Chez Teresa’s highlights for La Saison, 2016

It seems to have rapidly come round to that time of the year again when we take stock of the summer season behind us.  This is a time when we begin to think of the nights drawing in, of  putting into place our plans for Christmas including our menus and present ideas and of course planning for next year, 2017!

The season of 2016 was generally a good one for us with lots of guests staying in our Chambre d’Hotes and quite a few tourists in to sample our light lunches and afternoon teas and to purchase items from our boutique.  Overall we received excellent and complimentary reviews so this is obviously a boost to our confidence.

In fact we had some fabulous guests stay at Chez Teresa  from all over the world with quite a few from Spain and the United States in this year.  One couple from San Francisco even included a two night stop off at ours as part of their honeymoon which filled us with joy that they would choose to stay with us.   Another couple from Mexico said that they chose to stay at Chez Teresa/A Taste d’Angleterre here in Fontevraud l’abbaye because they did not have time to visit the United Kingdom, but wished to include a taste of England in their mammoth trip across Europe!  We could hardly believe that the latter couple were in their 70s as they looked so youthful and energetic.  It must be the fact that they are vegetarians and appear to enjoy life to the full.  In fact Richard was at Woodstock in that summer of love of 1969, so of course we sang Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock to commemorate that fact.  Tony and I were too young to have attended this legendary festival ourselves, though I do recall buying the as a single the version by Matthew, Southern Comfort and therefore sampling a little of the stardust at the time.

One of our regulars, artist Andrew Painter gave us one of his fabulously idiosyncratic paintings which now adorns one of the walls in our dining room.

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If you have a chance do think of attending one of his annual exhibitions.  The next one is on 24 November, 2016.  With Christmas almost upon us, one of his quirky paintings would make an excellent and unusual gift.  Tony and I both love his work and his vivid use of colour and design.  Each painting has a hidden secret embedded within it.  See if you can spot the one in the above painting?

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Another of our guests, young Caitlin, even crocheted us a Chez Teresa sign which we thought was very kind of her.  It is so thoughtful when guests give us gifts.  This one stood out because of the patience and skill involved in its making.  Gary and Michael gave us some specialty chocolates from California and I am with her blue sticker in support of Hilary Clinton; the latter we duly affixed to our front door.  If we were eligible to vote we would definitely be pro Hilary as opposed to the ghastly alternative.

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The fabulously talented Ricercar Consort performed again at the abbey at Easter time and it was wonderful to again see Musical Director Philippe Pierlot and his lovely wife Brigitte.  We hope that they return again next year as the music that the consort play is sublime and we are always delighted that Philippe and his wife choose to visit Chez Teresa.  We have almost begun to see them as our ‘musical family’……We frequently play their music in our tea room and visitors often ask what is playing?

A few of our guests keep in touch via email…..which we appreciate very much.  One of whom is Deirdre Doolan from Massachusetts, but for one letter she could practically be related!   She came into our tea room late summer for lunch and a chat with her husband and was so delighted with her purchase of a blue beret that she has gone on to order some more for Christmas pressies.  Over the summer we have stocked a range of lovely hats including traditional style woolen French berets in a number of vibrant and pastel shades.  We also currently have some rather stylish men’s hats in stock.

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Fontevraud l’abbaye was awash with thousands of tourists this year and the cultural center at l’Abbaye Royale put on some very interesting events and exhibitions including a fabulous paperwork exhibition as part of the theme of the ideal Cité  this time expressed through miniature reconstructions of buildings and towns made of paper and card.  I have always been fascinated by miniature worlds so this particular exhibition holds great appeal and not a little magic.  As a child I used to love to visit miniature villages in the UK such as Ganymede in Hastings and Bekonscot Model Village and Railway in Buckingham.  There are quite a few in the UK but I am not aware of many in France apart from France Miniature located in Élancourt in the ÎledeFrance that features scale models of major French landmarks such as the Effel Tower and other monuments set in parkland.

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For more information about the exhibition at l’abbaye Royale and other events at the center consult their website:

Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud – L’émotion est dans l’inattendu

www.fontevraud.fr/en/

The commune of Fontevraud l’abbaye hosted a few events this year such as vide greniers, fetes and exhibitions some of them located at the local Presbytery.  Bijoutrice, Einav Benzano, curated a fascinating exhibition on the theme of women and the history of France, Histoires de Femmes which gave its audience a unique opportunity to view hundreds of years of French history through a feminist lens using the medium of textiles, crafts, jewellery, fabric and paint.

Mme Napoleone

Portrait of Napolione…..by Sophie Puls

There were also a few village fetes throughout the year.   One included the wearing of traditional regional French costumes accompanied by traditional french music and dancing which was rather splendid to behold.

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Traditional, regional French costumes were the order of the day in Fontevraud l’abbaye earlier this year.

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We had fun this year giving a bit of a revamp to Chambre Flora.  We added just a few new bits and pieces, but we hope that our guests like the subtle or not so subtle changes.

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Chambre Flora, newly appareled

Meeting award winning writer Hazel Manuel was another highlight this season not the least because she is such a lovely person and very easy to talk to about writing, living in the Loire Valley etc.  She has been in to Chez Teresa a few times this year and we have also visited her writer’s studio where she holds retreats and seminars.

Hazel approaches the Secret Garden

Hazel in her garden were some of the

creative writing workshops are held.

Having just completed my latest children’s story, Alisha Joy and the Kingdom of the Beasty Bugs, it was great to talk to Hazel about some of its themes and she was kind enough to proof read it for me, so now I am all set to have it printed.  For those who may be interested in reading it, copies will be available in our boutique soon.  The story is about eight year old Alisha Joy who has an intense dislike and fear of insects but who through the power of friendship and magic gets to know the inhabitants of the Kingdom of the Beasty Bugs and valiantly overcomes such fears.  The book will be dedicated to the Rosie May foundation.

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On becoming a Butterfly Princess, Alisha Joy.

Of course this was the year that a large number of people in the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union and this has provided endless scope for conversation with our guests and other visitors to Chez Nous.  We see ourselves as English, British and European, so we are in fact mortified that such a decision has been made to leave the European Union…. not the least because there appears to have been absolutely no plan or draft agreements put in place that would inform any decision of the British public to vote to leave the Union in any intelligible way.  We cannot help thinking that those who were swayed to vote to leave were misinformed and that there was simply not enough research done into the implications and consequences of what leaving the EU would have

Had there been a longer lead in time before such a momentous thing as a referendum was offered to the British Public, and had the pros and cons been properly mapped out and mythic assertions such as 350 million a week to be invested in the NHS in the event of the UK pulling out of the EU dispelled, then the outcome might have been very different.  Of course it is too late now and we can only hope that the economic future will not be a bleak one for the UK.  For our part we are thankful that we came over here 10 years ago to start up Chez Teresa/A Taste d’Angleterre, because of course now it would be well nigh impossible for anyone outside of the EU to set up the kind of enterprise that we have.  We are not sure what the future holds, but we will continue to celebrate both French and British cultures, cuisine and hospitality for as long as we are able to.

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Gorgeous French cheeses galore….perfect at any time.  Apparently there are 365 cheeses in France, one for every day!

The Loire Valley is celebrated for its goats cheeses.  We enjoy creating assiettes des fromages for our guests featuring local cheeses.  There are six AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlee) cheeses: Sainte-Maure de Touraine, Selles-sur-Cher, Valencay, Pouligny-Saint-Pierre, Chabichou du Poitou and Crottin de Chavignol all perfect served with a glass of Saumur Champigny or one of the white, dry wines.  Another favourite local cheese of ours is Chaubier, a semi-firm tomme.  A glass of Sauvignons blanc, such as Menetou-Salon, Pouilly Fumé, Quincy, Sancerre or Savennières are delicious served with the local cheeses.

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At Chez Teresa we like to serve our cheeses with local honey, walnuts, local apples and salad.

Thanks so all our regular customers and to all the new ones who came through our doors at Chez Teresa/A Taste d’Angleterre this season.  Your support means a lot to us all.

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