A Real Snow Blizzard In Normandy – A First

By   December 29, 2015

In the 25 years we’ve lived here, it’s the first time we’ve had a true snow blizzard. Strange….

Saturday started out fantastic, 16°C, sun and we had a nice walk around the village with the dogs; It was beautiful weather, and we enjoyed it. That evening on TV, the warned people that the hot air we were enjoying was going to hit polar air early Monday morning and get steadily worse.

Monday morning Trish had to go to Yvetot to catch the train back to Paris, and already there was a lot of snow on the ground, and much more of the white stuff falling. We saw one car in the ditch, but managed to make the 20 minute journey in 35 minutes. After dropping Trish off, I headed back, but the roads had gotten much worse. 4 other cars were in the ditch, and the radio was saying that several major roads were closed, including one I had to take. So I stopped and put on snow chains, and headed up a treacherous hill, finally making it home at 1 1/2 hours.

During the evening the blizzard hit, and hit very hard. It was difficult to sleep and keep the house warm. Outside the wind chill hit -15°C and the wind was blowing at 100 kph.

Early in the morning when I came down to the kitchen, I couldn’t see anything outside:

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I had to let (more throw) the dogs out the window to let them do their thing while I tried opening the main entrance door (the veranda door did not move an inch). You can see why:

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The other side of the entrance was as bad

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The gates were totally snowed under, even in the dark I could see that. Now way that I was leaving today….

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When daylight arrived, I started making a few more photos from inside. Here’s the view from the veranda:

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On the side of the house, at the “small gate”, snow was also blocking the gate:

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The garden has several snow drifts, making it fun for the dogs

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This is the “cottage”

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Beemer is a snow dog (Benji being a Scottish shepherd does pretty well as well), and as a Canadian shepherd she thrives in the snow, and it’s difficult to get her out:

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From the rear window I saw the snowmageddon had hit the rest of the village :

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There’s a car there somewhere…. can you see it?

I decided to brave the ice cold elements and dug myself out of the small gate. Here’s the small road next to our house:

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The “main” road was totally not useable

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Here’s our neighbor with the disappearing car

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Snow was almost 2 meters high in certain spots

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Towards the center of the village, one of the trees had blown over onto the road

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And this is the field next to our house

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Only madmen and photographers go out in the weather.

I long for the sunshine….

New Year 2014 Party & Celebrations

By   December 29, 2015

This year Davey Doughan, celebrity master chef and entertainer, was going to come from the cold North, in this case Finland, with his lovely wife Elsa and cook our traditional New Year’s meal for us and a handful of friends. But in contrast with previous years, our friends the Froidures offered to hold the event in their castle.

Their castle which is pretty close to our house, is a true castle with 17 bedrooms, several living rooms and fireplaces. In other words, the prefect setting for a stylish new year celebration.

This is what their castle looks like during the summer:

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Together with Davey, we had decided on a Caribbean theme, meaning the food would have a Caribbean “flavor”, and people would dress up in style. And of course the music would be Caribbean.

Davey put up this menu for the evening:

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The Jerk chicken and pork were put in a marinade three days in advance, while most of the preparations and pre-cooking were done the day before (starting at 6 in the morning, ending late at night). Both myself and Benoit Duboc worked as slaves sous-chefs, working for The General… Davey.

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

When we arrived (early) for the cooking preparations, the house was nice and warm (which is not an easy task for a big castle).

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

Christine had done her magic, and decorated the whole in a tasteful Caribbean decor. Shells on the tables were a nice touch.

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

All the fireplaces were on, with plenty of wood, and the wood burning central heating was on full blast. In fact towards the end of the evening we had to open a few doors since it had become very hot.

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

The Jerk chicken and pork chops were pre-cooked on the open fire by Davey. They got a nice color, and then would later on be further cooked in the oven.

It was a smokey job…

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

Benoit and myself helped out as much as we could in the kitchen, often making an assembly line to prepare the dishes. In total there were 20 people to be fed.

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

As starters we had a lot of food, enough to make people no longer hungry. Tons of scallops (Coquilles St. Jacques) were fried and then sprinkled with a nice sauce made out of several spices and maple sirup. Here is Benoit frying the scallops.

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

Here is the group photo of everyone dressed up. The gentleman in the right (blue shirt) sitting is the master of the house, Benoit Froidure, and he had fallen off the roof a few days ago, broke his hips and had a hip replacement last week. So he sat there and later had to retire since he was in pain. Not a nice way to start the new year for him.

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

All appetizers and starters were a hit. The figures had received a fair portion of spice before being rolled in bacon, and the potatoes had been hollowed out and received a very nice pea pesto garnished with Parmesan cheese. Yummy.

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

 

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

Everyone did what they could in the costume department, and the whole was very colorful.

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

Talk about coconuts … did you see the coconuts on her? (I’ve always wanted to say that without feeling sexist).

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

In the mean time, the three of us kept on cooking. Eventually the whole main meal was laid out on the table since it was going to be self-service.

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

From left to right, the flat bread, the Jerk chicken and some of the roasted veggies.

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

The citrus shrimp, the salsa and veggies.

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

People went quite when they started eating. That’s usually a good sign… 😉

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

My plate, as usual, was overflowing with everything. Pork chops, chicken, shrimp… you name it..

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

Here is Trish and Davey.

Then it was midnight, and time to sing the traditional new year eve’s song for the anglo-saxons of this world:

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

After the meal, and after we had toasted for the new year, Nadine (a Turk living in Belgium) brought these incredible sweets.

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

While everyone was enjoying the champagne, the songs started (the EuroSong Sing Contest have got nothing on us).

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

Time for reflection??

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

Then Francois-Xavier, the eldest son of the Froidures, took the emergency flares from the sailboat and put up a fireworks display.

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

New Year Party 2013/2014 At Froidure Castle

You’d think we were in the some nasty riots…. with a press photographer escaping with his life…

And that was it for the party.

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I decided to do a “selfie”… whish you all a great New year 2014; health, wealth and the time to enjoy them.