Bon Sainte Valentin!

From across the ocean….. with love always …..

 

The Singer sewing machine table - after Dominique. Happy customers! Proud blacksmith.

The Singer sewing machine table – after Dominique. Happy customers! Proud blacksmith.

Each French village has one – some have more than one. The Blacksmith – le ferronniere – is part of the heart beat of any village or community. The reason being is  that so much building and decorative materials are made of iron and dealing with medieval sizes and shapes means that not much can come ‘off the peg’.

Menerbes has a real character: Andre “I’ll have it done by the end of the week” Dominique. ‘Dom’ to all and sundry is one of the most likeable people around and loves to promise jobs with a wide smile – however, he never specifies, which week.

Consequently, patience is required and when the job does finally arrive, it is always well made and, affordable. Pre-quoting is also not one of his strong points. Dom has now opened a showroom in the village – his studio is in the countryside – and since then he has delusions of becoming an ‘artiste’ not just a ferronniere.

We recovered an old Singer sewing machine stand, painted green many years ago and Madame hit upon the idea that it should become a table in the garden. Off to Dominique it went, we were promised ‘la fin de la semaine’ and, lo and behold, it arrived, all done!

 

Your desk - the 19th century dining table, an apron, note pad and recipes.

Your desk – the 19th century dining table, an apron, note pad and recipes.

 

Take a 5-star legendary hotel, add in a two star Michelin chef and a 19th Century kitchen, fresh ingredients, 6 eager ‘pupils’ and you have a typical Wednesday morning cooking class at La Mirande, Avignon.

Madame went off full of excitement and enthusiam to one of them. The classes did not disappoint.

On the schedule was poached eggs on a vegetable dish, how to use every part of the lamb and some samoosas. All topped off with a sumptuous meal accompanied by local wines. Heaven!

Madame, Sam and le Chef with the ingredients. Ready for action.

Madame, Sam and le Chef Michel Meissonnier with the ingredients. Ready for action.

 

Fresh and ready to go.

Fresh and ready to go.

 

The Chef describes the asparagus to a course participant - serious business.

Michel Meissonnier, The Chef describes the asparagus to a course participant – serious business.

The veggie dish

The veggie dish

 

 

 

 

swimming pool

 

We’re famous! The prestigious USA Town and Country magazine has featured Bastide les Amis as one of the 5 most ‘jaw-dropping’ villas in France.

Have a look here.

Another  picture that did not get featured….

 

garden androses

 

To book at Bastide les Amis, click here.

A weaver bird working at its nest – spotted in Kleinmond, Western Cape

A bientot – till we meet again (soon!).

The Bastide has been handed over to our guests for a few months and the wood shed is stacked for the wood to dry out in preparation for winter…

Winter 2014/2015 – ready and prepared.

The net postings will come from Cape Town and environs for six weeks and then from Cape Cod in the USA.

A bientot.

 

A simply stunning winter pic of Menerbes, Luberon Valley

 

The finest raw ingredients from the markets.

 

Understandingly, Madame is gaining quite a reputation for her fine cooking.

Here’s a little Autumn luncheon party…

Autumn colours predominate

 

The starters – twice baked gruyere souffles.

 

Served with a delicious parmesan-laced sauce and some roasted pears.

 

Main course – chicken curry and a vegetable curry – Cape Malay style. Served with an Aussie McIvor wine from Victoria.

 

 

The First World War.

Although the methods of diamond recovery were often simple, so rich were the deposits that by the outbreak of the First World War over 5 million carats (1,000kg) of diamonds had been recovered which equated to 20% of World Diamond production at the time!. The war brought diamond production to a standstill but following the overthrow of the SWA administration in 1915, the South African government allowed 9 companies to operate under strict restrictions.

 

 

After the war, the ensuing recession, depressed the diamond market so that in 1920 Ernest Oppenheimer of Anglo American was able to buy out the individual German companies for only ZAR7,000. They combined these companies to form Consolidated Diamond mines (CDM). The take over did not change the character of Kolmanskop.

 

(to be continued).

 

 

In 1906 the railway line was completed from Luderitz to Aus ad was later extended to Keetmanshoop. Herr August Stauch was appointed railway supervisor in May 1907. Part of his responsibility was to keep the railway line clear. He was very interested in his surroundings and instructed his workers to bring forward whatever they found of interest, while they were cleaning the lines. In April 1908, Zacharias Lewala presented him with a pretty stone. This turned out to be a diamond! Before the find as confirmed by the State Geologist, Dr Range and while rumour and sceptism abounded, Stauch obtained a prospecting licence from the Deutsche Kolonial Gesellschaft.

The gymnasium and general purpose hall – still intact to-day.

 

 

Official confirmation immediately triggered off a diamond rush of monumental proportions, centred around the present site of Kolmanskop.

So rich were the deposits in some areas that diamonds could be picked up freely by enthusiastic miners, crawling along on their hands and knees. Fortunes were made and kost and remade, stones were gambled and used as currency. Soon after the discovery of diamonds, the German Government realised the need for some control. In September 1908, the ‘Sperrebiet’ was proclaimed. The ‘forbidden territory’ extending from the Orange River northwards 360km, tot he latitude 20degreeS and inland for 100km. A huge area.

 

 

General prospecting was prohibited in this area and anyone holding concessions in this area had to form a company and fall under the Diamond Regie, a controlling body. The same rules still apply to-day and the Sperregebiet is run by NAMDEB ( a joint venture between the Namibian Government and De Beers)

The bowling alley – to-day used for VIP events by NAMDEB.

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