L’été en Gascogne
Les vacances. l’été en Gascogne
My apologies for the long delay, there’s been a hiccup in communication – but here I am back again with lots to talk about and share with you.
We’ve been a bit to & fro in the last weeks but we are now settled at Pignoulet and looking forward very much to an extremely busy September of Retreats
We have had the chance over the last couple of weeks to really enjoy all that Gascony has to offer, the weather has been stunning (with some dramatic storms to clear the air). Starry night skies and typical dewy mornings, the heat builds during the day and long warm evenings mean eating outside is a joy. We’ve been leading a very simple existence, sourcing market produce and cooking with lots of seasonal vegetables. We’ve discovered amazing organic shops, and spent time preparing beautiful colourful meals to eat in the fresh air. We’ve cycled, walked, practised Pilates and run… pottered, visited and read. We’ve watched the sunflowers grow to their full glory in a sea of gold – they are now bowing their sorry heads awaiting their harvest, drying the seeds on the flower heads.
Summer here is simply fantastic and very ‘French’ – the rural surroundings are teeming with local
activities, of course there is the internationally renowned Jazz Festival in Marciac which takes place for 17 nights from the end of July. We loved watching one lady dancing alone quite simply ‘like there was nobody watching’ …away in her own little world appreciating the live music.
In every village there are local events. This week we visited the Fetes des Vins in Madiran which is held in the grounds of the most beautiful chateau. All the local wine makers gather here and those visiting get a wine glass with their armband and are able to taste all the wines on offer and of course buy, delivered to your car even if a trek away. These Fetes always involve huge organisation and the locals all gather to make them work – and there is always a huge convivial meal and the statutory fireworks. This week we are looking forward to a Fetes des Jeux in Plaisance the nearest village to us.. and the annual bull-fight, fayre and rugby festival in Maubourguet.
On a recommendation we tried a local ‘table d’hôte’ where the chef and host literally cook for you in their home, no choice, 5 courses – amazing! We had a gorgeous meal and met the delightful Philippe, who acted as chef, waiter and washer up, aided by his mum in her slippers! The main feature was local pork fillet with a peppercorn sauce, sunbaked tomatoes with fresh herbs and sautéed potatoes. I ate just one meal that day! Phew
Pignoulet has been enjoyed by many families & groups of friends over the summer and we have had lovely feedback from our guests – those who have visited previously have commented on the upgrades that we have put in place. The new beds are the ‘comfiest ever’ and the new en-suite bathroom has given one of the larger bedrooms a much needed touch of luxury. The Ping-pong barn & new ping-pong table have been much used – our last guests who included several children under 7 – used the wall as an indoor tennis facility.
There have been a couple of family ‘do’s’ here over the last weeks, James and I very much enjoyed cooking for our guest (s) celebrating a special birthday. Pignoulet is in a peaceful & tranquil setting which means it lends itself perfectly to these sorts of occasions.
Catering has been a joy and a lot of fun, it’s a treat to get back in the kitchen and is such a lovely extra to be able to offer, whether fully catered or just for the odd meal. We are building a big repertoire of new recipes to cater for various dietary requirements and utilising as much local produce as we can.
Our following on facebook, twitter and instagram @Pignoulet are growing steadily and we have had several enquiries for 2019 bookings. We are so looking forward to welcoming my lovely Studio 34 Clients from Bedford on their retreat, followed by our Bloggers Retreat (excitement has been building for this!!) Then we welcome our Yoga and Pilates teachers to come and experience Le Pignoulet for themselves… a couple of whom have already booked dates for their clients for next year when we will have both an indoor heated studio and our existing outdoor studio.
Until the next time… vive les vacances!