Les poissons en France

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Braving the Dark

As qualified 'old people' we do find it a little daunting to go to events in these dark, cold winter evenings when we could stay comfortably indoors in the warm!
However yesterday evening we braved the elements to go to a concert in a church in Cahors.
The Chorale de Cahors were performing an Argentine Mass, the Misatango, with a string quintet, a bandonéoniste, and the composer of the piece, Martin Palmeri, on the piano.  We have been to a similar work by another Argentinian composer, Astor Piazzolla, and we really enjoyed both the concept of using tango rhythms and also the Bandoneon, the iconic instrument of the tango sound.
We got to the church about a quarter of an hour before the start, and to our amazement the church was nearly full.  We had expected, as usual in France that most people would arrive just before it started and that it would start half an hour late!!!
The first half of the evening was a performance of Spring from  The Four Seasons: After Vivaldi
This was an instrumental work featuring the String Quintet, the bandonéonist and Palmeri, the composer, on piano.  And we both loved it; very different to the Mass which was the second half of the evening, and it was great to watch the interaction between the conductor, the musicians and the choir.
It was an evening which repaid the effort to go out on a cold, dark night and sit on uncomfortable, little wooden chairs in a vast church.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Prayer to St Catherine

Here in France there is a saying (which doesn't translate too well, "à la Sainte Catherine, tout bois prend racine") about planting trees on St Catherine's Day 25th November.

So, OK we've missed it by a few days, but today we planted the Himalayan Birch in the "Japanese Courtyard"!
We want the tree to be in a raised stoney mound which is why it looks like I've made a mini-volcano.
I have to continue building up the 'mound' before we order a lorry-load of stones (castine) and I am aware that the Head-gardener has a slightly different idea to mine, of how this project will finish, so I am sure that there will be a few 'discussions' on the subject before it is finished.
You vill be kept informed!!!!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Fire and Brimstone

If you cast your mind back a year you will remember that I went bin digging at the local garden centre to obtain a "dead" tree to paint for Christmas. Except it wasn't dead when we got it home there were tiny green shoots appearing. We potted it up with the usual attitude i.e. it's got two chances!
Well it took the living option and has flourished all year. This contorted willow became known as the "Phoenix Tree" and I always intended to turn it into a feature.

A couple of days ago we found just the right pot to permanently plant it in, so of course I had to get cracking. The idea was to paint the dead branches to look like flames and let the new growth grow up around it. To our surprise this years branches turned red in the Autumn adding to the effect. Actually I had to cut much of these away to get access to the dead wood to paint it.
May be not to everyones taste but we like it.

To continue the burning theme, we got up this morning to white frost (minus 4 degrees C) but the hills were on fire.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Start of the Journey

Having bought the main tree, and the weather continuing fine, our journey to find our inner Zen starts.
Ah so, grasshopper ...

(for those with very long memories ... it is a total blank for Sue)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Out of our Comfort Zone

As you may remember we visited Guy in Taiwan earlier in the year.  So we were interested in a lecture which was being held at the Museum of Writing at Figeac looking at contemporary Taiwanese calligraphy.
Our main concern was whether we would be able to follow an illustrated lecture in French, although we have noted that academics tend to speak more slowly than ordinary people in conversation!

So we steeled ourselves and went along last night.  There were all of about a dozen people in the audience for such an obscure subject but we were very pleased to be able to follow the talk. The main theme was how a group of contemporary calligraphers are producing work which is basically illegible and becomes abstract art.

Taiwanese Calligrapher and Artist
Hsu Yung-Chin 徐永進 

 So, an hour and a half of brain exercise on a number of levels!!!

Monday, November 20, 2017

No sooner said than done!

Yesterday I had marked out the new bed Sue wants for the grasses in the path between the Grass Beds.  Well, taking advantage of the lovely afternoon weather we are having, I set to!  Fortunately the bed is long but narrow and so I was able to speed on.
Actually, all I have done is to skim off the turf and we will just dig holes for the grasses wherever the Head Gardener decides.
Another job completed ... although this one didn't even get on to my 'to do' list.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Scrub a Tree!!

Just for a change I thought I would tell you about what's happening in the garden. Believe me we do do other things, although perhaps it doesn't appear that way.

The tree we bought last weekend for the courtyard was delivered this week. We chose a Himalayan Birch with lovely white bark which we thought would give us some winter interest. We moved it around when it arrived to see if our ideas were going to work and then I gave it a bath and a good scrub!! We had never heard of doing such a thing until it was featured on Gardeners World a couple of months ago. The difference is amazing although the photo doesn't show it very well.
For some time I have had the idea to plant ornamental grasses down the middle of the path between the prairie beds. Having looked on line I decided that the cost would be prohibitive as I needed so many. However recently I have managed to acquire some inexpensively from various sources culminating in the plant swap at our garden club this week.
I will be able to split them in the Spring and hey presto! Of course I first need a bed dug so John marked it out this afternoon. He says the gardening year would not be complete if he did not have another bed to dig.
Although the mornings remain very frosty by lunch time it is glorious outside so we have been taking advantage of the afternoons. We have decided to double the size of the woodland bed down the alley so John spent Friday afternoon collecting compost from the village recycling depot. Its a start and certainly looks tidier.

Never happier than playing in the garden.

A few days ago I floated round the garden to take these photos before the frost melted.