figured I'd better get something going about my trip to meet Notre Vie Juteuse et sa mari before I go there again (maybe in the coming week)!
Alisa and Bruce kindly invited me over for a vist, WITH chiens, week-end before last ... and being on and off in the doldrums a bit (actually, maybe mostly just a little lonely some nights and week-ends ... ha) I accepted.
The drive was lovely and it was interesting to ride for great stretches of time and see nothing but trees and valleys. I think I mentioned it ... a lot of France's countryside is very rural and sparsely populated. but it was very pretty and my hosts met me at a tiny hamlet so I could follow them home.
They live in the countryside without neighbors nearby and it did seem a hike to arrive. They have rented a pretty country house, with pool, and have set up shop with bikes, their two dogs, adopted cats and chickens (although the chickens have since moved on ... read Alisa's blog for the scoop).
It was heartwarming just to sit and hang out with friendly folks ... from my perspective, we clicked and had a lot to comfortably chat about. I felt like old friends, having braved similar experiences ... I marvelled at how far we've come in the less than a year its been since we began corresponding.
I arrived with my tortilla press and masa (!) and we cooked together ... which I always enjoy. Alisa whipped up her famous chicken under a brick (only under a very heavy pan) which comes out amazingly tender, juicy and with a sumptuous crispy skin. We had that, guacamole, homemade tortillas and gobs of red wine.
The next morning, Bruce arose and made coffee and then popped out for some of the biggest croissants I've encountered. NO LIE - these suckers were the equivalent of 2 normal sized croissants. AND they were delish.
We spent the day explorin, visiting their favorite village (now added to MY list of favorite villages), St. Antonin. Pictures just mostly don't do these charming villages justice. St. Antonin embraces the river Aveyron ... with pretty little bridges, quirky winding alleys that empty onto oddly shaped places (plazas) and a variety of architecture capturing the epochs the village has existed. One thing (of many) that was interesting ... the Batiments de France brigade has left St. Antonin alone, I spied lavender and chartreuse shutters ... none of those boring 3 color palettes here. We had a lazy day ... there was a vide-grenier on and we dawdled our way through ... I picked up a few treasures and Bruce visited widely with many of the vendors. It was a cool approach --- the townsfolk used their street level garages or sidewalks to place their items for sale so you got a peek into many of the houses, which was fun.
Later Saturday evening, we went to a birthday party for one of their friends. In another petite village, the party made its way up and down a narrow street in the front of the birthday boy's house. One fellow was in charge of a huge paella pan (kind of like a paella BBQ) and it made enough to eventually serve the many guests.
Sunday was another vide-grenier day ( we hit two) and it was fun to check out other villages and pick up a few more things. We finished up with a nice lunch in St. Antonin and then I headed off for home.
My dog Louis had a grand old time when I decided to experiment with reactions to the chickens. His animal instinct raged to the surface and if I hadn't have been so quick ... he would have had a chicken dinner. We saw the blood lust in his beady little eyes! the coop sat up on the hill ... and every time he went outside he tried to nonchalantly wander that way.
All of the dogs got on well ... it was a relief to go to dog-people's house ... they were so cool and laid back about the 4-legged visitors.
Well, I'm probably headed back soon for another quick visit. I hope I get to host them (at least for the day) before they head off for California in August...and I'm crossing all available digits that their dreams become reality and they return for a new life. I'd love to have such great new friends nearby ... what luck!