Monday, 28 May 2012

Helping thin the Plums

Vita and Bertie have been helping Tod thin plums.

In our so-called orchard we have assorted elderly trees that produce strange sour or hard small fruits, which we struggle to identify.  One tree however, regularly gives us sweet yellow juicy plums.  I was told it was a Reine Claude (French for greengage) but I don't now think it is. The plums are too big.  Despite its wizened appearance the tree produces a bounteous crop every two years - recovering from its bounteousness in the year between.  In fact the crop was so abundant two years ago that several of the larger branches broke under the weight of the fruit.

We're in for another bumper harvest this year, so to help the tree Tod has been doing some major thinning out.  The thinned plums are still small and quite inedible.  That does not stop Vita however believing that she has to guard them, just in case Bertie should want some.

The Claude Rains Reine Claude

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Dans le Jardin

This last fortnight, the photo challenge on The France Forum has been Dans le Jardin.  A wonderful excuse  to wander round taking pictures of our roses, which are just beginning to blossom, when really I should be weeding after yet more rain.

I'm starting a new round rose bed.  The first bed came about by accident. I was trying to protect the tree peony from being mown down each year (the French do like to just plop a plant in the ground and surround it by grass) and so I dug a rough circle, which linked the peony with a huge honeysuckle that we think is hiding an old tree stump and is always full of squabbling sparrows (much to Bertie's disgust) and then filled the gap between the two with pink and red roses.

The new bed is pinks, and oranges, and pinky-oranges and orangey-pinks. With some cornus dug up from the bank behind the house, canna lilies rescued from a gloomy corner and scraps of purple heuchera broken off elsewhere by a rampaging Vita and Bertie and then popped in a mug of water to root, the bed already is beginning to look quite splendid.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Tonight ...

... there is a gentle sadness round the world. We have finally come to the day that so many of us had hoped could be infinitely delayed.

We have followed with such pleasure the joyful, courageous life of Wilf, the Polish Lowland sheepdog. A life so lovingly and eloquently told by Angus in his blog Wilf the PON discovers France.

Wilf - best and dearest of dogs - no doubt there is much laughter in heaven tonight.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012


Ten thirty at night and the kitchen door is still open onto the veranda, where Vita sits sphinx-like at the top of the steps listening to the night sounds - crickets, frogs, nightingales.

Earlier we sat in the courtyard of our favourite crêperie, chatting to the owner, the only ones there in the warm dusk, as she regaled us with stories of her great grand and grand parents. Stories of political resistance, intrigue and the birth of the communist party in this region.

Our first guest arrives this Friday to promised good weather. He will assume that South West France is always like this and not realise just how lucky he is.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

Washing happily blowing on the line.

Strimming the too-tall grass in a T-shirt.

Red kite circles lazily overhead as Tod mows the field.

Fat bumble bees fall over each other in the opened peonies and first roses

Hoopoes hoo-hoo-hooing down at the cottage.

A line of swallows gather and chatter on the electricity wire that crosses the field from our neighbours.

Bertie hunts a small shrew in the sandy bank behind the cottage as I pull up handfuls of long lush weeds and try to leave at least some of the wild poppies to flower.  The shrew jumps inside a fat plastic tube protecting the agapanthus and lives to fight another day.

The plants I thought had died in February's snow are slowly reviving in the warmth and sunlight.