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.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday, 3 December 2010 Clementines, cats and birds

As we’re getting near to Christmas, Super U had an offer on clementines this week.  I bought a net of them, as I had watched a cookery programme with Nigella Lawson making a clementine cake.  It’s certainly different, and the first instruction is to boil 4-5 clementines for two hours and then, after removing pips, blitz the whole fruits in a food processor before adding the usual suspects for a sponge cake, substituting ground almonds for the usual flour.  It sounds as if it will be a very moist cake and I love the taste of almonds, so I plan to make it in the next couple of days.

The cats have been happy staying in the house during this white weather.  Alfie prefers to lie on the stairs as the heat all rises from the woodburner and the warmest place in the house is around the seventh stair which he has made his place.

Yesterday, when I looked through my photographs, I found I had taken three which showed two birds.  The first is a chaffinch and a sparrow on the snow-covered wall.

The second photograph is of a pair of chaffinches. 

And the last pair are a song thrush and a chaffinch.  The chaffinches are numerous here and seem determined to star in every photograph.

Before we moved to Cornwall from Gloucestershire, my mother had this old staddlestone in her garden and it travelled with us to Boswinger and then emigrated with me to Brittany.   It is a genuine staddlestone. These were used to support the body of a granary.  As many as sixteen could be on each side of the grain store.  The overlapping mushroom-like top of the stone stopped rats climbing up into the barns, allowed the flow of air through the grain and the height of them kept the granary and its contents above the ground and flood water away from the harvested grain.   Here is mine, covered in the snow which has recently fallen.

There are lots of plants associated with Christmas for me, Poinsettia, Holly, Mistletoe and Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera).  My mother had a Christmas Cactus which was more than twenty years old.  It was huge, 2'6"/75cm, or more, in diameter and it had its own table in the corner of the sitting room.  Once it started coming into bud it was given pride of place in front of one of the sitting room windows and was not moved again until it had finished flowering.  Moving its position once buds are developing causes bud drop.  I have bought two this year and here is the only flower which has so far developed.

More snow overnight, bringing the depth here to 5"/13cm.  The sun is now out and the sky is blue, with no sign of snow there at all.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thursday, 2 December 2010 Surprise this morning

Snowing again here this morning.  I put more than normal food out on the table, the usual breadcrumbs and crusts, mixture of seeds, two crumbled brioches and seeds set into the fat which came of of yesterday's roast chicken.

I laid and lit the woodburner and was just settling down to watch the weather forecast when I saw a bright flash of colour against the garden wall.  I moved as slowly as possible across the room and collected my camera.  Now, lots of you might find them a common bird, but I have never seen a bullfinch, Pyrrhula pyrrhula, before in England or here in Brittany and I was thrilled to be able to photograph this one.  The photos aren't brilliant, but I had to post all five as I am really excited by seeing this bird.

The colour of the bullfinch was incredible, almost glowing as if illuminated from the inside.

Here is one more of the magpie from yesterday too.

The snow is coming down thickly now, but I did manage to take a few more photographs before it really got going.  Blue tit first.

Then another close up of one of the robins.

A little sparrow fluffed out against the cold on the garden wall.

And last, for the moment, today's chaffinch photograph.

Inbetween the snow showers, I've just had a quick walk to the freezer in the utility barn, and taken three odd photographs.  The first is my beautiful mother rabbit, Ruby.

This is the swimming pool - I'm not having a dip today - which should have been put away for the winter, but we never seemed to be able to get it dry enough to fold up, so it will probably stay outside now and I just hope it will make it through to next summer. 

And this is my permanent man in the garden.  Bet his hands are cold!

Snow coming down heavily now.  Just had a visit from a friend on his quad bike as better to drive with on this stuff than a 4 x 4.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wednesday, 1 December 2010 Some of the birds in the garden and at the birdtable today

As usual when it’s snowing or too icy to venture outside I sit by the woodburner watching the birds at the bird table until I can’t just sit any longer, I have to get the camera in my hand and start photographing them. It’s that sort of day, and it has been snowing the tiniest flakes all morning, which haven’t really been doing anything except masking the birds a little.

I brought out some seed bags today which I bought from Wiggly Wigglers in the UK. I tipped a variety of seeds into a container and then promptly dropped it on the kitchen floor. My fingers don’t always work as well as they might and I think I have hold of something but I don’t. It took a while sweeping them up from a luckily newly washed floor. I poured them over the tiny bits of cut up bread soaked with breakfast’s bacon fat from the pan, and golden sultanas which were already on the bird table.

I never seem to be able to photograph magpies, as they are off at the very slightest movement, but was lucky with this one on my gates.

Next is a great tit on the variegated holly bush, which the blackbirds have already stripped of berries.

My opposite neighbour has her entry in the telephone directory in her maiden name, Pinson, which is French for chaffinch.  This chaffinch has a beak full of seeds.

Next a sparrow on my snow-covered wall.  I seem to have taken this in the only morsel of sunshine we have had today.  It's very, very cold out there.

They - whoever they are - say that robins are territorial, but I have two here who share the birdtable, without fighting, but I have never caught them both there together on camera.  I can never resist robins.  I just love them.

And blue tits come a pretty close second. 

Here's a male blackbird, possibly one of those who has been stripping the berries from my holly.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday, 28 November 2010 Snow has arrived in Brittany

 There was a sprinkling of snow here yesterday, but nothing very much, just covering the tops of walls.  The snow on the ground melted once the sun came out.  However, overnight the landscape changed and it's a very different picture here now.

This is my house at 8.45am today.  From measuring the snow on the round table, about 3"/7.5cm fell, although it seems much more.

This is the view from the end of my drive looking up towards the calvaire.  It is this small slope which is the first stumbling block against anyone without a tractor leaving the village.

I walked down the lane and came back up again which gives this shot of my house on the right with the light on in the west window.  The branches and overhead wires are thickly coated with snow.  I hope this doesn't mean a possible loss of telephones and internet as we're only just back on after the winds of 10/11 November.

This is one of the village houses which isn't lived in.  The owners have renovated their house on the same site, but haven't got round to this one.  I just love the arched doorway, typical of so many houses here in Brittany.

This is my west window with the snow lying thickly on the newly planted roadside hedge plants.

The branches are really thickly covered with snow and look so beautiful.  It's just starting to snow again and my friends who arrived over from their village three miles away, are on their way back now on quads, really enjoying the snow.

Daisy, my little white cat, has been going absolutely mad out in the snow and shooting in and out of the cat door like a bullet. 

She seems to love it out there and only comes in to get warm and dry again.

It all looks so lovely, but makes travelling completely impossible for those of us living in the sticks and without quads!   I shall have to miss my Book Club tomorrow and the chap who was coming to do the regular check on my breathing machine won't be able to reach us here.  It always amazes me how much a little snow can change our plans.  I shall spend the time cooking and freezing things for times when I am busier out and about.

Three Beautiful Things:

1.   Looking out at the snow which covers all the bad bits and leaves everything  looking beautiful.

2.     A full hearth full of logs which my friends have just brought in for me.

3.     The lovely smell of my pastry pie cooking in the oven.