Our First Christmas at Chateau Crow

Bonne Année to all our followers. We’ve been rather busy over the last few weeks with two work visits to England for me and lots of Christmas preparation for Lauren, so the blog has taken a bit of a back seat.

Christmas and New Year is now over and I think I speak for us both in that it has been a brilliant and wonderful time, spent with family and close friends, whilst trying to conform to the French traditions and customs as much as possible.

We were joined by Lauren’s Mum & Dad, Nick & Carol, on the 15th December. The weather was so good we had lunch outside on the Saturday after they arrived. Now the weather here is a lot cooler, either bright clear days that have 2 -3 hours of warm sunshine, or grey foggy days. You never feel the cold much as the wind rarely gets up on the clear days, but to spend the 17th December eating lunch outside was an unexpected surprise. Lauren has been very happy with the weather as she has been able to hand the washing outside up until the 23rd December!

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Lauren’s Grandma Maureen & Grandad Duncan joined us a week later landing at a very foggy Limoges airport.

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On Friday 23rd we had lunch in our favourite restaurant Le Poirier, which has already been mentioned numerous times in previous posts. Needless to say the food was up to the usual standard and much wine was consumed, especially the Rosé consumed by the grandparents as you can see from the photo below!! Hic hic.

You may notice the girls are absent from the picture as it appears they had a better offer than spending the afternoon with the oldies! Evie and Isabelle were invited to a friends birthday party where they were filled with Chinese food (Friends mum is Chinese) and lots more delicious treats! Unfortunately there were no left overs much to the disappointment of us grown ups. The girls have made lots of new friends over the past few months 🙂

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In France the main Christmas meal is eaten on Christmas Eve, so we decided to do the same. A turkey and gammon joint was located in Angoulême (the french normally eat beef or a large chicken). Cranberries appeared in the local supermarkets the week before christmas (at €3.90 for 200g!!) along with copious amounts of sprouts. Lauren & Carol made their own stuffing and to finish Lauren had made her Christmas Puddings in October, to the secret family recipe.

I cooked most of the meal with a lot of help from Lauren & Carol and a great time was had by all.

The girls awoke at just after eight on Christmas morning and a long leisurely day was enjoyed by all. Despite being in France, numerous presents from family and friends were happily received from Santa. The girls surprise present being a fantastic, magic filled trip to Disneyland in February, along with new hats as you can see!!

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Lauren gave me a telescope for my present. The girl done well…..I think she got the many hints over the previous months!! The sky here is so bright at night when its clear, so expect to see photos of the night sky in the near future (when the bloody fog has gone!!)

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With having had our main meal on Christmas Eve it allowed us all to have a wonderfully relaxing day opening our gifts, drinking, watching telly and just being lazy. I was banished from the kitchen by Carol, who proceeded to make us a great meal  of turkey trimmings and leftovers from the day before.

Boxing day is not a public holiday in France and is just treated as another day, with all the shops open and everyone at work. However us Brits weren’t going to let that small detail get in the way of a good party.

We were invited to a party at Stewart & Louise’s, along with a number of the many new friends we have made out here. Needless to say we had a great time with great hosts. The kids (and some of the grown ups!) loving the huge space in their converted railway station house, especially with the various nerf war games in the huge loft!!

Even the designated drivers enjoyed themselves!img_0100

On the 27th we visited a market in Rouillac which is called “Vingt Sept”, literally “27”in English. Its called this because its held on the 27th day of each month, irrespective of what day the 27th falls on. It’s technically a “foire” (fair) rather than a market as its held every month rather than every week.

Its huge and takes over the whole town. You can buy anything you can imagine there, food, clothes, household stuff, agricultural machinery, even cherry pickers (two traders), live animals for slaughter or pets, etc.etc.etc.

We had a couple of chill out days after that, enjoying good food and company. On Friday we visited our favourite market in Riberac. It was noticeably busier than recent visits, probably due to the run up to the New Year, which is celebrated more than Christmas over here.

We had a coffee in Nick & Carols new favourite cafe now known to us as the “Allo Allo” cafe.img_0903

On the way back we had a lovely lunch at La Taverne in Aubeterre, definitely a place to revisit when the weather is better and we can dine outside.img_0904

The grand finale to the festive celebrations was our first New Years Eve party at Chateau Crow. Everyone we have met in France has made us feel so welcome. Most of  the people we know are on a similar adventure to ourselves, with the same outlook and values of life. So it was great to host a New Years Eve party for our friends and relatives.

The evening was brilliant, the time flew by, fireworks were the order of the day at midnight, followed by the traditional songs including a Conga around Maison St Louis, the Hokey Cokey and a very poor attempt at Oops Upside Your Head aka The Boat Song!!

 

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We’ve now got the house back to ourselves, its already feeling very different after a few sad farewells earlier today. But our next visitor, my son Sam, flies in on Thursday, with him spending a week with us after a busy Christmas for him in the pub he works at.

The only thing that was missing for me this Christmas was not having Bethany & Sam over to stay, FaceTime is all well and good but I’m especially looking forwards to seeing Sam again.

As for New Years resolutions they are much the same as usual, eat less, drink less alcohol, more country walks with Lauren and getting out on my bike which will start this week come rain or shine.

We have got so much to look forwards to in 2017, we are all back in the UK for the two week break in February when we do Euro Disney on the return trip. We are also busy planning our grand Italian Tour in July & August.

We have already got numerous people visiting us from Spring onwards and theres lots more exploring of our local area to do as well as improving our french and generally enjoying life.

Bonne Année from Ian, Lauren, Evie & Isabelle

 

 

 

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