This summer we will have the usual feast of chamber music. Here is a list of the highlights chosen because they are figure quite outstanding musicians or because they are near here: usually both. I will go to all of them and there is usually room in the car
Holy week in Arles (25th of March to 4th of April) is celebrated at the Méjan with four concerts culminating in a clebration of Petrarchs influence on Monteverdi the Méjan is a cultural centre based on the publishing house Actes Sud; we have a programme of about a concert a month all through the winter and spring, alternating with readings and other events: www.lemejan.com
I recently became secretary of a local music group, the Chèvres Musicales - the Musical Goats. An outstanding local pianist, Jérémie Honnore organises most of the concerts in his parents goat barn: yes the goats are on one side of a lowish wall and the musicians and audience on the other. They will be holding their festival at the chèvrerie: 11th to the 21st of July: www.musiquealaferme.com.
The Empiri Festival is held in the renaissance courtyard of Salon castle: chateau de l'Empiri. It absolutely first class and this year is from the 30th of July to the 9th of August. www.festival-salon.fr. Founded twenty years ago by Eric le Sage, Emmanuel Pahud and Paul Meyer, these concerts attact the cream of worldwide chamber musicians. This year there will be two concerts a day: one at six usually one or two instrumzents and the second a full scale event starting at eight thirty. So Twenty concerts for our twentieth anniversary.
This is a personal selection and although one can't go to everything I'll certainly be at the above and would love to introduce you to them
After nearly twenty years in the busines we are lucky enough to get quite a lot of repeat visits and personal referals. However guides are still a vital source of guests; these vary enormously in quality and we attach great importance to the fact that the best carry out regular inspections. One of these is Alistair Sawday, and last year we were proud to have been selected for the latest additions to his stable: Green Europe and Go Slow France. One of our guests wrote recently that we were his favourite BB&WW. WW stands for wine and walking, both are pretty green and take time for maximum enjoyment.
Rather surprisingly our guest season is still heavily weighted towards the summer. Yet in many ways winter visitors, or at least those from the North, get more benefit out of a stay before Easter than those who come later. For the first three months of the year, even if we can't rely on sunshine all day every day, it will certainly be sunnier and warmer than anywhere North of Lyon. So with Ryanair and Easyjet offering amazing deals why not try a few days in Provence? No need for a car as I offer airport pick up and am generally happy to drive you round the area, or do the guide on a few hikes.
On the net a good source of objective up to date guest comments is Tripadvisor. However two rather more literary comments that appeal to me are:
"What you seek is here". This is a line from Horace; "quod petis hic est: est ulubris animus si te non defecit aequus". The peace you seek is here, where is it not, if your own mind be equal to its lot. The latin is now inscribed in the lintel over our front door
"little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love" ? quoted from a thank you letter from a Belgian guest(!). It's from Wordsworth's "Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey" : "That best portion of a good man's life. His little, nameless, unremembered ..."
Although it's sunny and fairly warm during the day, we generally light a fire for tea in the drawing room at this time of year, and a slice of fruit cake can go down well, particularly after a walk. So here is our recipe:
Preparation time : 20m
Cooking time : One and a half hours
Ingredients : for 12 persons
Butter 125g brown sugar 150g black chocolate 50g water 85g black rum 100g
chopped walnuts 30g chopped raisins: currants 75g: black 170g: white 170g chopped mixed peel 40g flour 110g 2eggs self raising flour 40g powdered cocoa 40g, mixed spice 3g
Soak the chopped dried fruit in the rum for 12 hours. Butter a cake mould 14x21x7 with greaseproof paper in the bottom of it. Heat the oven to 150°
Heat the butter, sugar, chocolate and water in a medium sized pan until the sugar has disolved. Off the heat add all the other ingredients and mix either by hand or in a food processor. Put the mixture in the mould and cook for 90 minutes
The cake can be decorated with a mixture of 80g of melted black chocolate mixed with 60g of fresh cream. Some of the raisins can be replaced by prunes or other dried fruit: pears, glace cherries etc. If you like it, the rum ration can also be strengthened
A week in a box, or a month refrigerated