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, November 24, 2011

Writers' Group, New Chicks and my Flowering Delphinium

New blood at the Writers' Group this week and another man to join our sole male. Always good to have someone else doing constructive criticism and even better when they write well themselves. I love having the meetings here as it means I don't have to leave the comfort of my own home. I always prefer to have guests rather than be one. We usually sit around the kitchen table, but today everyone gravitated towards the woodburner - we had to open the doors to the garden as it was pretty hot - it is a lovely fire.

Andy had stacked enough wood for several days around the hearth - it looks like almost a whole tree! The writers took away some books I had cleared off my shelves and also left me bereft of duck and hen eggs except for the one I put down too hard in the ceramic egg holder yesterday evening making a dint in the shell. Not sure why but the blogger photo upload has turned this photograph around.

There were just two eggs from the hens this evening when I put them to bed. Apart from the Lavender Pekin Mummy Hen I only have four laying hens. They all laid yesterday but only two eggs in the nesting boxes tonight. I have arranged to go and collect six, hopefully female, 12 week baby hens tomorrow afternoon. They should start to lay at the beginning of February. Usually I get youngsters in March or April but then, of course, they don't lay until June or July, so hopefully these will turn out to be hens and not cockerels and will be good layers next year. I still can't seem to eat eggs. When I go to bowls on Tuesday people always buy the eggs I have, but I know my son and his friend will eat them at Christmas and they'll be taking them back to England too, as buying free range eggs is really expensive.

I wrote the above on Monday and the next bit on Wednesday this week.

Yesterday morning when I came back from feeding the rabbits I noticed that my delphinium shoot had opened its flowers.   It was 23 November!  This is certainly a record in my garden.  What a colour!  The sun was shining brightly when I woke up which made a pleasant change from the last two dark, grey and misty days.

I collected a larger than usual large sack of stale bread, for the birds and goats, from the baker at SuperU this morning.  It was so heavy that when I got to the car I couldn't lift it even a centimetre off the bottom of the shopping trolley.  The car park was unusally empty and I had to wait about five minutes before a car drove in and a strong looking man got out.  I walked towards him saying "Bonjour" and after explaining my predicament he turned into a knight in shining armour and with one hand scooped the bag from the trolley and into my front seat - brilliant!   When I got back to the field I managed to drag it out of the car - it didn't involve lifting just pulling - and I left it outside the barn for Andy to put inside when he puts the old birds and six new chicks away tonight.

The new chicks are very tame and easy to pick up.  They're a cross between a male Light Sussex and a female ISA Brown hybrid.  The Light Sussex lay up to 260 eggs a year and the ISA Browns 300 eggs a year, so if they survive to point of lay we should have some good production in 2012.  I took some photos of the chicks, but one was always pecking away somewhere else.

They're really sweet at the moment and didn't go outside, but stayed in the barn all day.  The other birds were all outside enjoying the sunshine.

Here's my bantam cockerel perching on the wooden stand in the hen area sunning himself.

Now it's Thursday.  Happy Thanksgiving Day for my American readers! 

We had our first frost here in my village this morning.  The water on the animal drinkers was frozen and I had to use deicer to clear my windscreen before I could drive up the lane to the field.   I knew it was going to be cold out there as it was chilly walking between the bathroom and bedroom this morning.  The sun is out now though and the temperature is rising a bit. 

Time to post this before another day slips away.

Three things I like:

1.   Coming back inside to the warmth of the woodburner.
2.   My newest cat, Purrdy climbing onto my lap and snuggling down to sleep.
3.   Hearing from friends I haven't heard from for a while.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Walk

Yesterday at 1.40pm, I changed from my pyjamas and grabbed a camera and a bottle of water before driving to meet Christian and Paulette at the bridge a little further down the lane from my field.  They were wearing jackets and suggested I bring mine, but I knew I’d be fine it was so warm.   They thought it was probably 17°C and the sunshine was so warm and bright.  

We walked along the old railway track, now a lane, towards the old station building at Lanrivain.   When we got to the junction at the station something really weird happened.  There was a man coming towards us who had a big rucksack and a strangely shaped case which seemed as if it might hold an instrument. We said "bonjour" and then I asked him what the instrument was. He unpacked it and played the strings with a large feather.

I said he reminded me of a chap who wrote a book about going round the world staying with people who offered him a bed for the night and playing music.  

I bought the book a few years ago here in Brittany.  I said the author was called Monsieur Allo. He looked up and said "I am Samuel Allo!"  Bizarre thing coincidence, isn't it? 

It was a lovely walk.  They didn’t keep to their usual pace but accommodated me.   I found it the perfect speed.   As we were nearing the end a red squirrel ran across the track in front of us.  I’ve only seen three red squirrels in my life and they’ve all been in Brittany.  I was so pleased that I took my camera as I was able to take a photograph of Samuel Allo and Christian took a photo of me with Paulette.

I didn’t find it difficult, just a perfect distance and so much nicer to walk with someone than alone.  Here is a photo of them as we walked back to my parked car. 

They are only walking without me because I had stopped to take the photo – they didn’t abandon me.  

When I got into the car, I had a drink of water from the bottle I had filled when leaving the house, and then drove over the bridge and up the lane to my field.   I sat for a few minutes watching the hens and ducks enjoying the sunshine and took some photos before collecting the eggs and driving the 200 metres back home, where I sat and ate a bowl of radishes while dipping them lightly in salt – very nice.

At sunset, I drove to the field again to put away my birds and give the goats their usual two large scoops of food – they get so excited when they see me, or is it because the food bins are being opened?   I decided to drive on up to the top main road and see if I could get a good sunset photograph.  I was bit too late, but it enabled me to look at the distance we walked with the car odometer and it turned out to be two kilometers/one and a quarter miles.  OK – we’re not talking marathons here, but for a non-walker who has done nothing at all since my operation on 18 July, I feel very pleased with myself, or as the French say, “je m’envoie des fleurs” (I send myself some flowers).   One of my friends ran 10 kilometres today at Shirley Park in England, in 55 minutes and 27 seconds – but I’m still proud of me!

I drove back to the house, and about 400 metres from my land, a deer crossed the road in front of me and ran, hell for leather, diagonally across the grass before doing a huge leap over the boundary fence into the next field.  Then I came back to my woodburner and settled down in front of the television for the evening with a bowl of homemade pumpkin and parsnip soup which was really lovely.  What a great day it turned out to be.

Three things I like:

1.   Seeing my third red squirrel.
2.   Walking with friends.
3.   Being alive and well.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pills, Abandoned Property and Letting My Cottages

As I took my tablets yesterday morning, I realised what a wonderful thing my pill dispenser is.  I bought it from Lidl back in the summer and it's so useful.  It was designed to have a separate tray for each day, divided into four. 

I only take pills in the morning so don't need the four sections.  So this means when I get my prescription filled at the Pharmacy once a month, I can come straight home and put four weeks' worth of medication in the pill dispenser.  Before I bought it, I had to open four or five packets of pills every morning to get my daily dose, now I only have to fiddle like this once every twenty-eight days - brilliant.  The only problem is that when going into hospital all medication has to be presented on the ward complete with packaging.  I have overcome this by having "saved" a duplicate set of medication still in it's packaging, which I swop for newly acquired packets about every six months so that it does not go out of date.

My immediate neighbour, English, hasn't been back to his house since September two years ago.  The front of the house, where a shutter has fallen off it's hinges, would by now have been covered by brambles and weeds, but for the neighbours on the other side who, hating the untidyness of it all, strim the frontage fairly regularly.  The back of the house however, is not strimmed except for the driveway which enables me to park my Land Rover there.

You can no longer reach the house to deliver post or anything else.  Last year the electricity board arrived and borrowed my ladder to reach the point where they disconnect the electricity supply from the house.   The ridge tiles fell off the roof last year and could have killed anyone passing at the time.  Heavens knows what it's like inside now if the snow or rain have got in.

I am thinking seriously about letting out my gites/cottages next year for self-catering holidays.  I shan't charge exorbitant prices, it's not about that.  The idea is to make some money but also to share my lovely environment with others.   The inside photo is of part of the sitting room of the larger cottage.

Outside the middle cottage we have two horseshoes catching luck for the guests!

It's such a lovely peaceful location for walking, bird watching etc. and near enough to Lac de Guerledan with all it's watersports, beaches, bars and restaurants and large towns if that's what people want.   If anyone reading this is interested in further details then you are most welcome to contact me.

My Breton neighbour, Paulette has just called round for me to go walking with her and her husband, Christian.   They think is about seventeen degree centigrade out there today, it's so sunny and beautiful.  They are trying to get me fit!  It's 1.40pm and I need to change out of my pyjamas and drive to meet them at the beginning of the flat walk.

Well it was a brilliant walk - I'll write about it tomorrow.  Meanwhile a photo of a few of my birds taken on the way back home.

Three things I like:

1.   So much sunshine at this time of the year.
2.   Scuffing my feet through the fallen autumn leaves.
3.   Sitting in the poultry area watching the hens and ducks.