Monthly Archives: August 2009

First Revenue of the Mill

Our First Harvest

Our First Harvest

It might not be what we were expecting for but it’s still the first revenue of our mill–not in money but in goods.

Orchards are fun. You have beautifully shaped trees in winter, and although they were planned as a solitaire, they form a group that you can easily picture as a traditional wintertime painting. Then, in spring, they bloom into all kinds of white and light pink like you see in a Japanese pagoda garden. In summer you can watch them grow big, sending out generous leaves that make a perfect shade canopy for an afternoon read. It’s like a Renoir in which you can feel the bees and wasps (look out!) humming around. Peace. Then, at the end of summer, it’s HARVEST TIME!

This year my first-ever fruit harvest, and I’m still not sure whether it’s good to pick them. I did anyway–10 kilos of these great eating apples and 8 kilos of cooking pears. It’s because my mom called asking me to bring some. “Mom, be ready for this basket.”

And how much did we net? A few euro.

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Google’s SketchUp Model

I like to play before I pay…so I’m using Google’s SketchUp to model the mill. It’s working out fine, I have to say. Like all new things, it just takes time to get used to the possibilities, commands, and short cuts. So please, Mr. Developer, try to use international standards and keys, won’t you please? 🙂

Here are the first drafts of me playing with SketchUp.

Orchard Garden Side

Orchard Garden Side

Court Yard Side

Court Yard Side

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Like playing golf?

My best friend will Laugh Out Loud or even Roll On the Floor Laughing when he reads this post for the first time. But an amazing discovery I have made today: I like watching Golf.

I was invited to go to the Dutch KLM Open, and I took the chance to watch golf and to be on a course for the first time in my life. I always considered playing golf posh, fake, and a lot of ‘puha’ as the Dutch would say. ‘Only wannabes play golf to pretend they are somebody’. So I avoided the subject amongst my friends, since many of them actually do play golf. I really didn’t think much of their hobby. Not my cup of tea–end of discussion.

Today I discovered why they like it.

I went to the Kennemer Dunes close to Zandvoort. The first impression supported the original idea: lots of black cars with beige leather seats and ‘wooden’ finishing. The white pants were reflecting the sun in painful brightness. The hats make it look like we’re in the English colonies or even in a scene of Brideshead Revisited. This was indeed the Walhalla of the Rich. So, this is it? I let it happen and seated myself on Hole 13’s grandstand.

The crowd was quiet! …wow! Since I feel easily uncomfortable with the shouting crowds found at soccer matches, I noticed the tranquility right away. As soon as the silence sign went up birds were all I could hear. I searched for the players and far away I spotted a golfer swinging at an imaginary ball. And then, the strike. In the quiet peace I saw a little white dot approaching through the blue sky. It landed right in front of the grandstand without a lot of bouncing. How did he do that, I wondered? Shooting a ball more than 200 meters with just a single bounce? Almost a hole-in-one. I applauded spontaneously. The second player looked for his ball in the rough. As soon as he found it-–again–-silence, concentration, and Tik. His ball flew 40 meters and missed the hole by 10 centimeters. I jumped up and yelled, “WOW!”

I was shocked … for the first time in my life I was excited about a match, a competition in which only one will win. I was completely on the right spot and didn’t move for the following two hours. I stayed at my seat and watched all the other players trying to conquer the same hole in as few strikes as possible.

I’m totally excited about golf now. I’m even thinking of taking lessons. I could try to find a place in the Netherlands, but I’ve discovered that the Parcours Les Poursaudes is only 9 km from our mill in Tourteron.

This opens new horizons… 🙂 I’ll contact them to see how I can get a good deal for myself and for our future guests. Please, come play golf with me! You can easily win. I’m a complete novice. LOL

Golf des Ardennes

Golf des Ardennes


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Houston, we have a problem.

New pictures from France just reached my computer. Our contractor asked a friend to check our front garden to see if they can place the new septic tank in there. I’m in shock! I don’t know much about septics and all that, but I do know that the amount of ground water shown in these pictures does not mean much good. :-O


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10 Things French you have to learn to eat

Ah oui! The French kitchen is world famous! But for foreigners like the Dutch, there are a few things you really have to learn to eat. Some dishes are extremely strong in taste or have ingredients you might not consider edible for men. Here’s my list of 10 things I found unappetizing at the beginning but learned (or not) to appreciate.


|anˈdoō-ē| a spicy pork sausage seasoned with garlic.

This may sound fine: “spicy pork sausage”. How ever the Wikipedia description says more about its true nature: “Andouille is a spiced, heavily smoked pork sausage, distinguished in some varieties by its use of the entire gastrointestinal system of the pig: for example, traditional French andouille is composed primarily of the intestines and stomach.”

So there we were about 15 years ago, not speaking a word of French beyond bonjour and au revoir. The restaurant was packed with Parisian chic who were obviously all born before the war (might even have been the first war). The restaurant Le Fontaine de Mars was a highly respected bistrot for good French food.

The impatient French waiter tapped me on my shoulder. “Puis-je avoir votre choix?” I don’t like to be rushed, especially when I want to order food. So–just to get rid of him–I picked the day’s special, andouille. The man looked at me with an expression that seemed to say, ‘Monsieur le foreigner, are you sure?’ Yes, I was sure (at that moment, anyway).

It arrived 20 minutes later accompanied by a good glass of red wine. I prefer to refer to it as It. It was sliced-up sausage where you could distinguish the pieces of intestines without a degree in biology. It did not look nice and smelled even worse. There was a warm and extremely strong and sickening smell coming from my plate. I must have looked helpless to the waiter, who replied with a look like ‘Mais oui, monsieur, you wanted it’.

Never before had I felt reluctant to eat something I had ordered. But these slices of dog meat you wouldn’t even feed to a pig were definitely the start. The feeling of throwing up grew with my every breath. In the end I think I should not have even touched it but instead should have called the police to report attempted murder. I spent the rest of my weekend in Paris running between bed and bathroom. That ‘spicy pork sausage’ must have been as old as the clientele.
You should try it, though. It has a unique taste.


Choux croûte
| shoōˈkroŏt| pickled cabbage; sauerkraut.

The second thing you need to learn to appreciate is choucroute, or choux croûte (shredded cabbage), as the French spell it. As a child I hated it. The Dutch do have a cheap-ass copy of the original version from Alsace. So where the French (or German–that’s a discussion) cook the sour cabbage in white wine for a day or so, the Dutch only heat it for 30 minutes in the sour water. It keeps the sour taste and that’s just not right. A hot sour plate of vegetables certainly does not make me ask for a refill. The French version, however, I started to like in the heart of the Alsace, Riquewihr.


Pâte à tête
Pâté |päˈtā| rich, savory paste made from finely minced or mashed ingredients, typically seasoned meat or fish.

Paté is great! The taste is super-French, rich and full. Yet among all types, Veal Pâté, Chicken Pâté, Pâté Campagne, Wild Boar Pâté, Cooked Ham Pâté, Ham Pâté, Deer Pâté, Port Pâté, Brandied Turkey Pâté, Fine Herbs Pâté, Green Pepper Pâté, Prawn Pâté, Salmon Pâté, Sea Urchin Pâté, Crab Pâté, and Shrimp Pâté, there’s one special one. That would be Pâte a Tête, which is easily translated as Face Paté. You read it correctly: paté made out of face. Pig’s face, that is.

This sounds horrifying. But it’s not. The pig’s skull is cooked in broth and taken out as soon as it’s ready to leave cold. The meat is picked from the skull and ground into a paste, and then processed into a paté. But there are two versions that might frighten you: the pieces version and the full head version. In the pieces version the picked meat is concealed in a jelly aspic. In the full head version, the meat is taken carefully off the skull and shaped back into a full head. It is then covered with carrots and herbs and the aforementioned aspic to prevent discoloration.

The first time I ran into a couple of  pigs’ heads at a charcuterie I was shocked by their smiling beauty. There they were four half-pigs (as in once two) simply smiling at me. The care that was put into reassembling the head from the bones displayed the love the butcher has for his job. This man loves his meat. We bought one and took it to friends who rented a gîte in the Morvan. We tried to shock them, but–culinary freaks that they are–they loved it. I admit it: I loved it too.

Here’s some face paté advice: start at the neck. Eating the nose is not for the French-food novice.

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Where once was …

The house is shaking. The sound of the pneumatic drill moves the thin spider webs. A bang. Clouds of white dust whirl up from an unknown corner. Where once were walls, there’s space. Where once were ceilings there’s air.

We’ve been to Tourteron this weekend and we took more pictures. You can follow the whole restoration / renovation on Flickr.

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