Les poissons en France

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What a difference the Rain Makes

Believe it or not we have had three days of rain and I have got my garden back. Well most of it. The long bed has a way to go but has improved sufficiently to inspire me to start tidying it. John has had to mow everywhere although the grass has suffered severely in places. In particular the courtyard which we will have to reseed in the Autumn. We have been gardening for three days solid and are well satisfied with our efforts. Unfortunately gardens never stand still and we are forecast to have high temperatures again.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Lherm Opera

Another astonishing evening of culture in a small village hidden in the depths of the countryside.  Every year the local association puts on a concert in the little church; tickets sold on the door.  We went early to form the queue for 7 o'clock when they started selling the tickets and consequently we were in the front row.  So we had the best seats in the house!
Opéra concert à l'église

This year we were entertained by a soprano, Kathryn Jenkin, who regularly performs with the English National Opera and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and a mezzo-soprano, Jeanette Ager, who has performed at numerous major venues in London and around the world.  Unfortunately her luggage got lost at Toulouse airport so she had to perform in her jeans but you didn't notice because the quality of her voice was breathtaking.

We can't believe our luck in being able to see such top quality performers at such a backwoods place. We're in the queue for next year, when we understand it will be the turn of the Tenors!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Owl Watch

We sat out on the lawn last night with our eyes trained on the owl hole. However we soon realised that we were too late. The adults are going hunting much earlier as it gets dark earlier. |Tonight we took the owl watch more seriously. John set up his tripod and camera at 9.15pm, although the chicks had been shouting (and believe me they do shout and get louder as they become more frustrated) from 9pm. I took up my position along side with binoculars focused ready to report any activity at the owl's front door. Actually our photographic equipment is not good enough for "night time wildlife action" but we did get this picture.
Previously we have only seen the adults and two chicks flying but tonight we saw four young ones and could still hear at least one more screeching from the nest.

You may need to use your imagination but this is a photo of one of the chicks on the pigeonnier roof. He stayed there for about five minutes and didn't seem bothered by the camera flash.
Whilst we are out during summer evenings we hear a sound like an electrical machine clicking. We have always thought it was a Scops owl, which is about the size of a starling. However further investigation today suggests that it is a "midwife toad". John is totally convinced although I am not sure.We did read that it is often mistaken for a Scops owl but as we are never likely to see either we will never know. If you are interested I urge you to Google 'alytes obstetricans' a fascinating little creature.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Encore ...

... which means more ... more culture that is!
In our next village, which can have no more than 200 inhabitants, a concert was held early evening in the church.  A choir from Le Havre was 'on tour'.  We went along, for the price of a donation, and experienced an excellent concert of sacred music, old and contemporary, with also the final section accompanied by a really good harpist.  Astonishing quality of music in a very small church in rural France!
But, the event didn't end there!  At the end of the concert, the Mayor gave a speech of thanks and then invited everyone to the Salle de Fete, (village hall) for a glass of something.  So, opposite the church,
the Salle de Fete.  However, passing in through the open door,
was the incredible swish, modern hall!  Sue couldn't get over how modern and stylish were the toilets!  We were given a glass of wine and nibbles and we spent an enjoyable hour talking to the performers.

This is one of the reasons why we love living in France.

A Strange Entente Cordial

As the sun continued to beat down, the annual Shakespeare invasion arrived.  Each summer a touring company spend a couple of weeks in the Lot and Dordogne performing a Shakespeare play.  This year it's 'Henry V', being the 600th anniversary of Agincourt and also, slightly more tenuously, the centenary of the First World war.
The play was set in a French Military hospital in 1915 where the English and French patients were putting on a performance of Henry V.

We went with our English summer neighbours John and Lesley.  As you can imagine this is a curiously English event with virtually all of the audience being English and so the walled garden where it was staged had a 'Glynbourne' feel to it with groups of picnicking friends enjoying the evening warmth. However I suspect that Glynebourne does not have a tom cat that owns the garden and considers that all these  people have arrived exclusively to pet him.

The play is performed in the round and so everyone is very close to the action.
To our delight, the play, performed in WWI battledress, was totally engrossing ... extremely good acting, brilliant direction, a magical moment.  The actor who played Henry is a star in the making, whilst the directors cleverly and imaginatively brought moments of Blackadder to this interpretation which suddenly took you from 1415 into the horrors of 1915.

At the end of the performance we were all stunned by the evening, one of those rare occasions when Art can take you out of yourself.

Sue says:-

What's all the fuss about Cumberbatch's Hamlet when we have this totally magical performance in a village in the depths of rural France. Watch out for Freddie Stewart girls, Henry V, he is not only gorgeous but extremely talented. Having only graduated from RADA two years ago he has already featured on  TV and in many Shakespearean plays on the stage. Whilst heralding Freddie it is the directors who should be taking the highest plaudits for their imaginative interpretation and inspirational touches.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

We're still here!!

Just to let you know that we have not melted away. It has turned out to be an extraordinary summer. We were just reflecting that the temperatures have been on average in the low thirties for the last three months and during that time we have had about six days when there has been a little precipitation some time during the day or night. I continue to get up about 6.30am to water, hindered a little as the days are shortening, and we still have a semblance of a garden in some places. I know gardeners always moan about the weather, its too hot, too cold, too much rain not enough but what else would we talk about?

What do gardeners do when it is too hot to work outside? Answer, plan for next year. Ever the optimists we have been trying to find some trees for the back field. This is no easy task as we live in a "difficult site". We need trees that will survive in very dry, shallow alkaline soil and endure temperatures of 30 - 40C to minus 18 C. With a lot of research we have found trees that fit the bill; now we have to source them. Furthermore I have new ideas for the Serpentine Bed noted in my "little red book" for the autumn.

Owl Watch

We mentioned a few weeks ago that we have "baby owls" in the pigeonnier. They start to screech about 9.30 each evening to remind their parents that they are hungry. However the adults rarely leave to go hunting until the church clock strikes 10pm. If it is not too hot, ie. below 30degrees C we take up viewing positions about 9.50pm. Countless evenings John has set up his camera to capture the owls setting off to hunt.  However he is not the most patient wildlife photographer and gives up ten seconds before they take flight.

We have not seen the fledglings yet but are ever hopeful.

ps   we saw the owlets tonight!  A birdwatching friend came especially to see them this evening and the whole family put on a wonderful display for her!