Friday, May 19, 2017

Géneration Mouvement - Le Club du Val de la Canaule

Ever since we came to Labretonie 15 years ago we have supported the activities of the club of the third age. I joined the Monday afternoon gym sessions and several years ago, after a week of training, qualified to run the sessions. We have also helped out some years at the annual variety show, been on outings and enjoyed the annual meal.

Since last September we have taken on a more active role as the club found itself without a president, secretary or treasurer. The club was in the doldrums but we got ourselves going again and Kevin and I took on the roles of secretary and treasurer after the AGM in November. Having a responsibility does involve work from time to time but it is worth it to see the pleasure that the activities bring. Our most recent event was the annual Gala.

A show of songs, sketches, jokes, mime and music.

The oldest members of our club usually sing in the choir but failing eyesight meant they couldn't get to all the rehearsals. We all agreed it wouldn't be a gala without them so we invited them to sing their customary duo and stay on stage for the last two songs. I remember them telling me how important music had been in their lives and how when they were young they relaxed by the fireside in the evenings singing folk songs. A delightful couple.

Alice and Eugène sing one of their old favourites

We had fun during the rehearsals and during the performance and we had great feedback from our appreciative audience. They all joined in as we sang Viva Espana and on the club's very own special song 'La Canaule'. Bravo all the artists - you did brilliantly.

A chance to catch up with old friends

A celebratory meal for the artists and the helpers

Our next event will be on the 11th June when we all meet at a local restaurant to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the club. One of the founders is our neighbour who turned 90 last week - we took her and another of the hardworking members of the club out to afternoon tea to celebrate.

Claudette and Reine enjoying an English afternoon tea - they had a doggy bag to take home too.

A bientôt

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Catching up in Cologne

Time for me to catch up with the blog and this post is about some catching up we did with good friends in Germany over Easter weekend. This was our second visit to Cologne to see them and we had a wonderful time. David came home from university to see us and Leah was home too so we had all the family together.

Sculptures, parks, picnic and Cologne beer.

Art, folk stories, castles and cathedrals
Going back in time and all the fun of the fair. Those houses were a bit small for our boys.
David and Leah with their young selves - how lucky we are to have these young people in our lives.
In between all the outings we had lovely meals, drank some excellent wine, discussed Europe and politics, listened to music and laughed together. The best of times. From gite clients to best of friends - what fun it has been watching the children grow up and getting to know this family so well. Can't wait for the next time.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Family Fun

A lovely week in the UK - a second birthday, an Easter egg hunt and Mother's day with both my children. Wonderful!

Everybody singing Happy Birthday when you have just woken up can be a little scary.

Present opening brings back a smile - especially when you have bubbles.

Playmates, birthday donuts and more bubbles.

Easter Egg Hunt around the school - well done Balgowan PTA.

Mother's day lunch for two  - an old Mum and a young Mum.

It was a lovely break. Back home again now to beautiful sunshine and a garden to see to.

A bientôt.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring is in the air.

Spring is in the air and we are surrounded by lovely new growth indoors and out. I love this time of year when everything comes back to life. The orchid that I have had for years with little sign of movement has come into flower and is giving me so much pleasure and new seeds are germinating in the kitchen and the greenhouse. It's all go!

4 flowers

The kitchen window sill nursery

Christmas cactus and narcissus in bloom together

The serre is currently a nursery - soon I will move the seedlings to the cold frame to make way for early tomatoes. The big lettuce just appeared over the winter and the rest are new plantings.

In the greenhouse

Broad beans from autumn and spring sowings are doing well. The garlic is well on its way and all the beds are ready for planting. The hinged, wooden frame is K's design for a protective cover - just needs the fleece adding. When I cleared the last of the leeks, three sweet pea plants were uncovered and I've moved them to the end of the bed - fingers crossed they survive the move as I don't have much success usually with sweet peas.

In the potager
I am going to the Uk for a few days - I wonder how all these areas will look in a weeks time. Happy gardening everyone.

A bientôt.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Pottering in the Potager

It's a bit rainy here at the moment but in the dry spells we have been getting the veg garden ready for the season. When my son was a little boy he walked by when I was weeding in the garden and said 'you're good at soil Mum' - I think the insinuation was that I wasn't very good at actually growing things though. These days I like to think I am still 'good at soil' but now it's not just about keeping it weed free but improving the quality to get better crops.

We have completely fenced the potager now for three reasons:

  • To keep the chickens out when we let them out to roam
  • To keep the ragondin (coypu) and rabbits out
  • To keep the dogs with us securely when we are working in the garden

New compost bins

Weeded, manured and turned.

Can you see the garlic growing happily?

Although our raised beds give us a no dig system I do like to lightly fork over the soil and feel it for myself. I have added home grown compost and well rotted grass cuttings and am now adding well rotted horse manure. We also get cow manure from a neighbour so some beds will have that. We add compost from our local dechetterie (rubbish tip) where we can fill up the trailer for free and that adds bulk and texture. Then when I plant or sow I use bought compost in the hole or drill to add some more balanced feed. I save egg shells and scatter them to deter slugs but also to add calcium and later use epsom salts for my tomatoes and peppers to add calcium.  We also have raised beds in the greenhouse and here I grow early tomatoes and start my seedlings. According to this article playing in the soil is good for my health - I know I always enjoy my time pottering in the potager.

Ready for seed sowing and early tomato plants.

Tomato seeds are doing well on the kitchen window sill - when their 3rd and 4th leaves are established I will pot them on. I have to finish a spring GTU (General Tidy Up) in the greenhouse and then seed sowing can start with a vengeance. The broad beans I started on the kitchen window sill are doing well outside  and I have sown more directly outside too so fingers crossed. We are harvesting the last of the leeks and the cauliflowers to release those beds for other crops so a bit more playing with soil will go on there soon.

So much to look forward to in the potager but good harvests start with good soil prep so get your hands dirty, stay healthy and enjoy your garden as much as we enjoy ours.

A bientôt

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ducking and Driving

All about the duck. A wonderful day spent at Camont with Kate Hill learning about wonderful things to do with duck.

Great teaching and a friendly, interesting group of people.

Delicious lunch outside in the warm February sunshine.

We did rather more driving than we expected - roadwork's blocked our route twice and we got some distances wrong. We were delivering the Laguna to its new owner and found him more by good luck than good management - my phone had no charge and K, as usual, had left his ay home. What a pair of numpties driving around Agen looking for the road to get us to the other side of the river! Farewell Laguna - enjoy your new home.

Monday, June 20, 2016

It's all about the garden

The Potager

A wet and not very hot start to the year has been frustrating for gardeners. Luckily our greenhouse was ready for the start of the season this year so we were able to start things off early.

Last year's stars of the show were:

Tomatoes - many jars bottled and soups and sauces made and we are still eating them.
Beetroot - I discovered that it freezes well and when defrosted is just as good as when it went ohn the freezer.
Parsnips -  delicious roasted and in soups
Chard - we have been eating it all year and just taken the last plants out recently. Another good freezer.


Butternut squash - I made the mistake of planting into the only bed we hadn't added manure to!

We are experimenting with bag grown potatoes this year but other wise the same crops as last year. I am posting my first ever film here - not very professional and it certainly seemed to amuse my family, but you'll see what we have been up to.

The Source

We have three natural springs on our land and you may remember that there was an enormous bamboo swamp at the top of our land where the sources of the springs are. That was all dug up at the end of the year and now Michel and his digger have been back to finish the job. All the water sources are now entering into pipes that go to the lily pond and then to the main lake. The pond around the springs has been dug out and has filled up again with clear water.

The silted up pond 

The digger gets to work

All clear and filled up by the three natural springs

The ground all levelled and flat enough for mowing
 The lily pond

After being emptied, washed and cleared of all the water lilies it is now looking great. It filled up again quickly and we put back three water lilies, this time safely contained in baskets. Two of them are already in flower and the lotus has sent out a beautiful leaf so all's well in lily land.

More garden views