Bienvenue en France!

Yesterday was the first day of my two week holiday in France. YES!!! This weekend Sam and I also started drinking again after our month off. So we celebrated with bubbles on the Eurostar.

The night before, we drank the wonderful Rosé Bagnum from Le Grappin and yesterday we started with a bottle of Graham Beck Brut Rosé 2010.

We arrived in Normandy to a feast as always with some cheese and charcuterie favourites.

I tried for the first time páté de couenne – a terrine made from pig skin. I've tried something similar before in Lithuania made from pigs ears however this had a softer texture and a less porcine flavour. It was all about the jelly. Behind it a chicken and lemon terrine which was also a first, as well as the best Pâté de Campagne I have ever tasted. The balance between meat and liver was spot on, the texture coarse but not overly and the seasoning was perfect.

We ended the meal with a big cheese plate of Normandy specials – Camembert de Normandie, Pont l'eveque and Livarot. I added to this with two cheeses from Blackwoods Cheese company who make cheeses in Kent. I picked these up from Brockley market where they have been seasonally decorating their William Heaps. A few months back they had wild garlic around them and this week I picked up cheeses topped with nasturtiums and cornflowers.

As is always the case at our family homes, we ate too much and had to go for a long walk. Along this walk we passed the most stunning French allotments. All beautifully kept with military planning, planting and growing. It made me ashamed of my messy plot but also happy to take on tips and advice!

This morning I am sitting alone (except for my new slobbering friend) reading through my vocabulary notes and watching the world go by. In the distance the birds are singing, cyclists are getting ready to ride and a couple are chasing their mischievous dog 'Russell'.

The sun is shining and life is good. Today we head to le Haras national de Pin a horse breeding centre at an 18th Century Chateau.

Tomorrow, something I'm so excited about I can hardly contain myself…

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