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

Monday, April 11, 2016

Potager, plants and ponds

Spring is here and the garden has been the focus of most of our activity.

A peek in the greenhouse: 

Early tomatoes, potatoes in a grow bag experiments and the seedling centre. Oh and check out my new path.

The rest of the plot:
  • We have added muck and compost to the raised beds and already planted out onions and some more garlic to add to the autumn sown. 
  • The leeks are coming to the end now but after a dodgy start have been great. Winter veg did well despite having a caterpillar attack when we were in New Zealand.

  • I made a mistake with the butternut squash as I planted them in one of the beds without muck! Luckily our neighbour had a bumper crop and has kept us supplied and we have lots of soup in the freezer. 

  • Autumn sown broad beans were a bit put out by the unusually mild autumn and then a severe storm but they have rallied and it looks like we should have a good crop. 
  • The spring sown broad beans are coming up well.
  • The chard has been the star of the show and I still have a few plants giving us a crop.
  • The potato in a bag experiment continues outside and we have also planted potatoes in two beds - we'll let you know the results.
  • Seed sowing is in full swing in the greenhouse and the newly positioned cold frame.

 The lily pond

We have cleaned out the pond - a major task as it had been neglected for so many years. There was a lot of mud to pump out and then we had to deal with the forest of water lilies.

 We gave a lot away but ave put three back and also added a new lotus lily that the children gave me for my birthday.

An in addition

We made an ornamental grass garden at the end of the lily pond and have plans for a rockery at the other end with some kind of water feature. Sadly we said goodbye to the Massey Ferguson 165.

The flower beds that we created last year are coming into their own and we have made a new one along the north wall of the barn.


So busy, busy, busy. It's lovely being back outside again and seeing the gardens looking cared for and not a building site!

We had our first apero on the terrace - a sign of happy days to come. Perhaps you'll drop round for one this summer!

A bientôt.

Monday, March 7, 2016

February fun with family

Chilling chez my daughter followed by half term fun chez my son another happy family visit.

Family Sunday fun and games - Charlie directed a star wars play, B was the photographer and Ellie and I had cuddles.
A day out in London started with a visit to the Cutty sark and afterwards Charlie and Bethany made their own sailing boats.
Enjoying the street artists and posing in front of the 02
The lovely new kitchen and family room - the first time I'd seen the finished new extension.

Mexican delights for lunch and then we went on a Bear Hunt - a celebration of the work of Michael Rosen
On and over the Thames - first by boat and then by cable car.

A crafty day in with Granny

Last day and we are all just chilling

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


It's a very, very cold morning here but that didn't stop a huge crowd turning out in the village to say goodbye to Robert Bordes who died recently aged 87. His wife, Alice, died 5 years ago and he never really recovered from her loss. Alice and Robert were our neighbours when we lived at the top of the village and were the very first people to welcome us into their home. They were the kindest, gentlest, people and we were lucky to have had them as our friends and neighbours.

For the last couple of weeks I have been busy laying out the January edition of the Mayor's bulletin and on Monday I went to print the 120 copies we need. Of course, the copier was doing something strange and I had to call the engineer. A wasted  morning and a boring afternoon waiting for his visit. Yesterday I manage to get them printed and this afternoon Kevin and I will deliver them. It is one of the ways that we can support the village and contribute to the strong sense of community that exists here. As well as being involved with the bi-annual bulletin municipal, we have been part of the fête committee for years, I am on the church flower rota and am on my second round as councillor.

So why talk about our village activities today? Not to show off but because listening to the eulogies to Robert I kept hearing the word respect  - a value he prized highly. One of the reasons we decided to buy another house and stay in this village was because of the people like Robert and Alice who welcomed us so warmly to the village and made us feel part of a caring community. The phrase 'giving back' has become a bit clichéd but it really is how we feel about this small, rural village and we get so much support, friendship and love that we are willing to give up a little of our time to contribute - even if waiting for the photocopier repair man was very frustrating and boring! - and in these small ways we try to show our respect for our adopted country and the village we are proud to call home.

Adieu Robert - we were blessed to have known you.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Where did the last few months go?

I just don't seem to have had time to write the blog for the past few months - there must be a new Year's Resolution clue in there. So here's a quick catch up.

An early Birthday

Kevin was going to be away for his Birthday so we celebrated early

Caught up with these cuties

Just before Hallowe'en so there were some spooky treats in Granny's case. Ellie was moving round like lightning and I was right to think she'd be an early walker as just a couple of months later she's on her feet and taking steps. Bethany and Charlie were a delight and we loved catching up with everyone.

The land of the long white cloud

Mid October saw us leaving for a long dreamed of trip to New Zealand.  Nothing about the holiday or the country disappointed and it really was an amazing trip. Kevin got to be a maori chief, we took a helicopter ride to walk on a glacier, marvelled at the amazing waterfalls of Milford Sound saw seals, dolphins and whales and so much, much more. I took a zillion photos but here are just a few.

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We were so lucky to have such great house sitters while we were away. For a whole month they looked after the animals, kept the house and grounds immaculate and impressed the locals by their hard work. Thanks a million Laura and Tim - the dogs, the cat and us would love to see you here again soon ( the chickens are still deciding!)

The annual Salon de Chocolat

With our Kiwanis friends we once again pulled off an amazing event and made boodles of dosh for needy children. Our best friend Gima got enrolled in the order of choclatiers.

A special friend's special birthday

We are lucky to have built up a special group of friends over the last 14 years - there are ten of us, four French couples and us and we have shared some lovely times together. We are all from this village or the neighbouring one and these friends are always there to lend a hand as we are for them. Jacquie's 70th birthday saw us gathering together to surprise him and we made up our own Haka for the event.

Bye Bye Bamboo

We have finally got round to giving the bamboo grove our full attention. First the birthday boy, Jacquie, came with his big tractor and together with our gardener, Christian, and Kevin they had a great time cutting and burning. Then it was time for the big guns with Michel and his digger taking up all the roots and the huge poplars. The water source is fully visible now and is currently draining before Michel comes back to landscape it all - at the moment it looks like a big bomb landed at the top of our garden!

Getting started with a little help from our friends
Bringing in the big guns
Cassoulet at Caumont

I finally met up with two of my online friends at the annual tree planting exhibition at the Conservatoire Végétal d'Aquitaine. Penny and I share an interest in vegetable growing and through her I came across Kate Hill who is the queen of cassoulet. It was lovely to meet them both and we were invited back to Caumont, Kate's home for lunch. Yes it was her famous cassoulet cooked in one of he famous cassoulet pots. If you fancy cooking up a bit of south west France yourself then check out Kate's book here - it really is the cassoulet bible.

A night in Bordeaux

With cheques vacances to spend before the end of 2015 we decided to go to Bordeaux and stay the night to see the Christmas markets and this lovely city lit up at night.

Christmas celebrations in the village
Every year we invite the oldest and youngest residents of the village to pass the afternoon in the Salle des Fêtes where I run a Christmas craft workshop  for the children and there are songs and a show (this year a magician), presents for all and a drinks and chocolate to get us into the Christmas spirit.

Merry Christmas

No little house guests this year but it was delicious to have my daughter and her wife here for a whole week. Alison was queen of the quizzes as usual and after she has finished reading her new book I am sure Karen will be the queen of tidying!

Christmas morning chez nous  - buck's fizz, presents and reindeer noses!
Christmas evening chez nos amis - good food, good wine and good company.
Warm winter walking

The weather has been extraordinarily mild. No cold winter walks with a blazing fire to hurry home to for us. The sun was out and it felt like Spring

Happy new Year

We brought in the New Year with three special evenings  of friends around our table and it was lovely. Invitations to share La galette de Rois (the cake of kings eaten around the epiphany) were gladly accepted and celebrations will end finally on the 17th January when all the commune is invited by the Mayor to share galette together.

We hope that you enjoyed your festive season and that 2016 
brings you everything you need to be happy.

A la prochaine