Friday, April 11, 2014

What Are You Doing Saturday April 26, 2014?

After a pretty quiet low key winter, we are faced with difficult choices as suddenly, we are inundated with invitations for events that all seem to be scheduled for the same days. For example, on April 26th, we planned to go to the Phoenix Association Book Sale. That's a pretty big outing as it is about 60 kilometers from here, in a little village called Campsegret, near Bergerac. Phoenix is an animal rescue organization. It's where I got my buddy, J.Edgar almost 7 years ago! My friend and nearest neighbor, Letje got involved with them because of her passion for horses and runs their horse rescue and rehabilitation operation. She and her very patient husband have at times over 24 horses installed on various fields around here. One of the ways they raise money is with their huge book sales. We have a few friends who volunteer to work at the sale. We love it because the majority of the members of Phoenix are British who live here and it is the biggest source of English language books around. To give and idea of the volume, each book sells for 1 Euro and the last sale raised almost 25,000 Euros! We buy bags of books and then re donate them to the association to be resold. I always look forward to finding books I have been wanting to read and discovering ones I never knew existed. So a week ago we received an invitation from our old friend, The present mayor of Ajat, France, Didier Clerjoux and his brother Vincent for the rededication of the villages magnificent 12th century Templar Eglise de
St. Martin. Ajat was our old village and Didier is a great friend. He has been mayor now for over 8 years and one of his projects was the restoration of the church. They completely redid the roof in the original style, which is a technique using slices of limestone called lauze instead of tiles. They also commissioned a few stained glass windows that are really nice pieces of glass art. Here's a picture below of Ajat with the church and attached chateau before the restoration work started. If you are ever in the area, I would suggest you stay at Vincent Clerjoux' wonderful Chambre d'Hote and Bed and Breakfast called Domaine des Ormeaux. I knew it long before it was the luxurious place it has become today. I remember when the local kids set up their "bar" in the stables. They would swipe aperatifs from the parents and then sell drinks to the farm workers. It was a wonderful ancient structure then, but what Vincent has done to it is breath taking. It is a magnificently remodeled and restored 17th century limestone group of farm buildings on the family property. You really should look at the link just to appreciate what this place is now.  The Clerjoux family is one of the oldest families in the area and are involved in raising strawberries, veal farming and have been producing goose foie gras and the related products for many years. The Clerjoux products have won the highest awards consistently at the Salon d'Agriculture in Paris for years and are produced on the property where you can purchase them in their spotless atelier. In fact, Didier and Vincents Aunt, who managed the goose business for years, won the first prize so many times that she
Ajat, France...I once lived on the ridge above the village
became one of the judges of Foie Gras at the Salon, Frances biggest agricultural exposition. So what am I going to do on the 26th? As Ajat is over 50 kilometers from the book sale....well, I do want to buy books and support Phoenix. I sent an email to my friends in Ajat regretting I can't go to the festivities there, but instead, we are pushing on after the book sale, since we will be over half way there, to Neac, France, where Chateau Vieux Chevrol, the place I have worked a few months a year since 2002 is located. I expect to be working there in a few weeks anyway, but they are having a gala open house celebration to welcome everyone to the inauguration of their new Chai...or Cave....A state of the art facility where Jean-Pierre Champseix controls the production of their world class Lalande-de-Pomerol wine. We started using it last year for
the 2013 harvest, which was a pretty arduous affair. See the above video, I am the puny porteur in plaid shorts in the beginning of the video slogging through the mud. It should be fun. My acquaintance, Jackie from Libourne is going to exhibited some of his vintage cars. He has his own mini museum and garage in back of his home. An incredible collection of Peugots, Amilcars and Motoblocs dating to before The First World War! Jean-Pierre has a Motobloc as well from about 1917. Motoblocs were a very innovative automobile made in Bordeaux. They were the first auto with a unified drive train and the marque was producing autos and trucks until the 1950's. Here is a video of Jackie's white Motobloc, which I have had the privilege of actually driving on the streets of Libourne and Jean-Pierres red and black model which I have ridden in quite a few times!
It should be a great time with many old friends, live music, good food and a wine sampling. Hey, if you are in the neighborhood on April 26th, stop by. It's an open house. I'm going to have a great time and my wife is the designated driver! Here's one more video, it's in French, but it is Jean-Pierre Champseix in the old Chai talking about his passion for the wine his family has been making for generations in same place.

Added bonus, here is a video shot by my buddy Steff of the fabulous Microdot in action!

No comments: