Les poissons en France

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Indian Summer

We have had about 10 days of glorious weather with afternoon temperatures in the high twenties. The mornings have been very damp but pleasant. John has spent days cutting one of the "prairie" beds, he has still got the other one to do. Who said wild flower meadows are easy to maintain?

I have at last made some useable garden compost and have been spreading it on the long bed before planting many new plants donated by a friend and clearing the bed of old overgrown ones of my own. All this has involved humping endless barrows up and down the hill with a cosequent gentle reminder that the 70 years does slow you down a bit.

The effort took its toll this morning and I didn't wake up until 8.30 having fallen asleep by 10 the night before.  However as I staggered out I was inspired by the view of Autumn from our windows and took these photos.

As I continued my labours later in the morning John snapped his own take on this lovely time of year
.... and he was also inspired to write this poem. I stumbled across it accidently on the computer, he would never tell me that he had writen it. Misplaced modesty in my opinion!!
 in the morning still
 a murmuring
a rustling
and drops of gold
 fall in the sunlight
with such gentleness
in slow motion
building up
a rusty mosaic
on the receiving green

ps meanwhile, the hacking, chopping and lifting continues apace.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Eyrignac - Autumn approaching

We went to Eyrignac yesterday for a further instalment of this garden through the seasons.  Last week we had 2 mornings hovering on the edge of frosts, but obviously the flowers at the Manoir have escaped so far.
The hornbeam hedging which was so drastically pruned in February has grown well, but is already shedding leaves.  Elsewhere autumn fruiting was evident.
There is a cutting bed, obviously for flowers in the house and restaurant, and it is still a riot of colour, particularly at the moment from the dahlias ...
... and the white garden is still white from the masses of New Guinea Impatiens ...
... soon to succumb to Winter.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Frost Alert

Yesterday we had to hurriedly change our plans as the weather forecast was for 2 degC for this morning.  Operation 'Save the Geraniums'* swung into action and all of the Geraniums were lifted and potted up.
They will spend the winter in the Porcherie, hopefully protected against the frosts and cold.
The New Guinea Impatiens were also transferred to their winter quarters.
Sue also rushed around picking most of the Dahlia blooms as they would be ruined by this morning and distributed then to friends.

As it happens we just escaped a frost this morning ... only 2 degC, but 2 degC is forecast again tomorrow!

*Strictly speaking the plants are Pelargoniums but colloquially referred to as Geraniums.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Autumn Clear-out

Now that all of that celebratory stuff is out of the way, we have resumed normal duties.  And it is the time for trying to 'mend' the lawn again!
I haven't done the bottom courtyard lawn as we are considering more drastic action for that.

The gardener is showing no mercy and is starting to lift the fading summer flowers.
Autumn is well and truly here.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Part Two

For more than a year we had planned a very different celebration of our 70th birthdays and golden wedding in the UK. However as the much awaited day arrived fears that Ryanair would throw a spanner in the works haunted us. Fortunately Wednesday's flight cancellation list confirmed that our flights were still operating. Phew!

Last October we had reconnoitered the venue before before making a reservation. Hartwell House was built in the 16th Century and is owned by the National Trust. Consequently it has the air of a mini stately home set in mature grounds, just the sort of thing that is a million miles away from our everyday life, so suitable for our celebration.
However when we arrived on Saturday morning we felt that we had come for a themed weekend and expected the "Cluedo" characters to appear any moment. May be it's just that we are not used to being treated like "gentry". We soon entered into the spirit, particularly when we were escorted to our bedroom by the porter who gave us a potted history of the building as we climbed the grand staircase.
Soon our guests began to arrive and this was the very nicest part. Some friends joined us who we had not seen since we moved to France. Many had been major players on our wedding day, including Betty, my second Mum, who is now 94. Others we have collected over the past 50 years but they are all very dear and it was wonderful to share the day with them.

John decided that after each course the gentleman should move to the next table so that everyone could get to know each other.
Unfortunately we were a little disappointed with the food but we will gloss over that as it was the warmth of family and friends that was most important.

On the subject of food we had brought our own with us in the shape of the top tier of our wedding cake. It had been lanquishing in a tin in various lofts for 50 years and we had no idea what state it would be in. Inedible, but good for a laugh.
After John and I had delivered our "speeches" John and Lesley, Mas de Bouye friends, read a poem about us which Lesley had written. I would love to include it here but it is very long and you will have to read it when you come to see us.
Pat and Mel stayed over on Saturday night and it was lovely to share an evening reminiscing followed by a walk in glorious autumn sunshine the following morning.

Our pleasures did not finish there as on Sunday we drove down to the Forest of Dean to visit a friend who was not fit enough to join us on Saturday. She is a very accomplished artist who still manages to  "paint" using her iPad despite suffering from advanced Parkinson's disease. Very inspirational.

Following our visit to Kathy we stayed a couple of nights at a Premier Inn in Cheltenham, a bit of a contrast to say the least but we can only afford to play Lord and Lady Herring for 24 hours! We  planned to visit a famous garden at Hidcote Manor and possibly fit in a second garden nearby. Despite the unfavourable weather we joined the many vistors to Hidcote and gathered more ideas for our own garden.
However we have to say we enjoyed the neighbouring private garden at Kiftsgate Court more. It is a traditional but imaginative English garden created by three generations of lady gardeners. John particularly liked the two modern areas which have recently been added. We are both of the opinion that gardens should constantly be evolving.
We returned to Bovingdon to spend some more time with Betty but en route called into some more friends in Wiltshire who were again prevented from joining us due to ill health.

As you will no doubt have realised we thoroughly enjoyed our week of celebrations.  So now it is back to the grindstone ... an autumn garden awaits.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Le Weekend de Patrimoine

Every year on this 3rd weekend of September France (and Europe) put on a lot of events, open-doors and exhibitions on their history and culture.
This year the weather was very unsettled, cool and rainy, but people still brave the elements and yesterday we went to a chateau in a nearby village.
Historic houses that are listed and which receive financial aid from the government have to open to the public, even if for only this weekend. 
The guided tours at the Chateau de Vaillac were well supported and we realised that the knowledgeable guide was the owner of the property.
I, Sue, just have to add that this little man was a perfect French gentlemen. He spoke French so smoothly and at a speed that was impossible not to understand. He was exactly a French squire which is totally different to an English one.

We were impressed at the way 'ordinary' French people are proud of their history and make the effort to visit even an insignificant footnote of it.

Still having some of the afternoon left we travelled toward Cahors to the small village of Boissière.
Here we had seen that there was a stone mason working and examples of his restauration work were in the church.
We were struck by the way that a small village like this had been prepared to spend money to convert the ruins of the adjacent chateau into a 'chic' meeting place (Salle de Fete).  The French have a very strong pride in who they are and where they come from.

Today it was raining again and so we looked for somewhere indoors to go.  Having been in enough village churches thank you, we went to Figeac to the Musée Champollion which is dedicated to the man who deciphered Egyptian hierogyphics but now also explores the development of writing world-wide.
It is in the house where Champollion was born and is a very smart place ... again, no expence spared.
We enjoyed the visit but realised that we need to go again (when there aren't so many people there) as you need time to read all of the explanatory notices and take it all in (plus translate it all from French!)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

So French

Yesterday 12th September, a General Strike was called by the second largest union in France to protest against the changes to the employment laws that the new President Macron is trying to introduce.
The strike wasn't supported by everyone so it remains to be seen if he will be able to revitalise the French economy!

But in Cahors we came upon this demonstration and march.
The French do get very vociferous about their 'Rights'