Weekend Note: What is Horror? Ether Capacious (click)
When Aunty travels on assignment--less during Granny Cracker's final year--it often as not means a lady traveling alone. Reckon y'all know it fits mah temperament to stay in convents and monasteries wherever that be possible, but it is also a good option for safety.
This trip were mostly personal, so I included some rural manor homes in the convent/ monastery line-up. Here are some photos from a lovely 16th century manor hidden away in a remote corner of Normandy.
Gate house looking out onto rural road lined wif' Plane trees
Below is the welcoming committee.
The charm of course is that this'n be a working manor inhabited by a real family of folks jes' struggling to keep their inheritance intact. For the moment their major source of income is a separate farm some seven kilometers distant an' the paying guests that they welcome each month. 'Tis an honor to have stayed wif' this dedicated family for a few days.
For about the price of a room at the Holiday Inn, I had a sitting room (above) and a lovely bedroom overlooking the rear lawn of 20 acres, plus a state of the art bathroom disguised as four hundred year old dressing chamber. Outside I walked amidst lush Hortensia, er, Hydrangeas, down the path to the family's own pocket sized chapel! (yes, envy is a sin, but I cannot help it.)
... beyond the chapel, hungry cows.
The lady of the manor, in chinos an' a work shirt, proudly led a tour of their outbuildings. Y'all may know that Normandy, famously known for apples an' Calvados, wuz the center of French cider making. An' this manor wuz onc't in the thick of it. As mayhap be the French way, stuff ain't thrown out jes' cause it's 400 years ole. No sireee!
(I'se playin' wif the sepia settin' on mah camera when I snapped this ole cider press)
The Lady an' her Squire is pushin' hard to reestablish their home's historic position in the world of cider--in fact, they use the ancient cider press still on the property (along wif' various other vintage implements that I wuz relieved to hear were fer cider an' not torture.)
Their idea is to begin an appellation system for cider similar to that of wine. They hope to replant apple orchards such that all their cider is homegrown, not blended wif' juice of other farms. This family an' others are desperate to devise a system that will lead to sustainable historic homes in their region of Normandy.
Natcherly, as a glorified B&B, a delightful breakfast wuz served in the ancient kitchen on an antique trestle table laid wif' heirloom linens.
Our hostess took great pride in her homemade jams, served wif' various cheeses an' local made yogurt. Her own hearth-warmed full grain bread made a hearty addition to the ubiquitous croissants.
Mah favorite jam were the oddest combination of orange, carrots ( yes, homegrown carrots), red pepper and a hint of rosemary.
As always, when we travel, ain't thar' a temptation to imagine oneself in another life? Well, I has no trouble a'tall seein' mahself livin' on a manor wif' its own chapel, some cows an' apple orchards. Reckon even Uncle could git wif' that program. What a dream!
But, later, upstairs, while packin' to depart, I gazed out the window (below) an' thought of the actual plight of this family's dream, wif' high EU taxes, oppressive regulations about what an' how they can farm or bottle cider, their struggle make a modern living yet preserve the idyllic charm of the past...The Lady admitted the difficulty her family faced, "This manor has changed hands about every hundred years, or every three generations. We are the third generation of our family. We simply mustn't lose our home."
More from France here