It’s my birthday!

Well, it was yesterday, but I ran out of time to finish this post last night!

Many thanks to everyone who has sent gifts, cards, e-cards, email and facebook messages, etc. to wish me well for my ‘special’ birthday… can’t believe I’ve reached half a century.  As Anne, my oldest friend from primary school, said, ‘it seems like yesterday you had your lovely birthday parties in the back garden of Lovell Rd’ – she’s quite right, where has the time gone??

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Well, I don’t know the answer to that one but I can ‘unveil’ my birthday present from Edward, which we picked up in the brocante fair in Bagnoles de l’Orne last month….ta, da:

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One I cleaned and one to be cleaned glass and mirror wall lamps – these are going to be perfect for my bedroom and will go really well with the chandelier I already have in the same style…

My ‘special’ day out

So, after unwrapping presents and cards, we headed out into the bright and sunny morning, towards Jublains, a Roman village.  We’d planned to return to look around here on my birthday, if the weather was fine – and today it was!

On the way we stopped at a small but pretty village called St Fraimbault de Prières..

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This looks a perfect spot for some fishing…..

Jublains

Next stop, Jublains, a Roman town, just south of Mayenne.  We’d previously visited the Roman temple, situated to the north of the town.  This time, we wanted to look around the museum, the Roman baths and the outdoor theatre…

The museum was a revelation – just 2 Euros to get in and what a treat inside… The receptionist, once she knew we were English, offered for us to see a film about the site, in English – we were the only ones there and it was a brilliant introduction to the different archaeological sites and finds from the town…

We’d actually paid a little extra for our tickets, which gave us access to the Chateau at St Suzanne.  We had planned to go here on this trip but on reflection, decided to keep the tickets for use another day – they are valid until mid-December :o)

Inside the museum, a huge collection of Roman artefacts was on display, donated by a collector to the town in the 1800s – it was amazing…. I particularly liked the freezes and masks – these were all the original marble pieces…..

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Outside, there was a panoramic view across the countryside and the magnificent ruins of a roman ‘fortress’.

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Actually, it wasn’t really a fortress.  There was a central building, which was the oldest part of the remains, which they think was used as a military storehouse – the walls to the four corner towers were 4 foot thick….

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This part was surrounded by earthen ramparts and this, in turn, was surrounded by an outside wall but we are told it was never completed to make it into a military camp…

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In the village, underneath the church, we found the Roman baths….

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And just on the outskirts of the village, to the south, there was the theatre…

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It was all really impressive and the presentations were excellent – we’d definitely go back, either just ourselves or with any visitors we might have who would be interested!

In the shop I couldn’t resist buying a replica wild boar cast iron figurine, the original of which we’d seen in the museum, and which Edward particularly liked – can’t show a photo as it’s for his birthday (he does know about it!), but we can reveal it in a couple of weeks…

By this time we were hungry and as there didn’t appear to be anything open in the village, decided to look out for a ‘relais’ on the way to our next stop, Mézangers… We found one, but not the typical roadside café affair we had expected.. This was a hotel chain with restaurant and bistro but with a ‘menu formule‘ (set menu) starting at 12 Euros!  It was splendid and very fitting for a special birthday treat!  I found the waiter a little intimidating, but after a while, realised he had a very dry sense of humour…. For example, after our main course, he came to collect our plates but seemed concerned Edward hadn’t eaten all his vegetables and said ‘no pudding’!!!!  He did deign to bring us our desserts but said ‘you will eat it all’ before turning on his heal!!  It was hilarious (we knew he was having a joke because he winked at me when he deliberately mixed up our desserts!)…. So, another nice experience and somewhere we can take visitors to for a good lunch…..

Onward to Mézangers

This is where we had previously discovered a beautiful 13th Century chateau – Chateau du Rocher – and wanted to come back to look at it more closely….

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The chateau is being restored but they are generously allowing the public access to the grounds for free…..

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It was a pleasant walk down the drive – the horse-chestnuts were releasing their bounty..

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We collected a few because after my post about the large spiders in our new house, Edward found an MSN article about keeping your house spider-free – one of the ‘remedies’ was to place conkers around the home as spiders, apparently, can’t stand the smell of them…. mmm, not sure of the science behind it, but worth a try!!!

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A great swathe of autumn cyclamen covered a sunny bank on the right…

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And as we rounded the corner, we realised the chateau was situated on the edge of a lake – it was stunning.  The following pictures speak for themselves….

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New lights for the house!

On Monday night, I’d noticed an advertisement posted on AngloInfo for some pendant lights and matching wall lights that were being offered for free.  I emailed to let them know we could offer them a good home but it was late and didn’t get a response that night.  However, while we were having lunch, we received an email from Kathy, who said she’d had 6 responses but mine was the first and they were ours if we would like them – yay!!

So, after our trip out we made our way over to Fougerolles du Plessis to see them.  Kathy and her husband Keith gave us a very warm welcome and offered us coffee, which was lovely, in spite of them obviously having their dinner in the oven!  We ended up having quite a long chat about our move to France, their experiences in the 5 years they had been here and generally chatting about anything and everything!

At one point we, bizarrely, we’d mentioned wild boar salami (I think in relation to a trip to Italy – we certainly covered some ground in our conversation!!).  But, would you believe, on our way home, just a few minutes away from Kathy and Keith’s home, we saw a wild boar in a field at the side of the road, plain as day and apparently not a care in the world!!

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We were amazed to see him and also, afterwards, thought what a coincidence to have bought a boar figurine, talked about boar salami and then seen one all in the same day – never thought we’d see one in the wild!

So, back to the lights…  We spent quite some time talking with Kathy and Keith, who were so nice and so encouraging for our new adventure – they certainly understood how excited we were!  And the lights would be just right for the house, we were very grateful for their generosity – a perfect end to a perfect day!

Post script

Just in case you were wondering, Edward installed one of the pendant lights in the hall of the house today – we think all three will go in there – it looks lovely and will certainly brighten up the long hallway….

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When the hall is decorated and they are all installed, we’ll take a better photo! ♥