Tag Archives: vacation

Eating nearby: “Great food, Fair price”

During the search for the Super Gite and the renovation of it we’ve spent many nights in a friendly chambre d’hôte 60 km from our mill. We drive up and down every day passing some cute villages on our way. One of them is Signy l’Abbaye, which is a bit more mundane  than most of the others (take note: the church is those villages is most significant building). The average town has five farms, two mansions, and one big church.

Signy l’Abbaye has a long history. It was founded around the 12 century,  and used to be famous for (what’s in a name?) its abbey. Nowadays it’s just a bit bigger and more appealing than the surrounding villages. It has some notable edifices, two nice bars, and at least one good restaurant mentioned in the Guide Rouge de Michelin.

A perfect entré for € 3,50

A perfect entré for € 3,50

That restaurant is Auberge de l’Abbaye, the Abbey Inn. 🙂

We found it by accident. We drove by around lunch time and thought: why not? Let’s try this humble, little place. To our surprise–and our delight–the food there was so tasty and cheap.

I mean, being Dutch and all that, we were impressed to find a quick lunch consisting of an entree and a main course for only 10 euro 40! Impossible, you think, but the selection on the menu is rich and impressive. You can pick from five starters and five main dishes. I chose the Wrapped Brie and a Chicken Soufflé.

This starter was perfect: crispy on the outside, and the brie inside lightly melted and warm. Unbeatable!

I like to cook, and I know about prices of the ingredients. So this starter of only 3 euro 50 is really a miracle.

We’ll certainly go back often, even though it’s around 30 km away. But distance is relative in a large country like France, as opposed to what we’re used to in the Netherlands.

Restaurant Auberge de l’ Abbaye, 2 pl. A. Briand F – 08460 Signy L Abbaye! +33 3 24 52 81 27
Closed 12 January-8 March – closed Tuesday dinner and Wednesday. Price: (12€) 14€ – Menu: 20€/38€
Traditional

The same family has run this former post house since 1803. It upholds its traditions with a rustic decor and cuisine made with locally grown produce. Tasteful guestrooms.

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Filed under All, Food, Tourism

Before the Nephews

Originally uploaded by Supergites

One good thing about summer vacation is that it’s free and fun. And if you still have some unsolved mess around your house, just get your nephews over to help you out!

So I took my nephews to our mill in France, a four-hour drive away. These boys, the sons of my brother-in-law, are 15 and 17. They are still a bit on the playful side, so they at least need for the assignment to be simple: “Clean the barn, weed the garden, make a fire. S’il vous plait.”

Now, those are three easy jobs, the last one  of which is actually fun. To store our stuff during the renovation we needed the barn close to the house to be empty and spotless. When they arrived it was one outrageous mess. When they left, two days later, it was pristine and ready to fill. The garden as well was ready for some serious ground work, such as moving cubic meters of soil from one corner to the other.

The fire? What can I say? They loved it!

All it cost me was one BBQ and one dinner at an ‘all you can eat’ rib restaurant.

I loved it too.

Check out the pics on Flickr.

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Filed under All, Renovation

Getting somewhere

The town of Tourteron from the field

The town of Tourteron from the field

Stéphane worked tirelessly with the brush cutter for a whole week to get the field free of plants. We’re finally getting the full picture on the size of this area. Where there used to be just nettles we’ve discovered a small swampy pool and the shape of the winter stream.

After this we have a better idea on where to start digging for the swimming pool! 🙂

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Filed under All, Gardening

Old turning to New

The Old Door

The Old Door

Almost two weeks ago we’ve asked our neighbor to make us new doors. It was a kinda test to see how he did. Stéphane is nice and smart, speaks English but can he make a door? The answer is obviously YES he can.

The old doors were completely rotten and turned to the right. When we first took a look it looked quite simple but apparently the sandstone doorposts had handled more than one door in the past and were full of iron pins, not able to have any extra or they would break. We needed to change the situation.

The New Door

The New Door

We now think this part of the barn was used as a black smith for fixing horseshoes. There used to be a fire place and the floor looks like a cattle barn. We also found one horse shoe. Maybe we should ask the old Monsieur Le Noble next time.

Anyway the new doors swing to the left and are waiting for their final color. Every area has its own ‘official’ colors to use for shutters and doors. The mayor knows.

What do you think would look nice on these doors? 😉

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Filed under All, Renovation

The New Collection

We’ve started working on the court and the orchard. They are around the mill and there is grass there that needed to be maintained anyhow. It’s logical to start here and –mind you– a good garden needs at least three years of work. The first year is for shaping and planting the new collection. The second year is for (re)planting, growing and maintenance. And during the third year you’ll be (re)planting, growing, maintenance and enjoying.

So this is the year of The New Collection. We bought some plants in France, but they are way too expensive! We’d rather buy the plants in the Netherlands for example at Abbing (Zeist) … I just love to search around that huge nursery.

So far we have planted the following:A part of the New Collection

Achillea millefolium ‘Cloth of Gold’

Ajuga reptans ‘Catlin’s Giant’

Anaphalis triplinervis

Anemopsis californica

Aquilegia chrysantha ‘Yellow Queen’

Armeria maritima

Aster ‘Monte Cassino’

Astilbe tangutica

Astilboides tabularisThe untamed garden

Astrantia major

Brunnera ‘Langtree’

Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’

Calamogrostis brachytricha

Campanula addenda ‘Blue Star’

Carex muskingumensis

Centaurea montana ‘Grandiflora’

Chaerophyllum roseum

Clematis montana ‘Rosebud’

Darmera peltata

Festuca glauca ‘Intense Blue’

Filipendulina rubra

Iris ensata ‘Diamant’

Iris japonica ‘Variegata’

Luzula nivea

Molinia transparentThe shape of the new borders

Pachysandra terminalis

Papaver orientale ‘Perry’s White’

Parthenocissus tricuspidata ‘Robusta’

Pennisetum ‘Karley Rose’

Polygonatum vanitatum

Primula  ‘Gold Lace’

Primula vialii

Pulsatilla vulgaris ‘Alba’

Rodgersia podophyllaPlanting

Rosa ‘Penny Lane’

Thalia dealbata

Thalictrum rochebrunianum

Trachelospermum jasminum

Trachystemon orientalis

Verbascum ‘Raspberry Ripple’

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Filed under All, Gardening

Spending time green

I hate to admit it, but YES, I DO love gardening. I can spend hours walking through a garden –especially the gardens I maintain– checking on every little perennial to see how everyone is doing.

The mill at Tourteron has 5,700 square meters of garden–and that’s a long walk. Mind you: That’s 7,000 square feet. But I honestly don’t mind. It’s a perfect way to start a day before the first cup of coffee. I’d do it all day if I could.

Do I talk to the flowers and the trees? There’s my next confession: I guess so. LOL!

I could talk about gardening all day and show you every single flower there is. But it’s better if you check yourself: I’ve made three galleries at Flickr only on the garden of the mill.

The (unknown) flowers at Tourteron: about the flowers we discovered in the garden.

The New Collection: about the plants we bought and planted.

Shaping the Garden: about the progress we’re making with getting the garden into shape.

So, those three galleries are enough for you to check out. The rest of the big steps will be blogged here (Flickr is only for the pics).

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The next steps are always less easy.

So…you say YES, and then what? It’s almost like the first steps in learning to walk: we didn’t have a clue! What to do next, where to start, who to call. We did know that 1) it was the first house we’d ever bought, 2) it was in France, 3) it needed a lot of renovation, and 4) we didn’t speak a word of French besides bonjour and merci.

We were stitched to the floor when we heard that we’d bought the house. We said YES to the original amount and they said OK. C’est simple.

WOW.

Now it’s for real. We need financing, signatures, papers, insurance, mortgage, the whole thing. In our earlier search for property we met Mr. Creme. He was our agent at Commercy. The man is extremely pleasant to work with. He’s honest, open, and direct, plus he speaks fluent English. Even thought it was not his region (it’s about 4 hours’ drive away) he was willing to help us with the contract, checking the bank stuff, talking to the mayor et cetera, et cetera, et cetera and so on.

And we did need him because there were some ‘small’ issues; knowing this was a water mill we knew the chances were good there was a water issue. And there was, BIG TIME! the mill was flooded once in the past 30 years…at least that was the story told by the seller.

But days after our wedding, we found an approximately 4000-square-meter section of our land to be a lake. The sweet little stream in the middle of the valley happened to have a winter offspring running through our property, creating a sweet little lake right at the place where we planned to put the pool. This was not a good sign.

Winter Pool

Winter Pool

We knew that we had nettles, wild blackberries and other unwanted herbs in this part of the garden, but we had no idea it turned into wetlands during winter. And worse: nobody told us.

We really needed our French contact to help us get some money off the price we had agreed upon. This made everybody involved quite nervous. Even the mayor told us not to have friends asking around about the land and its wet history. We can tell you this much: In France one does not start a discussion about a price once there’s an agreement. 🙂

All of a sudden they found papers on dyke construction works, and promises by the government to raise our land as protection. Even the attorney said it would all be ok. Yeah right: bien! Sure, they held back serious information, and we wanted our money back! This is not going to be fine AT ALL unless we had some additional money to raise this part of the field so we could create that pool. Anyway…

Wouldn’t you fight for it?

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Filed under All, History