Les poissons en France

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Got to Keep Going

Our heatwave continues unabated. Because it was too hot to work yesterday afternoon, we went to do some shopping in Cahors. Some pharmacies and banks have combined clocks and thermometers outside above their entrances, and we saw one that told us it was 38 degrees! Today is hotter!!! Our thermometer was showing 33 degrees at the rear of the house in the shade. So, as a matter of interest I put it on the wall at the front, in the full sun. It went up to 49 degrees. That's definitely a 'PHEW'. Sue's struggling to keep some of our plants alive!

Despite the heat (and it was warm when I walked Yoda this morning at 9 o'clock) I felt that I needed to try to press on with jobs. So I mixed up some mortar and jointed Sue's steps.

We are continually amazed by the way that jointing completely transforms the look of the stonework.

The animals don't like this extreme heat. Both of the cats slink off to find a quiet, dark spot; Diana's is usually deep in the middle of the front hedge! But today Yoda was struggling; we finally managed to persuade him to sit on a towel in a draught from the back door to the front door.

Whether it's the heat or just that Cleo has accepted that Yoda lives here, but Sue had them both virtually on her lap at the same time!

Needless to say, Sue's not been able to get out on the garden, at least, that is, not till about 9 o'clock tonight when she'll do some watering. So, in the meantime, she's been making Apricot jam! We bought a 5 Kg tray of apricots on the market on Saturday, so she's doing the 'homemaker' bit!

Monday, June 29, 2009


I would just like to correct the post published on 27 June by the labourer/garden assisitant/editor. His expertise as garden assistant is much improved but he has not yet absorbed the true gardeners philosophy "that a garden is never finished and without jobs to do". I will conceed that the very hot weather does impede - but not stop - the growth of weeds but it produces other jobs - like keeping plants alive!!

We marked out the area in the court yard yesterday which is designated to be grassed and I was pleasantly surprised by its size. We also confirmed our ideas for the position and dimensions of the steps which will allow access to the lower courtyard.

ps Whilst I was watering (as normal) the temperature finally cooled enough for the animals to come outside. Just before 10 o'clock we suddenly realised that we had animals lying all over the place....even in the middle of the road! It's a good job we don't get many vehicles using our road!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Minor Detour

Having previously said that we'd be resuming work on the 'serpentine' bed, I needed to get more sand, then I decided to use up the materials I'd been using for the jointing, then we had to take Yoda for a 'haircut'. So I've been using the 'half' days by repairing Sue's steps, the ones she started building when she was very first starting on the garden.

I finished repairing them today and we wish that we'd done them a long time ago...we're pleased with the result.

Whilst I was doing the steps, it's been very hot and humid; too hot for the animals.

With this weather, and having knocked the garden into shape for the 'open' day Sue's really on top of things.....but she's still having to spend a couple of hours in the evening watering everything! Still, it doesn't get dark till gone 10!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Open Garden

You may recall we mentioned that a few people were coming to look around the garden. They are two couples we have met on the village walks and amongst other things, we talk about gardening as we meander through the countryside. Back in the spring, in my wisdom I invited them over to see our embryo garden. Little did I know it was going to be so stressful. I felt like we were opening the garden to the public not half a dozen people. We both worked flat out for 3 days so there was hardly a weed in evidence and each blade of grass was the same height as its neighbour. Dont tell me its ridiculous - I know. However we did feel good about our progress.

I will share a few pictures with you, because this is as good as it gets (for now anyway). I can't pretend that I will not be prattling on about the garden forever.

As you can see, we'll be back to the 'serpentine' path now!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fete de la Musique

This week-end (and mainly Sunday) was the occassion for free music events. Most large towns had extensive music programs, but we decided to support a charity event to the south of Cahors. The only snag to this was that it was an 'english' event. However, as it was for 2 good causes (stray dogs, and cancer research), and the music was supplied by a blues band, we grit the bullet and went for it.

The band did an accoustic set whilst we were having 'aperos' and then, later in the evening, performed 2 'electric sets.

Whilst we would have preferred to have been at a 'french' event, the organisers worked extremely hard to try to raise the maximum amount of money for their causes, which we hope that they did!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Drawing Breath

Last week we had some friends from our Lincolnshire days staying with us. As we've said before, we realise that the arrival of 'guests' forces us to have a holiday of our own. One of the places we visited was a local beauty spot, Autoire. This is a lovely village of very old properties nestled in a gorge between high cliffs. At the end of the gorge is a small waterfall which, if you've got a bit of the mountain goat in you, you can climb to with the help of exposed tree roots to cling to!

We had lunch in the village and our waitress pointed out to us the 'Chateau des Anglais' built into the cliff face above us. The English had built a small fortified 'look-out' point at some time during the Hundred Year's War.

I don't know if you can see the fortifications without a magnifying glass; I certainly couldn't with the naked eye!

After our friends had gone, we resumed 'normal service'; in the courtyard I was able to start the levelling process. I feel that this part of the job will take all summer.

Just at the moment, the gardener requires some assistance to make the gardens look presentable. We have a group of friends and aquaintances coming next week to look at the gardens, so we've got to bring them up to 'show' standard!

Monday, June 15, 2009

All Walled In

I've finally managed to finish the current phase of wall building! The courtyard is now fully defined and ready to be levelled.

There is/was a large pile of earth and stones which I dug out for the 'foundations' of the low wall, and I've been sorting out the stones to throw behind the walls and the earth to put on the 'raised' bed in the back garden.

I seem to be always moving rocks from one place to another!

Despite all these reports of our work, we have been socialising quite a lot. Yesterday (Sunday) afternoon there were open gardens in Cahors and we visited the garden of the lady President of the garden club which organised the plant exchange last weekend. It was a small garden in the middle of Cahors and Madam President was, as now seems normal to us, extremely pleasant and welcoming. Whilst we were there we joined the club and we are looking forward to participating in events and outings.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Where's the Rain?

We tend to be a little neurotic about checking the weather forecast so that we can plan what we're going to do. So, when it was forecast as rain today, we decided not to do any cementing of the serpentine path. Instead, Sue planted out what she aquired at the 'Troc' yesterday, and then she was carting barrow-loads of earth from the compost heaps to scatter on the 'new' grass in front of the house. This was where the builders used to park their vehicles and store their materials. We seeded it earlier this spring, but it's not taken too well, so Sue's scattered more seed on her fresh soil, and crossed her fingers!

Meanwhile, I have been moving stones, large and small from out of the 'ruin'. Sue wants it set up as the 'bonsai garden'!

I've been wheelbarrowing the stones round to the courtyard where we've got to bring the level up to the top of my new wall.

It's going to take a lot of stone to level everything up!!!

The rain did finally arrive....at 7 o'clock in the evening.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

A Little "Troc" 'l do ya !!

This weekend is a bank holiday and a variety of gardens are opened to the public nationally. Seemed our scene so, up early this morning and off to a medieval village - Cardaillac - near Figeac, where there was a garden crawl. We packed a picnic but our local boulangerie was closed so we were on the look out for a bakers en route. We don't go to this area of the Lot very often so we took the opportunity to have a look around some of the interesting villages that we encountered. We found a bakers at Assier and also a magnificent Rennaissance Chateau, which requires closer inspection in the future.

On to Cardaillac where we began our walk around 13 gardens. What a diversity of gardens, ranging from the totally bizarre to a fully functional Bio potager. One garden just contained a medieval tower. Apparently it had originally housed the staircase for an adjoining house which had been demolished during a religious war; the village was evidently protestant at this time. In the 19th century the top part of the tower had been converted into a pigonnier for pigeon rearing however now it was a fully functional holiday home and we were shown round by the very proud owners. It was beautifully restored and they had even found perfectly proportioned old furniture for the limited space. They said that the Planning Office thought they were totally mad when they submitted the plans!! All the garden owners were charming and so welcoming.
The last lady we visited had a "cottage garden" and she duly presented me with a posy she had made because it was Mothers Day. We got on like a house on fire and she was soon pulling up plants for me to take home (all carefully wrapped in wet tissue to ensure safe arrival).

In the afternoon we headed for an English garden where they were to have a plant Troc. Generally "Trocs" are secondhand stores but for gardening purposes they are a plant exchange. So, from my previous experience, I went armed with some of my unwanted cuttings and seedlings.

The jardiniere and her husband were a couple after our own hearts and we gleened lots of interesting information..... might even join their gardening club. As you can see I came away with more goodies than I took.

It turned out that their house was very near one of the villages designated as "one of the prettiest villages in France" so we took the opportunity to explore the village and the adjacent waterfall.

What a nice day.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Strawberry Fields

We went out to some friends for lunch today, so, when we got home late afternoon, we took Yoda back to our 'country lane' again. But this time we took a camera so that we could record the wild strawberries. We forgot to mention them on yesterday's blog, and today they were even riper.

I suppose that if we were feeling really French we would have picked them for our tea, but they looked too good to eat, growing naturally. We were surprised that the birds hadn't started on them.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Strange But True

Today has been one of those days when you don't know if you believe what's happening around you. Or in our case, we can't quite get over how different life here in France can be when compared to the UK.

Last night Sue finished watering about 10 pm (about her normal time!), when we heard a lawn mower being started up. We just thought that it was Bernard, one of our neighbours who loves a chat, and that he would be putting the mower away. But, oh no!! He proceeded to mow his lawn for about half an hour. I've always wondered why they put mini-headlights on the mowers, and now I know.

This morning Sue decided she needed to pop to see the Doctor. Our doctor has a surgery in the front 2 rooms of his house in a nearby small town. So off we went and walked into his 'waiting room'. No phone call required; just like when we were kids, you just go and see who's infront of you and wait your turn. As it happened there was no-one waiting or in with the doctor so we were straight in. You can't say that going to the doctor is a pleasure, but there's no hassle about trying to make an appointment!

Late this afternoon we took Yoda to a little walk that we've found about 10 minutes away. He loves finding new smells and we have come to love the walk. But today was special as we found a lovely little orchid which is new to us. Then, as we were walking down this little country track we found that we were walking through a cloud of butterflies! They must have all hatched together and were now trying to find mates.

At the risk of being boring, we have found our own piece of paradise here.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Sue's Version of Her Day

As we tend to work at opposite ends of the "estate" (except of course when I am called for supervisory duties on the path) he has no idea what I have been doing. I was a little miffed when I read the blog as it doesn't sound as though I have been doing very much. Well for somebody who has not been very busy I have just come in from watering at 10.30pm a little "cream crackered" but very happy.

Yes I have to report for supervisory duties as early as possible as we can only work in the front garden in the morning. Whilst waiting for the labourer to prepare edging and cement I weeded 3 iris beds. After lunch I planted out 4 trays of very small bedding plants in the long bed (plus a little bit of weeding ) before retreating to the porcherie for a couple of hours of pricking out seedlings. With hindsight I should have sown them a month earlier. I'm not used to everything being that much more advanced here but its all part of the learning curve. I expect they will come into flower just in time for the first frost!!

Scorching Along

The weather continues very hot. I've just been out to check the thermometer and it's showing a maximum of 33 degrees in the shade at the rear of the house! So, we're trying to get as much done as possible in the mornings. I'm therefore very pleased that we've today finished the 'rectification' work on the 'serpentine' path. We're a third of the way along, so, now that we know what we're doing, hopefully we can 'scorch along'.

Having said that we try to do as much as possible in the mornings, this afternoon I put some stones behind the courtyard wall (back-filled) to create a stable surface for the next level.

Not to be outdone, Sue hoed the 'long' bed and then went into the Porcherie to prick out some of her seedlings.


For the last two evenings we've seen 'our' Barn Owl fly out of the Pigeonnier. We're so pleased that 'she' is still there. We are still hearing the cuckoo every day and the last couple of days we've heard and also glimpsed a Hoopoe. We also have Swifts circling the houses of Mas de Bouye, but this morning JJ told us that he has a pair nesting in a hole in the wall of their house ... and so do we!