Sunday

IMG_5302There’s a time and a place for everything and right now it feels so right just to be out in the open, in the country, enjoying nothing but good clean fresh air and good clean fun. Where little changes except for the seasons and there are no decorations except for natures own way of trimming the trees and embellishing the landscape. Read more

Happy Thanksgiving

P6800521I remember once receiving a phone call one late November evening from a friend in America. Izzi was a baby, so it must have been 21 years ago; the friend said it was a tradition, and he always phoned a few friends he particularly wanted to remember each Thanksgiving. We chatted for a while and the conversation drifted onto normal things, the weather, this and that, but the memory of what was essentially a special telephone-call has never left me. Read more

Black Eyed Susan

 

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Days like these, when it isn’t really summer but it’s not quite autumn either; we’re in that in between-season, the nomansland of the calendar. Did summer really go by in the blink of an eye? Is it really over? There are days when I am quite sure it will go on forever, our doors and windows are still open, the sun is still hot on our backs and the leaves have not yet started to fall. But when the wind picks up it has that slight chill; the mornings and evenings have turned a little cooler and the rain, absent for so many weeks, has made its return. Read more

We ate dog Biscuits!

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We did and we didn’t – eat dog biscuits that is – more on this in a minute as it has in fact been rather a contradictory week. I love the spring and summer but profess to dislike autumn and winter. However, I then actually like winter when it snows because I love the snow, but we don’t get much snow here. As a result I inevitably tell everyone I dislike winter and the autumn. But isn’t it a woman’s prerogative to change her mind? Read more

Time to Stand and Stare

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Finding the time to ‘stand and stare’. It seems like only last week I was lamenting the end of the summer holidays and somehow the children and I were trying to get back into the school routine of early mornings; bundling everyone into the car on time, usually while someone is carrying their shoes and someone else has a drooping backpack half-open with books threatening to make a bid for freedom. We’ve just about got organised, the daily drill has almost fully fallen back into place and now here we are eagerly looking forward to the two week autumn holiday known as les vacances de la Toussaint.  Read more

Falling into Autumn

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It’s mid-October yet at midday  you’d be forgiven for thinking we were still in the midst of summer; but by evening there is a discernible feel of autumn in the air, a decisive nod of acknowledgement towards the cooler months ahead. However, if you rise with the lark the crisp early morning chill is unmistakable. I’ve put the heating on in the car for the school-run, I’ve found a scarf to wear over a t-shirt and when I return home I firmly shut the front door behind me. Read more

AUTUMN IN THE GARDEN

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Across France it’s now the two-week autumn school-holiday known as “Vacances de la Toussaint”. So far we have enjoyed fantastic weather with warmish sunny days; ok, not exactly swimming weather, but perfect walking weather, perfect playing-in-the-garden weather and perfect weather for exploring near and far.

The children take a huge interest in this little blog of mine; indeed frequently they are my inspiration and so as we were kicking about in the falling leaves, they asked what I was going to write about this week and that’s when it came to me. “This”, I replied, pointing to our autumnal shrubbery and falling leaves,”a tour of our garden in autumn”,

“But it looks a mess!” they chorused, adding “and it’s not exactly pretty at the moment,” but  that’s when the fun started. I fetched my camera and we wandered around, stopping to take photos, and suddenly what they had taken for granted as red leaves clinging to an old stone wall, took on a new form as they turned russet orange in the afternoon sun.

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The Japanese Anemones are still flowering, self-seeded in places, and with the protection of a north-facing wall they are still  in abundance in many corners of the garden; and the Salvia Grahamii have been in bloom all through the summer and continue to provide colour.

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Roses are once again flowering as they have their last flurry before winter takes its toll, and  the Pampas Grass is looking fabulous. There are tiny hardy Cyclamen all over the place in shady spots, poking their heads up between the fallen leaves.

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The vegetable garden has been dug over and the autumn kale has been planted. The roses down there are a stark contrast to the plainness of the bare earth.  However, the aubergines, peppers and chillies are still going strong and producing as fast as we can eat them.

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Our Persimmon tree is quite literally groaning under the weight of so much fruit, so much so that a huge branch broke off one afternoon with a quite frightening crack and a subsequent thud. This has made us look at seriously pruning it back this winter to a more manageable level. In the meantime we have yet to see if we can get the fruit to ripen enough before it gets too cold, I am told they sell for a pound each in England so we must have at least £200 of fruit! Last year winter came far too quickly for the fruits, and I fear it will be the same again this year.

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We don’t have any apple trees but a friend has plenty and she is constantly providing us with box loads of fruit. Sweet and crunchy they are perfect in cakes, tarts, compotes or just eaten straight from the box.

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The chickens are hard at work enjoying the cooler weather. I was digging up some of last years well rotted leaves as mulch for a new shrub I had planted and they are never far away from my feet, searching for grubs and worms. In turn they are rewarding us with more eggs than we can eat and it’s been a very long time since we saw a tick on the dogs. After a summer fraught with chicken problems we are back to a healthy flock, so our fingers are crossed that Roddy can take off his veterinarian’s coat for a while.

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Fritz the bantam cock has turned very dark, quite suddenly, and Constance, our only Silkie, is quite a madam earning herself any number of nicknames from visitors this summer! Gone are the long lazy days when our flock rested in the shade of a tree for hours on end; now they are on the move from dawn until dusk, constantly scrounging tidbits from anywhere they can get their feet and beaks into. They are very opportunist feeders and we have seen some surprising items disappear into frenzied craws, including half-consumed cat leftovers….. no more details needed..

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It seems as if we have been clearing leaves forever, but in truth we have barely started, many are still green and there are plenty more to come down !

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So it’s just as well we bought ourselves a new leaf collector that is towed along behind the mower, it is certainly making life much easier this year, I won’t have the arm muscles of last autumn but it will be done in a quarter of the time instead and anyway I always have my little helpers!

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