Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Les Poilus... and other things

No, these are not Poilus, these are cupcakes....

Realised that I forgot to post an image from the decorating workshop that I went on a month or so ago.  It was heaps of fun and I learnt so much. 

Things have not slowed down for summer.  I seem to be busier than ever.  Luckily it is school holidays and I have the extra bt of time to cram in my tasks....lol

The garden is looking fabulous!  Will have to take proper photos soon to post.  These ones are just snapped on my iphone.  I have flowers everywhere and the orchard and potager are looking fabulous too.  The wildflower meadow is coming along slowly, thanks to Jean's unfortunate plowing incident just when it was ready to flower.... let's not talk about that though.  Hopefully next year it will be fully established and look wonderful.

Unfortunately I lost the battle with doryphore beetles this year.  They have decimated my potato plants.  Hopefully the potatoes will be ok, but the plants are almost gone.  Very annoying.  I went out every day and removed the eggs and beetles, and then when that didn't seem to be working I tried dusting them with flour ( a remedy from an organic website).  It seemed to slow them down, but did not stop them.  So I don't think I will get the same massive yield as last year.

The chooky girls are doing well.  Completely at home in their chicken palace.  They have taken to following me around inside it and "helping" me weed etc.  The paler one has a fondness for pecking my toes.... she is the cheeky one and has a very bold character.  The darker one is slightly more timid and skittish.  Yesterday we went out and bought our new heating system and a whole heap of hardware items for the next months works.  When we got home it was 7pm and first thing I did was go out to collect the washing off the line..... only to be met by a chicken.... outside the chicken pen.  The lighter one had decided to have an explore, but could not get back in.  Needless to say I have no strawberries now as she feasted on them all day...hmmm.

The cats are all spoilt and content.  Sophie has not been battling everything that moves, so has been looking good the past few weeks.  The boys are loving our new memory foam overlay on our bed.  They also think it gives the best nights sleep!

At present I am working on a project along with a few others in the village.  We are putting together an exhibit about the villagers who went to the First and Second World Wars, and including the British SAS soldiers who were executed by the Nazis and are buried here in the village cemetary.  One of the team has done a huge amount of work tracing teh genealogy of the French soldiers and finding as much information as possible about each of them.  My job is to translate all the information into english and then to research the SAS soldiers and produce profiles on them.

Les Poilus is the name given to the local soldiers who went to fight.  It has been interesting to learn about the lives of these men (and sometimes boys) who lost their lives and are now commemorated on the War Memorial in the village centre.  So many of the names are still to be found here, and they really are still remembered by the older villagers.  One of the first stories I was told when we moved in, was about Clémentine who rode her bicycle over the Vichy line taking messages for the Resistance.  Her family owned our house.  There are still members of the family living nearby and the cemetary is full of those that have already gone to "pastures green".

As part of the project, I am going to London next week to conduct further research in the National Archives and the National Library.  Hopefully I will come across some interesting images to display in the exhibit as well.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Chicks!

My chickens are finally here.  So happy.

I have the 2 girls now, and the rooster arrives in a few weeks.  He is still a bit young and needs to learn how to be a big boy before coming to live with us.  Mind you, the girls are still quite young and have a bit of growing to do as well.

They have settled in fabulously.  Loving their new coop, and letting me have little pats each morning.  Hopefully they will be quite tame and will sit for lots of cuddles and pats before too long.

Sophie is happy too.  She has missed having chickens to guard.  Yesterday she made her inspection and then sat outside the door purring.  I could swear she was smiling.

The breed is Legbar (lays lovely blue eggs) and they come from Anne over at Arbes et Abeilles.  Fabulous plant nursery, and chickens too!

Saturday, 14 June 2014

and suddenly there were bees!

I was going to do a post about the wild orchids growing in the terrain today..... but as sometimes happens, another topic came to the forefront.

Last tuesday I had a very busy day.  Wayne had to fly to Sweden, which meant a train at "ugly o'clock" in the morning.  I drove him to the station, stayed in Poitiers for a little shopping, then returned home in time for a quick lunch before working that afternoon at the museum.  Of course, being a busy day, it did not stop there.  I had to go home from museum, finish off some light summer trousers I was sewing, so that I could wear them the next day on a trip, then I had a council meeting to attend.  You are starting to get the picture that I hardly had time to think, let alone sit for five seconds and breathe.

In between getting home and gobbling down some dinner, before rushing back out to the Mairie,  my neighbour knocked on the door.  He had been strimming along the drystone wall that runs along the boundary of our place and his, and on our side he ran into a bee swarm......

Literally walked right into it - with strimmer running - and bees trying to guard their queen from the nasty invader.

Luckily he was not stung, although he did do the crazy bee dance trying to wave them away whilst backpedalling very fast.

A friend of his is an apiarist, and was very happy to come and collect a healthy swarm of bees.  So he came and placed a beehive beside the angry mass of bees and gently smoked and coaxed them into moving house.  As it was late in the day and the bees had been upset enough already, the hive was left in place till early next morning to enable them to calm down and settle in.

Bright and early the next day (again! another 5:00am start - eek!) the beekeeper arrived and gently loaded the bees into his van for their trip to a new home.  I waved them off, then went on a coach trip to Beauval Zoo... but that is a story for another day....

I have been promised a jar of honey when it is ready to be collected, and suffice to say, whilst I am happy that my garden is so appealing to the wildlife I would rather not have bee swarms to deal with -  or snakes dropped on my feet for that matter (are you listening Sophie?).

Not many photos as I was not willing to get too close to all the action.  I am super allergic to bees!

It seems that every time I have a really busy day, some other drama arrives to cap it off.  No one can say life in the country is boring!
Just because, a photo of my baby boy Guy.  Isn't he gorgeous!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Windowbox

Just a quick post with an image of the cellier window filled to overflowing with petunias.

Everything is just looking so beautiful at present, and I am super busy keeping it looking that way, whilst still advancing the garden works, and keeping up with other chores.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Spring!

Well spring is finally fully here and my flowers are blooming beautifully.

I have pots with petunias billowing out and draping everywhere.  Lovely big purple and white, or raspberry and white blooms. 
My pansies have finally flowered too!  They did nothing last year and I was really disappointed.  This year they are a mass of flowers and so pretty.

The peonies are nearly finished, but have been magnificent!  My favourite flower.

One thing which has me really excited is the amount of elder flower this year.  Am looking forward to late summer and to making jelly and syrups.  I could not survive winter here without gelée du surreau.

I have heaps of borage plants in the garden.  The bees love them and that area is always alive with the sound of buzzing.  The plants themselves are quite attractive, and the flowers are a lovely blue.  Borage flowers taste a bit like cucumber, and make lovely decoration for cakes or in salad.  I was fascinated by this little white and blue spider who was happily living on the flowers.

One of the downsides of springtime is that all the small animals are out and about..... Sophie has been bringing me her spoils of hunting and displaying them in front of the arriere cuisine door.  Much as I love her, I wish she wouldn't kill the lerots.  They are super cute and completely harmless.  Mice and rats I have no problem with her killing.  She is, after all, a farm cat. 

Yesterday she was making her calling noises to alert me to the fact she had something for me... I could not find her at first, then eventually saw she was under the car.  Her behaviour was a bit peculiar, and I was wondering what was up..... till I saw she had caught a snake and was proudly bringing it to me.  Hmmm...  Thanks, but no thanks Sophie.  I called out to Wayne who came and quickly dispatched it whilst I distracted Sophie and told her what a big brave girl she was and thanked her for my "present". 

Oh well, at least the snakes here are nothing compared to what we grew up with in Australia........

No photos as did not think you would like to see a "spiflicated" snake..... you're welcome.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Cupcakes


Long time between posts..... sorry about that.  There is this little thing called life, which keeps interfering with my leisure time...lol

This weekend was the annual Marché aux Fleurs et vide grenier in the village. 

Lots of interesting stuff to look at in the vide grenier (trash and treasure or white elephant sale), but nothing that grabbed my eye.  ...Actually, that is not true.  There was some gorgeous furniture - but Wayne would have had kittens if I had asked him to lug it all home... no transport as we had walked in to the village. Hmmm.  So I bit my tongue and did not even ask.  Yes, I know, you cannot believe that I showed such restraint.  Sometimes discretion is the better part of valour.

Actually, I did say how gorgeous the furniture was and he said, we shall think about it while we walked around.  Knowing full well it would be snapped up before we had completed one row.  I could have insisted, but let it go.

Aside from that, the marche aux fleurs was good.  Not fabulous, but I found everything that I wanted.  I have about 10 tomato  plants sitting under cover waiting for the Saints des Glace to pass.  This year it is the 11, 12, 13 May - depending which region and which one of the saints you are waiting for.  Basically it is the date that signals the end of frosts, and you can start planting out your more delicate and frost tender plants.  Of course, it is not an accurate science, more a rough guide, so you still need to check the meteo before planting.

One thing which was great was the cupcakes on sale by Bev and Paul from Chez Tante Mabel.  Absolutely gorgeous confections, which tasted as good as they looked!

I had a vanilla cupcake for lunch, and bought four to bring home and enjoy.  They are almost too pretty to eat, but I shall enjoy one with a cup of tea in a few minutes. Cannot wait.

Bev does incredible edible artworks.  I love going over to Fondemoulin for afternoon tea, and always hope she has her lemon drizzle cake on the menu.  Her decorated cakes are beautiful.  And of course, they are all delicious!

Paul is no slouch either.  He makes the hand made soaps they sell, and is a dab hand at carpentry.  I love checking out the doll houses and furniture that he has.  Simply gorgeous.  I want a doll house for myself, they are so lovely.

Anyway, enough about yummies.  On to work.  We have spent the past four days demolishing the rabbit hutches and pigeon house.  For something that looked so rotten and ramshackle, they certainly were a lot of work to tear down!  I could not believe how many nails had been used.  Seems that the person who built them, and then repaired them later, subscribed to the theory that if one nail was good - four nails were better!  Phew!

All is looking good and the fence posts for the chicken coop are up and the concrete is setting, ready for more work this weekend. 

My veg are nearly all planted.  The peas and beans are well and truely out of the ground, as are the potatoes.  We shall see how many kilos of potatoes we get this year...lol  Still eating last years crop, and think they will see us almost to the new crop.  Only a few bags of green beans in the freezer now, and one bag of leeks.  All the peas are long gone, along with the spinach, carrots and parsnips.  I have a bag or two of kale still on hand, and one drawer still has fruit.  A few jars of tomato purees and sauces still left, and a few jars of apple compote.  All in all, I think I managed to stock just enough to see us through winter and to the growing season.  I am quite pleased with it, so aim to reproduce the same quantities this year.

Our fruit trees have flowered and you can see tiny fruits.  We are hoping that we  don't get a bad frost or storm and lose all the cherries this year.  If all goes well we will finally get to taste them in a month or so.

One thing which is a bit annoying is my resident mole.  I think I actually have two in residence.  One at each end of the land.  Will check on them today and see if they have gone.  I poured used kitty litter down the burrows last night.  Last time that got rid of them tout de suite!

The flower beds are coming along fabulously.  Thanks in large part to lovely friends who keep giving me cuttings, bulbs and divisions from their gardens, and to my favourite nursery - Arbres et Abeilles.  I never seem to come home from gardening club empty handed......

OK, enough typing.  Time to have my cup of tea and cupcake, then get out in to the garden and make the most of this glorious sunny day.

A bientot!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

le chat caché

Could not find Eric today.  Looked everywhere, and was starting to worry that he may have followed me outside to get the post this morning..... he is petrified of outside, so would have panicked and run off.

Went in to the bedroom for something and realised I had not made the bed that morning.

Guess where Eric was.....

Yes, you guessed it.  He was hiding in the rolled back quilt.

All that could be seen were two little ginger paws peeping out of the end.

He looked super cute and cosy in there, so did not have the heart to evict him and make the bed..... I know I am a sucker for a cute kitty face..... so I just lifted the end slightly so I could take a photo, then quietly left him to snooze away the day in his warm tunnel.