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, February 17, 2012

Grafitti, Animals and Cake

Yesterday I had to take back to the Clinic, the recorder which I wore overnight to see if I still need my oxygen extractor and breathing machine at night. Afterwards I drove around a part of Guingamp trying to find a particular shop and took these photographs.

There was house with a very thick and neatly cut hedge which stood out as I came down the hill.  The postbox was cut into the hedge itself.

This photo shows a very old, tall and long wall, with a blocked doorway now painted with grafitti - but - not knowing what it says - I though the graffiti was quite beautiful and I loved the colour.

I spotted the roof of a house with two chimneys each with a large capital letter on them - I wonder why?  The trees on this street are pollarded which is a very common way of pruning trees here in Britanny.   When they're without leaves they do look a bit strange, but I love them with or without leaves, and they're so Breton!

This morning I drove to collect a rice cooker and I was stopped for a bit while a young farmer brought her cattle across the lane, and then when I pulled into a picnic area I saw a very strange sight. 

Unbelievably, this dead badger had obviously been put in this pose and left there.  It was fairly strong smelling, but sort of fascinating.

It was bizarre, but there was no-one else in the area to talk to about it, so I just took some photos and then drove away.

It was a day for wildlife.  As I came into the last village before mine, a deer ambled across the road and there was a field covered in lapwing.  Unfortunately, as I opened my Land Rover door to get a photo the whole flock - 200 plus birds - took off and landed in a wheat field, where the plants were just too high to take a photo.

Lots of horses on my route back

and this church in St Servan with the lovely coloured dogwoods in front of it.

It was a grey day, really dull and calm, but in spite of the lack of light, I enjoyed the drive and when I got home I enjoyed this, which I bought in a boulangerie in Callac.

There things I like:

1.   Having a full log pile next to the woodburner thanks to Flick.
2.   Finding that one of the white chicks I bought last year has just laid her first egg.
3.   My neighbours coming out to round up two ducks in the lane this evening.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February weather and bits in the village and my garden

Everywhere you look now there are signs of new growth, like the bright green shoots on the bramble in next door's driveway and the lichens and mosses are vibrant green too.

Ivy berries and dried up bramble berries are still in evidence while celandine have just started flowering in the verge on the lane. 

The catkins are now changing colour from their original lime green.

And my passionflower is in bud already.

Apparently, the forecast for the weekend is very cold again as we will be getting our weather from the east, but it will warm up once more next week as the front changes to come in from the Atlantic again.  I've been looking back at photographs of February holidays in Tobago, and they seem such a long time ago, although the last time was only in 2008. 

This is the view from the apartment, just 47 steps from the Caribbean water, where we have stayed twice.  We have alternated with a lovely hotel, much more expensive, and the apartment, basic and cheaper, leaving more to spend on superb dinners.

Then there's a brown me having enjoyed the wonderful Tobagonian sunshine.

And lastly the beach west of Pigeon Point, with it's white sand, turquoise water and far too many people once the day gets going.

Overall this winter we've been really lucky with the temperatures being so much higher than usual, but it's still appears to be a long period.  I can't wait to be able to wake up, put on a swimmer and read a book while drinking my coffee outside in the sunshine.  I have missed going away in February - the warmth of a tropical sun and a bit of a tan do wonders for winter morale.  Maybe next year, when I shall feel much more comfortable doing that long flight after losing so much weight.  It's not easy travelling when you're morbidly obese, although, if possible, the cabin crew always moved me to two vacant seats to give me and my squashed up son, Matthew, more room.   An extra belt was always necessary as the usual silver seat belt would not possibly stretch around my girth.  A member of the cabin crew would approach the seats waving the seriously bright orange extension belt saying, "Who was it who needed the extension belt?" and it seemed that all the passenger heads in the aircraft would turn to find the very fat person.  The other problem when you're grossly overweight is getting in and out of the toilets in an aircraft.  This requires special skills which are only acquired after several failed attempts.  Joining the mile high club would never have been possible! 

Today, at 18.15 hrs, I have an appointment with my lung specialist's assistant.  I will be fitted with an overnight recorder to monitor my breathing and oxygen levels to see if, having lost so much weight, 7st 5lbs since my operation in July 2011, I can do without my sleep apnoea breathing machine and the oxygen extractor.  I have to go back tomorrow with the machine before midday as it booked out every day to someone.  Fingers crossed for a good result.  Last time they stuck part of the equipment to me with a tape called Sparadrap.  I was allergic to it and had large blisters where the recorder had been attached to my skin - even the specialist was surprised and thought I had been burnt.  This time they have a note of this and hopefully will have remembered to get a substitute for me.

I've just been looking at the gym.  I have loads of exercise equipment including an electric treadmill, rower, reclining bicycle, cross trainer, punch bag, weights, multigym etc. etc. 

In the Winter it is impossible to access it as the garden furniture and other stuff gets dumped in the room, but in a few weeks when we get the furniture out to pressure wash it ready for the Spring, I shall be able to get in there and start some serious work - I might get fit at last - maybe!
Lastly a jay in my oak tree.  Harder to photograph than the magpies.  They are everywhere, but I never seem to be able to catch them on camera.  These are a bit blurry, but the best I've taken so far.

Don't you just love the flash of blue almost under the wing? give the following information:


A very colourful crow about the same size as a jackdaw, mostly pinkish brown under parts slightly lighter. The head has a black and white stripped marking with a black moustache and a white throat. A white rump and black tail,The eye is a pale blue, a black bill and pinky brown legs. Wings mostly black with white patches. A striking blue feather very noticeable as they fly off as they are very shy birds. prefers wooded areas.

Three things I like:

1.   Sampling the lovely chicken stock I made this morning - 1.7 litres/3 pints - mmmm - good enough to have as soup without additions!
2.   Finding another spare battery for my camera which I thought I'd lost.
3.   Watching a programme about Queen Elizabeth 11 - The Diamond Queen - which I'd recorded.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Birds, Bones and Valentine's Day

On Saturday, I had a doctor's appointment to get my usual three monthly prescription medicines and also to get something for the cold/cough that my delightful little grandson

brought for me especially from Cornwall. This is him playing on the Wii with not a care about the germs he's passed on to me!  I was given antibiotics, so hopefully they'll kick in soon and I won't get a chest infection this time around. She was sorry to hear about my new tumours and asked me to contact her if I hadn't heard from the endocrinologist by the end of the week.

I have Googled my parathyroid tumours as it looks as if there are definitely two and possibly three.  Three would mean I wouldn't have any parathyroid glands left and they are essential for calcium in the body to be controlled.  It seems as if they might take a tiny healthy bit of gland and implant it into a forearm muscle, where it would continue to work hopefully.

The temperature has risen and there was no need to break the ice in the animal water containers yesterday or today. How easy it is doing the animals when the water's not frozen. The animal bread will run out before the end of the week, I must remember to go into the supermarket bakery and get another sack. I usually take one or two baguettes out and make breadcrumbs to keep in a sealed plastic container for cooking - every little helps.

My worker dug out my duck pond last year and left a large heap of earth, a very large heap of earth, next to the boundary fence.  You can see it along the right hand side of the photo above.   Yesterday evening I went up to the field to put the animals away. I started with the ducks, but there didn't seem to be enough of them - I counted several times and could only make out nine - there should be ten.  I shut the nine into their playhouse and then could hear a duck quacking outside the boundary - I presume she must have launched herself from the waste earth heap.  I could see her but not reach her as the bank from the road is high and covered in brambles.  Clearly she couldn't be left there for the fox so quickly I drove down to my neighbour, Christian, who kindly came up and with the aid of a bashing stick to squash down the brambles, managed to reach her and hand her to me. Before he reached her, he threw two pieces of jaw bone with attached teeth to me. 

He said they were from a cat, so presumably that was one of my missing ones - a horrid end. The bones were really white and the teeth in perfect condition, so not an old cat. Most of my cats don't go up to the field, but Mimi spent hours and hours up there, often not coming back to the house at night, but sleeping in the polytunnel or just in the grass.  obviously that one did.   Here she is helping me round up an escaped chicken.

My Houdini-like duck was soon safely installed in the playhouse. I just hope she doesn't keep doing the same thing now she has a taste for freedom. My worker is currently in Devon and not due back before the end of the week, so it could be a few days of difficult bedtimes if she chooses to play up again. The bonus was that it took so long getting the duck back that the hens were all in their shed when I went in to lock them up so no hassle there.

When I went up to the field this morning I walked over to the boundary near where the jaw bones were found.  There is a very large rock just behind the fence and it was strewn with the rest of the cat skeleton.

It may seem rather macabre, but in a way I'm pleased to have found this.  Mimi went missing two days into a trip I made back to England in October 2010 and not knowing what has happened to an animal is horrible.  Not a good end for her, but at least I now know.

There was a beautiful bird song coming from a tree across the lane and finally I managed to spot the bird responsible.  It's not a clear photo as it was rather far away for my little compact, which was all I had with me at the time.   I'm pretty sure that it's a song thrush, but am checking with my friend in Nailsworth, who is a proper bird man.   I think it is a resident here as I heard it last week too when I was walking up the lane with Charlie, my grandson.

On my garden wall, which they use as a launch pad for the bird table, were a pair of magpies today. I find them very difficult to photograph as they are off at the slightest movement from me, but did get a decent shot of one of them.

Lastly, here's a photo, especially for Valentine's Day, of the three cats, in harmony, with two hearts dangling above them.

Three things I like:

1.   A haddock fillet, lightly dusted in seasoned flour before frying, for my lunch today.
2.   Getting a bag of yesterday's bread from SuperU bakery.  I was late and didn't expect to be lucky.
3.   Watching all the birds visiting the bird table from the comfort of my armchair.