Les poissons en France

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Autumn Roundup

Well, Christmas is fast approaching, and what have we been doing?  And really, not a lot.

Since our last post Sue has taken every opportunity to be working out in the garden.  She's trying to keep the beds as weed free as possible so that there will be a little less work in the Spring.  Now that I'm not mowing, I've started 'again' on the last bedroom.  I've fitted a shower tray which has to be tiled and I now have to sort out the plumbing for the shower, toilet and hand basin. Then I will make good all of the joints in the plasterboard that lines the walls before tackling the electrics.  Finally there's the tiling to be done.  Just a few jobs!
The trouble is, it's so long since I started doing the room (at least 2 years) that we're having to remind ourselves of what we want in the room and then think about how I was /am going to do it.

In the midst of all of this, we've socialised with friends, played Bridge at our club in Gourdon in aid of the French equivalent of Children in Need, and started to prepare for Christmas.  In fact we had our first 'Tinsel and Turkey' yesterday with 3 friends who came for lunch.  Needless to say we didn't have Turkey but we did try to make it a bit festive as we won't be seeing them again before the 25th.

As you may have noted, Sue is planning on opening the Garden with a charity scheme in 2016, and the local organiser invited us to meet up with a group of gardeners to the west of Cahors for a plant swap.  They were very welcoming, pleasingly they weren't all English and Sue came home with a tray of new plants!

We're off to the UK next week to see Aunty Betty and then the serious Christmas preparation will begin.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Sainte Catherine

The 25th November is the saints day for Sainte Catherine, a day propitious for planting trees and shrubs.
"À la Sainte-Catherine, Tout bois prend racines." which roughly translated means that all wood will produce roots if planted on this day.  Well, we're a trifle early!
Man with tree
Man in hole
Man mixing planting medium
Tree in hole

That's the 12th tree we've planted this autumn, and we were only going to plant 3!!!

As they say at the end of the cartoons, "That's all, folks"

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Spain again

We decided that we'd nip back to Spain to revisit the Nature  Reserve  north of Girona.  We had enjoyed it in September but we thought that there would be more birds to see.  We had also seen some ideas for Christmas presents in shops in Begur ... plus we needed to go to the 'Wine Emporium' for more spanish wine!  So this was to be a 'quickie'.  A leisurely drive down, with lunch in a little french town just before the border.  We settled ourselves into our hotel ... we think that we were the only guests that night, and the resort had the feel of a seaside town shut for winter.  This actually suited us fine!

The next morning we went off to the reserve thinking that we would virtually have it to ourselves.  How wrong can you be!!!
There were goodness knows how many coach-loads of school kids and at least one coach of oap's.  And of course, the children had no concept of keeping quiet so as not to disturb the birds.

However, we set off into the reserve and all of the school children went we know not where!  We can only assume that they were in the visitor's centre in a classroom, as we, and a handful of other 'twitchers', had the place to ourselves.  
And we were delighted immediately in the first hide.  Storks, all kinds of ducks and even deer.
There were about 5 or 6 deer, and then we spotted the stag.
As we walked round the reserve there were hundreds of storks, some of them using old nests as perches ...
...there were lots of hides and lots of different birds and we even saw the marsh harrier again.
It was a really good day, especially as is was bright sunshine and about 24 degrees.
Having had our fill of wildlife (after walking about 8 km) we managed to fit in some therapeutic shopping buying wine!  Then this morning we went into the old town of Begur to a fantastic deli to stock up with spanish goodies.  A nice little interlude.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Opening the Garden In 2016

As you will probably know opening your garden in aid of charity is a very British thing. There is an enormous scheme operating in England under the auspices of "The Yellow Book". I have always enjoyed visiting other peoples gardens and inevitably scrutinising them but I have never had the courage to consider opening mine. I feared I could not cope with the pressure of weeding and tidying as the appointed day arrived.

This year we found out that a few gardens were being opened here in France within traveling distance, so we went to see. They didn't seem as wonderful and pristine as those I had seen in the UK so I investigated further. The scheme was started in 2013 by some Brits and was loosely based on that operating in the UK.  They supported a French charity "A chacun son Everest", (roughly translated "to each his own Everest"). It was founded by a doctor who was the first French woman to climb Everest. It arranges activities for children with, or in remission from, cancer or leukemia. The first year they opened four gardens and raised 300 euros, in 2014 it was 28 gardens raising 3000 euros and this year it was 75 gardens raising over 11000 euros.

So I applied and have been accepted. I might say that the criteria is that you should have about half an hours interest in your garden, not that there should be tidy edges and no weeds! I know it's showing off but I am proud of the garden and people who pass by always make very favourable comments. In addition I thought that we might open the garden and encourage others to do so during the village fete weekend at the end of August. I would not propose charging entry for this as it would be a totally village affair. We have the support of the Mayor and now have to concoct a piece for him to put in his New Year bulletin.

So we will see how things develop but so far I have gained some new like-minded friends.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now - Part 2

Subtitled -   Development of the Garden
                  Can't Miss a Bargain

When we went to buy the Kaki Tree we saw a large banner outside the garden centre explaining that there were new proprietors and that they were having a clear out of old stock (known here as a Braderie) over this weekend. We had arranged to have friends for lunch yesterday so we knew we needed to go early. I considered it was a bit unseemly to be hammering on the gate at 10 o'clock so we arrived at 2 minutes past, but I needn't have worried there were already hoards there.

John had had his eye on a larch tree for sometime and I was interested in the perennials so, endeavouring not to miss a bargain, we split up. Ten minutes latter John found me saying he had found "two other" larches to go with the one he wanted and another one which he would like me to look at. The fourth one was a magnificent tree and an absolute bargain.  However, it had one draw back, it was at least 5 metres tall!! We considered various transport options but decided it wasn't feasible and walked towards the cash desk.  We had only gone about 3 yards and both of us turned round and said 'lets have it'. We did negotiate a cheaper delivery price than we had paid for the other trees so we felt well satisfied.

We have come full circle as the larches are to go on the mound where, in our naivety, we originally planted the silver birches in December 2007.
Rest assured we have no intention of planting an arboretum (well never say never!)

Not to make you jealous but ... we have been eating on the front terrace at lunch times for the last fortnight and it was so hot yesterday that I got the thermometer out of the porcherie.  It was 35 degrees in full sun.

Long may it continue, John has a lot more holes to dig.