Les poissons en France

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

First Three

The weather is forecast to remain good (about 20 and sun) for the rest of this week before becoming cooler and showery.  So it seemed a good time to plant the trees in the front garden.  We had thought that it would just take the morning but in practice, what with mixing soil, compost and manure, and then realising that the holes were quite large and needed even more soil, it took us all day!
By the time we had finished we were exhausted but pleased.  And we then recovered by sitting on the top terrace for an hour or so with a glass of wine contemplating the garden, the birds and the view.

But ... a gardeners work is never done!  4 holes needed in the back garden!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Garden Again

As you haven't been regaled with tales of the garden for a month I thought it was time to bring you up to date. Although the mornings and evenings are distinctly chilly (4 degrees this morning) the temperature is rising to the low twenties during the day and the garden is full of late summer/autumn colour. Apparently we had a lot of rain whilst we were in Spain so, coupled with the warmth, it is no wonder that everything is lush.
We have plans to plant four trees in the back field so that they can establish before winter sets in. We put some stakes in the ground a few weeks ago to mark where we thought we wanted them planted. The idea being that we could reflect on their position before digging the holes. We have only made minor adjustments and John began digging yesterday. The nurseyman told us that the holes need to be a metre cubed - that's big. John has finished digging number one and three to go. I was worried about his heart but he is worried about his back!! He says it is a good work out but he will pace himself.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Catalan Diversion

We are just back from a week's holiday with cousin Mel and Pat.  They invited us to share a villa with them in a Catalan resort, Sa Tuna, near Begur, which in turn is near Girona.  We drove down to Girona airport (about four and a half hours for us), picked up Pat and Mel and went on to the villa.  Sue and I had not been before and we were pleasantly surprised at the coast.  It wasn't miles of packed sand, pedalos and bars.  This northern stretch of the Costa Brava has pine covered cliffs tumbling down to the sea with lots of small bays and rocky coves.  It's a great area for snorkeling and diving in the clear waters and trekking along the picturesque coastal walks.  It seems it is the place where the affluent of Barcelona have their villas!
During our week we visited a wonderful garden at Cap Roig.  This is a garden of Mediterranean and sub-tropical plants started in 1928
and which sits on a magnificent site overlooking the sea.
Well worth a visit, we are told that the best time to go is in the Spring.  There is a festival held every year in the gardens in July and August.
We also visited a large nature reserve 'Aiguamolls' where, despite it being the wrong time of year for lots of birds, we were still able to get close to some storks and watch other birds from the hides.
The town of Begur is fascinating as its architecture was influenced by the tastes of emigres returning from Cuba around the end of the 19th century.
We also found a wine emporium ... a large upmarket 'superstore' selling a vast range of wines, some of which were very expensive.  An indication of its scope was the bottle opener which we saw encrusted with diamonds on sale for 1003 euros!!!  We had to go there a second time to check that we'd seen the price correctly.
The attractions of the bird reserve and the garden may well pull us back there again!

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Life's Rich Tapestry

Both Sue and I needed repeat prescriptions and we've just returned home with them ... after 2 days of trying!
Normally we praise the French health system and we love the fact that our local doctor operates like it used to be in the UK in the 50's.  When we want to see him we go along during his open time, go into his waiting room (which is a room in his own house) and, having checked how many people are in the queue, we wait until it's our turn.  All very civilised.
However, our Doctor is on holiday and so there is a locum.  We went to the Doctors yesterday at 9 in the morning and all of the parking spaces were taken.  so we went home, had a coffee and went back an hour later and there were more cars than ever!  Undeterred we tried again at quarter to twelve (doctors hours are 8 - 12) and this time people were waiting outside the front door in the sun.
 So, plan B!  The Tuesday hours are 2 - 4 in the afternoon and, arriving just before 2 there were only 3 ladies ahead of us.  As we waited, we realised what had been causing the delays yesterday.   The replacement doctor was taking about half an hour for each consultation.  So, we were 4th in the queue and, after arriving for 2 we came out just before 4!!  Even though we only wanted repeat prescriptions, she insisted on examining us before writing them out.
And then ... something that definitely wouldn't happen in England.  As we stood up to leave she offered us a very nice Belgian chocolate!

When we went on to the Pharmacy, we had a long discusion with Mr Florenty, the chemist, who obviously had heard the same story from everyone who went in for medicines ... she is very thorough ... but she takes a long time.

It's a good job we're retired and have nothing better to do with our time!

Friday, September 04, 2015


Whilst we were in the UK recently we went to stay with my friend Wendy who I worked with many moons ago. She and her husband have made the trek over to see us but to our shame we have not been to see them since Guy was at junior school.  So it was lovely to catch up and see their new house (which they moved into 12 years ago!!). However Wendy commented that she knows everything we do as she reads the Blog but that she never appears on it. Well we will now rectify that.

In addition to Wendy we have another follower known only as "Lynn Anonymous". We know that she has been following the Blog for a number of years as she occasionally leaves a comment. Some how we got into email contact with her and she planned to call in to see us last year whilst on holiday in our area. However she broke her leg and couldn't come but this year we tried again and we finally met today. Whilst waiting for their arrival we became a little anxious and suddenly realised that it might all be a hoax and that we might be eating a lot of chicken. We needn't have worried.  When they arrived we got on like a house on fire. She made a good impression by arriving with arms full of plants and she and Mike gave us the feeling that they would like to move to France tomorrow. More new friends.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

A Tale of Two Weddings

Last week we went to England to see old friends, but also to attend two weddings (it made it worth the trip!)
First we had the city wedding.  This was held in London in the Oriental Club just off Bond Street.We stayed with 'Aunty' Betty and the journey into town started with a half-hour drive to Stanmore at the end of the Jubilee Line of the London Underground.  The drive in was uneventful - light traffic - but then, to our dismay, the car park at the station was full!  We had collided with the Rugby League final at Wembley stadium, so the car park was full of 'northerners' who had driven down to support their team.
After reassuring ourselves that there were no places by driving round the car park three times, we set off in search of somewhere nearby to park.  Foolish!  All of the surrounding sideroads were Residents Permit Only.  We therefore continued driving on in towards Central London.  Within 5 minutes we saw a sign to other Tube Stations, one of which was Canons Park. A small station, but with a small car park - and about 3 parking spaces left.  Day saved!  However, even here, the Rugby League supporters were making their way to the match and we had some banter with a group of lads.  We were highly amused when one of them asked us if we were going to the match.  There they were, in jeans and team shirts, and there we were, suit and posh frock, on our way to a wedding!!

The Oriental Club turned out to be a bastion of old fashioned colonialism and correctness.
The walls were hung with paintings of Colonels and administrators of the Raj and the noticeboard informed of curry lunches held in the Calcutta Cavalry Bar.

Not surprisingly, the food was a very good selection of what seemed like authentic Indian curries.

The next day was the country wedding, a total contrast.  Held in the large rear garden of Clive and Mary (Clive is Betty's son and the groom is Betty's grandson) in rural Leicestershire.
The occasion wasn't designated as formal, but everyone dressed smartly as befitted a wedding.  The simple but sincere ceremony was held in a very large 'teepee'.
The exchange of vows and the readings from friends and family reduced Sue to tears.  It was a happy, joyous time.
The ceremony was followed by speeches, food and dancing.
So, two different weddings, the chance to renew old friendships, a lot of rain, and a lot of driving ... and queueing ... on motorways!