In those days when I was at school and wrote letters on a weekly basis it was a chore not a pleasure, they would always start the same, “Dear so and so, how are you”? However, every now and then in this day and age there is nothing I like more than writing you a jolly good letter, electronically. A newsy little catch-up of what’s been going on, just as I would write an email to a friend.
Today my “How are you?” has additional thoughts and prayers for everyone in the path of Hurricane Michael, I know what you are going through; I’ve been there and it’s awful, and we are all thinking of you.
My letters here on the blog in the past have always started with “What a shame no one writes letters anymore” and it’s true, they are becoming rarer than hens teeth. And although I love looking at my grandparents’ hand-written notes to one another, and though I still have my Scheiffer fountain-pen from school (with my name on the side!) I’ve given up on the grumble that no ones puts pen to paper any longer. It’s 2018, and let’s be honest – for the most part the days are gone when one sat down once a week to write a letter home to the family or distant friends. Instead of bemoaning the fact that scarcely anyone writes a long old fashioned letter perhaps we should embrace it.
With our eldest daughter now working permanently in London and our second eldest having started university, I’m the hugest fan of 21st century technology, it is a godsend for families that tend to be more spread out, nationally and internationally. Of course, email might be less tactile for some, and a text might be considered an incorrect form of communication by others, but both methods of contact are really quite incredible, allowing a note or letter to be delivered within seconds. Equally amazing are the visual opportunities provided by the likes of FaceTime or Skype for seeing your grown-up son or daughter’s latest haircut, giving advice on clothing, or admiring a living space. And at day’s end, if you want to whisper a word to a loved one or give faraway children a goodnight hug, it’s so easy to just go online. The internet is truly a wonderful thing.
Okay, so now that I have had my little say about communication I’ll bore you with the rest of our news, starting in the garden. There is nothing tremendously exciting, the figs are slowly coming to the end of what has been an incredibly long season, we started eating them in mid August and all being well I think we have another couple of weeks at least to enjoy them. The tomatoes are still going strong, and even if the plants look ghastly and are losing their yellowing leaves, the fruit is as good as ever and we should be eating these well into November. On the other hand the kale, Swiss chard and celery are looking great. It’s been a bumper season for apples and pears and walnuts and now that we have finally had some rain, we might be able to get out and start hunting for mushrooms.
The roses are flowering beautifully (as they always do in the Charente Maritime) and as we are spending less time outdoors I have no qualms about cutting as many as I can so we can appreciate them to the absolute full, on the kitchen table and in the sitting room wherever there is a bare surface there is currently a vase filled with roses!
The heavens actually opened this week with the first real rainfall we have had since June. And last night the rain fell in biblical proportions, I knew a storm was looming overhead; the inky black skies were a dead giveaway, following a deliciously warm and sunny afternoon. For the most part the days have still been warm in the mid 20’s, a delightful Indian summer.
The rather alarming thing has been the chickens; we have been plagued by an outbreak of red mite. It’s not just us; talking to our neighbour’s we have discovered that it has been a hideous year for these pests in the entire Charente Maritime, and several breeders have lost more than 50% of their stock but we are keeping our fingers crossed that we have saved our little flock. We have been vigilant since finding the first little beasts; we have cleaned out the entire coop, used an organic natural powder on the hens and our rooster and because I am so against spraying the inside of the coop with a vast amount of chemicals we have instead been using the flame-thrower that we use for killing weeds to literally singe the inside of the henhouse – burning out every nook and cranny, and along the underside of the roosting-perches and nesting-boxes. We will continue to do this every two or three days and remain hawk-eyed. We have of course had no eggs for several weeks now, but that is the least of our problems at the moment. The best news is the birds look happy once more, they seem their usual selves, and their combs are red again. They are clucking around and I am really hopefully we spotted this in time and that we won’t lose any.
I am not going to talk about mice because I don’t want to jinx anything. Evie is frequently upstairs with me now as I figure she is a much better bet at catching anything that moves than our lazy big cat who sleeps on our bed! Although someone, and I am sure that it was the ‘said’ cat did leave the most delightful present on the hall rug the other day – a mouse head, right by my shoes! I know it came from outside as I had seen it in the garden an hour earlier.
I’ve made a few changes inside our house – this always seems to happen at this time of year when we start to spend more time indoors and suddenly we want things to be just a little more cosy; the sitting room, neglected for months on end, is in use again and I always find something I want to do. This year it started with the coffee table; what should have been a simple project turned into a mammoth task. I’m going to do a post about all the furniture restorations later on so I won’t spoil the fun, but let’s just suffice it to say, we all love our new/old table.
It is also the season for baking; big oozy comforting chocolate cakes for the children
and I’ve made my first autumn soups with butternut squash; perfect on the cooler days, even if we do eat it outdoors at lunchtime with the sun blazing down!
Pizza is another favourite at the moment; I cheat and make the dough in the bread machine, which takes me about 2 minutes of initial work, and then the machine does the rest for me. All I have to do is take it out and roll it out an hour and a half later, and it’s perfect. Then we add the toppings of our choice, a classic margarita and a vegetarian version loaded with vegetables are the two family favourites.
I cannot believe we are nearly halfway through October; another week and the children will be on two week autumn break, how time flies. Which reminds me, I had better get on and do some other work, before they need picking up and after school activities begin! So I’ll leave you with a few shots of autumn, the leaves are turning red, and there is that special light only found at this time of year.
Big hugs and have a wonderful end to the week and weekend.