Honey, I'm home!

A photo of a tomato salad at the beach in Sete.

I’m back home and rearing to get back to my blog. Hope you have had as great a 2 weeks as I have just had. We went to Lac de Salagou, from there to Sete at the Mediterranean (that’s where the photo is taken) and to Roses in Spain as well. Except for one awesome thunderstorm, we had fantastic weather and swam in the lake at Salagou and in the Mediterranean Sea. We ate oysters sitting on the beach and cycled along the Canal du Midi – how lucky can a girl get?!

A photo on the Canal du Midi.

Our first stop was in Capestang where we visited fellow South African, Mallory, and her American husband, Jeff. They have recently moved to France (to our great delight) and are renovating an old house, just like we did when we first moved to France. Not that ours is finished yet, but hey, I’m not going to let that get in the way of a good holiday. Mal and Jeff very kindly took time off from their busy schedule to party with us and Jeff even swept the building site so that we could have a braai together. We’ll turn that man into a South Efrican yet! (South Africans don’t pronounce their vowels quite like other nationalities, so an “a” sounds very much like an “e” to the unfamiliar.)

A photo of Mal, Jeff and Joerg.

The town of Capestang lies on the Canal du Midi and its landmark unfinished Gothic Collegiale St-Etienne (Cathedral) is visible for miles. It’s a beautiful town with a lovely square access to the canal. We stopped at the canal for a coffee under the shade of the plane trees on many occasions on our trip, watching the river barges and small boats slowly go by. The canal system in France is absolutely beautiful and so clever! I am going to copy the next paragraph word for word from my guidebook “South of France” by Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls as it is so well-written and explains it way better than I could! (Beziers is a city just after Capestang)

A photo of Capestnags square.

The Canal du Midi
The best thing to do in Beziers is go west for one of the Languedoc’s best kept secrets. The waterways of other parts of France are well-enough known; this, one of the very few in the south, remains serene and relatively unburdened by tourism, planted its entire length with parallel plane trees (not just for decoration; they hold the soil and help keep the canal from silting up). Shady and idyllic, Paul Riquet’s canal is also an early monument of economic planning, from the days of Loius XIV’s great minister Colbert, when everything in France was being reformed and modernized (and Louis was blowing the profits on Versailles and his endless wars).

Riquet was a local baron, the states Tax Farmer for Languedoc (ancien regime tax farmers bought rights to collect taxes in a region and got to keep any amounts above the sum expected by the government). He conceived the idea for the canal and sold it to Colbert, then saw through its construction with remarkable single-mindedness, inventing ingenious tricks to get the canal over the highest stretches, paying a third of the expenses himself, and even sacrificing his daughters’ dowries to the cause. From 1666, as many as 12,000 men worked on the project, which required over 100 locks and runs for 145 miles. It was completed 39 years later; Riquet died a few months before the opening.”

A photo of Joerg at the canal.

Okay, history lesson over. Now I have to figure out how to re-introduce the system of Tax Farming and I’ll be set for life! Forget the sheep, ducks, chickens and rabbits, I’ll be raising cash in all senses of the word.

A photo on the canal.

I am becoming renowned for having my little book with me at parties and taking cryptic notes of all the funny things people say. I’m still having trouble deciphering my notes, so I am, alas, going to have to write whole sentences in future. The one thing I do remember very clearly is Mal telling us about her “Kalahari Ferrari”. Seems she and I share a passion for speed inspite of the vehicle we may be driving. Mal had a mud brown Beetle (Volksie/ Volkswagon) with a red interior in which she used to race around in. Mud brown and red – perfect.

Before we left the next morning, we had lovely English bacon and scrambled eggs with fresh baguette for breakfast. French bread can be lovely, but you do have to eat it quickly as it turns to stone if you turn your back on it for a minute. Mal said that she had gone to her usual baker (we all have our favourites as some are sooo bad that once you find a good one, you’ll drive an hour to get it) and the bread was flat as a pancake and rock hard. The mother of the baker said that he had forgotten to put in baking powder…”he had other things on his mind” was all she had to say as she took the money for the bread.

I love English bacon; hmm I love bacon in general come to think of it. It’s hard to find bacon slices in France as one mostly gets lardons (cubes of bacon) here – the French usually don’t eat bacon and eggs for breakfast, preferring rather pastries / croissants. This bacon was a little salty so everyone else didn’t want much meaning I got the bulk of it, hee hee. Bacon and eggs – a great way to start the day. So that was our first 24 hours – except for Carcassone! (I shall tell you all about the Mediaeval Walled Town in another post as otherwise I’ll never get this posted.) Tomorrow we will continue on our journey, so stay tuned for travel tales and RECIPES.

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what fun

This place looks so relaxing and perfect for getting caught up on life. I just got back from Ireland and had probably too many of the Irish breakfasts, but oh they were good.

Ireland is also on my list!

We have Irish friends here in France and each year we all say we'll go over and cause havoc in Ireland, but it's still a pipe dream. Maybe next year... Helen and Scott sometimes make us an Irish breakfast with potato cakes and blood sausage - deelicious!

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