Friday, February 9, 2018

January brings....

'January brings the sow
Makes our feet and fingers glow'

A new look for the blog for the new year. The good, the bad and the ugly  well nearly, the good, the bad and a postcript

The good

The garden
No snow for us but rain, rain, rain -  the rain that hadn't come in November fell at last. Though gardeners on my Facebook gardening group bemoaned the wet conditions I was glad to see the lakes around filling up at last. With raised bed gardening the soil drains well and so whenever a sunny day popped up I was able to get out there and work on preparing the potager for the growing season. Feeling the sun on my back really felt good and working in the garden always works its magic.

Frost finally breaking the manure down nicely

Autumn sown broad beans and garlic

A few winter veg left but all other beds prepared for the new season and we have started redoing the paths.

We brought in the year with our French friends. Their friendship over last sixteen years has been so special and a big part of our integration into this community. Always happy to help whenever they can - this month's project the clearing of the last pile of wood from around the property. All cut and neatly stacked thanks to Jean Pierre and his giant tractor operated log splitter.  We also had a lovely gift from our friend, the village Maire, Michel. During the renovation works his team took away scrap metal from the site and sold it for us. By mistake, they took an old hand plough we wanted to keep and ever since he has kept his eye out for a replacement. The plough finally found, he dropped it off and yesterday his men called on the way home from sandblasting on a site to sandblast the plough all ready for a coat of anti-rust paint. Friends - always a good thing.
The group of 10
Looking ahead
Even on the odd sunny days, outdoor activities are limited so time for organising and planning. Felt very noble after having spent an afternoon sorting out files and tidying the office kept company by the French crime series Spiral. Seeds ordered for next season and garden projects planned. The best job of all was planning our holidays. May on the Kent coast with all our children, a long weekend finally visiting Puy de Fou with a group from the village and checking our itinerary for a trip to Thailand in early December. Lots to look forward to.

The Bad

Kevin has really missed January as he has had an awful virus, spending many days in bed and the rest of the time doing very little. The only advice from the doctor was to be a patient patient - which he found very hard. He even had to eat meals cooked by me!

The rain came into the good things category but what has been worrying about the weather is that it has been too warm. My neighbour showed me peach trees already coming into bloom which is much too early. This early blossom can be caught by late frosts. The constant rain also made walking in the orchards more like skating! Just about got around with Schula and Sam running free. When our friend's dog Ellie came for a week and had to be on the lead and she strained to get to the others I was slip sliding away and only just managed to stay upright.

Suffice it to say I am more and more disillusioned and disheartened by the inept and dishonest way this is being (mis)managed.

My orchids are in flower! I finally overcame my reluctance to get my new gardening gloves dirty, one of my Christmas presents, and I made good use of the ear warming headband too on these cold early morning dog walks. Goodbye January - you've been a wet one!

A bientôt

Monday, January 1, 2018

Bonnes Fêtes

Deck the halls......... christmas decorations inside and out.

A very grown up Christmas for us this year with my daughter and her wife flying in laden with goodies. Our daughter Sophie came up trumps continuing her 2017 theme of dressing her Dad well and Tom didn't forget the chocolate oranges! James and Lizi made sure we had the grandchildren with us by sending us a lovely canvas of the three of them. Kevin got his whiskey so all was well with the christmas world.

A visit from our lovely friends and their family with the delicious Chloe for us to play with.

 Friends and neighbours enjoying an English Christmas  -  the crackers were a hit.

New year's Eve - spent with our lovely group of French friends (also known as 4 couples and us) who we have known and hung out with from our earliest days here. We are so grateful for their friendship and support and look forward to many more happy times together in 2018.

We hope you had a wonderful festive season and we wish all of you the happiest of years in 2018.

A bientôt.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

A Christmas wish

Too long since I updated my blog - another sign that I am getting too involved in projects and not giving myself enough time to sit and reflect.  Must try harder in 2018. A little catch up before the end of the year catches me unawares

Those warm summer days sharing our home with people we love. Good food, good wine , good company - lots of love, laughter and cuddles. A reunion with a long lost friend in sunny Greece. A very special birthday celebrated with our family in the UK. So many happy moments.

The lovely Decker children searching for eggs

The bestest of best men and his beloved

A friendship rekindled 

Birthday treats

Celebrated twenty one years with my lovely husband  - this is soon after we met.

There were sad times too - a bitter sweet visit to my old home town of Salisbury to say a farewell to a dear friend and a close friend in the village receiving a life threatening diagnosis. Then there is the car crash that is Brexit and wondering how or if it will affect our income and our life here. We'll still be here whatever happens and you are all welcome to pop in and spend some time with us when you can

We wish all of you a very merry Christmas and the happiest of years in 2018.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

How many swallows made our summer?


Once again the swallows came back to nest on our terrace. Even though we leave the two nests from last year just in case they use them, once again they set to work from scratch and raised five chicks in their first nest. There are now four hungry babies in nest number two. So this year it will be 11 swallows who have made our summer, two parents and 9 babies. Soon this second brood will be leaving us and we wish them bon voyage. Hopefully they will return next year.

A fond adieu

We recently said goodbye to two of the members of the club of the third age -  a sister and brother who died within a fortnight of each other. The second was a very sudden, unexpected loss. The two funerals saw churches full to bursting as whole communities came to say a fond farewell.

We have experienced many village funerals in our fifteen years here and are always touched by how many people attend. This last one was even more significant to me as I sat and watched so many people showing their love and friendship in such a loving way. A big family of four children, eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren remembered a life that was full. A man who worked hard as a farmer all his life and who also gave time to serve the community in many ways. I couldn't help thinking of the contrast this life had with that of those who put profit before community and measure people'e worth by what they possess.  Money cannot buy the love that was shown at these funerals and I feel blessed to have known both these gentle people.

Simple things

Lots of things happening in the world at the moment are making me sad and I am comforting myself by thinking of the simple things that make life good. The swallows, good friends, a caring family, my garden and good health.

When I was a girl it was the craze to have an autograph book and I remember my aunty Janie writing a verse in it which I now know is from Charles Kingsley's poem 'Youth A Farewell'``

Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever;  
Do noble things, not dream them, all day long:
And so make life, death, and that vast forever
            One grand, sweet song.

Our own sweet song

Some photos taken recently around our home by one of our daughters - the simple things that help make our life a sweeter song.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Au bourg in July


Our best, best man lives in San Diego now so visits are rare. We were so pleased that he and his partner managed to find time for us in their hectic European schedule - thanks Bridget and Simon we had a great time.

Our lovely Australian friends are in town and we are enjoying catching up with them too. Family visits won't happen until August so we have been spending lots of time in  .........

........the garden

It's that time of year when we start storing our produce for the winter. 24 jars of tomatoes are already on the shelves in the cave and I have been processing cucumbers and courgettes. The onion and garlic harvests have been good and they are all tressed and hanging up in the barn and cave ready to eat. We are now planting out our winter veg of leeks, cabbages, cauliflowers and sprouts to keep us going later in the year. Here's a little walk around the potager.

Kevin has started another project - making beer! Watch this space.

A bientôt.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Géneration Mouvement - Le Club du Val de la Canaule

Ever since we came to Labretonie 15 years ago we have supported the activities of the club of the third age. I joined the Monday afternoon gym sessions and several years ago, after a week of training, qualified to run the sessions. We have also helped out some years at the annual variety show, been on outings and enjoyed the annual meal.

Since last September we have taken on a more active role as the club found itself without a president, secretary or treasurer. The club was in the doldrums but we got ourselves going again and Kevin and I took on the roles of secretary and treasurer after the AGM in November. Having a responsibility does involve work from time to time but it is worth it to see the pleasure that the activities bring. Our most recent event was the annual Gala.

A show of songs, sketches, jokes, mime and music.

The oldest members of our club usually sing in the choir but failing eyesight meant they couldn't get to all the rehearsals. We all agreed it wouldn't be a gala without them so we invited them to sing their customary duo and stay on stage for the last two songs. I remember them telling me how important music had been in their lives and how when they were young they relaxed by the fireside in the evenings singing folk songs. A delightful couple.

Alice and Eugène sing one of their old favourites

We had fun during the rehearsals and during the performance and we had great feedback from our appreciative audience. They all joined in as we sang Viva Espana and on the club's very own special song 'La Canaule'. Bravo all the artists - you did brilliantly.

A chance to catch up with old friends

A celebratory meal for the artists and the helpers

Our next event will be on the 11th June when we all meet at a local restaurant to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the club. One of the founders is our neighbour who turned 90 last week - we took her and another of the hardworking members of the club out to afternoon tea to celebrate.

Claudette and Reine enjoying an English afternoon tea - they had a doggy bag to take home too.

A bientôt

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Catching up in Cologne

Time for me to catch up with the blog and this post is about some catching up we did with good friends in Germany over Easter weekend. This was our second visit to Cologne to see them and we had a wonderful time. David came home from university to see us and Leah was home too so we had all the family together.

Sculptures, parks, picnic and Cologne beer.

Art, folk stories, castles and cathedrals
Going back in time and all the fun of the fair. Those houses were a bit small for our boys.
David and Leah with their young selves - how lucky we are to have these young people in our lives.
In between all the outings we had lovely meals, drank some excellent wine, discussed Europe and politics, listened to music and laughed together. The best of times. From gite clients to best of friends - what fun it has been watching the children grow up and getting to know this family so well. Can't wait for the next time.