Saturday, 30 November 2019

I'm darning ...

... and my grandmother will be turning in her grave.

We think Bertie may have been weaned too early.  He sucks and chews blankets, towels and (to our horror) the deep red, heavy-duty linen, loose covers of the sofa in the lounge.  The latter he has only attacked twice, following a fair old ticking off.  He sucks them 'til he removes a small, perfectly oval piece of fabric which he then proceeds to chew contentedly.

The covers have had these three small holes in them for some considerable time.  They do not look pretty as the beige lining fabric of the cushions peeps through.  The task has been "on the list" but never reached the top.  Until now.

As we are staying in the house and not decamping to the cottage this winter, we are beginning to realise that the house needs more loving care.  It is too easy to live on the veranda and in the kitchen throughout summer and ignore the scruffiness elsewhere. Not any more.  Especially as we have friends coming for Christmas lunch and no doubt by late afternoon we will want to collapse in front of a roaring fire against the said Bertie-sucked deep red cushions.  So I am darning the holes, having found a spare bit of the loose cover fabric which came with the original washing instructions, what, some twenty-odd years ago.

My father's mother never had her hands empty.  She was always busy.  I have a faded black and white photo of Mum, Nana and Granddad relaxing in the garden.  I'm in my pram, so it must have been the summer of 1947. Mum on the grass, Granddad in a deckchair and there Nana is with a colander on her lap shelling peas.

If she wasn't shelling peas, or stringing beans, then she was darning socks on a pale beige wooden mushroom.  Beautiful, small, neat darns, squares of interlaced grey wool, the blunt end of the darning needle passing over one thread, under the next.

I'm sorry Nana.  My darns are much coarser and lumpier, but I promise you, no-one will notice after a good Christmas lunch.  (You will though!)

Monday, 25 November 2019

Yet again ...

... I am weeping for a dog and a family I have never met.  Yet through the magic of this Blog Land and Angus's eloquent words, I have been privileged each day to share a little of their lives and learn to love deeply this family fellow, who at only six years young has left them and his sister bereft.

Sleep in peace Bob.  The messages from round the world tell you how much you and the family you cared for are loved.

Bob. The Family Fellow. 2013 -2019

Friday, 15 November 2019

Still Life

This month's theme at our photo club is "Still Life".  Struggling to find anything to photograph, between downpours I dashed out and grabbed a few bits and pieces from the garden.

I'm amazed at the amount of colour still there. Haven't had much of a chance to see any of it these last days.  We've even been keeping the shutters closed. Very gloomy.  Very French.

I should obviously put on my mac and wellington boots and get out more!

Sunday, 3 November 2019

He Marched Them Up to the Top of the Hill and Marched Them Down Again

Tod and the dogs returned bedraggled and wind-blown from their early Sunday morning walk. Normally a long, leisurely stroll along the ridge before the hunters are out in their white vans, today was a quick march up to the top of the drive, an investigation of the large open barn that houses a couple of containers and some mouldy old bales of straw and then a turn into the teeth of the wind and the rain and back down again, home.

Our Indian summer is long gone.  We've had days of "raining cats and dogs" (the library of congress tells me the meaning is lost in the mists of time.  I like the suggestion that it might be a corruption of an old English word "catadupe" meaning cataract or waterfall.) We've certainly had waterfalls of rain - the water butts and the underground tank by the cottage are full to overflowing - and weeding between the cloud bursts has become a pleasure as the mud easily gives up normally recalcitrant roots.

The wind, however, is something new, arriving during the night and due to continue through the next couple of days.  Further west, the Gironde and Landes are on orange alert.

Normally, with weather like this, we would be thinking of decamping to the cottage for winter, but this year we're embarking on a new venture - staying put in the house.  In recent years our annual transhumance has become tedious, not least because there is a Bermuda Triangle between the house and the cottage and important papers - tax statements, annual estimates for the electricity - vanish without trace.

Our decision to stay put has been made possible by changing our wafer-thin watery glassed, small-paned, draughty windows along the veranda.  A precious reminder of the age of our old farmhouse, it's taken me, with aching heart, twelve years to agree reluctantly with Tod that enough is enough.  So they are gone and we have doubled-glazed, hand-made, beautifully sealed, easily opened, new wooden frames.

In all the gusting wind and driving rain our new windows are proving their worth. Shutters snugly shut, the noise from outside is but a distant murmur.  The house has become cosy.