Les poissons en France

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Les Vendanges

We have just got home from our first day of grape picking - and we are absolutely shattered. We were asked by some friends if we would like to go and help their daughter and son-in-law harvest their grapes. They both gave up their careers in Paris a couple of years ago and decided to lease some vines whilst theirs matured. We were really excited as it was part of the culture we had not experienced.
We left home just after 8 o'clock and the temperature was just 4 degrees. Not knowing what to expect we went equipped for every eventuality, insect bites, temperatures rising to plus 40,emergency toilet rolls etc.etc. We rendezvoused with our friends and others that they had coerced into joining in and drove in convoy to the appointed field by the Lot river. Of course when we arrived we were introduced to all the other pickers, about a dozen of us and then had a crash course on how to pick and what to throw away. So off we went, a little concerned that we were going to put a moldy grape into the boxes.
By mid day  the temperature had risen to the low twenties and it was time for lunch - the bit that we had really come for, and we were not disappointed. Homemade pate, roast beef and salad, wonderful local cheese, followed by raspberry cake and dried fruits and of course all washed down with the product of last years harvest.  And at a table with a table cloth in the middle of the vines!


 Whilst having lunch we were fascinated to see a neighbour using his heavy horses to collect in his harvest. In contrast another neighbour joined us for a glass of wine and he told us that his vendange was starting tomorrow but he harvests by machine. He has got 16 hectares!! Finally we had to show willing and start again.
It was harder to get motivated after lunch but John had some assistance.

Eventually the bodies gave up, (well it was 5 o'clock!) and we declined to go again tomorrow, although we'll appreciate the wine more now that we understand what goes on!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Summers End?

We are enjoying an 'Indian Summer' with hot sun and very little rain, and the plants are unhappy.  Trees are under stress and leaves are turning brown.  Sue has pre-empted the arrival of autumn and has lifted the dessicated Petunias in front of the house.
Meanwhile, in the 'potting shed' seeds are being sown and are already sprouting.  There's always something to keep a gardener happy.

We're pleased to announce that our neighbours think that a barn owl has taken up residence in our pigeonnier.  They saw it fly out a couple of evenings ago - it would be nice if it was the one I disturbed in our barn when I was repairing the roof!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

La Figue

They say that patience is a virtue and 'lo and behold' we have our first ever fig after only about 5 years wait!  Every year up to now the two fig trees we planted behind the porcherie have been cut to the ground by the frosts and cold ... except this last winter.  Whether because they are bigger now, or whether the winter wasn't as cold as we've experienced before, but the white fig has lots of fruit on it.
It remains to be seen if and how many of these smaller fruits ripen.  The second fig, a brown fig has lots of growth but not a single fig!
We want to train them back to the wall before next year so this might set them back a bit.  However, whilst we wait for next year, we fortunately have friends who have mature fig trees and share their surplus.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Production Line

We're in full swing now!  Sue's determined not to waste any of this lovely spell of sunshine and is steaming ahead with the shutters.
I've now taken the last ones down and Sue has a system of cleaning them prior to administering as many coats of stain as is required.  The sides of the shutters that were against the house don't need as many coats as those in full sunshine.  So we have shutters awaiting painting, shutters half way through painting, drying in the sun ...
...and some finished shutters back up in place.
The last pair of shutters aren't straight forward as they are a different design and so, rather that just repaint them, I've got to 'rebuild' them so that they match all of the rest!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Another Year

It's amazing how the years keep on rolling round.  This year Sue made a special request that we went to our favourite restaurant for a meal.
We've been to La Gabarre a number of times now and it never fails to delight.  They buy ingredients according to what's fresh and in season and so, you know that the menu will be different, and we know that it will be good!
You choose from a selection of 4 starters, 4 main course and 4 sweets, although today Sue and I both chose the chef's special ... Pigeon cooked two ways with pumpkin risotto and a selection of vegetable.
As you can see, Sue couldn't manage it all ... she only ate half of the risotto!
 In the summer it's a lovely setting out on the terrace, looking down on the Dordogne river.

The only problem was that when we got home we both had to sleep off the meal!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

A Brush with ...

...an unusual sight.
The sun brings out the strangest things!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Thwarted By The Wildlife...

No, not by the deer this time but by owls and bats. I was petrified about John doing the barn roof and yesterday he just repaired a low piece which I could cope with. I was again working on the raised bed when he found me to report that he was not sure that he could continue repairing the roof as there was a barn owl living in the rafters and he had already upset it. We had no idea it was there. Admittedly we rarely go into the top part of the barn but we had not heard it calling. Eventually John decided that he was obliged to carry on. 
I had the proverbial fit when I looked in to see how things were progressing and saw that he was working on the apex which he had assured me was too high....... I had believed him but goodness knows why because I might have known that he would do it in the end. I was particularly worried because not only were there holes in the roof but as a consequence the floor had rotted.
However I am pleased to report that all but one hole has been repaired, that one is to be done on Thursday. Unfortunately Ollie will have to find a new home.

Meanwhile I wanted to start cleaning and painting the shutters. However I have only been able to work on one and a half pairs as Brian bat and his mate were sleeping behind the other half. We had not got the heart to disturb them so plan to take the other one down when they depart to find supper.


We're busy trying to get on top of some of those annoying jobs which crop up and demand instant action.

The tap in our bathroom developed a leak which I couldn't cure as I was unable to get into the workings of the tap.  So the tap had to be replaced.  Then I was able to finish putting up the guttering to the front of the house.  This was a convenient moment for the drains from the kitchen to block and I had to remove the built up grease from the grease trap; (head down drains with Sue hanging on my legs!)

I have now started to see if I can do something about the holes in the barn roof.  Although we don't use the upstairs of the barn, we'd like to keep the weather out.  So firstly I'm going to see if I can do something from inside.
Cleo was very interested and I'm sure she'll investigate what I'm doing!
Whilst this was going on Sue was supervising as well as preparing another lot of Irises she's lifted from the 'Raised' bed.
So a late afternoon was spent celebrating the arrival of September!