Saturday, 24 September 2011


I have grown tomatoes before - though not very successfully - in pots. I think I just got bored with them.

So I thought I knew what I was letting myself in for when Eric and Phoebe offered us a few plants.  Two cherry, two "green" and one plum.

The border behind the pool house seemed like a good place - facing south, with a warm sheltering wall.  There were already a couple of hydrangeas in the border, but that didn't seem to be a problem as my recollection of growing tomatoes in the UK was that they didn't grow very big.  To begin with they didn't.  The weather was dry and hot and I fretted about their not getting enough water, so I rigged up hose pipes and tried to remember to water them most evenings.

Being behind the pool house, I can't see them from the house.  So although I know about pinching out the side shoots, I found it was easy to forget about them.  By the time I remembered and after several bouts of rain, I suddenly found that I had a tomato forest.  Not just side shoots, but side shoots of side shoots and all of them with flowers on, so it seemed a shame to pinch them out.

I am now buying canes by the dozen to support the heavy laden branches and I'm scouring the internet for recipes for tomato chutney and instructions on how to freeze them for winter. And somewhere behind the forest there are two hydrangea plants struggling to grow.

Mind you, it's so satisfying bringing in a bowlful of just-picked, I grew this myself, sun-filled fruit for supper.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Trip to Nîmes

We started well!  Vita had been sick over night (too many over-ripe figs?) and continued to throw up as we drove along the motorway heading for Toulouse.  As between "episodes" her tail was up and wagging, we decided to press on. After a couple of unscheduled stops she finally calmed down and curled up asleep and content on the back seat.

We've become real country bumpkins, used to our quiet lanes and empty villages. Our side of France, tourists have long gone, but in the hot, dry south of Provence the French, Americans, Italians, Germans, Scandinavians, English and Japanese are still in holiday mood and milling round the star attractions.

So we visited Aigues-Mortes, Arles, Avignon, Les Baux, the Roman aqueduct of Pont du Gard and Saintes Maries de La Mer in the Carmargue along with the world and his wife and his dog.  We ate exotic flavoured ice creams (lemon meringue pie the favourite), strolling with the throng window shopping, marvelling at the number of street cafes and restaurants (how could they all stay in business?) and trying to take in a bit of history and scenery along the way.  Next time we'll come "out of season" (if there is such a thing).

Our hotel, with its individual houses and three swimming pools nestling among oleander bushes, was our place of sanctuary and good food.

In the brisk wind, the swimming pools and the Med, were too cold to do more than dip toes into, despite the heat of the days.  We've become soft and spoilt with our own warm pool on "our" side of France.


Les Baux

Our Hotel outside Nîmes

Palace of the Popes - Avignon

Pont du Gard

Saintes Maires de La Mer

Street Scenes

Our hotel: L'Enclos des Lauriers Roses

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


The moon is just past full. In the silver light I walk down to the cottage to turn off the hose to the butternut squashes and a white bobtail gleams and vanishes as a rabbit dashes across the lawn in front of me.  An owl, hunting low, swoops below me - a glint of great wings and then gone.

Later, putting the rubbish out for tomorrow's collection, Vita and I walk up the chemin alongside Monsieur F's field to the ridge road. No torch is needed as the moonlit white chalk of the hardcore marks our way. The dry pale leaves of the maize rustle in the night wind appearing and disappearing as they catch the moonbeams.

Across the valley half way up the hill where someone is slowly clearing and restoring the land, the old unused polytunnel glows in the reflected light of the moon. In the dark, its gleaming long low shape looks like a distant train waiting at a station..

The cows in the field beyond the stream went earlier in the summer, but three are now back.  Their distant bells accompany us as we walk up the hill to the road.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Storm Cloud at Sunset

From the posts on the forums today, seems like half of South West France was watching this storm cloud yesterday evening.  It was like something out of a science fiction film, with constant lightning flashes within the cloud.

We had a few drops of rain from it and then it slowly passed north and east of us.  Today has been hot and sticky and more storms are promised for tonight and tomorrow.  Let's hope the next one passes overhead. We could do with a good downpour.