Les poissons en France

Saturday, July 25, 2015

No Mystery

All this week is/has been the Jazz festival at Souillac with jazz in the streets every day.  Yesterday we went with some friends to 'promenade' following one of the bands, 'Le Mistère des Eléphants', a group of eccentric jazz musicians who give a good performance.
As they all carry their own instruments they are always on the move
Fortunately it wasn't too hot and so we watched and then followed for more than an hour, strolling through the old parts of Souillac. 

At the conclusion of their set it seemed an opportune moment for a sit down and a beer before we then found the next band set up in the old market place, Karima and Olivier.
They were joined by a drummer and bass player and we enjoyed some cool jazz with Brazilian influences.
There are concerts every evening but these daytime performances are all free!

We returned home for a few glasses of wine and dinner and our friends left about 9 o'clock.  I subsequently checked the emails and found our neighbours had sent us some photos.  It seems that during the afternoon, our garden had been visited by a sheep!!!
We went to find our neighbours, who were performing the nightly ritual of watering the plants.  Nadine explained that she had been on their terrace, had heard some funny clip-clopping and looked out to see a sheep walking down the road from over the hill.  It wasn't interested in the bread she tried to give it ... hopefully it hadn't eaten too many of Sue's plants!  It seems that the sheep had then started off towards the village followed by a van coming down the hill.  The driver said that it belonged to his father and it had been 'lost' since the day before.  He was on his way to the Recycling Centre and would pick it up on his way back.

You never know what you will find in the garden!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


In May we said it was unusually warm for the time of year. I remember the sweat pouring off Guy when he was digging the holes in the front garden. When David and June came in June there was much consternation as it rained the day they arrived and then Nadine told us it rained on the Friday morning that we were away in the Pyrenees. We had two heavy showers last Saturday night and that has been it. Each day the temperatures rise to the mid thirties during the afternoon and stay there until about 9pm. Our whole life has changed to accommodate the conditions. We have had a hose pipe ban since early July so I get up at 6am and water for a couple of hours. Apart from actually hauling myself out of bed I really enjoy it. It is a beautiful time of day and I love seeing the kestrels flying around still hassling their parents for food. The only downside is that we get virtually nothing else done.
These photos were taken at the beginning of June when I was pleased with the long bed as I thought I was on the way to achieving the herbaceous border I had always planned.

This is what it looks like now.
We have abandoned the vegetable patch and I only try to keep things alive on the raised bed by watering every other day. I selectively water the serpentine and white beds as I raised many things from seed and I just can't bring myself to let them die. However there is a jewel in the crown ... the Christo bed is a blaze of colour with dahlias and annuals.
Sensible people would not consider buying trees in the middle of a drought which shows no sign of abating..... however, yes we went and bought three albitzia trees yesterday and brought them home in the hottest part of the day.
Well they were just what we wanted and at a good price. We now have to coax them through the summer for autumn planting.

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Catering Experience

Some of you may know that we are members of a Bridge Club in our local town.  Once a year there is a tournament followed by aperos and food and in previous years the food has been dire.  So much so that last year Sue could stand it no more.  And hence this weekend, we were the caterers.

Sue had devised a menu which was accepted by the committee and so we were quite happy to proceed.  However, the first difficulty was to fix the numbers we had to cater for; very difficult as players could register as late as the morning of the tournament!  It was generally agreed that there wouldn't be more than 80 and we organised accordingly.
The tournament was to end about 6 o'clock  and everything was ready to go in the kitchen adjacent to the hall.  Once speeches started, with results to be announced and prizes given out, we began to put the food out.
What we hadn't realised was that the appearance of the food would signal a rush for plates for the food.  We had budgeted for a small piece of salmon and a chicken thigh per person and so we were anxious to serve that before the 'customers' helped themselves to salads. But we found ourselves trying to hold the hordes back and avoid a free for all.  We managed to negotiate the main course, fending off requests for more chicken, is there any sauce, is there mayonnaise, etc.
But this was repeated once the puddings started to appear; a rush to form a queue, can I have a piece of everything, I can't join the queue as I've got to go!!!!
Then, to crown it all, one lady tipped all of our spare cutlery out into a box so she could use the carrier-bag and proceeded to collect up all of the chicken bones from people's plates ... as well as trying to fill it up with chicken and salmon which remained on the serving platters.  I think she knew that I was not best pleased ... and then we took it away back into the kitchen.
We had thought that a crowd of mature people would act sensibly but ... c'est la vie say the old folks ...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

More Babies

Our kestrel family are still around. We hear them calling and presumably they are in the "weaning phase" when we understand that they are still fed by the adults but are taught to hunt. However, we now have a new family to observe. Nadine has been telling us for about a week that she has heard owl chicks in the pigonnier and seen the parents bringing in food. Last night we heard the owlets and then saw the adult bring in a small rodent. There must be a population explosion of voles to support all these predatory birds!!

Needless to say you will not be supplied with regular photos of this families exploits, however this is their front door.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Au Revoir?

Yesterday evening saw 3 young Kestrels making their first tentative flights
...and one lonely figure left in the nest.
This morning, the straggler took off and now, we are left alone.

It's been a priviledge to witness this small episode of the wonder of Nature.  Now we can clean up the droppings and debris and reclaim our courtyard!

Friday, July 10, 2015

And then there were Four

Yesterday we didn't see much adult Kestrel activity at all and Sue became worried that they might have been abandoned.
So great excitement this morning when Sue, out watering, came rushing to find me saying, 'They've flown!'  And on the roof of our barn some 25m behind the house sat 2 kestrels, looking very pleased with themselves.  I quickly took some photos.
The third kestrel was still in the nest hole and there was calling between the young.  Then suddenly there were 3 on the roof.
I called to Sue, telling her that all 3 were out, but she said 'there's one in the nest!  So ... we now have 4 young.

At the moment the 3 on the roof are all just sat there as if to say 'OK, we've flown.  So what?  What next?'

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

...but not Brave Enough.

The Kestrels are all crowding the 'door' but no-one's made the leap yet.  I've noticed in the mornings, an adult Kestrel, having delivered breakfast, has perched on the roof of the barn behind the house as if to encourage someone to join him.  So far, no success!

The weather continues to be hot, normally in the 30's, and no sign of rain.  It is now putting severe pressure on the garden, despite Sue's efforts at watering morning and evening.

June 7th
July 8th

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Getting Brave

I went out into the back garden this evening and I saw that the kestrel chicks are getting ready to explore the wide world. 
You can now see that there are 3 chicks ... you can just make our the third at the back of the hole.  He's still got some yellow around his beak.  There's no room for exercising wings so I guess it's going to be 'just go for it'!