Category Archives: Food and Drink

Marche de Noel (Christmas Fair) in Normandy, France

We have the most glorious place to hold the annual Christmas market here in our part of Normandy — the huge medieval market hall where the normal Monday market is held.

This past weekend — the 10th and 11th of December — was the annual Marche de Noel and we were quite lucky to have a relatively mild day with lots of sunshine for the two days of markets. Much nicer than a frigid and wet weekend, eh?

Enjoy!

The heart of the Marche de Noel (Christmas Fair) in Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives in the Calvados region of Normandy, France is the medieval market hall in the centre of town.

The heart of the Marche de Noel (Christmas Fair) in Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives in the Calvados region of Normandy, France is the medieval market hall in the centre of town.

Just inside the entry, I hadn’t expected to find a manger set up with LIVE animals (and very well behaved ones at that!).

Manger with live animals set up inside the Marche de Noel in the medieval market hall of Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives.

Manger with live animals set up inside the Marche de Noel in the medieval market hall of Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives.

The twinkling lights inside the market hall added to the festive air whilst shopping.

The twinkling lights inside the market hall added to the festive air whilst shopping.

Yummy cheese for sale at the Christmas market.

Yummy cheese for sale at the Christmas market.

Each stall in the medieval market hall was doing a brisk business.

Each stall in the medieval market hall was doing a brisk business.

A variety of marinated olives on offer.

A variety of marinated olives on offer.

Personalised wine bottles for various events like birthdays and anniversaries.

Personalised wine bottles for various events like birthdays and anniversaries.

More small stalls outside under cover.

More small stalls outside under cover.

The balloon seller waiting for some customers.

The balloon seller waiting for some customers.

A surprising lunch option -- sausages and beer from Germany from the town that is 'twinned' with Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives.

A surprising lunch option — sausages and beer from Germany from the town that is ‘twinned’ with Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives.

Inside stalls in the Salle des Fetes across from the Market Hall.

Inside stalls in the Salle des Fetes across from the Market Hall.

Lovely Christmas ornaments for sale.

Lovely Christmas ornaments for sale.

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Photo Of The Day — The Carrot Carrying Man in Normandy

Just in case you wondered about those HUGE sacks of carrots in my Monday Market post, here’s a man hefting one of them across the square towards his car.

So when I wondered aloud if they’re for animals or people — Mark commented, ‘One would think that he’s a man with a horse or two!’

Carrot sack toting man at weekly market in rural Normandy.

Carrot sack toting man at weekly market in rural Normandy.

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Monday Market in Rural France

One of the joys in living in Europe is the quality of markets — no, not supermarkets (and those are frequently quite delightful, too!) — regional weekly markets where the products are straight from the fields or cheesemaker or butcher or fishmonger into your shopping basket. AND they are picturesque as well!

Here are a few scenes from our Monday market inside and outside the medieval market hall in Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives in Calvados, Normandy, France. Enjoy!

Fruit & veg at Monday Market.

Fruit & veg including HUGE sacks of carrots at the Monday Market.

Market vendors outside the medieval hall.

Market vendors outside the medieval hall.

Feathered friends and pretty plants.

Feathered friends and pretty plants.

Shopping baskets (yes -- I'm going to buy a new one!) and flowering plants.

Shopping baskets (yes — I’m going to buy a new one!) and flowering plants.

And finally — the clothing on offer may not be to our taste — but someone must want it!

A variety of clothing is sold at the Monday market.

A variety of clothing is sold at the Monday market.

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Ice Cream in Winter — By The Sea?

When Mark and I met in London at the beginning of 1994, I commented one afternoon on an activity that the Brits engaged in — quite regularly — that I considered to be quite odd behaviour given the weather.

That activity? Eating ice cream — LOTS of it — usually in cone form — in the dead of winter. No matter how icy the temperatures were, we saw people in every city we visited perched on a ledge eating an ice cream cone or sitting on a bench at the seaside doing the same thing. There might be ice on the roads, occasionally even a smattering of snow, but there they sat, bundled up to the eyeballs and eating an ice cream.

What I found even odder, and sweetly funny, were the people who would drive to the seaside to purchase their ice cream from a mobile van or a beachside hut and then sit in their car with the heater running as they gobbled it down whilst watching the icy waves crashing upon the seashore.

 

Even on the coldest winter day, British people seem to love to go to the seaside to sit in their heated cars, staring at the crashing waves in freezing temperatures, and eat an ice cream cone.

Even on the coldest winter day, British people seem to love to go to the seaside to sit in their heated cars, staring at the crashing waves in freezing temperatures, and eat an ice cream cone.


 
The lighthouse at Whitley Bay, a seaside town near Newcastle UK, on a stormy winter day. B&W

The lighthouse at Whitley Bay, a seaside town near Newcastle UK, on a stormy winter day.


 

So here we were on a wintery day two years ago in the north of England, at Whitley Bay on the seacoast just outside of Newcastle. The wind was so high that afternoon that it knocked me sideways when I got out of our own vehicle! The second picture that is just of the seaside and the lighthouse is a more accurate idea of how bleak it was that day. Absolutely no one was game to sit on those seaside benches to watch the waves on that particular afternoon. Brrr!!!

But back in the parking lot — yes — the Mr. Whippy van was doing a good business. The lot near the lighthouse was full of people happy to sit with their engines running and the heater on as they ate their ice cream and watched the crashing surf beyond. Crazy, eh? Or just sweetly eccentric perhaps.

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A New Kind Of Chutney — Yum, Yum!

There are other things that I do besides writing and photography and one of them (occasionally!) is cooking something special. What’s wonderful about making chutney is that you can enjoy those brightly coloured jars of goodness all year long.

We have loquat trees in our back garden here in Australia that are simply groaning with fruit right now. I had never even heard of a loquat tree until we moved to this part of Victoria, so I had to do some research into them. They’re a stone fruit, originally from China. And since ours are 65 years old, they are HUGE and full of fruit!

The birds have been circling the trees, so I decided that I’d better get cracking and use some of that gorgeous orange-yellow fruit before they ate all of it. So I spent hours today chopping and prepping what turned out to be a very spicy chutney. It smells and tastes like it will be worth it!

 

Bowl of loquats fresh off the tree.

 

 

Cut up loquats prior to cooking.

 

 

Chutney Simmering

 

 

Completed jars of loquat chutney.

 

Here’s THE RECIPE!

Now — back to work on some photos. More soon.

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Fabulously Fractured Facades in Metro Melbourne, Australia

We had just moved back to Melbourne, Australia in 2002 and this contentious and expensive cluster of buildings and paved courtyards were completed that same year. I remember the first time I saw Federation Square (now generally known by the shortened title of Fed Square) and it seemed raw, unfinished looking, and very windy at the time. But over the years it has grown on me and I now find it ‘interesting’ if not beautiful.

Housing the NGV Ian Potter art museum, ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image), SBS Television and Radio Broadcasting Centre, and a range of cafes, bars, shops, and other cultural offices, Fed Square continues to provoke a love-hate response from both tourists and the citizens of Melbourne. Click on the first link in the article to read about some of the controversial decisions, negative reviews, and blow-out costs that surrounded this project.

 

The fractured and fragmented facades of the modern buildings at Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia are a sharp contrast to the more traditional structures all around it.

The fractured and fragmented facades of the modern buildings at Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia are a sharp contrast to the more traditional structures all around it.


 
The buildings of Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia contain a cluster of arts organisations, a television and radio broadcasting centre, and several cafes and restaurants.

The buildings of Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia contain a cluster of arts organisations, a television and radio broadcasting centre, and several cafes and restaurants..


 
Another corner of Federation Square in the heart of Melbourne, Australia

Another corner of Federation Square in the heart of Melbourne, Australia


 

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4 Things To Do On A Sunday in Melbourne, Australia

We’ve been back in Melbourne, Australia for a week now, so it was definitely time for one of our favourite pursuits — a day out and about in the city for a few hours of food and culture. Seriously, Melbourne is such a vibrant city that even if it is a gray-sky and gloomy day, if you are bored — you just need to get up and get OUT of the house!

 

Glistening even on a gloomy autumn day, a partial skyline view of Melbourne, Australia across the Yarra River from Southgate.

Glistening even on a gloomy autumn day, a partial skyline view of Melbourne, Australia across the Yarra River from Southgate.


 

Here are 4 things to do on a Sunday in Melbourne.

1. Arrive at your destination without the hassle of finding an overpriced parking place if you travel by train for an easy way around the city. The comprehensive train network makes Melbourne such a joy to travel throughout!

 

Turnstiles inside the Flinders Street Station in Melbourne, Australia

Turnstiles inside the Flinders Street Station in Melbourne, Australia


 

2. Eat a reasonably priced lunch in an eclectic food court inside a beautiful building at Southgate. There are also some wonderful luxury stores and full service restaurants in this multi-level building complex.

 

One of the multi-level entries to the Southgate shopping & dining complex alongside the Yarra River in Melbourne, Australia

One of the multi-level entries to the Southgate shopping & dining complex alongside the Yarra River in Melbourne, Australia


 
Diners at the food court on the lower level of the Southgate shopping and dining complex in Melbourne, Australia

Diners at the food court on the lower level of the Southgate shopping and dining complex in Melbourne, Australia


 

3. Go to the Sunday Market at the Melbourne Arts Centre to see quality handcrafted art, craft, and food items. The row of glass-overhang-covered artists has an enthusiastic audience each weekend.

 

Sunday Market flag indicating the weekend event outside the Melbourne Arts Centre in Australia

Sunday Market flag indicating the weekend event outside the Melbourne Arts Centre in Australia


 
Artists and craft vendors lined up alongside the Melbourne Arts Centre each Sunday

Artists and craft vendors lined up alongside the Melbourne Arts Centre each Sunday


 

4. Spend an inspiring afternoon at a world class museum — the NGV on St. Kilda Road. There were hundreds of people milling around inside this large art museum, but there was a very happy and relaxed vibe. Autumn leaves were swirling around outside of the beautiful bluestone facade and the people strolling by were dressed appropriately for the cooler temperatures.

 

Autumn leaves falling outside the NGV art museum in Melbourne, Australia

Autumn leaves falling outside the NGV art museum in Melbourne, Australia


 
The current winter blockbuster show at the NGB is Monet’s Garden, a travelling exhibit from France. But since we have seen so many of these works at various venues worldwide, we chose to visit several of the permanent exhibit galleries as well as one special exhibit — Dior and Yamamoto: The New Look

 

Dior sketches from the 1940s post-World War II "New Look" collection

Dior sketches from the 1940s post-World War II “New Look” collection


 
Dior black wasp-waisted dress and black hat from the 1940s post-World War II "New Look" collection

Dior black wasp-waisted dress and black hat from the 1940s post-World War II “New Look” collection


 

The other enjoyable exhibit, in part as an observer of the effect of it on the audience as they either walked by or interacted with it, was Clinamen by Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, a sound and motion exhibit with round white ceramic bowls floating in a round pool of deep blue water. The gentle clink as bowl contacted bowl tinkled pleasantly in the atrium space.

 

Floating ceramic bowls in a pool of water at the NGV art museum in Melbourne, Australia create a ringing sound as each one gently bumps into an adjoining bowl

Floating ceramic bowls in a pool of water at the NGV art museum in Melbourne, Australia create a ringing sound as each bowl gently bumps into an adjoining bowl.


 

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