‘I want a big black one’ he shouts at his wife even louder this time. Meanwhile, inside the poly-tunnel Carole and I try to suppress our giggles. We have our winner of today’s innuendo bingo competition. We’re helping to repair and recover the metal framework of the garden storage area with new shiny sheets of green plastic and it’s taking all four of us to pull, tug and tease it into place before Dave can drill and screw secure.
We’ve been in Bourniquel for a couple of weeks already and the days are flying by. Bourniquel is a small village in the Dordogne, France, the population numbers about sixty and includes the local countess of the nearby chateau. Our workaway hosts are a lovely English couple, Kate and Dave, who run several high-end gîtes and need help preparing for the impending summer tourist season. In exchange we get to stay in one of the very nice studios and are regularly feed great food.
So far, we’ve concreted in posts for a new fence, built an oak beam wall, painted lots of wood and drunk numerous cups of tea. If you need someone to clean your pool, Carole is now the girl for the job. It’s been a lot of physical labour but very enjoyable and it feels good to do something literally constructive for a change.
We’re challenged to create a garden sculpture from old, broken, plastic water butts and set to work with a jigsaw. Add in some old CDs, spray paint and a log and the result is a large, floppy flower that sparkles in the sunlight, we name it Triffid.
We’ve been on a couple of nice days out to local towns. Our first was to the Sunday market in Issigeac where we discovered the narrow streets were busy and every other voice was an English one. A walk up the steep streets to the top of Beynac was followed by a picnic in La Roque Gageac, ice cream in Domme with spectacular views across the valley then tea in Cadouin.
Hot chocolates were taste tested at cafes in Lalinde on market day, Bergerac and Périgueux where there’s a very nice cathedrale too.
A visit to the Château of Monbazillac was well timed as it coincided with an art exhibition of local artisans who seem to be potters, mostly. In the cellar there’s a wine museum that, although small, was interesting.
On a trip to a local bar in Port de Couze we were introduced to kir, a fruit syrup – in this case blackcurrant – that you add to a glass of white wine with delicious consequences. Positive opinions were confirmed then reinforced with visits to bars in Limeuil – one of France’s most beautiful villages – at English Steve’s place in Molières and a second Friday evening in Couze.
The highlight of our stay was without doubt being taken for dinner at a ferme auberge. This particular one is on a duck farm where the farmer supplies many of the ingredients along with the chef, his son. Inside the restaurant was a fascinating, eclectic mix of items collected during their travels including old maps and magazines. There was seating for about twenty guests but today we had the place to ourselves. There’s no menu to read, no dish to decide, you get what the farmer is cooking that day and everyone gets the same.
A carafe of rosé and some water preceded the first course. A delicious creamy garlic soup arrives with bread and is quickly dispatched. Second course is a selection of about eight small tasters including asparagus, guacamole and duck all beautifully displayed with a leafy green salad. Third up is the foie gras served on bread, exquisite to eat and made from the livers of ducks hand-reared on corn by an old lady, just yards (metres) from where we sit. Next up are duck breast medallions cooked to perfection – a melt-in-the-mouth moment – accompanied by the best vegetables and red wine. Cheese followed before a dessert of strawberries with cream. We are satisfied indeed and head home for a snooze.