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 31, 2011

New Year's Eve

A grey and wet day for the this afternoon, last day and last blog of the year.  Two of my friends celebrate their birthdays today, Tristan is 29 and Christian is 64.  This afternoon, Paulette and Christian asked me to go for a walk with them from the mill at Coz Salou at the end of my village, on a very wet and muddy, heavily-leaved path through the countryside.  To think that a few months ago I wouldn't and couldn't have considered the walk even in the sunshine and with the aid of a cane, and now I walk without a stick and in the drizzle!  It was a good way to spend an hour and I do enjoy walking with them.

Christian took my camera to photograph a tree which has a very convoluted root system which has a stream running under it.

Buds on branches in the lane to the calvaire.

After the walk I went back to change my wet trousers, socks and shoes and then had a couple of cups of coffee with Paulette and Christian at their house.  It was a lovely way to end 2011.

It's been a difficult year in some ways, but ultimately rewarding.    Friends and family rallied round me when I needed them and I'm very grateful to them all.   I have ended the year in much better health and probably with more years ahead of me that I would have had without my gastric bypass.  

I have made just a few New Year's Resolutions:

To get organised so that I remember to succession sow salad veggies and have a continuous supply instead of a glut and a deficit. 
To get fitter as I get slimmer and walk whenever I can. 
To arrange my affairs - business and papers that is - I should be so lucky as to have the other sort! 
To sort out my books and get rid of at least 200 of them. 
To try to reduce my freezers to two and a half. 

If I achieve a couple of these I shall be happy.

New Year's Eve

Twenty-eleven is used up and spent

The months, weeks and days who knows where they went
The minutes whizzed past, the time disappeared
This getting older is just as I feared.
They told me this happened, that time would fly
Between giving up work and  the day that I die
Not enough seconds in each passing day
To write all the things I wanted to say.
I thought they were joking, that time would stand still
I'd be looking for things the hours to fill
But time zips on by with things left undone
The "to do" list gets longer while I'm having fun.
Fifty-two weeks more are coming next year
To live and plan for and enjoy being here
I expect they'll go quickly like all the rest
I'm hoping twenty-twelve may yet be the best.
Sandra E Chubb

Well - I wish everyone a very Happy New Year and many more of them!

Three things I like:

1.   That the days will be getting longer and lighter as we go into 2012.
2.   That I am here to see another New Year in, and most important
3.   That I have good friends and my family.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Oyster shells, Disasters and Little Eggs

More oyster shells have appeared, this time in the goat field. I spoke to my neighbour this afternoon, who lives on the North coast now, but who comes back to my village each weekend to sort out her son's house and garden.  It's always good to catch up with her and her news.  She cooked Christmas lunch for twelve people this year at her house.  Luckily, as the weather was good no-one had trouble getting to her.  She thinks it might be the next neighbours along who have been putting the oyster shells on the field, but I haven't seen them to ask them. The shells are brilliant as a source of calcium for the hens but need breaking up with a hammer into edible size bits, about half the size of a little finger nail or smaller.

While I was investigating the shells in the goat field and getting the birds to bed last night, I slipped in the mud again. I was absolutely covered in it and in spite of sitting on a "bag for life" in the Land Rover, had to wash the covers of the cushions which I use in the driver's seat.

The webbing has gone in the seat and without them I would be looking through the steering wheel.  My worker has promised to repair both front seats when I have finished losing weight!

Just before the boys left, Judge brought a whole load of logs in for me, wearing my XXXL man's fleece to protect his clothes.   He wasn't keen on me taking a photo of him in my outsize coat, hence the blurred photo!

The logs were all used up by this morning and I fetched just a few in from the trolley on the terrace as Flick was coming round to bring some in this afternoon. I was quite surprised when she arrived as I hadn't realised it was the afternoon already. Time seems to go so fast nowadays.  Her husband has man 'flu' which is why he hasn't been round to help here this week.  Hopefully, he'll be better for Monday morning.

Apparently there was a bad fire at Kerpin, near Lanrivain village at 01.00am on Boxing Day just after Christmas and very bad damage to the house.  The upstairs was completely destroyed and the occupant was very lucky to be woken and rescued by the firemen.  The photo is from

Yesterday in the centre of Corlay, eight minutes from St André, a lorry driver lost control of his heavy goods vehicle and ran into a car.  The driver of the car was injured and taken to hospital.  Also yesterday a seventy-six year old man was killed driving out of St Nicolas du Pélem in the direction of Corlay when his car was struck by a pick-up.  Not good things to happen ever, but especially at Christmas time.  I'm so glad Matthew and Judge got home to Cornwall safely - it always worries me them driving in the dark in a foreign country. 

Three eggs today again when I put the girls away tonight. I've also been getting really small eggs regularly over the last two weeks and think they must be from the Lavender Pekin mother hen.   I think Charlie will like the tiny ones fried or poached when he comes to visit in February.  Having so few laying hens at the moment I am really lucky that they are still laying so well.  The boys took back all the eggs I had, except for the small ones, when they left on Tuesday.

Only one more day of 2011 left now.  This year has gone so quickly and yet so many things seem to have happened in it. 

Three things I like:

1.   Finding another Christmas Card in my postbox this morning from someone I thought I'd lost touch with.
2.   Having a quiet day with no pressure to do anything at all.
3.   Getting all the Christmas guest bedlinen and towels washed and dried and put away.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Frost, Oysters and Mussels

It's more like December today and very frosty this morning.  I couldn't open the doors on the Land Rover, even after using the deicer, so couldn't go into town to collect bread for the animals.  All the animal water containers had to have the ice broken and leaves and twigs everywhere were edged with silvery-white.

After I'd looked after the animals, I came out of the barn door, locking it as usual.  I turned round to face the veggie bed opposite the door and there were oyster shells on the earth, as if someone had eaten their dinner up on my field. 

Strangely, about 3-4 years ago, when I opened the shed door one morning there was a packet of Quaker Porage Oats inside, as if someone had eaten their breakfast there.  Perhaps my field is a hot spot for a traveller who enjoys his food.

The grass around the calvaire, about 70 metres from my house, was really white, although now, at 11.30am the sun is out and it's a lovely day, so it's probably all melted away now as it's in such an open position.

The boys have yet to come in for breakfast.  I have done their job and emptied the dishwasher and put everything away, but they still have to do the hoovering.

I asked them yesterday evening if they would do it in the morning, the carpet is looking dreadful. The bin needs emptying again and the empty bottles are stacking up.  The Dysons all need their filters cleaning and Matthew usually does that when he's here, so hopefully he'll do that today too. 
I've found the bottle of Muscadet which I want to use when I cook the mussels for lunch.  I'm doing them marinière style, with chopped shallots, parsley, the Muscasdet white wine, seasoning and the mussels.  I haven't had mussels since July, and if I find I can't eat them, I will at least be able to eat the sauce. 

I haven't been to the shops, but have part-baked French bread to finish in the oven, which will mop up the sauce.  It's not traditional,  but I like to add a container of cream to the sauce after I've taken the mussels out with a slotted spoon.  Then when it's heated through I pour the sauce over the mussels - I am drooling just writing about it.  Here I am cooking them later for our very late lunch.  (You can see that the stash of empty bottles has been taken out.)

The sun is streaming through the window and I have had to move my chair slightly so it isn't in my eyes - lovely, lovely day.  Matthew had thought he was going home today, but when we looked at the ticket it is tomorrow and not until the 11.30pm boat, so that's good.

Lastly, two photographs of the sunset this evening.  The first of Saturday's new moon from the terrace and the second, the sky from my barn back door.

Three things I like:

1.   This lovely winter sunshine.
2.   Poaching freshly laid eggs for breakfast.
3.   Watching The Gruffalo.  

Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day

Very late up this morning after a very late night/early morning to bed - the boys are a bad influence on me - my day is slipping like their day does   I quickly set off for the field and Basil, my daddy goat, was standing in the only part of his field where he can see the entrance to the field, waiting for me.  I took some photos of the young Lavender Pekins on their perch the other night as I was putting them all away, and this morning I took photos of various fungi. 

I found a branch which had fallen and carried that home. It had fungi growing on the end.

Two visitors were here for Christmas Day.  I had ordered them after a real one all but emptied my fish pond in the Autumn.  They will go outside and act as deterrents for any pass heron once I have restocked the pond. 

Just to show that healthy, non-calorie laden food was available over the festive period.  
Although, to be fair, I think the only fruit used so far was put into the Christmas Cake this afaternoon, which Judge made from a Mary Berry Christmas Cake pack.  It's just finished cooking and is doing its 30 minute rest in the tin before being turned out onto the cooling rack.  It smells lovely. 

I think Alfie was setting an example to the other two boys.

Obviously boys do not have the stamina of the female gender!

We had medium rare steaks, potatoes cooked three ways, butternut squash and a mixed salad for lunch.  I had some trifle which I made earlier, but Matthew had left the extra thick double cream in his fridge in Cornwall, so I had to have French cream which isn't nearly as lovely.   Mussels are on the menu for tomorrow lunch and I am defrosting a whole crab which, if all goes well, we'll have as a starter - I've never prepared a whole crab before so fingers crossed.

Three things I like:

1.   Having the boys here.
2.   Cooking for the boys.
3.   Finding that the hens are still laying eggs - unseasonally warm temperatures?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas stuff

On Wednesday, after being assured by friends that it was not a dish you would only make once, I cooked Nigella’s Ham in Coca Cola. 

I did this with great trepidation, as a large gammon joint is not cheap, and I really love my boiled bacon.  I’m sorry to say that it is a dish I would only make once.  I don’t feel it enhanced the gammon in any way.  I didn’t finish it off with black treacle etc. as I am not looking for extra calories, but I did roast it in the oven for about 20 minutes to caramelize the fat, having removed the skin, as I often do.  Definitely not for me, sorry I don’t agree with you – you know who you are! 

Is anyone else having the problem with excessive quantities of mice being brought inside by their cats?  I must be getting at least two a day, sometimes more, and they are usually running around the sitting room/kitchen for a good hour or so before one of the three cats, usually Purrdy, manages to despatch them.  I come downstairs in the morning to find those little hard green bits from somewhere, not sure where, inside the mouse, lying on the floor, and all three cats lined up in front of the fridge freezer waiting for a little squeaky animal to emerge.   I have learnt to wear slippers and not go bare-footed until I am sure where the remains lie.  I am quite used to it, but I’m not sure that visitors will be as laid back about it.  Daisy even brought one in while I was prepping the veggies this morning. 

For those of you having turkey for Christmas, I thought you might like to see this photos from the blog  It was from an American who was having turkey for Thanksgiving. 

Well it's not a sunny bright day, but it is mild and so far it's dry here, which is always good for Christmas Day.  All my veggies are prepared and only the sausages to wrap with bacon and the gravy to make when the time comes.  I'm typing this with a glass of Buck's Fizz within hand's reach and I think it will be a good day!   My son, Matthew, and his houseshare friend are here and I've spoken to my daughter, Libby and my grandson on the 'phone. 

A Merry Christmas and a Happy 2012 to you all!

Three things I like:

1.   The anticipation of opening Christmas pressies.
2.   The anticipation of others opening pressies you have given them.
3.   Knowing everything's running smoothly for the big day.