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.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dawdling Ducks, Missing Chick and Blooms

It's getting dark so late now that I am having to stay up to put the hens away! I usually go to bed earlier than most people, my back likes being in bed rather than sitting up watching the television before I go to sleep. The next eight weeks or so will see me having to wait up for it to be dark enough for them to go into their houses.

Last night I went up to the field at 9.50pm and started rounding up the ducks, who always wait for me to appear in their run.  They are laying eggs everywhere at the moment, never in the same place, and I have to watch where I put my feet in the twilight in case I crunch an egg underfoot.  I then close their run access door and go into the barn to give the goats a last snack of cereal before shutting up the hen house door.

With the two lots of chicks, who are always the last to go into their house, I wait for the last one to hop in, which is always the largest white one, shut their door and then open the hinged roof and count to make sure they're all installed. Last night I was one short. I glanced around and could see this tiny black hen in the goat field. She was so frightened that it took me ages to catch her. Lots of time my fingertips brushed her tail feathers as she ran past me, trying to avoid the goats at the same time. Eventually I caught her and she made a lot of noise, not having been held since she was first transferred to the run, she was not amused by me clasping her close to me. I walked back through the barn, along the veggie beds and back into her run before popping her into the chick house and finally being able to drive home. I was exhausted. Just walking up the garden and back is enough to finish me at the moment, and I had done far more than that trying to catch her. She doesn't know how near she came to being left out for the night. 

The moon was just rising above the calvaire in the sky, it was a full moon the night before, and I stopped to take a quick photo - you may have to swing your screen back or forward to see it properly as it's so dark.

I can't resist posting some more photographs of my delphinium which is so amazing this year that everyone is commenting on it.  The colour in these photos is not true.  The blooms are much more purpley than they seem here.

The other side of the door from the delphinium is my postbox, which is a double sided box, so the postwoman puts the letters in from the outside and I open the inside - clever eh? 
Then next to the postbox is my honeysuckle, which is so beautifully scented and every small breeze seems to waft the perfume across the garden.

In the driveway I have a small plant which is a wonderfully blue salvia.  The blue is so intense it's almost gentian colour.
I have the same, but bigger in my border. The cats obviously like it and they've been lying in the middle and have pressed the centre flat, so it needs gathering up and tying round some stakes now.

The roses are all blooming now and suddenly there seem to be flowers everywhere.  I particularly like this pink one which grows beside the pond pergola.  I am not sure which rose it is though.

And for more, glorious colour, one of the marigold flowers from the driveway.

I have always loved Monty Don and am so pleased he's back doing the TV programme Gardeners' World with the old team of Jo Swift, Carol Klein and Rachel de Thame.  The late Geoff Hamilton was my favourite presenter of GW, but Monty runs a close second for me.

At the moment I'm reading the book, The Jewel Garden, published in 2005, which he wrote with his wife Sarah. concerning their lives together with their gardens and particularly The Jewel Garden, part of their current garden in Herefordshire.  I have several of their books, Fork to Fork, The Weekend Gardener etc. etc. and enjoy them all.

Three things I don't like:
1.   Curry
2.   Dogs which bark all night
3.  Having to bring in the washing in - not quite dry - because the rain has started

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cricket, Chairs, Chickens and Charlie

Sunday was cricket day in Brittany.  There was a match between Central Brittany Cricket Club (CBCC) and Club Cricket de l'Oust.  It was a beautiful day in St Mayeux , about twenty minutes from my home, but in spite of the clear blue skies and sunshine there was a bitterly cold wind for the first couple of hours, so much so that I had my fleece and fleece scarf pulled up around my ears. 

Once CBCC had got the visitors out at 223 for 9, the wind disappeared.  I dragged my chair round to the opposite side of the field from the other spectators, so I could see the score board and enjoy the heat while I watched CBCC lose, unfortunately, to Club Cicket de l'Oust. 

It was ages since I went to a match and I thoroughly enjoyed my day, enhanced by the sunshine.  There was a large boundary hedge of Leylandii trees which kept gobbling up the ball and long intervals of searching were necessary.  Six hours of enjoyment - lovely day.

My chair tried to collapse under me, one of those folding chairs which I carry everywhere, and a fastening had escaped from its hole, but it managed to support me for the last hour of the match. Happily, today, a friend managed to mend it with a split pin and it's holding my weight beautifully again.

There was a kerfuffle up at the field on Thursday morning.  We could hear a lot of chicken noise while down at the house and quickly drove up in case it was a fox.  It was not a fox. What we found was this - no wonder the hen concerned was making such a noise!

She'd laid the egg on the left.  When I got it back to the house I put it with a normal sized chicken egg and a small duck egg - also a pound coin.  It was a truly large egg.  I think I have decided not to crack the shells on these very large eggs which are laid.  I'm going to try and blow them so I can decorate them.  The insides of the eggs can be used as an omelette or scrambled - I shan't waste them. 
We did this during Easter 2000 when we stayed with Dutch friends in Waddinxveen.  Once decorated they were hung on contorted willow branches which were arranged in a vase - a tradition in Holland.

Friday saw one of the chickens, a Maran, scuffling around in my polytunnel - I was not amused. She had also dust bathed in the outside veggie beds and not in just one place. Something had to be done. When I finally caught up with her near the goat gate, she flew up and rested on the top wooden bar before drifting down to the straw outside the barn door. Saturday and Sunday I had a great deal of trouble actually trying to get her in at all after Andy had clipped one of her wings to stop her flying out. So Monday was the day for sorting the situation out. We decided on adding 30cms of wire fencing to the top of the goat gate. This would mean she wouldn't have a solid surface to land on and might disuade her.   I shall see when I go to put them away tonight if the plan worked.

Today, I bought a little chair from the ex pat website here in France.  It was brand new and a good price.  I've always loved blue and white stripes so this was perfect for me.  We collected it this afternoon, then fixed the legs on and the cover.  I've got a throw folded on the seat as I'm sure one of my two cats will want to sit on it and climb up with muddy paws.  I'm very pleased with it.  It's too small for me to sit in as I'm so huge, but normal sized people can enjoy it until I get to be normal again.

You can just see my lovely delphiniums outside the window.  The plant has been absolutely amazing this year and I just love seeing it from the sitting room and when I go outside into the garden.  It has a spread of 5ft/150cm - with so many flower spikes - it's just so lovely.

Lastly, Charlie, my grandson went to his first formal swimming lesson yesterday back in Cornwall.  He shared the lesson with three slightly older girls and a male and female teacher.  No armbands or rings were allowed and parents had to wait in the cafe which does give a view of the pool.   Libby, his Mum and my son, Matthew, were in stitches laughing at his antics.   


He has played in his little pool and "swum" in my garden pool - these photos were when he was two in 2009, but this time was real - a big council swimming pool.  He even had to jump in the deep end, where the teachers were waiting to catch them in the water. He loved it and didn't stop asking when he could go again. I'm so pleased he enjoyed it, my own children loved swimming and gained lots of certificates and medals and Libby seems to have passed this love on in her genes.

Three things I love:

1.   The sun shining through my west facing window in the evenings.
2.   Seeing friends when I wasn't expecting to.
3.   The taste of the first of the year's strawberries - this morning.