Saturday, June 30, 2012

July - A Letter a Day

Image from
This cartoon made me smile. It's so true : Isn't it fab these days when you get a real letter, card or postcard in your actual letterbox.
With this thought in mind I am writing a letter a day for the month of July - 31 letters that I will print off and send to the recipients.
You never know, I might even get some real mail in return!! On verra!

June 30 Photo - Girls Night In

Dinner at Pomme de Jour
Vintage Queen, Tanya from Pomme de Jour hosted a Girls Night In last night in Perpignan in her lovely terraced garden. The food was divine and the setting, lush, as we dined vintage style, sipping cool rosé until way past my bedtime.
Check out her website for her collection of gorgeous authentic french vintage goodies.
Happy Birthday Tanzz!

Friday, June 29, 2012

June 29 Photo - My Little Potager

My Little Potager
Nothing short of a miracle for me as I have the opposite of green fingers ( black fingers?? ). I have been nurturing these babies along for the last few months and unbelievably, still have tomatoes, basil, rosemary and thyme and raspberry plants THAT ARE STILL ALIVE!!! I'm getting the hang of this domestic goddessness at last!
As I pointed out to Mr Getrealfrance, we could have bought the whole bounty at the market for less than a fiver, but sure, where would the fun be in that?!!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

June 28 Photo of the Day - Nigger Heads

Tête de Negre
Only in France! For sale in our local patisserie.
Anyone for a Nigger Head?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

June 27 Photo - Let them eat cake

Gorgeous Gateau
My 7 year old daughter has some social life, with parties and play dates every second day. This impressive birthday cake was at today's birthday bash.
Bonne Anniversaire Mairin! 

Monday, June 25, 2012

June 25 Photo - French Mistress

Flowers for the mistress
It's that time of year again : a bouquet for the mistress? But are they talking about the school mistress or the between the sheets mistress?!! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

June 22 Photo - Fete de la Musique

Man in Kilt
21 June, the longest day of the year and the Fête de La Musique in France - where every town, village and hamlet has free music events on the streets, in the bars and in our case, the local park.
We were subjected to a Celtic band murdering some Irish and Celtic songs. There was a great turn out though and the kids had a hooley running around and dancing their little socks off.
'Tis a great country all the same!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012

June 18 Photo - Oyster Menu

Menu at the Oyster Farm
Leucate - just over the border in the Aude department, the Oyster farm is a MUST for those who like shucking up! Reminiscent of the shanty -like river markets in Asia, the oyster huts where they harvest the beauties, back on to basic restaurants serving Oysters and Mussels, the freshest you have ever tasted. This is not a place to go to if you are
a) a white linen table, sparkling glasses and stylish decor type or
b) you are not an oyster lover.
The restaurants are the basic, plastic tables and chairs variety - there is a string of them all offering unbelievable value :
12 oysters, a quart of wine and bread for 8 euros for example. You can also buy take away sea food platters.
Situated between Leucate port and Leucate Village, about a half an hour drive from Perpignan,  follow the signs for Le centre ostréicole ( same turn off as the naturist resort!!!)
Bon Appetit!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

June 17 Photo - Le Fête

La Fete des Voisins
Last night was the fête des voisins ( the neighbourhood street party) at ours. Everybody brings food to share and the town hall provides an aperitif and the tables and chairs and some musical entertainment. This year it was a half naked lady dressed as a butterfly. The boys were happy.
'Tis a great country all the same!

Friday, June 15, 2012

June 16 Photo - Canet Sunrise

Thanks to Vinny Savage for the photo
Sun rise in Canet. Have a lovely Saturday tout le monde!
(If you would like your photo featured on the blog, please email me!)

June 15 Photo - Rue de la Gaffe

Gaffe means a bubu, a blooper, a blunder... Who would you nominate to live on this street this week?
Mick Wallace peut être?!!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

June 14 Photo - Vide Grenier

Vide Greniers in France
The vide grenier or car boot sale is an institution in France. Read about it here

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

June 12 Photo - Buying Wine in France

We are lucky to be living in the largest vineyard in the world. The Languedoc Roussillon is the biggest vineyard in the world, producing more wine than Bordeaux, Australia and Chile combined. With over 2800 vignerons and over 30 different appellations, we really are spoilt for choice. 

The challenge is to find the diamonds in the rough, as, just like any other wine growing region, there are some very fine wines out there and also, some very mediocre ones. 

I have handpicked ( pardon the pun!) my favourite cavistes in the Perpignan area who will help you choose the right wine for the right occasion. Buying wine in a supermarket is fine and handy dandy, but it is nice to support the local economy by purchasing from a local caviste or a local vigneron. I think you will be very pleasantly surprised at the quality and price.. 

Maison Gulhot

You are always assured a very warm welcome from proprietor Georges Guilhot in his new cave in the historic centre of Perpignan. Previously the manager of the Parisian franchise ‘Nicolas’ in Place Repuplique, he has just returned from four years in Tahiti where he learnt about New World Wines in nearby Australia and New Zealand. 

His new cave is stocked with lots of local goodies – 80% of his wines come from the Roussillon region. Georges sources his wines from interesting independent vignerons and chooses with care. He is passionate about wine and food and a visit to his shop is always full of anecdotes and laughter , along with a taste of his favourite tipple of the day. His wines range in price from 3€50 for a bottle of VDP Cote Catalans, ROC du Gouverneur 2007 to his most expensive bottle at 290€ for a Chateau Rothschild and then everything in between.

Once a month , he organises soirées gourmands, sumptuous wine and food matching nights in conjunction with chef, Bruno Léger. Having attended a couple of these delightful evenings, there are worth going on the short list for!

Georges can also organise private evenings in his cave – he can cater for about 20 people or if you want to organise an evening at a different venue, he can cater for this also.

Georges has over 15 years experience in the restaurant trade in England and the US and speaks perfect English.

He also stocks a selection of fine champagnes and whiskies.

Maison Guilhot
13 place de poilus
Perpignan 66000
Tel : 0678445480

Aux Vins 4 Canons

An old armoury situated at 24 bd Clemenceau ( hence the jeu de mots with the name), Fabien Plane and his Mother Francoise head up this beautiful cave on the snazziest Boulevard in Perpignan. Fabien opened the wine shop in 2006 and has developed the cave as a serious platform for biodynamic wines in the region. Specialising in biodynamic, natural and organic wines, mostly from the Roussillon region, he has carved a niche in the market for himself, offering the largest selection of biodynamic wines in the region.

Every Tuesday evening, he invites a vigneron to the cave for a chat and tastings – numbers are always limited .

Thursday evenings, the cave is transformed into a bar where you can purchase a “formule” ; a glass of wine with charcuterie, fruits de mer or even pizza ; they have a different theme each Thursday. Price is usually 8€. Kick off is 19h30 every Thursday evening and the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly as people ease themselves into the weekend.

They also sell a lovely selection of organic charcuterie as well as some interesting artisanal icecream. 

Francoise Plane, a renowned sculptress in her own right, fronts the show at the moment. She speaks excellent English.
Vins 4 Canons,
24 bis bd Clemenceau,
66000 Perpignan

V and B
Vins et Bieres

Situated in the centre commercial in Mas Geurido, this cave offers a unique experience in Perpignan with it’s extensive range of beers and wines from around the world. Doubling as a cave and a bar, the cave a vins offers more than 250 wines from all around the world. The cave a bières boasts over 350 beers from Belguim, Germany, Ireland, England and Argentina.
Parking is not a problem in Mas Guerido which is a huge bonus for people popping in after work or at lunch time for a nice cold beer before heading off home. The atmosphere in the bar is family orientated ( Think Cheers!), everyone seems to know each other and with an early closing hour of 21h00 , the ambience is chilled out with no messy clients. 
The huge bar is open for private functions and owner, Romuald , is keen to open his doors for private soirées .. he also holds wine and beer tasting nights on a regular basis.

The terrace, will add another new dimension to the bar and Romauld is planning on having barbeque nights and parties there – as you are in the middle of a non residential area, you can make as much noise as you like!

V and B
22 rue Michel Carre
66330 Cabestany
Tel : 0468863668
Web :

Cave Gustumo

A relaxed cave in the centre of Canet plage, this cave has over 350 wine references and is always on the look out for new and interesting wines. Jean Phillipe Agen, the owner is very knowledgeable about wine and is very enthusiastic about his local wines and terroir. He speaks good English too.

You can also order on line for collection or delivery at very competitive prices.

11 avenue de la Méditerranée

Cheers !

Monday, June 11, 2012

June 11 Photo - Funny

I know I've posted this before but it still makes me laugh! Lost in Translation : It's actually a sign on a fruit and vegetable warehouse here in Perpignan.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

June 10 Photo - Stoned in France

The Sardane is the Catalan dance where the dancers hold hands in a circle and dance to traditional Catalan Sardane music. Mesmerising to watch, it consists of small delicate steps which allows people of all generations to participate.
Stoned Sardane Dancers in Banyuls Sur Mer

Saturday, June 09, 2012

June 9 Photo - Buying Fruit in France

Who is the lemon who came up with this great offer in my local greengrocers? Maybe it's time to think about private school for the children?!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Celebrating what truly matters

The Irish Times recently ran a short story competition with a prize of 10,000euros on the subject 'Celebrating What Truly Matters'.
With my new blog hobby and fancying myself as a bit of a writer , I entered the competition, along with 4200 others ( that's .1% of the whole population of Ireland!!). I didn't even make the short list. In fact, cue hard slap on the face, I didn't even make the long freaking list.
It was fun though - it is good to use the other side of the brain from time to time, ie the side that hasn't been killed off by chemical abuse!
Click here to read the story that walked away with the winnings.
And here is my story ( bear in mind that the competition was sponsored by Powers Whiskey and was limited to a mere 450 words)

It was dark and scary in there and I’d been locked up for so long I’d lost track of time - now and then the Da would open the door and let a bit of light in but he hadn’t let me out in months and I was craving human touch and company.
The Da kept me locked up. The Ma had nothing to do with me and the brothers barely knew I existed.  When I was let out, I was the heart and soul of every get together. I would keep the party going with sing songs and good cheer.  Dancing, singing, telling jokes and stories, I was the man to get it all going but I was only left out to celebrate something that truly mattered.
The last time they allowed me out was the granny’s funeral. She was a real character – she would wrap her hands around me to warm me up and whisper “ You’re the best, sonny, you and me, we’re going all the way” and she would always grab on to me tight on her lap when doing her rendition of My Lovely Rose of Clare. She was a dinger, right up until the day she died at age 93 and I loved her dearly.
That was some night. They came from all over Munster to say goodbye to  her – they were queuing at the Da’s house to come  and pay their respects and for the wake they knew would be wild at Murphy’s, a great house for a party. Of course, the Da came looking for me then and setting me down companionably beside him, gave me a real good bear hug. “We’re going to need you tonight boyo” he said as I blushed right up to my cap. “I’ll do my best ” I said but he didn’t hear me, again.
Nancy was laid out in her bedroom and when the singing and dancing died down and it was just us left, we decided to close the coffin. The Da carried me in his arms and the rest marched in solemnly behind us. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as we all said our goodbyes. The brothers were all in tears but there were some happy stories too and most of them centered around me, the bould boyo.
Then the Da had a brain wave – “She really loved you boy. Your place is with her” and he tipped me up to his lips, kissed me goodbye and placed me in the coffin beside his beloved Mother. Now here I lie, forever in peace and harmony with my own Nancy-o with her arms wrapped around my bottle neck.

June 7 Photo - Le Canigou

The Canigou

Canigou is calling. Every year we climb the majestic Canigou which dominates the landscape here in the Pyrenees Orientales.
The majestic Canigou, at nearly 3000 metres stands regally over the plains of the Roussillon and can be seen from nearly every corner of the PO. Beloved by the Catalans, their sacred mountain straddles Spain and France. The weekend before La Fete de St Jean ( 23 June), Catalans will make their annual pilgrimage to the summit of the Canigou. They will bring with them bundles of wood from their respective villages to light a bonfire. Attached to the 'fagots' ( bundles of firewood) are messages of peace, love and goodwill. The flame from the Canigou is then taken down the mountain in relay fashion and brought to the Castillet in Perpignan and other villages around the region and fires are lit all over the countryside.
In August, there is a 30km race up the mountain, starting from Vernet Les Bains and finishing on the other side of the mountain near the Chalet de Cortalets. Madness!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

June 6 Photo - First Swim

The first sea swim of the year. Locals reckon the temperatures were around 17 degrees in the water this afternoon. Refreshing!
A cool 17 degrees

Monday, June 04, 2012

June 4 Photo - Human Pyramid

The tradition of building Castels or Human Pyramids started in Catalonia towards the end of the 18th century - it's an amazing spectacle to watch as all parties of the pyramid have their role and place in the building of it.
The Castellers usually wear a costume of white pants, colourful shirt and most importantly, the wide sash ( faixa) aroud their waist to support their back and to be used as a foothold or handhold for those climbing up to another tier of the Pyramid.
Their motto is "Força, equilibri, valor i seny" (Strength, balance, courage and common sense).
Nerve wrecking to watch, as the last person to climb to the pinnacle is usually a light young child, this is not to be missed if you are visiting Catalonia and there is an exhibition near by.
Castellers in Cabestany

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Photo - Restaurant in Port Vendres

View from restaurant
The view from our restaurant last night , Le Poisson Rouge, in Port Vendres. A great fish restaurant in an amazing location. We went there to celebrate The Mammy's retirement.
Bonne Retraite Maman xxx

Friday, June 01, 2012

Photo - Shop Fronts in France

Headless in Collioure

Competition winner

Image taken from Amazon
Betty from Ireland is the winner of Rosemary Bailey's book, The Man Who Married a Mountain. The book is a lovely read, about Henry Russell, Baron of Ulster; 19th century explorer and mountaineer who climbed every mountain in the Pyrenees and "revelled in nature's extremes, from fierce tempests to dazzling snow"
Rosemary has also written two other books about the region "Love and War in the Pyrenees" and "Life in a Postcard" as well as "Scarlet Ribbons, A Priest with Aids" the story of her brother and the support he received from his Yorskshire village.
Read her interview with me here. Well Done Betty, the book is on it's way to you!

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