured in a post a while ago and had saved some seeds for me - and I've planted them already! The man is a star!

Rob and Karen also suggested that we check out a few of the local sights while we were in the area, so we went via St. Cyprien (and THE most beautiful house in the world - it was being re-roofed but still managed to look fantastic. We would have all moved there tomorrow!!) and into the Dordogne valley. It was a bit of a shock after the Dronne valley as it was wall to wall tourists and I could probably have walked across the river on top of all the canoes without getting my feet wet, but it was stunningly beautiful, with chateaux perched on hilltops in every direction we looked. We went to the Chateau de Milandes which, at one point, had been owned by Josephine Baker the famous vaudeville and Follies Bergeres star. It was everything a 'proper' French chateau should be - stunningly beautiful in an awesome location, a bit blousey and over the top, with fantastic architecture and beautiful formal gardens but it still had a happy feel to it. It also had a great falconry demonstration and a jolly nice little cafe with painted metal tables in the shade of huge lime trees!

One of the birds in the falconry display - an Eagle Owl I think?!

Same bird coming into land - with the magnifient landscape behind it. I don't think the bird was that bothered about the scenery though!!
This was a little doorway I found tucked away, looking just a little bit 'Sleeping Beauty' I thought!
If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can have a look at the gargoyles either side of the door. They're great!
A view from the turret window - not bad eh?
And so we passed a glorious day in oh so many ways and, as the Gnomelets put it, "good choice of blog friends mum"!


Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Wow, France looks so charmingly beautiful. And isn't it funny how we worry about meeting people? I was the same way before meeting Linda (Garden Girl) and attending Spring Fling! It's like we all revert to being 13! Also, I felt oddly like I was coming home when I visited Cornwall (esp. in Zennor) some (gulp) 10 years ago, and I'd never been there before! P.S. Those cannas are gorgeous!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Monica - phew, I'm glad it's not just me....! and I know what you mean about Cornwall - I adore Zennor Cove. My sister-in-law lives in Devon now and there are some beautiful places around where she lives too. Some places do just speak 'home' to us!

Ruth said...

You managed the most flattering angles on all of us on the stream picture mum. But I suppose I'l let you off, if only we could have a stream...

Nutty Gnome said...

I'm working on it love.....! :)

Laura Marie said...

Now a stream... that would be wonderful... :)

Maybe you feel so at home in certain places because you have lived there in one of your many past lives... We all know you've been here before :P <3

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

Hi Liz

You're too kind!

What a lovely day. Not sure about the photo on the terrace mind. That dodgy geezer on the left needs to drop a couple pounds, ha.

That saucisson was a find. We picked it up in the local Champion in St Cyprien, It's a Reflets de France product.

I'm so glad you all enjoyed Milandes and caught the falconry show.

Good luck with the Corydalis, don't mistake them for weeds in the early stages.

It was great to see you and your family and hopefully we'll meet up again.


Cameron (Defining Your Home) said...

Ah, France... my favorite country! Though, I must say that I'm rather envious of gardening in the UK from the English cottage gardens to the fabulous public gardens.

I'm so glad that you stopped by my blog so that I could find yours to read about your recent trip to France.

What a joy for you and Rob to get a chance to meet. A three hour lunch? WOW! :-) Someday, I'll get to Rob's part of France when we can take longer than a week away from home (long story about our elderly greyhound dog).

I've read parts 1 and 2 -- wonderful! Great photos, too!


Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Can't believe you actually know Zennor Cove! Lovely, lovely place.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

I loved reading about your visit to France and getting to meet a fellow blogger. I'd love to take a trip to another country to do that! It's just beautiful there, it was fun getting to see more of Rob's garden.

Nutty Gnome said...

Laura my love, once the tea house is finished (!!!) I'll finish off the stream between the ponds - but I suspect that the sort of stream you and Ruth want is a lot more like Robs .....deep, fast flowing and full of fish?! One like that would have to go at the bottom of the drive - complete with drawbridge, which would mean that dad could have his turret and turn the house into a mini chateau ..... not sure I'm QUITE up to that yet!!!

Hi Rob - the dodgy geezer on the left looked just fine, it's the wrinkly old bag on the right you have to be wary of!!!
....wonder if I could find the saussison on t'internet?!

I'm going to pop out and label the Corydalis (now there's a novelty!) so that I don't pull 'em up in spring. Thanks for the tip.

Don't forget that whenever you and Karen are in the UK we'd love you to come and see us - can't promise a 3 hour lunch in the shade, but you might get to play with Andy's toys in the garage!

Cameron, hi! Yes, France is great but you can't really do much in a week - you'll have to go for a month and have a good wander round, it's SUCH a diverse country!

UK gardens can be quite special and, considering what a little country we are, we've got so many different styles to go at! My vague aim is that one day my garden might just be good enough to be in the National Gardens Scheme - well I can dream!

Monica - over the years we've had many holidays camping in and around Zennor. I first went there when I was about 7!It's a beautiful area and great for body boarding - or, in my case, falling off body boards!

Catherine - I can make any excuse to go to any part of France and getting to meet Rob was an added bonus this year! It was a long journey - about 14 hours driving from home to our cottage, then another 2 to Rob's from there - but well worth it. Rob's garden is fantastic and he and Karen obviously work really hard to keep it looking so good.

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

You look like you had a absolutely wonderful time. And how wonderful to get to meet another blogger in person.

My sister will be loving this post, she reads Rob's blog all the time. And she is always mentioning something from his posts.


Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Jen - You're right, we did have just the best time! Meeting Rob was great too. His garden is fantastic - and I was playing spot the blog post as we drove round the area and I recognised places he'd posted about! All the Cro-Magnon caves and the buildings built into the cliff face, the pretty towns and stuff all made sense once I'd seen them :)
I do hope your sister enjoys it!

Mrs Robinson said...

*sigh*... can i go on your next family vacation???

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Mrs Robinson - yes of course you can long as you bring those gorgeous sandals!!!

Camellia said...

You know, before I moved to England, we were seriously thinking about the possibility of moving to Dordogne. Are you telling me now, I made a mistake!!!?

Woody Wilbury said...

Oh, you're so cruel, tormenting us with these pictures of La belle France!!!

I'm mostly a west coast and Pyrenees man myself but those pics do look great. It'll be next summer before I get there again (sob).

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Camellia .....well, given that you ended up down in the south of England rather than up here in the beautiful North, some might say that you should have gone to the Dordogne!! (But don't tell everyone about how gorgeous the north is or they'll all end up up here instead!) :)

Woody - given that you went swanning off round Crete this summer I think you're a bit fickle about the countries you love!!!
I spent the summers of my teenage years around Mayenne (next to Brittany and Normandy)then climbing in the Alps, but I'll happily go anywhere in France!

The redcurrant vodka has turned out well - want to pop over and try some?! :)

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...


Just a thought, but if you want to email me your address I'll get a couple of those saucisson from Champion in St Cyprien and post them to ya.

Let me know.


Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Rob - you bet! I'll do it now..... thanks! :)

Carolynn said...

What a treat to meet a blogger friend. I've only done that once and it was so great!

I really love that princess door and I'm a big fan of gargoyles! Beautiful. What a great trip and it looks like you enjoyed wonderful weather, too.

BTW..."It" arrived.... *smile*


Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Carolynn - the princess door was tucked away round a corner and I found it by chance. The gargoyles were lovely!
I'm glad your present arrived safely - hope you liked it!

Shady Gardener said...

What a wonderful time you had! I'm so glad you were able to meet these garden bloggers in person! :-)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Shady - meeting Rob and Karen was great - a definite bonus in a fantastic holiday! I'm hoping they'll have time to come and visit us when they're next in the UK. :)

Anna said...

Sounds as if you spent an idyllic day in great company. I spent a morning with a fellow garden blogger at the Malvern Show this year and was slightly apprehensive as we had not met before but we never stopped talking ! Will have to go further south next time we go to France :)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Anna - it was a lovely day. Rob and karen were great fun and, like you, we never stopped talking!
The Dordogne is a long drive - about 9 hours, including loo stops, from Calais - but well worth it. It is such a gorgeous area :)