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, December 3, 2011

Aubergines, Wet Weather and Cats

I woke just after 06.00am, watched the news until about 08.00am and then must have fallen back to sleep and I didn't wake up until 09.50am.   I bypassed the shower and just flung some clothes on and shot up to the field to let the animals out.  As I pulled into the parking I could see the hens and ducks already enjoying their freedom and my worker had let them out whilst he was there putting shingle in the hen area to make it easier for me to walk in and out without falling.  When I went back into the sitting room, I realised that he had also topped up my log pile by the woodburner.  Obviously anyone can come and go in my house while I'm asleep without me waking!
Very wet last night and all today - I was in the best place reading and watching television by the woodburner. There was water everywhere underfoot, especially the driveway, and

dripping off the plants, including my holly on the terrace.

The cats kept coming in wet and needing to be towelled down, leaving their footprints on the laptop keyboard and my little table.

When I went out tonight to put the hens and ducks to bed I collected three hens eggs, one duck egg and three eggplants, or aubergines, as we call them on this side of the pond.

These are some of the small aubergines from my plant in the polytunnel.  Some of them are really big.  I emailed a delicatessen I used to go to years and years ago in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire and they kindly sent me the recipe that I used to enjoy when I bought cooked aubergines from them:

Split the aubergines in half longways, brush with olive oil and bake till flesh is soft.
Cool and scoop the flesh out, chop roughly and mix with ingredients you like such as  tomatoes, cashews, onion, garlic, cumin etc.
Sauté in a shallow pan.
Season to taste and pile back into the skins.
Sprinkle with fresh bread crumbs, heat and serve.

Here are two photos of plants in my kitchen:

A poinsettia above and this lovely heather.  I always buy heathers in the Autumn and have them inside for a while before planting them out in the Spring.

Three things I like:

1.   Ice cold orange juice.
2.   After Eight mints.
3.   Reading an English newspaper - a rare occasion here in France. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Rain and Mud at Animal Bedtime and Sunny Days

Well, yesterday evening, after a day of almost solid rain, I practically had to swim across my hen/duck field to get the buxxers in for the night. I can't remember it ever looking so wet. One end was just puddle after puddle with nowhere to walk inbetween them. I was drenched - feet and head, absolutely drenched.  I have a friend, not so far away, in Sens de Bretagne who is wanting rain to fill her lake or her fish will die. 

The field was so muddy today that this evening I skidded and landed on my marginally slimmer bum.  Apart from being covered in it, I have great trouble getting up when there's nothing to hold onto - it would have made a good film clip to send to those television programmes which rely on other people's idiotic behaviour. 

I was seriously covered in mud and had to sit myself on a supermarket carrier bag to drive back to the house.  I have a pile of old rubble at the entrance to the field and have asked my worker to come over tomorrow and spread it on the quagmire that is the hen area.  We'll have to allow them into another grassy field too because it can't be much fun for the birds either and we're hardly into winter yet.

My postbox needs a good clean off - with the spider's web across the door it makes it look as if no-one loves me enough to send me a letter.  The moss is in the wall next to the postbox.

As I walk out of my drive, there's an oak tree which looks beautiful against the lovely sunny sky of this afternoon. 

I turned into the abandoned garden when I keep my Land Rover and took a photograph of these seed pods against the bluest sky.  They look like sycamore seeds, but I'm not sure that they are. 

This is one of the marigold flowers along the driveway, all splashed with dirt from the torrential rain yesterday.

I was fiddling around with my camera when I came back inside and found that I could take black and white photos - I must read the manual! 

When I was at Stroud Art College, I did a complete black and white module one year and loved it, especially manipulating the prints in the darkroom. This was before digital cameras were around and everything cost so much, you really had to try to get a decent photograph without wasting too much film.  I can believe how few photographs I used to take  then compared with now.  Sometimes, outside the course itself, I'd have a film in the camera for eighteen months before developing it - the printed photographs were a real surprise!

Three things I like:

1.  Finally getting a Christmas present for someone special.
2.  Speaking to an archivist on the 'phone who bent over backwards to help me.
3.  Finding out that I'm still using last year's logs and haven't started my new delivery yet. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Frosty morning and Fish

This morning, when I looked out of the bedroom window before I came downstairs, I could see the frost on the log shed roof.  The car windows and wing mirrors were all iced up so I made, for me, a very unusual decision.  I came into the house and fetched my camera and walked - yes walked - up to the field.  Only 200 metres, but on an uphill slope and I never walk to the field.  It's all part of my feeling stronger and more able to walk because of my weight loss - and it's a good feeling!

The animals were all surprised to hear the barn door open as they hadn't heard a car arrive.   I gave them a bit more food than usual - well it is getting colder and I am a bit of a softie really.

The beetroot leaves had frost around them and a nettle which has grown in the parsnip bed.

It was a slight effort going up to the field, but nothing too daunting and I will definitely walk more often than not now I know that I can.  Coming back down, strangely, is not necessarily easier, as it seems to hurt my hips more.  Nevertheless, I got home and opposite my driveway was this was a drop of melted frost water dangling on a twig of my neighbour's peach tree.  I couldn't believe how difficult it was to get this glistening drip into my camera; and even now it is slightly out of focus.

When I went supermarket shopping later, the frost had long since melted and the electronic temperature board at SuperU changed from 10 to 11 degrees centigrade as I left the car park in the last-day-of-November sunshine.

I bought some prawns which I shall eat in a light tempura batter dipped in sweet chilli sauce and mayonnaise.  I can only manage 6 for one meal, and even those I have to spread out with 5-10 minutes between prawns, 3, 4, 5 and 6.   The fish counter looked lovely and I took photos of two sections:

I've never cooked squid at home.  I sometimes buy a mixed bag of fishy things to stir fry or battered squid rings from the freezer section, but have never been brave enough to buy the fresh article and prepare it myself.

I still had my camera in my pocket when I arrived back from SuperU and photographed a nasturtian which is continuing to bloom, in spite of the frost, in my driveway, lying on fallen oak leaves.

I am having so many problems eating since my mini gastric bypass and soup has become one of my absolute stalwarts for getting something nutritious into me each day.  This soup is made from homemade chicken stock blended with olive oil roasted onions, parsnips and carrots, salt and pepper, which is then passed through a sieve, a bit more chicken stock added to achieve the not too thick texture I like, and heated with a sprinkle of pili pili.  I've already had two bowls since I got back home.  It may not look particularly appealing but believe me, it tastes scrummy.

This is a photograph of Purrdy,  taken yesterday, completely relaxed and just going off to sleep on the top of the settee.  Please excuse the washing in the background - I don't know what I'd do without my ceiling dryer at this time of year.

This is the sun backlit wisteria on the corner of the gym, a room I almost never use.  It's gets used when my daughter is here visiting and one of my friends comes round to keep her company on the machines. 

And the last photo is of the chickens and ducks going in and settling down into their safe night time accommodation this evening.

Three things I like:

1.   Homemade soup.
2.   The sound of my dishwasher purring away.
3.   The sky turning pink in the fading rays of the sun.   Didn't happen tonight though.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Lane and the Fungi on the Verges

Another lovely sunshine day today.  Fourteen degrees celsius when I was at the supermarket.  As I drove back home I decided to park in the animal field entrance and wander along the lane taking photos of fungi and anything else interesting.  I couldn't believe how many different types they were. 

Unfortunately, I have no idea what they are.  I'd never trust myself to identify anything sufficiently well to eat it.  Here, in France, you can take your fungi treasures to the Pharmacy and they will identify them for you and tell you which are definitely not safe, safe or good to eat.

This is the view through the gateway across the road from the corner of my field.  Luckily the big black cloud was not coming my way.

Back to the fungi again - I am just amazed at the huge selection out there.

These are mixed in with acorns and their cups.

This one's lying amongst sweet chestnut casings.

It seems a funny time of year to see dandelion seedheads, but there were several in the grassy verges.

These apples are a very small snapshot of the huge quantity lying in the orchard next to my animal field.  It is very overgrown in there and no-one harvests the apples so, sadly, they just fall to the floor and rot.

This last photo is of a group of fungi just inside the entrance to my field, by the compost bins.  They're quite large, the ivy leaves act as a comparison.


This morning it's drizzly and grey, although certainly not cold.  Not the sort of weather to be out and about in, but I am having to go out to a meeting this afternoon.  I hope it's worthwhile.

Three things I like:

1.   Not waking up too early.
2.   Finding something I've been looking for at last.
3.   Smiling.