Monday, 21 April 2008

Pension Miaou

Look to the right to see other links to websites for our family and friends.

If you look closely within "Pensionpourchats" you can see a portrait of Big Feet.
We have created a web page / site for Huguette's new entreprise!! Do you want one? We are now experts in this field!!
Aha!! We appear to have a slight glitch and the English version cannot be read!

It never rains but it pours

Perhaps there has recently been more rain in France than there has been for a while in England. Whatever and wherever it is we do NOT like so much rain. AND not even the sheep like it, because they shelter with their three sets of twins in the shelter of the barn!
It has been raining all night long!! Rain has fallen on most of France for several days and is forecast for yet more days!! The French meteo puts us on yellow alert for flooding but not far away the River Indre is on orange alert!! Our back field is flooded!
Our potagers are flooded because the pond in our hameau is full! Today we say it is "no stones and two ducks". We have never seen it with wildfowl nor without its central stone yet we have witnessed it "a thousand stones and bone dry" but that was two years ago!
As a result of the incessant pluie and because we are lower than the hameau pond but yet higher than the lake below the fields beyond us, the water from the fields passes through our neighbours' lands and our land and into the chemin of the commune! Hence our land is waterlogged, even though the water is trying to by-pass our land as quickly as possible.
The clay soil below the lawn has collected a puddle of water by the well. The natural level of the well is actually 6" below the level of the upper lawn .... and that is significantly higher than our interior stone floor of the house, but, thankfully , and so far, only the toolshed has flooded and that only ( ah... only) because we allowed a rodding point in the waste pipes that go towards the fosse-septique!!! Without this point we would have a back-up problem in the toilet pans! Oh my!!

At a little after 12h noon having baled ourselves out of further problems, France Telecom arrives to correct our faulty telephone line. The two engineers arrive with a cherry picker lorry from Entreprise Escot. We still cannot fathom why they wanted to enter our land to enable the cherry picker to escalate our chimney to reach the telephone wires. They said they had resolved and repaired the problems with some tests and discerned that the problem lay outside of our terrain!! The use of a ladder was forbidden and they never used the cherrypicker!! More later!
Meanwhile, there was insufficient room to manoeuvre such a heavy lorry on our gravel which was waterlogged and as a result the wheels of the cherry picker embedded themselves deeply in the clay subsoil below our gravel!
Eventually, Captain Sensible suggested that our Clio should attempt to pull the cherry picker free and it did!! Therefore the entreprise Escot cherrypicker could escape!
The two engineers could not, would not, could not, would not give the name, address or contact telephone number of their line manager when we emphasised that we needed compensation for the damage to our driveway. Only one engineer apologised and the same one offered to assist us in filling the holes. When the two got back into their vehicle we heard them laughing! We were not amused!!

However, the story has not ended for our telephone line is still faulty!! Await the next saga of this histoire!

Sunday, 20 April 2008

April 20th 2008

We are almost one third through the year and still awaiting Spring! A two and a half hour fast walk along the chemins and rues of La Balade des Plaisirs takes us through beaucoup beaucoup de boue (mud) and puddles. We witness masses of le coucou , wild flowers that we know as "cowslips". Also swathes of what I think are "Shepherd's Purse" and then a real gem as I stop by a solitary wild Common Fritillary (uncommon, then a little space away from it another beauty. How wonderful to see such a protected species in the wild. How magnificent and beautiful to see the snakes' head patterns or as one Frenchman described as being like the markings of the plumage of a pintard (partridge). The Botanical name is Fritillaria Meleagris (LINN.) and it belong to the Lilicae family -Lilium variegatum. It is also called the Chequered Daffodil or Narcissus Caparonius or Turkey Hen or Ginny Flower in England....these names I never knew until recent research with the internet which is the fount of all knowledge and learning...Aaaah so that all fits in with French belief!! guinea fowl.... Partridge. Then along the way I stopped by a snake - a Coulevre - a Grass snake. He was beautiful. It wasn't a sunny day and although some people had already passed him he was still basking in the grass in the warmth of the midday for me to admire. He recoiled into the undergrowth and slithered away before the next walkers and dogs arrived. Sam the Alsation discovered a hare sitting on it's platform and I watched as the two took off on a their running spree. I reckoned the hare could run faster than the dog and the latter soon returned out of breath!!! The nightingale was heard singing it's varied song but not even the locals recognised it, so I felt quite knowledgeable!!!! I might add it has taken me 59 years to be aware of it!!!

Home-made carrot, coriander and chicken soup for lunch was followed by a short repose before tackling projects in the garden and domestic cleaning!!!!!!!

In the early evening I was asked to come quickly!! Captain Sensible was standing in the lane and Jean-Yves was on the field side of the wall holding two tiny lambs. He was like a proud father. He loves his sheep and handed one over to me and one over to Captain Sensible. We have never ever held lambs before!!! Such a privilege. Their little hearts were beating and their maman was bleating, their bodies were warm, naked with hardly any wool!! There are now three sets of twin lambs and another sheep about to produce! Meanwhile Captain was asking whether we could buy one for the congelateur (freezer!!! We established that slaughtering is in October. What happened to my 23 years of vegetarianism! As J-Y has explained the taste of the meat is special because they have only eaten "herbe" ( the grass ). We cannot wait!!

In the next field there must be 100 sheep but I see no signs yet of the miracle of new life!

I have made more bread. No machines for us!! I have mixed semi-complet blé (wheat) with sarrasin (buckwheat) flour, seigle (rye) flour and some rolled épautre flakes (an ancient wheat). It doesn't take long and is our attempt to not only economise but to eat healthily!

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Various activities

We have been making our daily bread without a machine!
We were invited to a child's birthday party.

Les chapeliers de papier insisted on making one for Sweetpea.

Moving stones in the rain

It only took two hours to clear the pile of rocks, stones and rubble to another site, making way for our new potato potager. That's what's called "pottering about"! It beats going down the gym!

Friday, 4 April 2008

The Frog Chorus by Francis Duggan

In the darkness of late evening in the cool wind driven rain
The frogs are croaking their chorus in the watery pond and drain
Winter is their breeding season and on rainy nights on water logged ground
Under the cover of darkness they fill the air with the sound

Of their excitement and passion they croak and whistle and sing
And their young will hatch and grow into froglets in the warm days of the spring,
All night they keep up their chorus under the dark winter sky
For the joys of re-creation you hear them whistle and cry.

When you shine your torch they grow silent they fear the power of the light
And though you know where they might be you can't see them they keep well hidden from sight
And as you walk off they start singing they know that danger has passed by,
They with the gift of survival tiny, elusive and shy.

All through the night you can hear them as well as sometimes in the day
These tiniest of little amphibians none so elusive as they
In the damp watery places they croak and whistle and sing
And in a few weeks from now you won't hear them as they will have dispersed by the spring.

The Cuckoo by John Clare

The cuckoo, like a hawk in flight,
With narrow pointed wings
Whews o'er our heads—soon out of sight
And as she flies she sings:
And darting down the hedgerow side
She scares the little bird
Who leaves the nest it cannot hide
While plaintive notes are heard.
I've watched it on an old oak tree
Sing half an hour away
Until its quick eye noticed me
And then it whewed away.
Its mouth when open shone as red
As hips upon the brier,
Like stock doves seemed its winged head
But striving to get higher
It heard me rustle and above leaves
Soon did its flight pursue,
Still waking summer's melodies
And singing as it flew.
So quick it flies from wood to wood
'Tis miles off 'ere you think it gone;
I've thought when I have listening stood
Full twenty sang—when only one.
When summer from the forest starts
Its melody with silence lies,
And, like a bird from foreign parts,
It cannot sing for all it tries.
'Cuck cuck' it cries and mocking boys
Crie 'Cuck' and then it stutters more
Till quick forgot its own sweet voice
It seems to know itself no more.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

April 2nd

On the second evening of April the cuckoo could be heard singing in the distance as we made an evening walk across to the lake. On the third morning it's song could be discerned far from the house. On the same evening the strange croaking in chorus of the frogs heralded the warmth of Spring as Orion could be seen in the clear starry sky.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Those were the days my friend

My dearest friend has very kindly sent me a photo of us at our birthday bash, aged 18 and 19, at Winchester School of Art and Music, outside the practice rooms where we had our do, hohoho, and look I am wearing my favourite Kensington High Street boutique buy! What fun we had that year! Thankyou so very much.

A gift for Francesca

I have at last finished the crochet blanket I started about three days before Francesca was born. She is 4 weeks old this month! I've had to remember how to crochet since 30 something years ago and it is all my own design and I am very pleased with the result. It is made out of unshrinkable worsted wool. Although the label has a French brand name the wool is evidently from English sheep and made in the UK! The Granny squares were quick to make but assembling them and tying in the loose ends took longer. I calculated it is worth about 30 hours of labour, not counting the unravelling moments but we won't tell about the cost!! I can't wait to have a photo of Francesca on it!!!