Le Manoir – French dream is a reality.

IMG_1747When I imagined staying in a French house overnight with food and wine and lovely hospitality – I thought it was just a dream  but good news – it exists. And here it is. Le Manoir only an hour from the ferry in Calais – Calais is another tale for another day but today is all about Le Manoir a lovely story……

We read about it on Sawdays website and had booked ahead. Plugging in the co-orindates our Sat Nav took us round the houses, across the rues, over the montagnes and meandering for ages but eventually we found it – in a small village called Gouy-St-Andre in Pas De Calais, and it was well worth the wait. Look.  Sometimes photos speak louder than words. But being me you will get words as well.

We arrived on 8th May and the whole area was completely shut. We wondered if the Triffids had landed, or some huge global disaster had happened and we were the only ones not to know about it but when we finally found our way to Le Manoir and met our hosts Ceclia and Raphael they informed us every 8th May in France  it is a massive public holiday to commemorate the signing of the peace agreement marking the end of the war by Charles De Gaulle in 1945. So we arrived on a party day!. Splendide!

On arrival a delicious afternoon tea of homemade cake and cups of loose leaf tea before being shown to the gorgeous room where we collapsed in to a bubbly bath before dinner at 7pm. When we came down there was a roaring open fire with a fireplace the size of Uist  and two huge sofas which we sank into before being handed a glass of chilled wine and some canapés. How we suffer. NOT.

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This is the label – fresh. light and really easy to drink. Being a philistine I don’t care how much a wine costs as long as it tastes good and this tasted great. Only later I learnt it was about 5 -7 euros! So I have decided to give up water and just drink this instead. Have a look here  and try it sometime you will thank moi (French bi-lingual now obviously)

At this point we mentioned dinner and of course being a daftie I had forgotten to mention to Cecilia, our hostess that we would like to eat with them. But she whipped it up in no time at all. If it had been me it would have been cheese on toast but at Le Manoir we were in the hands of a gourmet. The dining room was set for two overlooking the garden and we indulged in an entirely homemade feast. Rillette, gherkins, bread, mushroom tart, then an omelette bursting with fresh veg from the garden and Le Touquet potatoes from the host Raphaels Fathers garden with butter.     At this point we should have had our jaws wired but on we went to enjoy home baked apple tart, miniature cheesecake and ice cream. Be still my beating heart.  We managed to move to the lounge and the couch where we met this handsome chap. Charlie the cat.

A man who also enjoys his food. I am now his body double – with slightly less hair.

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Some more photos to give you a taste – see what I mean about the fire? Its a beezer!

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Breakfast – you can see here – beautifully laid out table was  homemade yoghurt, bread, jam, ,fresh fruit salad, hot fresh pancakes and maple syrup, homemade Granola, pastries. I could go on and on as I do but I think you get the gist…..

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Oh and meet Alfred and Marcelle, the geese. These two meander around outside like a pair of Disney characters keeping an eye on all the comings and goings.

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So to sum up. The ambience of Le Manoir is quite magical. The X factor. We were the first Scots they had to stay – and hopefully we have not spoilt it for the rest of you because we behaved rather well for a change.  From the horses, geese, cats, oh and of course the humans! They were wonderful….oh and their children who speak better Spanish, German and almost English than us. Yes we were very taken with the whole place……

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Le Manoir An hour from Calais and well worth straining your SatNav to find.

Go West to Loch Melfort and don’t spare the horses.

 

I stand accused and guilty of exaggerating. I do. SO what I am about to write is the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me dog.

Melfort House – B&B? Bloomin’ luxury!

 

I wrote about my Mum’s 80th – now being a party animal myself I assumed she would want a big rip snorting whizz bang of a do. I had visions of gathering friends from all over the place, hiding them in a dark room until the unsuspecting Pat was taken in at which point they would all leap from their allotted places shouting HAPPY BIRTHDAY and the fun would begin.

This of course is my idea of heaven.

Her idea of hell.

I organised a surprise birthday party for her 70th.

The biggest surprise  that she got wind of it and went to Ireland.

Still we went ahead and had a hell of a good do. The only thing missing was the birthday girl and my dad who were in Clifden, Connemarra.

 

A Jazz band, barbeque and  all day frenzy ensued. We had snoggers on the lawn by 3pm, a woman left her husband after meeting someone she thought was the man of her dreams – he was as a matter of fact the stuff of nightmares she later found out –  the local hairdresser got thrown out for insulting everyone and still the band played on.

So this time it was her call.

What would you like to do?

Go to Loch Melfort. To Melfort House that lovely B&B we stayed in last year was the answer and you can’t argue with that.  So instructions issued. We were off.

 

20 minutes south of Oban you see a turn off for Kilmelford to the right and off you go. A wonderful wee road undulates along the loch side past a few houses but the main challenge is to keep on the road as your eye is inevitably drawn to the array of boats, yachts and sail boats bobbing in the water and the backdrop of the islands beyond. Not 5 minutes later the sign to Melfort House guides you up a tree lined drive and you get your first glimpse of  the house. Built originally in south facing overlooking the loch with wonderful  mature gardens all around. The door flew opne and out came Yvonne & Matthew Anderson, our hosts.

Ushered in and offered afternoon tea and homemade scones and jam we exhaled after our journey taking in the breathtaking views of the loch and gardens. Total peace. Shown to our rooms.They have 3.

Mum was the birthday girl so she got the loch suite a room with a bed bigger than my first flat.

Polytunnel from where all the homemade veg goodies come straight to the plate.

 

David and I got the hill room which was also a sumptuous delight.

After unpacking the sun was still a shining so we walked  over to the nearby Shower of Herring for supper. Which David insisted in calling the Flock of Sparrows. The chef is a real character and had put on canapés when he heard a fellow restaurateur was heading over to eat.

Scallops, duck and no room for pud we had a great time. A couple of bottles of house white and teenwolf, actually sitting at table, speaking and doing impersonations of some of his teachers at school had us in stitches. Tomorrow David’s birthday. Yup the day before the big one.  Gird your loins tomorrow is another day.

Hello! Today is the day to meet Teenwolf and the Mongrels !

Living with Teenwolf – a joy for a mother to behold. I’ve written about him so many times I felt it was time to share a peek at the reality. Put it this way Kevin the teenager is no longer a comedy it is a documentary of our life. Proof is in this pudding.
Then of course I have to fess up I am not a perfect mother. I know, I know it’s a shocking admission call the police, but it’s true.

But I do get it together to feed the beasts – and no I’m not talking about Dave and Teenwolf but the hounds of the baskervilles, our two that’s  Sam our nice but dim labrador and Flora half dog half womble who are joined on this occasion by my Mothers big hairy nelly dog called well…eh..Nelly actually. By the way I am not housewife of the year but the reason there is newspaper on the floor is because we finally had to defrost the freezer as it was frozen shut it’s not usually quite so Wayne and Waynetta Slob – honest.

Of course the combination of teenagers, animals and a typical Scottish bloke husband does mean that occasionally under duress I am forced to drink wine  the consequences of which become more dire as time goes on. Gone are the days of leaping forth in a fragrant fashion to face the day after a a wild night and a few hours sleep. No sadly the morning after the day before now means many hours of shuffling around regretting the 3rd glass and wondering how on earth to start feeling human again. After the usual suspects a banana, a berocca, a yoghurt , a vat of water, a pint of coffee, some paracetamol and a full cooked haven’t worked there is nothing left for it but to go for a lie down which is exactly what I was doing when Dave snuck up with the camera and caught me at as you can see here.

Typical he can work my new video camera but he can’t set the video when I want the latest episode of how To Look Good Naked. So from The Sunday Mail, a flat one dimensional page to a confessional box as this is turning into. Technology is a strange thing.

From day-to-day on this here blog I have been spouting lots of stuff – its great being able to be so proactive  from being restricted to just a Sunday I have been running amock – is that how you spell amock?  So if my pal Fiona finding the best buy in an antique shop  near Callander , a nitwit trying to flog utility kilts and sex education for the deranged 1950’s housewife are of interest either scroll on down this page – it goes on for ages – or click on ‘Day to Day’ tab at the top of this page and have a look. Alternatively….come back any day you have a moment. Coming up over the next few days I will introduce Matthew, a  B&B proprietor from Kilmelfort who may well steal Keith Floyds crown as he produces a delicious chocolate pud with the help of a quantity of wine oh and me, his very able (to drink) assistant in fact here’s a photo to whet yer whistle…

Matthew fabulous Kilmelfort cook at home swigging wine & handling fondants. Form an orderly queue.

Get yer pen and paper ready for next time though as the pud he creates will hit all the right spots as well as possibly giving you one or two – but hey it’s worth it!

Don’t forget to subscribe to this on the right hand side by filling inyour e mail address  yup – it’s a free bottle fo champagne every week at stake – you’d be mad to miss it. Til next time! Have fun!   Alison x