Muscovy Duck

Muscovy Duck
Roosting on the gate

2011 - My second year of blogging in Brittany

I felt I would like to share some of the photographs I have taken so far this year and some from other years. I live in a beautiful part of Brittany and just love being here. It's a lovely place to photograph and enjoy being in through all the seasons and hopefully this blog will show you where I live my life.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Saturday, 13 March 2010 - Only eight days 'til Spring and a Tractor Disaster

Only eight more days until Spring is officially here - or so I thought, but according to the Observer Organic Allotment Blog .....

Spring arrives early this year. While March 21st is traditionally the first day of spring, the astronomical event that marks the turn of the seasons – the Vernal Equinox – occurs at 11.44 this morning, Friday the 20th.

As their name suggests, the two equinoxes of spring and autumn are the points when day and night are of equal length – at least north or south of the equator, where light and dark are a lways in balance.

For astrology life begins at the spring equinox, when nature bursts back into activity and the Sun in Aries kick starts the zodiacal cycle. The Aries Ram is an urgent creature, a heads-down-and-charge leader, and while the glyph for Aries resembles a pair of horns, it can also be seen as a young shoot, pushing blindly above ground. Everything quickens now.

So, this year, Spring starts on what was my father's birthday.  He was born in 1907, married in 1941 and from then onwards, until he moved house after his retirement, had a vegetable patch at the end of the flower garden, screened off by high trellis.  Here he grew just runner beans and and lettuces, as the main source of our vegetables was the allotment he tended about a mile from our house.  On Sunday mornings, I was to be found sitting on the saddle of his bicycle as he wheeled it down to the allotment where I played happily until lunchtime, while my father dug, cleared, planted, harvested and chatted with his gardening neighbours and drank coffee from his thermos flask.  I never remember it raining, the sun always shone, as my memory tells me it did through most of my childhood - perhaps I remember it through rose-tinted glasses.  Then we'd go home in time for my mother to prepare for lunch some of the veggies we'd brought back with us in the wicker basket on the front of the bike.

One of the things I like best about growing my own vegetables, is that I can go up half an hour before lunch to my very, very small, smallholding and pick salad leaves, radishes, cucumber, new potatoes, shallots and tomatoes for a salad with new laid free range eggs for an omelette and eat a plateful of food which no-one else has had a hand in producing.  It is so satisfying and always brings a smile to my face. 

Someone not smiling very much, was the farmer, Thierry, who was using his tractor in a village field last May, when it burst into flames, with the thick black smoke from the tyres drifting over my animal fields.  Luckily he wasn't physically hurt and the fire brigade soon put the fire out.

The tractor was towed out of the field and left in a small lane where it stayed, gradually disappearing under the summer vegetation and then under snow until it was towed away at the beginning of this year.

Thierry now has a new tractor which he has been using this year on the same field, but was so lucky that he jumped off the tractor when he heard the first small bang and the flames started.

My Three Beautiful Things for today:
1. Waking up and seeing that the bitter wind had dropped and the trees were no longer swaying wildly in the gusts.
2. Stroking the rain-soft white fur of Daisy - one of my special cats.
3. The smell of garlic, lemon, tomato puree and butter coating my sizzling lunch prawns.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday, 8 March 2010 - New neighbours and other stuff

Whether we like them or not, more and more windmills like these below are appearing in our countryside.  The windmills here are about 2 miles from me and I see them often as I drive back home - they arrived as new neighbours last summer and there are four in this row.  Less than a mile away there are even more and I know some people just hate them.  I feel sort of ambivalent.  I appreciate the reason that they are there and love the idea of harnessing the wind to provide power and as they are not within my view from my home I don't have to look at them all the time.  I find them fascinating when I am driving past them, but might not like to have them in my face permanently, and do worry a little about bird injury from the large arms.

Still unable to go and walk about because of tendonitis in my left ankle Achilles, I was happy to notice the sun coming through my west window this evening and catching the Chinese lanterns which I picked last year.  Orange isn't my favourite colour, but they just look so beautiful.

One of my lovely neighbours brought me this primrose.  They weren't here for Christmas this year and didn't give me a card, but brought this to welcome in Spring, which I thought was a lovely idea.

At the end of the village is a bridge over the stream which feeds the mill pond.  
Unfortunately the mill is no longer used, but the water still rushes through and the stream is in full spate at the moment with all the rain we've had in the last months.  Sometimes I think the ground will never dry up again the ground is so sodden.

I had four cordes of wood delivered today.  A friend bought some trees from a neighbour and then cut the trees down, sawed the wood into 45cm logs and split them.  They are oak and beech and because they were cut before the sap was rising, they should be fine to burn in a few months.  In fact, I put a beech log on the fire this afternoon and it burnt really well.  The people at the house with the old mill have had some logs cut and stacked in their garden and you don't have to look far to see where they've come from!

Going back to new neighbours, something rather strange in the village just over the road from the calvaire, a clearing has been made in the scrubby land there and a heap of discarded headstones from graves have arrived. I believe that the chap who owns the land also crafts the stones and that these must be ones which have been replaced, perhaps when someone else needed to be added to the stone and there wasn't enough room. I'm guessing, but I can't think of any other reason for them to be there.

Three Beautiful Things for today:

1. Looking out of my west kitchen window and seeing the five cordes of wood which have just been cut, split and delivered to season through the year in my garden ready for next winter’s woodburner fires.

2. Watching the sun tinting the clouds a delicate then deeper coral pink as it sets behind the neighbourhood woods.

3. Coming home from shopping to my supper of chicken which has been roasting in the oven and the mouth-watering aromas which immediately reach my nostrils as I open the door.