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Erddig National Trust

A couple of weekends ago Mr Rigg and I, dog-less and fancy-free decided to take a day trip to Erddig house, a National Trust property near Wrexham that is renowned for its portrayal of the upstairs downstairs life.  It is a truly fascinating and beautiful place, one that I would recommend for a day out.

As well as the house, there is a lovely garden and stables with working horses, but I wanted to share what I was most interested by, which is the ‘downstairs’ quarters and the plain country living that I think is so beautiful. There was only one ‘upstairs’ room that I liked enough to photograph, and that was the nursery and adjoining (if I remember correctly!) bathroom.

You enter the house through the sculleries and kitchen, which happened to be full of things that I have collected from car boots sales – I should have very much liked to have a ‘supermarket sweep’ if given the opportunity!

Downstairs living

Historic scullery

Broom hooks

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Last weekend I went to Paris with my little sister Izzy – she turned 18 this year and for a long time I’ve wanted to do something special with her, and Paris at Christmas was what I decided on.  We went on Saturday and came back late Monday evening, we stayed in a sweet little apartment B&B in the 18th arrondissement on Boulevard Ney.

Highlights from our trip were sitting on the metro when a man with a guitar and amplifier began to play ‘What a wonderful world’, sipping hot chocolate at dusk outside Sacre Coeur and soaking up the Christmas atmosphere, and wandering through the organic market on Boulevard Raspail.

More details on what we ate and where to come, but for now, here’s my Paris at Christmas…

Best hot chocolate – chocolate on a wooden spoon stirred into hot frothy milk…

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Now this is all a bit misty-eyed and looking back at the ‘good old days’ through rose-tinted glasses…but I’m totally in love with the recent BBC series of Just William.

I love everything about it.  The beautiful vintage kitchen where Mrs Brown makes the family a decent breakfast every morning.  I love what the boys wear and I love what the adults wear.  I love that the children always look smart even when muddy and grubby.

What I especially love, is Mr and Mrs Brown and the way they ‘deal’ with their children and teenagers emotions.  I aspire to be a mother like that one day.  Ah…to dream…

My new camera makes the pretty things in my kitchen look much lovelier.  Our kitchen is a bit shabby around the edges (it’s a work in progress) and before now any pictures of the eclectic collection that fill my shelves have looked a bit blah.

Now my pretty collection of vintage finds can shine bit.  Here’s a short walk around my kitchen…

A small selection of jugs – I just love jugs…

Pretty metal jelly moulds, glass cake stands, and vintage crockery.  Plus an adorable stoneware pot adorned with a picture of a cute cow…

And possibly my favourite find of all…a set of incredibly beautiful French Parfait jars and bottles, illustrated with geese in the snow and pale blue lids…

I don’t know if anyone else finds this interesting…but am happy to continue snapping my carboot and junk shop treasures…I have quite a few littered around the house.  Does anyone else love collecting lovely old things?  Let me know what you think.

I have had a lovely weekend.  After travelling back to Cheshire with the little sister, I have…

  • Played with the bunnies and taken lots of photos of them

  • Made a scrummy summery vegetable barley risotto – topped with crispy bacon bits for us and veggie sausage for the little sister

  • Gone to the carboot and come back with a new dress, some charming old books and a  glass jug

  • Been to see the new Twilight film Eclipse with the little sister and felt like I was 16 all over again (Taylor Lautner is SO yum)

  • Come back to reality (although Taylor Lautner is still SO yum) and washed the dog

  • And made my favourite tomato spaghetti

Hope you’ve all had a lovely weekend too!

Not food, but another of my loves – vintage things.  So I wanted to share this find anyway.  A vintage style Post Office cabinet – how lovely is this, and all those handy cubby holes!  Available from The Allotment Shop.

Last night, with the weather still balmy, we ate outside.  I made a simple dinner from a recipe posted by The Pioneer Woman which was her Mexican Layer Dip. 

Yes…this was our dinner, not a snack.  It was easy to prepare, delicious to eat, and not a lot of washing up involved.  The recipe is here – the only tweaks I made were making my own salsa rather than The Pioneer Woman’s pico de gallo recipe.  I used tomatoes, red onion, lime juice, coriander and some seasoning. 

It looked pretty and tasted delicious, so if you’re tempted do try it out!  The photos also feature my newly acquired vintage tablecloth that I found at the carboot on the weekend.

foodmemoriesloire

So a couple of days turned into over a month!  I just get so swept away with all the other lovely food related activities in my kitchen, garden and on the allotment that I completely forget these other things I promise.  If you’re just joining us, you can read Part 1 of my food memories in the Loire valley here.

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I shall begin where I left off, which was in a beautiful little town on the banks of the Loire called Candes St Martin.  This was where I ate probably the best food ever in the most lovely setting.  Now don’t be expecting some Michellin starred restaurant or stunning views, this was a small, family-run affair tucked away up the back streets.

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I am a big fan of all things old, vintage and love carboot sales and junk shops.  N got rather fed up on this holiday as I had done my research and discovered the French word ‘brocante’ which is along the lines of a flea market/garage sale/table top sale/antiquey-junk shop. 

So every where we went I was scouring the countryside and towns for signs reading ‘brocante’.  I found quite a few, and N was a lovely boyfriend and turned off down winding side streets and pulled over at the side of the road numerous times in the search for lovely old French ‘things’. 

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So whilst wandering along the quiet streets of Candes St Martin I spotted a sign in a little shop window.  Now it wasn’t really a shop, more a window displaying items sold in a shop that wasn’t on that premises.  Much like if I popped a whole load of vintage items in my front window. 

The sign in the window was a deep burgundy red, and mentioned a brocante and salon de thé 500m up the hill.  So off we went – N encouraged by the promise of a cool drink and bit to eat.

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At the top of the hill in amongst the houses, set off a sleepy little square, there it was – Table de Matiéres – La Brocante Gourmande

Past the lovely old white stone walls, you entered a pretty little courtyard.  It was full of sprawling nasturtiums and hollyhocks bobbing in the breeze.  A random assortment of chairs and tables were set out, some with pretty tablecloths.  In amongst them were old bedsteads with peeling pink paint and vintage fruit crates. 

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The courtyard was framed on one side by a huge stone wall that seemed to be holding the hillside back.  The owner’s house was to one corner and built up against the side of the hill. 

At the other end of the coutryard was a wooden fronted building that disappeared into the hill.  This was the Brocante Gourmande.  It was full of old treasures and vintage books.  It went way back, with small rooms off it that were dug into the hillside.

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I was instantly in love.  Food and vintage finds all in one place – what a dream come true.  We visited Table de Matiéres more than once, and came away with a couple of old fruit crates with lovely vintage labels on the front, and two pretty bird prints – one of swallows and one of two doves.  I think that was all I was allowed…but I could have bought so much more.

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Then to the food.  The menu sounded delicious, it was one of those rare menus where you read it and think you would happily eat anything and everything on it.  Cassolette de charcuterie…Croq d’été…Assiette de tomatoes, feta, carpaccio de canard…Tarte aux prunes…

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N and I decided on a simple lunch of a shared plate of cheeses, N accompanied his with a glass of rosé and I couldn’t resist the scrumptious sounding milkshake pêche.  Now this milkshake was divine.  I even wrote some notes down after drinking in an attempt to pin down the flavours in it.  It didn’t taste like a normal milkshake, it was more like a combination of milk and yoghurt, with fresh peaches in it.  One day I shall try and recreate it. 

The planche de fromages was simply presented on a wooden board.  There was a selection of four cheeses and a pot of crusty baguette.  I wish I had asked the owner to write down the names of the cheeses, as they were so tasty, but I didn’t, and shall forever regret it. 

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Now, I realise it doesn’t sound like we actually ate much, and you might ask “how on earth” can I come to the conclusion that this was the best food I’ve ever eaten, when all I ate was a plate of cheese. 

Well, that’s the mystery of our memories – I simply remember this experience of eating good, simple food in the most delightful of places as heaven.  I shall never forget it and it will stay imprinted on my memory in such a way that on the gloomiest of days I still conjure up that lovely eating experience.

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What was also so special was that it was run by an ordinary seeming couple out of their home.  When the husband took our order, he went up a flight of stone steps and into what must have been their kitchen.  You could hear his wife preparing the food, you could tell the quality of the produce from the small menu they offered, and it was just such a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.

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So if you’re ever in the Loire and happen upon this pretty little town of Candes St Martin, make sure you drive up the steep winding road to the top of the hill, park under the large shady tree on the square, and wander along the road to Table de Matiéres – you can’t miss it, you will see the vintage ephemera tumbling out of the gateway and its turquoise green gates beckoning you in.

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Check back soon for the next part of my food memories from France

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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All pictures are my own unless stated. I would kindly ask that you don't use them elsewhere unless you ask permission first. Many thanks x

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