Wednesday, 19 June 2013


Today in a thunderstorm that flooded our courtyard and had water rising into the house through the laundry pipes, I picked currants.

Well, what else can you do when catastrophe is looking you in the face? 

I was seriously worried that both our house, and the neighbours, would be flooded out.  The rain was so heavy and went on for about 3hours without cease.  Jean started bailing out their undercover area, and I started worrying. 

Luckily it eased off just at the door lintels and so we were saved from a flooded house.  The laundry and arriere cuisine were awash though, which will take a week or so to dry out properly.  The waterline was a centimetre from our doors, phew!

As always when stressed, worried or upset, I cook.  So when the rain eased off enough I went out in my cagoule and sabots (weather proof jacket and gardening shoes typical of this region) and checked the orchard and outbuildings.  Whilst there I noticed the currants were ripe, so back to the house for a deep bowl and return to the orchard for some berry picking.

Sophie declined to asist as it was simply too wet.

I picked about a kilo each of red and white currants, and there are many more kilos still to be gathered in the days and weeks to come. 

Whilst I am typing this the house smells of warm berries drying in the oven and the sun is shining through the windows.  A complete change from this morning!

 I love the look of white currants.  They are like little pearls.  Very pretty.  Am hoping that they dry well enough to keep for making fruit cakes later in the year.  It will be very satisfying if we get some grapes also off our small vines and I can dry them to use as well. 

Have been reminded that not enough photos of the house on the blog.  Sorry about that.  The main reason is that the work we have been doing has not made any cosmetic changes to the house - as of yet.  I could post photos of wiring and holes made in walls, but they just do not have the same appeal to me as a nice flower of fruit or view of the village.  So here are 2 photos to keep you going.  The above is taken from what will be the garden area looking across to the courtyard and house.  I say "will be the garden area" as it is not started yet.  At present it is a field of mud and weeds.  Due to missing the opportunity to sow lawn earlier this year, I now need to wait till september.  Not being able to do heavy work has also put a bit of a dampener on my garden plans and delayed everything a bit.  Oh well, when it does come together it will be worth it.
This photo is a view from near the orchard towards the rear of the garage and atelier, and the grenier.  The overgrown mess to the left is hiding the chicken coop, rabbit hutches and pigeon house.  I had made a huge amount of progress clearing it all out before I fell ill, and now after months of nothing it has regained its vigour (in fact I think it has profited from the cutting back!) and has grown back bigger and badder than before.  Sigh.

You can see my nearly finished clothesline though.  Black enamel posts and bright red line.  Super cute!

We have no cherries left on our tree thanks to the weather.  Our neighbours, however, have one tree which had a good crop (not fabulous, but enough to share).  So late this afternoon a group of us spent a pleasant half hour picking cherries and chatting.  It was a lovely way to pass the time and as always we had a lot of fun.  Jean likes to tease everyone, and it is a good laugh to try and outwit him or think up a good ripost in french to get him back.  Anita had her little dog, Violette with her.  She spent the time sitting on the grass watching the silly humans strain to reach the fruit, and eating the ones that fell to the ground.  I have never known a dog to love cherries like she does!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

encore pivoines

My second lot of peonies are now (finally!) flowering.  They are a lighter pink than the first ones, and a smaller shrub as well.  Still absolutely gorgeous and I am loving them just as much.

The roses are all starting to bloom also.  I have numerous different types and colours.  This one is near the gate to the terrain.  Small flowers with a lovely sweet scent.

A lovely creamy yellow with a blush of rose colour on the outer petals.  Really big buds, but not perfumed at all.

This strange little one which is such a dark red it is almost black.  I say strange as the whole plant is probably only 5cm tall!

Finally, this climbing rose which is such a vibrant red it was difficult to get a good photo.  Seemed to just glow and have no definition in most of the shots.  Nice perfume though, and I have a bunch on my desk to enjoy whilst at the computer.

Lots more roses still to bloom.  Am enjoying my walk each day looking at the changes in the gardens of the village and admiring the colours and scents.  Many good ideas coming together for our garden. 

Will start lanscaping the garden and lawn area during summer, and planting will start in autumn and be completed in spring/summer next year. It is frustrating to not have a lovely garden to sit and enjoy the (brief!) days of sunshine, but I want to plan properly and then do the work properly so that it all comes together into my vision of a relaxing and beautiful space.  Do not want it to just develop organically and then have loads of work to change things to how we want the final result to look like.  It will be worth it in the end though.

Potager is coming along nicely.  Carrots seem to be a bit of a miss this year, but everything else is surviving the extraordinarily long, cold and wet winter and springing forth.  Hopefully we will start seeing some proper spring/summer weather soon and get some good yields.  Unfortunately the cold has killed off most of the cherries.  Saturday and sunday I noticed most of the fruit (only half ripe sadly) had dropped off the tree..... just when we had all stopped holding our breath and started thinking that the cherries would crop....  So now the second year of no cherries in this region.  sigh.  Oh well, plenty else to occupy our tastebuds in the orchard.