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Thursday, 18 June 2009

GROWING THE GARDEN




It is hard work clearing the brambles!
Here is a wheelbarrow of clods and couch grass dug from a square metre of earth, a pile of 20 or so bramble roots excavated from the ground and a square metre of cleared earth. It is slow and the weather is hot and steamy. We aren't winning but as long as we attack them every day we don't lose the battle either.
The slugs are a pestilence. There are large orange and red ones, medium slim grey ones, small white ones, and the regular brownish ones too. I have a slugicide award and carry a slug killer in the form of a sharp knife with me in the garden every day.

The garden has a deep and reasonably loamy soil over clay and is moastly well-drained so plants grow easily and well even when the weather is not sunny.

FOOTNOTE
though we now have internet we are having troublle uploading. I will make another attempt at the next opportunity.

THE DOORWAY TO OUR HOUSE




The previous owner of our house was an artist or painter - a tradition kept up by ther mouse and me.

We were fascinated to find two painting by him of the house before it was altered and extended.
You can see the 'sitting-room' as it is today and as it was some 40 years ago. It isn't possible to take a photo that sees what the artist did as I can't make the wall transparent but you will see that somehow he included my coffee mill in the painting in the exact place that it occupies today.
We had some trouble with this room at first as it was the only warm room in the house and has old-fashioned pub-like qualities so we inadvertently designated it - the Snug.
The second painting shows the original cottage with the cruck beams of the grenier and a pond outside the house. As we discovered the kitchen is sited on a pond, the sitting room has a spring in it - ole - and chai does fill up with water.

FAVOURITE THINGS AND MICE

We don't miss out on the local culture. Basque singing, Occitan singing aand now Portuguese Dancing. One of the muscians had a strange instrument. Has anyone any knowledge of the origins of this odd fellow? Do you suppose he is from Brazil or Africa? ? Party time! celebrating that all important first birthday! We have a talented mouse living with us again! Fond of sugar though she is, she has taken the time to make a scuplted head of a cat for a sugar cube. We have met a kind rescuer of kittens and some of her proteges and a small ginger cat called Twobits or Nemesis of Mice will be coming to live with us in another week or so.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

TAMING OUR WILDERNESS













Trying to do this blog and fight weeds and blackberry roots and creepers takes some doing. There simply is not the time for both Hope I havent uploaded this lot before but the computer doesnt let me see what I am doing picture wise till it is done.
Hopefully these arent repeats.
Here is Guy on the tractor making the first cut;
Next John - happy as a man can be when he is either cutting down something with a machine or lighting fires. Here am I in the mud trying to make sure that I can leave the property in the car!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

We must really be in France




John has already made the local press as you can see from the photos. My nose features over someones shoulder. We are also on the front page in the far distance at the end of the table.

Yesterday we spent a day which suggests that we are settling into the French way of life.

The first of the two events was the annual Repas of the local Société de Chasse (hunting club). We had been recommended to attend by Eugène, the builder who had largely rebuilt our house over 40 years ago and who came to sort out our blocked toilet a couple of weeks back. He assured us that there would be plenty to drink. The repas was advertised to start at “Midi”. Aware that “midi” could mean at 12 noon sharp or, more vaguely, “lunchtime”, we turned up at 12 but, seeing that there weren’t many people at the “Foyer Rural” (function room attached to the village Mairie), we popped over the road for a beer at the village shop/bar. At twenty-to-one, seeing that a few people were starting to arrive, we went back into the Foyer Rural and found that people were grouped around the bar drinking aperitifs. Apart from soft drinks there was whisky, port and pastis. The French prefer these drinks before a meal rather than afterwards. We had a couple of ports – with ice – and were then bought some pastis by someone were talking to. The meal consisted of mushroom soup, crudités, wild boar stew and then barbecued wild boar chops. They must have been enormous boars, judging from the size of the chops and many of them must have died to provide us with lunch, as all the courses seemed to arrive twice. Personally, I was looking forward to the wild boar ice-cream but Hester Blumenthal’s reputation doesn’t seem to reached here yet and the next courses were salad, cheese and fruit tart. To accompany these we had, successively, red, white and rosé wine, apparently produced in Labatut and, appropriately, they were also rather tart. Finally a large bottle of unlabelled Armagnac arrived and despite my protests (nah, not really) we had a pretty good glug of that.

After that we went home, drank some wine and watched an incredibly long TV special of aged French rocker Johnny Hallyday at the Stade de France performing everything he had ever sung over the past 50 years. How French is that?