Sunday, 28 February 2010

Thank you to Peter and Sarah for being such good company

For once we can safely say that the weather chappies got their facts right today.....Mike and I keep an eye on the forecast for the south of England and take a guess at what is happening that 100 miles further south. The French Meteo is always a bit vague, the whole of France is split into four equal parts with a symbol plonked in each quarter and does not fill you with much confidence so we take an educated guess on the South Today and Chanel 5 forecasts....soooooo yesterday we got a suspicion that there was a big weather event coming so we wheel barrowed half a square meter of red gravel into the beach garden. Where there was chaos and mess, once the gravel went in there was cool serene and ordered calm, gravel fills in gaps, sets up contrasts in colour and shape and I just absolutely love dumping it and raking it out. In fact, we both enjoy it and competed to see who would have the rake in hand to do the final finishing was always is...The Beach garden is now a planned chaos of shells pebbles and drift wood one side and smooth clean-cut gravel the other...I just love it. Because we believed the forecast for today I phoned a friend last night and we got together for a traditional roast Sunday lunch with the added delight of cauliflower picked that morning, and Yes it did rain all day, non stop. Thank you to Peter and Sarah for being such good company. Happy birthday to my Mum, 84 yesterday ...fantastic

Friday, 26 February 2010

We have not thought about it but it has just happened.

Good heavens, it is Friday again and we are into the weekend, not that it makes that much difference to us except that if you don't have your fruit and veg in by Saturday you go without. It is actually not that bad here any more because sadly for France, the tide has turned since we arrived three years ago and all our supermarkets open Sunday morning. We still can't get our heads around it and vow never to go but we will, and the next thing will be 24 hour shopping .....tragic. The sun showed it's fab little face today and although there was a violent wind we did manage to get the sleepers into place at the beach garden. This garden has been a real on-goer and has doubled in size in the two years that we have been developing it. We have spent two winters going to the beach collecting shells and pebbles and today we put the final touches so all that is left is to place the gravel for the sitting area and then collect only the beautiful pebbles, shells and drift wood instead of this commercial approach we have had to take to cover the area. We bought yet another trailer of gravel and after I had paid for it I realised that I had paid quite a bit more this time so we questioned the very nice young man who assured me the price was right but took the time to look at all our previous invoices and then offered to sell us our trailer load at the previous price ...just this once.....We will need more gravel so it will be interesting to see how that pans out. We are now seriously starting to plan the next two months, the potting shed roof needs mending so we can switch the electric warm-seed-bed on and then we can start sowing. I went to pick fresh lettuce from the poly this afternoon and I can honestly say that we have picked something from the garden for an entire year starting mid March we have not thought about it but it has just happened.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

We ended up on the beach and HOSS put his poor paw in the sea

We both woke up like bears with sore heads....why is that, once one starts the other just gets on the grumpy band wagon. We have peanut butter thanks to Peter's last jaunt to the UK so breakfast was taken care of, and then a skype to OZ to see some sunny faces and warm stories of life down under. I am always cheered when the girls call in and with the new PC' it is like seeing them on the TV, fantastic. We started the day by unloading the sleepers from the trailer and they are unbelievably heavy things to man-handle, we laid them out on the drive and then the unexpected happened!!! started to rain.....but as we are so delayed in our projects we chose to ignore the pitter patter on the pond and transported two sleepers to the beach garden and then had to admit defeat and hit the tea pot for the umpteenth time this week. HOSS is still troubled with this paw and a trip to the sea is out of the question now that the skies are laden with rain.... stir fever set in after lunch, and when Mike walked in with a piece of broken roof from the potting shed I realised that the only way out of this fever was a trip to BRICO DEPOT for a touch of retail therapy. We hit the second hand junk shop in Cherbourg one of the best in the area then did our chores in the builders merchants. We had taken the camper to give her a bit of a run but she let us down and we punctured a back tyre........Mike nursed her down to "Profile pneu"...and they took the wheel off, mended the valve and put it all back together for freeeeeeeee, then the sun came out and we ended up on the beach and HOSS put his poor paw in the sea.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Farmers should be there to fed the nation not rip us off, but we love them anyway.

HOSS had a bad paw and although he is a dog and it shouldn't really does. He has a weakness in one of his paws and gets a little sore bit that he licks to distraction and then it swells and .....well no need to go graphic but it takes a Mum to take over and strap it up in old socks and apply spray-on antiseptic until it heals ....he is not a happy puppy...We still call him that despite his 4 years because he acts and looks like a kiddie wink of a doggy. Mike and I stood looking at the chickens in their enclosure and Mike just made a comment about the fact that they really don't have anywhere to take shelter from the rain and wind unless they shoe horn themselves into their posh hut which is only designed for night time accommodation. A comment like that sets off a chain of reaction and before we knew it a plan was forged. We are giving the chickens the duck house. We have observed that the ducks have absolutely no interest in their palatial structure despite what the UK MP tries to tell you, ours are happy to sit under a bush with their heads tucked in their wings during all weathers . The duck house, now renamed the chicken shelter came out of the pond area and Mike was making alterations to allow our bulky and ridiculously gauche cock space and access to take cover in the wind and rain, the girls will follow him where ever he is so his comfort comes first. I in the meantime started digging over the patch in the allotment given over to the onions this year and then it started to rain so all work was abandoned. We did pop out to get our railway sleepers and got a bit of a deal not much because nothing is a deal when dealing with farmers but we came away with eight sleepers for sixty one should be there to fed the nation not rip us off, but we love them anyway. Happy Birthday John

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Get your make up on HH I'm coming to take your picture.

Rain is an understatement for wet weather when it rains and rains to distraction like it did yesterday. All the work I did in the garden the day before though was rewarded as everything is now well watered and happy. I left my wellies outside the night before last and have an absolute hate of putting my feet anywhere unsavoury and waterlogged boots fall into that category for me, so I have been plodding around the field yesterday and this morning in Mikes Wellies which really changed my swagger and made me feel decidedly farmers wife and bulky.
Today we moved the chickens back outside. The happy brood have been in the garage since Christmas so that they were easy for our dear friend Genevierve to manage during our visit to the UK, but enough pandering and back they go....not being an expert of cause, but I did get the feeling they were quite happy to be out in the fresh air again, and I am looking forward to hearing my big boy cockadoodling now that the mornings are brighter. Mike has been getting the hang of his new computer and has discovered the purchase button, We have had all sorts of magical things on order but the strangest was an endoscope....quite cheap..... Initially it is to take a look under the bath to see what the plumbing is doing before Mike starts breaking a hole through a 3 foot wall to install the basin in our bedroom. Now having seen this camera on a stick at work I will be off into the field as soon as the weather improves to poke around in the hedgehog boxes to see if we have had any residency this year. Get your make up on HH I'm coming to take your picture. Happy Birthday Lorna for yesterday

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Love is ...cutting each others hair to save money....

When I hear the sound of sea gulls I get a sunny salty memory of Cornish fishing villages, fish and chips and the excitement of a sand castle build, it is always warm and there is usually a promise of an ice cream cornet in there somewhere. How lucky am I that I get to hear sea gulls in my garden, I admit that they are only here because it is too rough at the coast but today as I transplanted bushes from one garden to another I became very aware of loud squawking and when I looked into the field next door there was a live convention for the local sea faring gulls association all sat in the grass ...squawking..I clapped my hands to bring things to order and as they all flew up I was in Mousehole with ice cream running to my elbows. I transplanted ten privets, a box and an Ekaegnus today, it was very muddy but I am so enjoying this creative part of gardening where you need to think two years in advance and consider the consequences of this planting. Moving plants is very satisfying as you are giving them a new chance to flourish, the privets are propagated from the first hedge we bought in 2007 and all the others are from over crowded planting so every thing I did today was for free. Mike did his first cut on the grass, the mowers and tractors came out of hibernation and I saw battery chargers and monkey wrenches being banded about and by end of play only Harry the Honda was playing up, so no change there then. On the subject of for free and cutting, Mike cut my hair tonight, I haven't looked in the mirror yet ...I trust his is ...cutting each others hair to save money....

Saturday, 20 February 2010

which is probably why Foxes make lousy hair dressers.

When you have a Boss and clients to consider taking a day off work because you feel rough is as simple as picking up the phone and saying....."I feel rough and I am spending the day in bed".....When you are only responsible for yourself and a gaggle of ducks and chickens it is so much harder to say ..."I feel rough and I am spending the day in bed"....Today Mike was very much below his best and I sensed that by standing in the kitchen just looking, meant he was waiting for permission to stop and get better. So we spent the day in front of the box watched three films and snacked on stuff and cups of tea. It was cold and miserable outside and even HOSS was happy to play along. Glad to say that Mike is very much better this evening so his planned hair cut took place. Mike and I have only had our hair cut three times in the past four years so we are both long haired and unstyled and have both decided that the Jesus look is really not allowing Mike's natural good looks to shine through. We went onto U-tube and watched an hour of clips...about cutting hair at home. I took the view that even if it all goes horribly wrong it will grow so I made the first cut and then I was away. Mike looks so much better now almost tidy and business like again and tomorrow he will do mine. HOSS was not at all happy during this intense 30 minutes and obviously sensed I had no idea what I was doing and lay flat on the floor grumbling. When Mike went to shower HOSS put is nose into the hair on the floor and just stood there, it was quite weird. We keep mikes hair now and put it in little net bags and hang then around the chicken as Mr Fox really hates the smell of human hair which is probably why Foxes make lousy hair dressers.

Friday, 19 February 2010

I asked if I could take it home for my garden but she just smiled sweetly

Forty years ago today at about now Mike and I saw each other at our school valentines disco, we danced to Spirit in the sky by Norman Greenbaum, walked home together and the rest is history. Over breakfast this morning I did some silly mental maths and reckoned that I have heard Mikes voice as long as I had heard my Dad's in my life, and that is really very silly mental agility but just puts life into perspective. We got the camper out and packed boots, picnic and Dog and set off for another day off....we are making a bit of a habit of this, isn't that great. We trundled , (because Lily van can only do that) down on the yellow roads to Villedieu les Poeles to visit the bell foundry. We waited very patiently for the English guide to turn up who was a slip of the girl with good enough but shaky English so we had a eventful tour in Franglais. There were bells to ring, handle and appreciate, the whole process of casting in all it's detail was explained and demonstrated, this foundry is still designing and casting bells at a rate of 200 a year and there were three moulds still steaming from thier casting this morning . The physical warmth of hundreds of years of production just oozzed out from this very "non" health and safety environment, and that made it all the more fascinating to watch and enjoy. We ditched the other English people on our tour because they were obnoxious... "we live in France and have brought our visitors out for a treat" types...then our very kind guide took us both to look at a few more things for our interest. It costs 30 euros a kilo to design cast and finish a bell, She took us to see a 4 foot high bell that weighed 1250 kilos costing the Chinese government 37.500 Euros and they have not bothered to come and pick it up . I asked if I could take it home for my garden but she just smiled sweetly

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Being so grown up.

I have explained before how very impressed I am with Mikes ability to dig holes, well, today I applied all that subconscious tutoring, donned my wellies, spade and barra and took myself into the allotment to correct yet another planting error. In 2007 we picked some seeds from a bush at the Marina in Carentan, sewed them and nutured the seedlings and hey presto I ended up with 16 little bushes. We went back to the Marina to see what this bush looked like and are still at a loss as to what they are and what they need to flourish but after a season in the soil I now realize they actually require the opposite to what I have given them and today I dug up 12 and put them all together in a tight line where they can grow into each other and discover who they really are. With my confident air and diggers cap on I then moved the overcrowded Deutsia and a Box from the Gate garden to the Wood garden. I was delighted, there comes a time when Mike and I find an equality in what we do, we found it in our sailing and now we find it in our gardening, but not in playing golf...... Each of us has jobs the other can't do, sawing wood for me and cooking everyday for Mike but here we are both able to dig holes, how fantastic is that. On our way off the field, (Mike was laying his mole traps again, oh, and did I mention I was digging holes)......and our Mum cat Hiss, trotted off with us, mouse in mouth. Hiss is an extraordinary hunter and weened baby Oz now eight months old on fresh rabbit, mouse and vole, she has been bringing back these offerings to her baby and has also been taking her out on hunting trips, they are now both the same size although I would say baby is fatter. Today though we were just astounded when we walked around to the out house, to see Mum sat to attention watching baby crunch her way through the spoils of the hunt. I was quite touched that a mum's love and bond was still so very strong and dedicated despite her baby being so grown up.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Amazing what a whiff of newly mowed grass can do.

It is days like today that we thank all our lucky stars and count our many blessings that we are in France and retired. There was a stiff frost and the whiteness over the field as I swung open the shutters momentarily gave me a shock of recurring snow, but no, it was just cold and very sparkling. We both set off on our own 'to do' lists' I had a few chores that once done, put me right up there with the righteous. The cats have found a way of jumping from the top of the shelving in the out house into the loft area over the work shops. Some time ago Mike came out ranting and very raving that his tools were wet and smelt of Cats the time our first cat was rearing four kittens and had her Tom up there as well so we shsh'd them down and moved the ladder to limit access but our new gang have found that a good jump and a pit of clawing gets you up and into the best play area on site. HOSS absolutely hates them up there as he has no hope of joining in and barks helplessly to dob them in and now is very satisfied that the game is stopped and life can get back to normal. I have moved the shelves to the other side of the area and made it less of an attractive leap for the sake of a warm, hay filled loft. The sun shone full on all day and I pulled all the bedding from HOSS's room out for a good airing and then cleaned the cars out. Mike made a new collar for the grass collecting box and at one point I heard the reassuring noise of grass being cut and when I went up to check on progress the atmosphere on the field was full of hope and possibilities of a dawning season, amazing what a whiff of newly mowed grass can do.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Ahoy there me hearties, we may just be off sailing again

We have a silent member of the family who has taken a step back from our new life and both Mike and I have struggled with what to do with....Beema.... We have known our beautiful boat for 36 years and owned her for 8 of those years, she has a close connection to us having been the John Lewis sailing club flagship from 1974 to 2002, then ours ever since so selling her has been an impossible choice. We have, therefore, decided to give her one more year to see if we can fit her into our lifestyle here in France ( I know we probably said that last year and the year before but bear with us on this one) . We set off this afternoon after a morning of gardening to deliver our renewal application for a berth at Dielette now at a cool two year wait, but the journey across the peninsular is long and arduous and frankly if we are looking for a better way to sail Beema this is not the right approach. Cherbourg is an easy thirty minuet drive up the N13 dual carriage way and the Marina access is all states of the tide so we thought it logical to go there and see where we were on the berth waiting list. There was much tutting and "patientez s'il vous plait" when we asked the question, and then quickly gathered there had been a clerical error in 2007 and our new address here in Brevands had not been updated on their system. We suspect they had been waiting for a back lash, and here we were, so within fifteen minutes we had a choice of two pontoons and the option to pay quarterly....which is a far cry from Carentan offerings. The deal is double the price we pay now but the facilities are so much more superior and if we can't pull our finger out and get sailing again then Cherbourg will be a better place to sell her. We are however, quite excited about the prospect of day sails and overnighters. Our Dog Kennels, called animolidays.....are on the way to Cherbourge so we will be able to put HOSS into safe hands if we want to take a few days to cross over to the channel islands or even the UK.....ahoy there me hearties, we may just be off sailing again

Monday, 15 February 2010

How on earth do I get that up to 10,000 a day with out falling over....

Yesterday, we were 34 years married so we packed a picnic and went back to Cherbourge to take advantage of our cite de la mer annual entry card. We visited the Redoutable, big and impressive nuclear submarine. Great thing about this museum is that everything is in English as well so we donned our tour phones and hopped aboard. I would recommend this to anyone who loves the smell of engine oil and marvels at miles of electrical trunking, dials, stop cocks and Dos looking computer systems. The only observation was the amount of people who overtook us, the French ...bless them...don't queue and push their way forward, we had not realised that part of the deal was to see how quickly you could get from the propeller to the torpedo tubes ! .... We lit a fire last night, popped a bottle of champagne, and got as close as we do to convenience food by opening a box of salmon en crout.....very nice and relaxing.

To counteract our easy and celebrationery day yesterday we have today hit the garden with a vengeance I have dug out our 07 compost and barrowed it up onto the allotment to dry, we have a few issues with the way we are composting and we now have a plan to put a roof over the 4 composting boxes, it means turning them all over this season but we will see the benefits next year. Mike has installed his ditch tube and dug out a five foot entrance to get the DIGGER in so we are getting closer and closer to that event. I counted 250 steps to our new dump for nasties ...weeds and the like...I have started clearing the allotment and wanted to give the trudging across the wood into a value and today I walked 1000 steps transferring compost and 1000 steps dumping on earth do I get that up to 10,000 a day without falling over.....

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Our majestic willow has buds, not long now.

Exercise for the day was a quarter mile walk carrying a pallet off the beach. We are always looking for pallets and can't believe how hard they are to come by. There is a company in town who have piles of the blasted things in their yard and we stepped into reception with the attitude that this was their lucky day, we were going to relieve them of all that trash in the yard but nooooooooo, jobs for the boys, I recon they all take them home and use them as fire's the currency of winter life here. We have purchased a six meter length of ditch tube so the gate project is starting to move on, we need to get it installed and then Mike will have to present his plan for the mini digger work and in true boardroom behaviour style I will be tetchy and difficult so that he has to rethink and re-present....isn't that how it works in real life no point in just accepting it on the first run. The snow is nearly cleared though we are constantly threatened by light flutterings now and then, we just hold our breath and hope is all goes away.....good news though..Our majestic willow has buds, not long now.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

And for all of that, they never say thank you.

We are not using the alarm clock as we don't need to be anywhere and it feels good to wake up naturally but for some inexplicable reason this morning I was up by 7:30 threw open the shutters and saw white, white, exciting, with tea out of the way I got HOSS up and out and we went to tread new snow. I have really not seen too much snow in my conscience life and the concept that snow can hurt just isn't something I would have considered until this morning. HOSS and I pretended to have a good time but he stopped and looked at me wondering why on earth we were not getting out of this blizzard of tiny ice gravel.....Well the snow just fell and fell, we skyped Australia and pointed the laptop out of the front door, Deb and the gang are in a heat wave and they are dealing with melting tar mac and temperatures of twenty five degrees over night.....We played avalanche, clearing the snow from the poly tunnel roof and generally mooched about, at one point the snow was falling and the sun was out, I made a dash for the camera as the light was fantastic but all too quickly gone. We took a walk up into the field to check the rabbit trap, and of all the days to get trapped, the cage was totally engulfed with snow with an adult rabbit inside looking very sorry and decidedly peeved. We don't kill our rabbits just drive them down the road to open country and wish them, bon continuation. We were unable to get the car out so we have left him in the warmth of the work shop and I will try to release him tomorrow, and for all of that, they never say... thank you.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

watching and planning, planning and watching......

Twenty five years ago we bought a crochet blanket at the closing down fete of the old Bullbrook school in Bracknell. We paid a pound for this work of art and I have looked at it in awe all these years pondering over the little old lady who sat there for half her life knitting a double sized blanket for a quid......Well, I am that little old lady, my crochet blanket is a circle of a meter in diameter and I am so thrilled at the way it is growing. Double whammy... as it has turned bitter again, I am working on my blanket and it covers my knees and is keeping me toasty warm before it's official inauguration. We ventured to the beach again yesterday with spade in hand to take advantage of the high winds and tide and shoveled up two huge bags of shells and today we did pebbles and cockle shells. Mary Mary quite contrary comes to mind, with silver bells and cockle shells, I am still working on the bells, does a set of chimes in the arboretum count?? I learned a new word today ...echafoudage....scafalding, if you were struggling. We are now looking into all the options to recover the barn roof and as always we delve, poke, duck and dive for information and knowledge and today I spoke with an echafoudage bloke over the phone who was astounded that we don't just leave it to the roofer, and was even more horrified that Mike would let me be so vocal and asked why monsieur was not making the enquiry, red rag to a bull for imagining that I know nothing about echafaudage so we agreed to meet for a more face to face approach, and bingo, he was only a rep for the scaffolding manufacturers and was waiting for a local scaffolder so I gate crashed his meeting and got the local guy who didn't mind talking to a Woman to take all our details, he promised faithfully to give us a quote.....mmmmm We are still waiting for a warmer spat to move some shrubs and small trees but until then we stay cosy and warm indoors, watching and planning, planning and watching......

Monday, 8 February 2010

Can he fix it...yes he can

For the first time in my life I went into a simulator, we were at Cite de la mer in Cherbourg as it was Sunday, the day of rest, and the weather was inclement, so we did a trip to the bottom of the sea, the Disney approach to this event sent Mike into embarrassed despair as he watched intelligent co-herent adults fall into the role play of deep-sea capsule crew, and I was at the front of the queue, I had a good time. We have paid an extra 5 euros each to have our fifteen euro entry fee extended to a year of limitless entry. Mike and I often hit a halt, and need a place of learning and entertainment, a good old fashioned museum and huge aquarium will probably fit the bill for the next year. We took the coast road from St Vaast to Cherbourg which never ceases to amaze and cannot believe how lucky we are to be living in such beautiful surroundings. We have found a small camp site right on the beach at Jonville and have promised ourselves a few days in the camper for a change of atmosphere away from the to do list. We have discovered a very friendly mini-digger-hire-man. There are now several projects that really need Mike to role-play Bob The Builder and have already gone through the process of trying to afford a digger, because Mike has to own....but we have now found this chap in Insigny who will rent us a 2.5 tonner for 150 Euros a week, that is a lot of digging and Mike is now setting out his action plan so he can get the hard landscaping done in a week. Can he fix it...yes he can

Saturday, 6 February 2010

I never thought I would worry about compost, but I do!

Moving tall trees is actually a piece of cake when you are the assistant. I marvel at Mike's ability to dig holes, and his approach to lifting our willows, now 6 feet tall, with our new born confedence meant that the big and most delicate operation of deciding where to dig the new holes, and why was even more of a sinch...for me...We did take a little time to make sure this would be their last move and the ten year plan is still, to plan . We recycled the support posts from the pile of branches from the tree that fell in the winds a couple of years ago and that is a positive, in the past Mike has shot off to the shops for such things but now we really do benefit from thinking outside of the bank account and look for a reasonable alternative in stock, on site. We have been beach combing these last few days and apart from our regular two bags of pebbles we have gathered some good wood, I am visualising a pretend groin in the beach garden and we have decided to invest in four more railway sleepers to get the beach garden complete before May. Sarah has e-mailed me that a farmer in Insigny is still advertising sleepers at 13 euros each and if we go, can they come too? so we may just get a work party up for that project. I never really thought too much about water and where it fits into the hierarchy of needs and requirements in a garden but this last dry summer has made us acutely aware that you need plans and back ups to keep a garden like ours damp if not wet. We had a small roof pouring rain water all over the compost heaps and saw the error of our ways by putting the composting operation there. Guttering was installed to collect the water in a huge but and all summer that worked well, but in the winter when you don't need water, the but over flows and the compost gets wet so we found ourselves back to square one. Mike did however come up with a solution and introduced an overflow system from the but so during the winter we water the orchard and keep the compost dry.....I never thought I would worry about compost, but I do! Happy birthday to Blue for yesterday

Thursday, 4 February 2010

I water the newly planted, and say .."now grow you bugger"

It is warmer and brighter today and I grabbed the moment and got Mike unawares to agree that moving the laurels would be a good activity and we would have fun......When we moved in, we brought a laurel with us in a pot, it was a plant that our friends Lyn and Howard gave me for my 40th birthday so I have owned it for fifteen years. The Laural really did not like the move, we gave it a year to settle and bought another from Montebourge last year to make a pair, but they both took offence taking strength from each others misery and I decided it would be kinder to move them both into the back yard out of the wind and hot hot sun.......which we do get, for about a day.....We cleared all the raspberry canes out of the yard about a month ago and I had been planning a flower bed of sorts so the area was ready, although I had ear marked the space for the oleanders we propagated last year, the Laurels needs were greater today. Job well done, Mike managed to lift them both without too much effort although they were big plants to move and I helped by passing the tools, getting compost and cooing kind words of apology to the plants themselves. My biggest contribution however is the after plant encouragement and in true Titchmarsh style, (and you will have had to read his autobiography to appreciate), I water the newly planted, and say .."now grow you bugger".... Happy Birthday Georgina

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

At a Euro a pot I really got my money's worth.

We togged up warm and set off to the back of the allotment after breakfast and a chat to my mate Flicki on Skype, to do a prune on the willow trees. We have grown these willows from the pruned twigs from the original willow we bought at Montbourge two years ago. These little treasures are now as tall as Mike and today was the day for their cut and blow dry and for two of them, the prep for a move. The French have a very radical approach to pruning, copsing and pollarding and the golden rule is to cut the tree to within an inch of it's life then use all the cuttings in the wood burner. Mike and I have looked in utter horror at the stumps left after a major cut and have been equally amazed at their recovery, so here we about three inches of their lives because we just don't have the courage to go the whole hog. We kept two large branches and replanted them in the hedge to start replenishing with something a little prettier, I will mark the twiggs tomorrow so we remember where they are to cultivate and nurture. We planted 20 fast growing pot bound conifers when we moved in three years ago and then replanted 10 of them because they were just not behaving and were in the way for mowing. During the second replant we teased out the roots and now they have their feet in the ground we have noticed that they are developing an expensive prostrate growth pattern so at a Euro a pot I really got my money's worth.

French business rules being.....between 12:00 and 2:00 customers do not count.....

The longer we are here the more punctuation marks appear in our routine, some are exclamation marks as in filling the gas tank once a year at a thousand Euros, and others are the commas and full stops. Bin day, choir and talking to Mike's mum on Skype on a Friday night all seem to come up over and over again at an uncontrollable speed, we don't feel that we have taken breath in between events yet punctuation marks are suppose to give you a clue as to when to breath...... The storks are back, I was a little embarrassed by Tuesday having over-reacted to their arrival and they went a little elusive on me, but this morning on my tour of the field I caught them in the next field grazing and collecting nesting material so we can call their arrival a hyphen as they link the winter and summer in a most beautiful and encouraging way. It rained all day yesterday so my plan to go to Geffoss to beach comb was put on hold we had a car full of corn bags and HOSS on Monday but found heaps of drift wood and stones and couldn't bring them home. We did manage two bags of pebbles for the beach garden but I need wood to make a seating area so we will be back as soon as the weather clears up. We had a very windy night on Monday and we have lost a few more tiles from the barn, we have taken advantage of the wet weather to find the drips and put pots and pans to collect the the water but the time is coming when we will need to consider our biggest project. In Montebourg on Sturday we came across a roofer with his stall all set up and his leaflets flapping in the breeze but a quick look at the town clock gave us a was midday and he was in the bar for lunch, French business rules being.....between 12:00 and 2:00 customers do not count.....

Monday, 1 February 2010

Our storks are back and that means....summer has arrived

Normandy was plunged into snow blizzard conditions yesterday afternoon and we both made an involuntary sigh of naaaah, not again, We were out, on our way to the beach and turned back so HOSS never got to see the sea......Mike lit a fire, it seems to be our reaction to snow, I was delighted as I just love the atmosphere of a blazing fire, but once hunkered down it is hard to get up so we sit and lounge potter. I have decided to give up on knitting a blanket which I have been working on for a year....but not enthusiastically, and I have turned to crochet......are you bored yet, stick with me .....watching the TV and doing something else is actually quite relaxing, Mike surfs the Internet and I, now crochet. I went to u tube and there are hundreds of video clips showing you how I did, and I am off, but not before I unpicked a years worth of knitting to recycle the I'm bored. This morning was crisp and cold with a thin layer of snow over the field but as soon as the sun came up the snow literally fell off the roofs and we are boggy and wet again. Mike and I took a walk to give HOSS a run and to check the rabbit trap and as we went up through the gate past the barn we both heard the familiar clacking of storks and I screamed with excitement to see that our storks are back and that means....summer has arrived