Monday, March 30, 2015

A wild Sunday in out of season rural France

French village diaries Niort Printemps aux jardins garden show
Gardening inspiration
I will be honest and admit that there isn’t really much about my rural life that could ever be described as wild, but yesterday came pretty close. With the change from winter to summertime I lost an hour of my beloved sleep, but there was no chance of a lie-in, as I was required to perform my civic duty as a councillor at the bureau de vote from 8 to 10 o’clock, but at least the Maire was generous enough to provide coffee and croissants. The weather was as dull and damp as it could be and so I returned home to find a dull and fed up husband who needed an outing to cheer him up as even the research on my patisserie purchase had failed to raise a smile (see here). 


French village diaries Niort Printemps aux jardins garden show
Recycling in the garden
Our local big town was hosting its annual plant and garden fête that we have visited a number of times over the last ten years. It isn’t quite Chelsea, but in it’s own small way it offers ideas and the hope of better weather (it’s always held on a rainy weekend) and gives us that taste of exciting summer days to come that we desperately need at the end of winter. We enjoyed a mooch around, took some photos, picked up some flyers about forthcoming gardening events, bought some seeds and a small plant. 

French village diaries Niort Printemps aux jardins garden show
Living roof
I always come away with big ideas and this year the living roof fired my imagination. We will need to replace our canvas pergola soon and I would love a wooden frame with green living roof to give us a shady spot on the terrace for outdoor dining. It might come to nothing, but at least the cheerful coloured plant displays lifted our spirits.



 


French village diaries Niort Printemps aux jardins garden show
Cheery colours

French Village Diaries salon du vin et de la gastronomie Niort wine and food show
Salon du vin Niort
We then decided to throw caution to the wind and have a peek in the exhibition hall next door that was holding a wine, food and chocolate fête – as if I could have turned my back on that. Our 3€ entry fee gave us a wine tasting glass that we clutched carefully as we entered and started our tour. Being British, wandering up to strangers and demanding a free sample of their wine doesn’t come easy, especially when you glance at the price list and realise that no matter how delicious it is it won’t be coming home with us. One of the first vintners to offer us a smile and encourage us to step up with our glasses turned out to be an Englishman from the Domaine du Poujol. His family have been making wine in the hills above Montpellier for twenty-one years and we learned a lot from talking to him. We bought a lovely pale rosé and spurred on with a little wine in our systems moved expertly from region to region sampling reds and rosés and making a few more reasonably priced purchases along the way. Not being used to mid-afternoon drinking (honestly) it wasn’t long before my cheeks were flushed and head slightly spinning. Ade was driving and sensibly made use of the spittoons provided, but the more I sampled the more it upset me to throw it away. Thankfully there were food tasters on offer too including a delicious organic chocolate and hazelnut spread.



French Village Diaries salon du vin et de la gastronomie Niort wine and food show
Chocolate at the salon du vin et gastronomie

French Village Diaries salon du vin et de la gastronomie Niort wine and food show
Charcuterie at the salon du vin et gastronomie
We certainly came home in better spirits than we left and will now look forward to opening our new bottles, but I do hate it when an innocent afternoon at a garden show gets hijacked by a naughty wine fête, don’t you!


French Village Diaries salon du vin et de la gastronomie Niort wine and food show
Rosé at the salon du vin et gastronomie