It’s amazing how so much can happen in four days, I mean I know it is only four days since Sunday, that’s a fact, but it seems like four weeks. The French air-traffic controllers went back to work, and so Izzi flew back to University on Sunday. A hot and sunny day and the usually sleepy little airport at La Rochelle was a heaving mass of frustrated travellers and fractious children after so many cancellations.  The arrivals and departures building is so sweet and so small you can’t even check in online as it doesn’t have the facilities, and I drove off leaving Izzi in a 65-minute queue for security.  She texted me from the plane whilst they were sitting on the tarmac waiting to depart – 15 passengers had somehow gone missing, security had been completely swamped as three flights were leaving within ten minutes of each other, and she was next to a toddler and behind a crying baby and then someone threw a book at her head – all of this and she still hadn’t taken off!  It was going to be a long 75 minute flight across the Channel!

Roddy is still hobbling with his infected foot and ‘septic shock’, and is on his second course of antibiotics.  I’m therefore still flying solo so to speak, and there are far too many jobs around the garden still remaining half-finished.  However, the days are drawing out and it isn’t getting dark until gone 9pm so after I have collected the children from school and everyone has been fed and watered there is still plenty of time for an evening dog walk and some playing in the garden.

More dramas on Tuesday evening when Gigi, our youngest, tripped over whilst playing in our neighbour’s garden and took the brunt of the fall on her wrist.  Amidst floods of tears, I took her to our delightful local doctor who was happy to see her despite the fact it was definitely the apéritif hour!  He suspected it might be a hairline fracture of her wrist and sent us to the Urgences in Royan; this was a little further than Rochefort but, in his words, much more efficient and with much less waiting time.  I am really happy to say it wasn’t fractured but just sprained although she will be wearing a support bandage for the next couple of weeks.  However yesterday she was back happily playing in the neighbour’s garden once again; the young bounce back so quickly at that age – it is making Roddy green with envy.  When Gigi fell over, I had been in the middle of giving Bentley a much needed spring hair-cut as he was looking extremely shaggy!  Poor chap – taking care of Gigi meant he got left unfinished – one side trimmed, the other still long and hairy – until the next morning.  He looked like two different dogs, depending on which side you viewed him from!


The garden seems to have literally exploded into life;  gone are the bare trees and in turn we have a jungle of semi-awakening buds and unfurling leaves, which literally seem to have burst open overnight.  This was no gentle transformation!  Of course the weather has played a major part in this, and we went from a pleasant 20C last week to a very hot 30C this week; in fact, we were actually having to water both our long-term plants in pots and also everything else we have recently planted. Whoever heard of having to water plants in April!  The chickens have taken to foraging under the trees and old stone walls and avoiding the open shadeless lawn.


The plum blossom and peach blossom have long since given way to small fruits, but the cherry is still magnificent –  a stunning backdrop of white amongst all the greenery surrounding it.  The horse-chestnut is in full leaf and its flowers are poised to open any day.  The Virginia creeper which climbs all the old stone walls has suddenly come to life, little red buds and delicate leaves appearing all over the place amidst the tangled web of the vine.


The wisteria spreading along the front of the house is stunning, and gently scenting the bedrooms above through the open windows with a sea of bluebells underneath.

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Rhubarb has shot up out of nowhere in one corner of our newly formed vegetable garden.  We didn’t even know it was there. The girls and I have sowed and hoed and weeded!  We have cut and trimmed hazel sticks for the runner beans, and cut off the tops and made them into pea-sticks to support the peas as they start to grow.  We have so far also planted potatoes, carrots and spinach.


The redcurrant and blackcurrant are all flowering, I think we have five of each; the irises are a vivid blue against a backdrop of green; and the tiny wild strawberries which grow in abundance under one of the south facing walls are in flower.


Our huge fig tree in the small courtyard to the side of the house has finally come into leaf and I am extremely relieved to see buds forming on the grapevines.  Relieved as I have never pruned vines before, we have a row of old established vines which we incorporated into the vegetable garden which bear really sweet juicy red grapes and a huge old vine against the wall in the courtyard.  They were all sorely lacking attention when we bought the house and after much advice from friends I tackled them just before Christmas and I was brutal!  Every day I discover something new, it’s like entering a toy shop for the first time – I can’t wait to see what our garden has to offer in our first full year here.

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Finally, Rosie, one of our sweet Pekim bantams has gone broody which has caused so much excitement in the household.  It’s the first time we have had a broody hen.  We moved her at dusk to the old small coop which we no longer use, a joint effort between Millie and I as we carefully carried her and re-located the eggs.  However, nothing is that simple.  Naturally, she was sitting on several of the larger eggs of the big girls (as we call our standard farm hens) and only two bantam eggs.  So whilst Millie was at school the next day I waited until Rosie took a little time off her nest to switch a few more eggs.  I waited and waited, and about 11 o’clock she hopped outside for a walk.  Quickly I hurried down the garden with 6 bantam eggs from the past week and carefully put them in her nest,  removing the large eggs from the big girls.

Mission accomplished, or so I thought.  I waited a while to check she would go back into the coop and all would be well but when I checked, she wasn’t there!  She’d gone back to the big coop they all share and was quietly patiently waiting outside the nesting box whilst one of the big girls laid an egg!  Obviously I was going to have to pick her up and put her back on her nest, but I hate picking up hens and unfortunately a broody hen does not like being picked up – especially when she thinks she is being taken from her eggs.  Bravely I donned my gardening gloves and carried her back to the old coop and her bantam eggs. Two days later and she has remembered which coop to go back to, and is being a very dutiful hen.  Thank goodness she only has another 18 days or so to go! The excitement amongst the children is akin to the build up to Christmas. I hope to goodness that the eggs are actually fertilized and that Fritz has done his job.  I am not asking for a lot, just one little chick would be fine, I’ll keep you posted!







39 thoughts on “SO MUCH CAN HAPPEN IN 4 DAYS

  1. That Garden wall is BEYOND GORGEOUS…….how old do you think?I’m certain Mister Fritz has done HIS job!It is always exciting to have new little ones……….take it from one who owned the HEN HOUSE for 12 years!!!
    You made it through the four days……………..onward and upward!

    1. We’ve all seen Fritz doing the business, so fingers crossed!!! We’re not greedy, just one little chick would be nice! The house and gardens are surrounded by stone walls, some older than others, the wall in the photo frames the courtyard and the guest house and was built in 1810. Always smiling here, every day is an adventure!!!

  2. Lucky it’s just a sprain – Léo broke BOTH of his wrists about 18 months ago and it was like having a toddler again – he couldn’t do anything for himself!! Your garden looks very pretty.

    1. Thanks, it’s easy for the garden to look pretty in the spring! Poor Léo, I cannot imagine anything worse than both wrists at once, how on earth did he do that, let me guess, skiing or falling off a bike or pony? I can imagine it was probably almost worse for you than for him 🙂

  3. Sounds like you have your hands full! Your flowers and landscaping are beautiful and that little pup is too cute for words. Hang in there!

    1. Hi Katie, thanks, hands are full but life is still so good and so much fun, I can never complain, plus it’s spring and that means lots of time outdoors and so many fresh seasonal foods in the market, what is there not to be happy about 🙂

  4. What a wonderful diary about the humans, other creatures, and flora chez vous! Best wishes to Roddy…every minute he allows his body to focus on foot-healing will really pay off…I know. Your bantam Rosie is lovely, Bentley is gorgeous, the wisteria is beautiful (about two weeks ahead of ours), and all the other glories of Spring you have chronicled are delightful…a paradise for which you are working hard and, it looks like, very well! Izzi’s challenges in getting back to university remind me of what our son often has gone through travelling from the West Coast of the U.S. back to its East Coast after Christmas holidays. I was extremely grateful when his flights from Bali to Jakarta to Seoul to JFK-NYC went without a hitch (except turbulence from riding the Jet Stream) a couple of days ago; now all he has to do is recover from 29 straight hours of travel time and a 12-hour time change! At Izzy’s and his (and, I hope our) ages, it can all be part of the adventure! Take care of yourself as best you can, and thank you for taking the time to put together this great post, Leslie

    1. Wow 29 hours of travelling is exhausting at any age, Izzi only had just over an hour! But you are so right, life is an adventure, it has ups and downs but it really is so much fun and I really enjoy sharing it with everyone. So glad to have you following and thank you for your fantastic comments 🙂

  5. I was so delighted to see you had another post! Your gardens are beautiful! it will be close to 90 here today so our spring is almost done already. You seem so excited for all the new discoveries as I would be in your shoes. Thank you so much for sharing all these lovelies and best wishes everyone will heal quickly. Mary in Arizona.

    1. Hi Mary, having spent four years in Florida we know how you feel! I actually enjoyed being cold this winter! I am quite mad, I get so excited over each new bud, I love new life emerging, probably why we have five children!!! Have a lovely weekend 🙂

  6. Such a beautiful garden Susan! I am afraid that when we do get there it is going to be very hard to get us to go home. Debra

  7. Bonjour Susan, I am just so glad that I came across your blog recently; I feel I almost know you already. Loving your stories, photos & joie de vivre. We are in the Côtes d’ Armor in Brittany where Spring has arrived but a tad behind where you are!

    1. Bonjour to you. I am so glad you found my blog too, I really enjoy sharing our life, it has actually made me appreciate where we live so much more. I love Brittany, we have spent some fabulous time both in the Cotes d’Amor and down in the Morbihan. Not very spring like today, but we needed the rain so badly that I am not complaining! Off to the Spring Farmers Market on Sunday, a huge event here, so I shall blog all about it next week! Have a great weekend and lovely to “meet” you! 🙂

    1. Hi Amanda, thank you, you have no idea how much we are hoping for a chick, we’re not greedy, one would be fine! I understand Britain has had fabulous spring weather too 🙂

    1. Hi Tish, thank you so much, as a big fan of yours and your book I cannot tell you how thrilled I am with your lovely comment, thank you again and fantastic to have you following 🙂

  8. Oh my it sounds like quite the up and down week there, hopefully next week is less dramatic. I love your wisteria, they haven’t started to bloom here yet but having seen your I’m willing them on! How exciting to have a broody hen, I can imagine how excited you all must be, my children would be counting down the ‘sleeps’!
    Such a lovely time for you, discovering what your garden has to offer, thank you for sharing that and joining in again x

    1. Hi, thanks, it’s such fun to be part of “how does your garden grow.” At this time of year things seem to pop up overnight it is quite amazing. The broody hen has provided so much excitement and yes the children are counting down the sleeps (as we used to say in New Zealand). Just to add to the excitement friends just bought us two ducklings today! More on that in the next blog post!!! Have a great week 🙂

  9. Wishing you a better week with no more excitement of medical concerns. Yours gardens are just beautiful to see and so bright with new energy. We had a rough winter here the snow has finally melted and the swans are back on the lake. You have such a beautiful blog to follow, I feel I am back in France.
    Wishing you a great week.

  10. Hi Carolyn, thank you so much for your lovely comments and I am so glad you feel as if you are being transported back to France, that’s just what I want, people to share this with me. All good so far this week! Hope you have a lovely week too:)

  11. I found your blog via Design Mom and I have to say I’m completely enamored with your home and garden :). I spent a month in France and Monte Carlo as a 17 year old and have been in love with the French countryside ever since. It’s a long way now from my life as a mom of six in the Midwest! You have a lovely home and the garden is absolutely amazing. Thank you for sharing!


    1. Hi Michelle, thanks so much for your comments, gosh Mom of 6, congratulations! I know what you mean, life with lots of children is a far cry from our carefree days as 17 year olds! Still I wouldn’t change anything and I am very happy to have you following and giving you a glimpse of our life in France. Have a great week 🙂

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