Monday, 27 July 2009

Market Day!

Market Day in Aulnay on Sunday Morning is full of bright colours, tantalising smells and the hum of shoppers filling their baskets and bags with lovely local produce for the week ahead..... However, if you wish to eat on market day book ahead.....the eateries are always heaving. Panniers are definitely required for cycling into will be tempted!

Monday, 15 June 2009

Blueberry and Almond Tart

OK, I know this does not count as being of French origin (recipe thanks to Waitrose's free summer recipe book) but as we are in England, thinking of our guests in France, it seems quite a French style recipe to me. Ameretto is Italian, but substitute apricots or even blackberries and I think it would be just as good. Whatever fruit looks best at the market that day, wherever you are (even better from your garden, but I am no gardener!) Besides the big tart I made a little individual sized one from the leftover pastry (pictured), very greedy for one, a bit mean for eat it all yourself, the small one that is, not the big one that feeds 10 easily!
Blueberry and Almond Tart (thank you Waitrose)
Serves: 10
375g pack Jus-Rol Sweet Dessert Pastry (or make your own!)
3 tbsp Bonne Maman Mandarin Marmalade (I used fine cut orange marmalade, absolutely fine!)
Almond filling
200g whole blanched almonds
150g golden caster sugar
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp Amaretto Disaronno liqueur (I didn't have any so used quality almond essence and a spoonful of brandy!)
225g fresh blueberries
2 tbsp apricot jam


Roll out the pastry on a floured surface and use to line a 23cm fluted tart tin. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill. Preheat oven to 200˚C, gas mark 6 with a flat baking sheet on the middle shelf.

Place the almonds in a food processor with the golden caster sugar and blitz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the butter, eggs, plain flour and the Amaretto liqueur. Blitz until combined.

Remove the lined tart tin from the fridge,then spread the base with a thin layer of the marmalade, followed by the almond mixture. Scatter the blueberries evenly on top before placing in the oven on the preheated baking sheet to bake for 10 mintues.

Reduce the oven to 180C, gas mark 4 for a further 30 minutes and cook until golden and crisp.
Meanwhile, warm the apricot jam until liquid, pass through a sieve and brush on to the warm tart to glaze. Serve with creme fraiche.


Thursday, 4 June 2009

Perfect Holiday - Cheap Flights 20th June-4th July

We have just two weeks availability at White Shutters before September, book White Shutters for 20th June-4th July and if you are quick the Birmingham - Poitiers flights with Ryanair are coming up at £5 each way inc taxes for the Saturday flights (until midnight Thurs 4th June) We may be open to sensible offers..... big pool, beach less than an hour, second sunniest bit of France, easy drive from Channel ports....perfect for families with small children (2 cots, 2 highchairs, stair gates) What are you waiting for? Long lazy lunches....tempted?! Euro strengthening....

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Look what we had to leave yesterday.....

We have just spent the May Half term week finishing off White Shutters for our first guests......I do hope they like it as much as we do. This is the house now with the pool protection all finished (to French AFNOR standards), some geraniums planted and new sun loungers. We didn't spend as much time sitting under the gazebo as we hope our guests do, busy busy!!

We got home last night as a certain middle daughter is in the middle of GCSEs, she was allowed to spend time in the pool beween revision sessions!

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Floorplans Updated

We have been updating White-Shutters website and the floorplans now show the current furniture arrangement. We are working on a "click to view photos" feature on the floorplans, so our that our lovely guests and visitors can get a feel for the house, and if it suits them! I have also just realised we still havn't labelled the rooms.White Shutters Downstairs.White Shutters Upstairs!!

Monday, 27 April 2009

Eating out.............

We have been busy working on updating the website White-Shutters with the new images and floor plans, still a work in progress but we're getting there!

I have been meaning to do a little summary of some of the restaurants we have enjoyed both last year when on holiday and house hunting trips, and our Easter trip to White Shutters.

I have already mentioned the children's favourite in Matha, Le Pinocchio which has a good value set meal and a la carte, pizzas how they should be cooked, pasta, steaks and salads with extensive inside and outside tables.

We also discovered a very good seafood restaurant in St Jean d'Angeley called Le Mareyeur. We just love seafood and this restaurant is very family friendly and not at all fancy or formal, with great tasty cooking, especially if you love seafood! A 2 course evening meal with plenty of choice was around 12E, and even better a 50cl carafe of very passable wine for E5, a great find. A huge dish of moules is just an essential requirement for our holidays, and they serve up a lovely bowlful here.

A bit further afield in Melle (30 minutes) are two lovely restaurants (well there are more, but we have tried these two!)

First of all, another wallet friendly restaurant, Thai this time. This was our celebratory meal after buying White Shutters in January, without breaking the bank any further. I can't find a website but it is the Delices d'Orient, 5 rue des halles, 79500 Melle P: 05 49 29 26 48 Very friendly owners, and great value at 15E for 3 delicious courses, the soup was especially good.

Also in Melle is Les Glycines, a great setting for a celebratory French meal for two or a large table full of family and/or friends. We had a delayed 70th birthday, actual 44th Birthday, early 67th birthday and a very early 13th birthday to celebrate! A Logis de France award winner, Les Glycines is more formal than the previous eateries, but still very family friendly. Our teenage girls enjoyed their "proper" French restaurant meal with good service, and the Menu Terroir varies from 18E for two courses to E26.50 for four courses, so you know the budget before you start. I really want to go back and sample the Menu Decouverte, it looks a delicious experience.

Finally, another more gourmet offering is 10 minutes away on the Aulnay-St Jean d'Angely road, Le Moulin des Saules , the setting looks delightful, with menus from 25E, we can't wait to sample it, perhaps just the two of us!

We hope to discover many more delightful eateries on our future holidays..... and will start a restaurant section on the website very soon, at least I have some notes here now!

Monday, 20 April 2009


The electric oven is under the gas hob on the island unit.
The large cafe style fridge is in addition to the fridge freezer on the other side of the kitchen. Perfect for loading with cool drinks and salad/fruit. We are still in the process of sorting out a larger table, so up to 12 can sit down in the kitchen. Washing machine and dishwasher are to the right of the microwave, well the dishwasher will join the washing machine once the new one arrives.Back door to terrace for outside dining.

..and on our final morning I got up early and made a last French Breakfast. It was hard keeping the hungry masses from their food until I had taken a few pictures!

Friday, 17 April 2009

..and the Salon

Large fireplace

Door into the downstairs en suite bedroom:

Door to outside and Games Room :

The salon has been a tip for the past three weeks, a positive heap of wardrobes and beds en route to other rooms once decorated, and DIY kit and all the paraphenalia that goes with it. Never mind the car seat that everyone has stubbed their toes on at least once as someone left it in a very stupid place in the doorway.

But now the salon is fnally a salon. We are still searching for a suitable coffee table, we thought a big one, and have now decided perhgaps not quite so huge. But a coffee table will be added. Oh and light fittings, but I carefully avoided photographing the bare bulbs.

I have spent some time making my mum a quilt from these Moda Swell fabrics, fortunately I bought quite a bit and so my lovely eldest daughter made up some cushion covers and the banner for me. I was supposed to make a couple of throws as well, but they didn't happen! I think she wil be glad to get back to uni!
It's late, and we have to be up very early to clear the kitchen of the empties before a last photography session, and departure by 10! I think it may be quite nice to sit in the car for five hours......

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Family Bedroom

We had a few disagreements on how to orientate the beds in this room. We hope we have achieved a nice bright and sunny feel for a great adaptable room with a huge Super King Size bed that can also split to full size singles if required. There will be a proper velux blind on the window so if getting up at the squark of a sparrow is not your thing, you can roll over for a few more "winks". After all, it is supposed to be a holiday house!

The other end of the room has not been photographed yet, as we still cannot decide whether to keep the sturdy metal bunks, or go for one single bed.....but we will sort that out amongst ourselves!

..and here is the upstairs shower room shared by the Family Room and Children's Bunk Room, I couldn't decide on the best place for the pot cupboard, it has stayed in the corner by the I am not implying that there are two in the room!

Games Room....

Some more pics, the Games Room is definitely a Games Room. A table big enough for 12 will be fine in the kitchen, and the pool table stays in the games room. We have a few toys and some Brio too for younger guests, and will add some bookshelves too. We decided on just the one sofa, it has a wonderful view across the pool table to outside..just right for a pre dinner aperitif, or a quiet escape from the heat of the day (it would have to be a cup of tea for me. Propped against the wall is a table tennis top to go outside......on a patio table, not the pool table!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Finished Poppy Master Bedroom En Suite

After a fair amount of finishing off and painting the Poppy Master Bedroom is now finished (although there is a single bed to add to the poppy wall) The new canopy bed has caused some hassle, arriving with no slats and requiring a new mattress, so a jaunt to Cognac today to procure the new mattress amongst other purchases!
A room with a view.

We did stop off in Matha on the way home to enjoy a lovely lunch at Le Pinocchios This is a lovely family restaurant with something for everyone, unfortunately it was not warm enough to eat outside, but we still enjoyed the Menu Semaine, 11E40 each for three courses with a great choice......before back to the house for more hard graft.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Children's Underwater Themed Bunk Room

The most progress of all has been on the children's bunk room. The old dark green carpet has gone, and we have laid maple laminate laid to match the rest of the upstairs. That was a whole day of some choice language and lots of pairs of hands making light(er) work. Thank you especially to my dad and eldest daughter (who arrived on Saturday) and of course Steve.

The mural went up with not quite so much choice language, but it was a tricky little number to align. The room is so bright and attractive now.

The view back towards the door shows the mesh inserts we have put in to allow air to circulate through the room, there is a large window just outside on the landing, but the underwater themed mesh lets light and air in whilst keeping bugs at the room is cool and shady for those restful daytime naps and youngsters who go to bed whilst it's still so bright outside in the evenings. There is a central fan on the ceiling light

The Picture of White Shutters and Pool!

The last few days have been very busy, but we are on track and have finished another couple of rooms, with the rest almost there. The weather, unfortunately, has not been typical and has been quite poor. I have been learning the intracacies of pool maintenance, with a lot of help from our house managers. I do not pretend to be an expert, but when the cover was taken off, the pool was gungy green, but I have fished and hoovered, and "choced" and this is the result with a bit of watery sunshne this aftenoon.There was a slight hiccup yesterday, I was backing around the pool, running the net along the bottom, and totally forgot about the Roman End......I went for an "early bath" in my painting gear, fortunately without cracking my head open. I think that pool heater needs to be connected before I am going back in!!!

So at least we finally have a half decent photo of the house and the pool together. We still have to plant some geraniums, and the weed killer is working nicely and the paving wll be pressure washed before the pool is opened properly in May.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Our first finished room!

Since arriving on Sunday, there has been little time for blogging as the real work now needs to be done! Steve has made great progress, one or two little setbacks but the tick chart was quite impressive.

I immediately set to wallpapering the downstairs en suite bedroom (Steve had done the hard work stripping at least 6 layers of wallpaper). That was finished by Monday lunchtime but this morning the sun was out and I ironed a nice new crisp eqyptian cotton duvet cover. A lot of woodwork painting has also freshened it all up and a good scrub before I climbed onto chairs and risked life and limb for some photos.

We are quite pleased how it has turned out, a cosy grown up room and the bed is a full king size. In a few weeks time our guests can enjoy a cosy morning coffee on the terrace outside their room or a dip in the heated pool. I just have some full length linen curtains to run up for the door, so I suppose technically it's not quite finished!