Sunday, 29 May 2011

5 little swallows sitting in the porch

I can't open the kitchen door but will have to sometime soon.
"It’s a shaky time when chicks first leave the nest but all part of the natural process when they learn to survive on their own." RSPB

Five, beautiful baby swallows are sitting on the metal angles that support the glass French verandah above the entrance door. These are not my favourite architectural inventions but they do keep the rain and snow from falling immediately outside the door. I am over at Angles sur L'Anglin and seemingly a temporary prisoner in my own home. Mummy and daddy swallow re-appear very frequently, to swoop at a fledgling and feed it. Sometimes they hover over one gaping mouth as if to feed it but then suddenly choose another.  There is a pecking order. The stronger bird seems to get fed more and is getting stronger more quickly!  Such is life!

The meteo for this region says 25 degrees Celsius but it feels hotter than that. The rear garden is incredibly hot. I have had to retreat indoors.  Thinking about doing all the jobs that need to be done is too much and I have succumbed to laziness and creative writing.

I was only sitting in the shade in the rocking chair that does not rock a lot when I became quite hot and flustered. I am drinking copious quantities of tea. Cold, black or green tea is delicious. The concert of birds in the back garden is good listening material. Hoopoe was seen to fly from 7 o'clock to 1 o'clock diagonally across the garden. Blackbirds, Black redstarts, sparrows, chaffinch, pigeons, doves, rooks are all content.

I decided to go to my car and find the camera but I couldn't locate it which is a pity. As I exited the door below the baby swallows, some fledglings flew away.  I felt very bad. But then they returned and I don't like to go out again and disturb their mealtime.

Monday, 23 May 2011

In June

I change my tune..................
the cuckoo has commenced its garbled warblings of
cuck cuck cuckoo
cuck cuck cuckoo
cuck cuck, cuck cuck, cuck cooooooooooooooooooooo
we're not yet in June
though it feels like August
in the heat of the sun
gin and tonic a must
sun bares teeth upon golden skin causing us to seek shade
as bright light make us squint to see to the end of the field
now grasshoppers sing
if I could
I would
in the hammock
all evening and listen to the songs of the wild.
Meanwhile a bedroom window is open for me to listen and hear.
She stops.
and reminds me that even no nightingales have been heard for several days.
June will change my tune....................

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The rain came

last night with a strong, fresh breeze bringing a thunderstorm and lighting the sky with orange explosions.  This morning the rainometer (minor memory loss - what IS the correct word?)  measured 5mm, but as it was positioned under a canopy of tree leaves perhaps there was more rain.  This region has had drought conditions for several weeks.  Whereas no rain fell here, at Angles sur l'Anglin about 15 miles south east, had 26mm several weeks ago in one downpouring! 
Our neighbour will be happier as he was having to feed his sheep some of the newly cut hay! The sheep, all newly shorn, streamed into the uncropped grass in the field behind the house.  Our neighbour helped us stack 10 steres of oak logs and another wood that burns brightly, we think is called hornbeam, but his French word for it defeats translation from dictionaries and the internet.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011


Very sadly, this old bird flew into the front of my car. It was immediate death.  I slowed in surprise and shock, the van behind overtook me, the approaching vehicle passed and in the mirror, seeing the pheasant lying in the road,  thought, "Oh what a waste," and reversed to rescue it.  Having researched what to do, I bravely dunked it in boiling water in my preserving pan cauldron, wet plucked it and wearing gloves emptied the poor thing, set it on paper in a sealed container in the fridge for my memory to fade with instructions to  Captain Sensible to braise it after 5 to 7 days. It was a  bit of a tough old bird, but I blessed it and thanked it for providing food as  braised casserole, a meat pie and soup.

Although there was a time of great poverty when my children remember me trying to kill a bird by driving at them, which was stupidly dangerous of me, I have never to my knowledge killed a game bird in this way.  I am not proud of taking a life but it did just fly straight into my car.

I do not wish to repeat the experience of plucking and gutting but would do so again if I had to!
And I was a vegetarian for over 23 years!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

For those who are interested in history

I found this very interesting site:

You can click on any other date than the date of whatever is "today" and read and see  A VERSION of history for that particular date from the past.

I thought I need to learn more about my own country of  birth and the history of the world.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Dry weather in France

Evidently April 2011 was the hottest April in France since 1900. 

Drought is occurring in the North of France.  Drought will push up fruit and vegetable prices as well as the price of feed for cattle  and other meat oriented animals.  
To the gloom and doom,  we can add  petrol costs which are rising and unfavorable whilst we ferry back and forth between two houses.  The Sterling / Euro exchange is far from favourable.  I was waiting for it to improve before converting my pension on the currency market but the rate has become steadily worse.  I'll just have to bite the bullet soon!  One compensation is that if we were in UK the taxes would be higher overall. Well, that is our argument!
However,  it is usually hotter here in the spring and summer but slightly colder here in the Winter than UK.   I don't mind cold but do prefer warmer weather and that is the bonus. In winter we have the warm woodburners.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

European Pond Terrapin

The European pond turtle is a terrapin.  It is  of a medium size varying from 12 to 38 cm in length. Its shell is brown with a hint of green with yellow spots. Emys orbicularis species have become rare in most countries even though they are widely distributed in Europe. They are a protected species and are not allowed to be kept as pets.

So, what a wonderful and unexpected surprise Captain Sensible received on his walk with camera in hand. He thought it was a tortoise but its tail alerted me to the fact that it may be a terrapin. I am glad he left it where he was because it was in its natural habitat.  If it were a tortoise I had wondered whether it should go to the vet as someone may have lost it.  But that decision was not necessary.

I did some research on Wikipedia.   They prefer to live in wetland areas surrounded by large, natural, woodland but can travel up to 100 metres away from the water and occasionally up to 4000 metres to lay their eggs in nests which they may return to year after year or they will travel for feeding.

I wish I had seen it.

A few days before that we met unexpectedly, a lady who is keeping three tortoises.  As they are over 15 years old she is worried that people might come and steal them .. so we are sworn to secrecy.

With grateful thanks to Captain Sensible for permission to use his photos.  Click on them for a larger view.