Les poissons en France

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Coming up Roses

Well at least I hope they will!! Not wanting to change the habits of a life time, all of a sudden we have gone OTT on roses. As you know we have the roses on order for the pergola and for the planned rose beds. However, when we were in the supermarket the other day, they had roses for 1.50 euros each and I just couldn't resist buying 3 yellow ones for the long bed. My Mum always used to go on about how good the cheap plants were from Woolworths. So we're hoping these ones from Carrefour will be as good.

The next day I was clearing the melon bed behind the ruin and reflecting how poorly they had performed this year, not surprisingly in view of the drought. My thoughts then returned to the bargain roses in Carrefour. Well you can guess the rest; we cleared the store of pink and white roses!!

I was confident that I would be able to dig the holes to plant them as the melons had been grown on almost pure compost. Not so. John was wielding a pick axe all afternoon in temperatures of 30+.

For weeks John has been trying to buy a "thing"(Rehausse) to raise the height of the inspection cover on the grease trap so that we can complete the area of the courtyard outside the back door. For some reason we have an extra large inspection cover and they do not seem to make the corresponding "thing" to raise the height.

Never mind, John has done a "mod" (as my Dad would say) involving cementing some slabs acquired from the scrap heap at the rear of the tile shop to sit the ''thing'' on . I haven't enquired further but he is confident that we will not fall in and "come up not smelling of roses".

Monday, September 28, 2009

Going all Arty

We wanted a 'feature' in the courtyard and Sue remembered seeing something in one of the showhouse gardens we used to clean in England. So, to the amazement of our neighbours, we set up our 'art installation'.

The positioning of the beams was critical! The artist spent ages looking at them from different angles to make sure that they weren't in a circle or one hid another. Then the heights had to be adjusted.

This meant getting the chainsaw out, although I don't think this is what is meant by 'chainsaw art'!

The artist was finally satisfied and the beams have all been cemented in. We now have to buy a floodlight to place in the middle of them so that they are illuminated at night.

At this rate we'll have more floodlights than the Mairie!
PS we went up to our new supply of manure this afternoon. And, en route, we saw the 'manure man'. On our second trip (and second trailer load of manure), we took him a bottle of wine. It worked wonders! No problems in going to get more manure whenever we want. It's great living in the country!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tidying Up

I seem to have been manoeuvred into working in the garden for the last couple of days. I don't know how she did it, but, after having collected the manure on Friday, I spent yesterday afternoon mowing. We haven't had to mow for months it seems, but, since the rain a week ago, we have green grass again. I've set up the grass collection system on our mower and so I was able to cut the wildflower meadow. Once the wildflower season is over, you have to scalp the grass and avoid anything staying on the meadow that might put any goodness back in to the soil.

Today, I was just going to trim the box hedge in the front, but I was then involved with tidying up the irises planted either side of it.

Finally, I edged the rose arbour and the iris walk so that we can see what's to be done for the paths and path edgings.

It was another scorching afternoon ( thermometer in the full sun said 40 degrees) and so, having finished my gardening jobs, I retired indoors for a cold beer!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Season's End

The 'visitor' season is now over, and we're back to 'normal' work routines. And you know what that means! Manure!

We knew that there was more manure available from Marie-Lise, our local 'pet', horse owner. So we went to clear her out yesterday before we get any more rain. Our vehicle is only a standard estate car and we have to drive through about 3 fields to get to some of her stables.

Whilst we won't be getting any more manure from M-L till next year, Sue has finally tracked down the owner of the huge heap which we regularly walk past at the top of our hill. She had a chat with him and he's happy for us to take the odd trailer load whenever we want. I can see this becoming a weekly trip!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's Approved!

Yes, we're pleased to report that, despite the doubts expressed half way through construction, the Clerk of the Works has passed the Pergola as 'satisfactory'.

There were fears expressed that the timber we had bought was too chunky, but, now that it's up, everything looks in proportion.

On reflection, I would not have been able to put the pergola up by myself, so it's a big thank you to David for his invaluable help.

So now all we want to know is, where's the roses?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Growing by the Mile

Another very productive day, even though we were dodging the showers all day. We're over half way now and we anticipate, with a fair wind, that one more day will see the job completed.

Arbour or Pergola?

Don't ask me, I don't know the difference! All that I know is that ours will eventually have roses growing on it.
Yesterday, we started to erect. We (David and I) were pleased that we could get the first 4 posts up, the idea being that they would support each other as a block.

However, having got these first posts up, the garden designer had a crisis of confidence!

This precipitated a discusion which lasted till 10 o'clock in the evening! 'It's too big... out of proportion...take it down and change it....' After much opinion airing, looking in garden books and searching of internet sites, it was finally decided that our arbour/pergola would be OK.

Yesterday afternoon was lost because it rained (as well as the design panel meeting). Unfortunately, it's forecast for rain today as well, so we're going to be waiting for any dry spell!!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bordeaux Break

We went to Bordeaux with David and June for a couple of days, hunting for wine. Bordeaux is about 3 hours away, so we spent the afternoon of Wednesday sightseeing. The city has a lovely feel to it; architecture, culture and gastronomy, with a nice 'buzz' to it.

We had a meal in the evening in one of the many street restaurants, but it was prepared and served with panache; the chef obviously wanted it to look as good as a 'michelin' resto.

The next morning we went off to discover St Emilion. For David, this was a bit of a pilgrimage. None of us really knew anything of the place, only of the wine. But the village of St Emilion is perched up in the hills to the side of the valley of the Dordogne just before it joins the Garonne to become the Gironde. The village is now a World Heritage site and reflects the money wine has made over the centuries.

We got our timing a little wrong as we realised that, as part of the national 'heritage' week-end, St Emilion holds an evening of events and processions this coming Saturday. Part of the reason for this is that the weekend is also the ceremony to open the wine harvest.

However, our purpose in coming to St Emilion was fullfilled and we firmly intend to return to both Bordeaux and St Emilion. David did the tourist thing and bought a box of 'souvenirs' .....

.......as well as one for the weekend!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Feet on the Ground

Work on the arbour proceeds well and yesterday all of the feet went in. So we have begun working on the wood, preparing the ends which will go into the feet.

We are planning to be continuing today, despite rain being forecast. However, to give ourselves encouragement, we offered the first post up and.....success!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Holes and Flowers

David and June have arrived to bolster the work gang, and so we've made a start on Sue's 'Rose Arbor'. This initially involved some changes to my design as the cost of the 'feet' arangement, as suggested by the wood man, proved prohibitive. However, we know where we're going now, and the post holes have been dug.

We've even started to put in the 'post holders', although we've got to get more cement on Monday to finish the job. Then we can start preparing the wood!!!

Yesterday afternoon we went to a plant fair. It was particularly relevant as it was themed around dry gardens, ie requiring very little watering.

As you can see, the Fair was very popular, and most people bought things!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

How Flat is Flat?

Foolish me! Fancy thinking that I'd finished with the ramp. It hasn't got to be flat. It's got to slope away so that it blends in to the grass of the field. So, whilst awaiting the arrival of our next guests, I've been removing more earth and stones. We did have a management meeting about this, but the management couldn't see that, when I build the rest of the retaining walls up to the barn, we might then have to bring more earth and stones in to get back to the new level!!!!

Fortunately I've been able to put the stones and earth into the courtyard area. Yesterday I bought the 'things' to raise up the manholes on the septic tank. I'm still waiting for one for the 'grease tank' but at least I can do more work on preparing the courtyard level next to the house.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

It's a Flat World

This was our view of the back garden when we first arrived here in France. Finally, today, the last of the ramp up to the barn was removed!

In the fullness of time, once we've encouraged the grass to grow, we'll have 'lawn' from just outside the back door, leading the eye off to the back garden and the wildflower meadow.

It also opens up the view of the house from the back garden.

The stones and earth from the ramp have gone into the courtyard where we're raising it up to level it. We're now going to have to bring rocks from the banks in the back.

We always seem to be moving stones from somewhere here!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Eating, Drinking and a little bit of Work.

With Aunty Pauline, Pat and Mel with us, we've had the excuse for a 'holiday'. So, we've been nipping out for the odd sight-seeing trip, out to a concert last night, and been eating long, protracted meals. Yesterday was fairly exceptional; we went to the market in Gourdon to view what was fresh.

And the consensus was , 2 kilos of mussels and a kilo of prawns.

We started to prepare the meal about 12.30.......

....... and finished at 5pm.

We all hurriedly had an hour's lay-down before we got ready to go off to a concert in a nearby church. It was due to start at 8.30, and, to our amazement, it began just before 9! The concert, which was very good, lasted about 2 hours and was then followed by nibbles and a free taster of the local wine. We all fell into bed about midnight.

To attone for this hedonistic lifestyle, Mel and I shifted some of the stones and earth in the remains of the ramp by the barn. A good morning's work set us up nicely for another meal.

It's a hard life, all of this entertaining.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

To Infinity and Beyond....

Guy and Carla's holiday too soon came to an end and so on Tuesday I took them (and Yoda) up to Boulogne to the channel ferries. This in itself was a bit of a mission; we left at 5 in the morning and, stopping for breakfast and then dinner, we arrived at the ferry terminal just before 4pm. That's when the problems started. The ferry company are really only geared up for cars and so, 2 foot passengers arriving with a bike and a dog was a little outside the normal routine. Guy and Carla were told that, as they were 'cyclists' they had to line up and go through the controls with all of the cars! I got them to 'push' in to the line, not thinking that this would cause any problems. But.....the official booking everyone in could see all sorts of problems. All in all it took about 15 minutes of queries, phone calls, checks with supervisors before it was accepted that Guy, Carla and Yoda could proceed on to the boat. During this time we had irrate drivers demanding to know when they were going to be checked in... the queue was blocking the road and roundabout outside the terminal.... children were fractious in their car.......

Having cleared the hurdle of the booking in, they had to walk (carrying back packs, chest packs, holdalls, bike and dog in carrying box) past the passport control and then line up in 'Lane 5' with all of the cars before they could get on the ferry!!!!!!!

Guy subsequently told us that there was a very nice man on the boat who helped them with their bags, but they were very pleased to get to England and Carla's Dad who was waiting for them in Dover with a van to go on to Manchester.

On my way home, (the next day) I picked up our next guests, Aunty Pauline, Pat and Mel, at Limoges airport.

I slept well last night.