Monday, 30 September 2013

Red Sky at Night...

We've had some beauties recently.....

and then there's the dozens I've missed, to the plaintive cry:
        "Where's my camera?"
And if anyone replies:
       "Where did you last have it?"
..................I won't be responsible for my actions!!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Gimme Shelter!

After another thunder storm last night we decided today was the day for some construction work à la Kevin McCloud. And just like Kevin's "Man Made Home", this involved reclaiming some of the timber from the old cabins the previous owner had for geese and duck and converting that timber into a shelter for the chickens in inclement weather.

Before we give the impression that up to now the poor things have been left without any shelter, let me stress that they already have two perfectly sound weather-proof structures, a smaller one divided up as nest boxes and a larger one for roosting.

Despite this they insist on sleeping on the roof of the larger pod even in the rain. And during the day when it is wet, they make a sorry sight!

We have spent most of the day on this shelter on the basis that if a job is worth doing, etc, etc... and by mid afternoon we were ready to let the hens have a nosey around..
They were happy enough to come and take a look, but as for going inside...

What is the one thing likely to entice a hen to overcome it's timidity???

Yes; food did the trick! They were soon in under the shelter and tucking into a dish of cornflake crumbs soaked in water. It would be nice to thing that they have admired our handiwork and that, more importantly, they will use the shelter when the weather isn't good.

However, that remains to be seen. Girls will be girls! And for once it is the Sussex who seems to have taken charge of the shelter...

Let's hope she remembers this place when the rain next starts to fall!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Royan's Sunday Market

The Sunday market in Royan is colourful, vibrant and packed with stalls selling all manner of goods.

We came upon it by chance when on a day out the other weekend and we were very glad we'd found it. 

There are outdoor stalls arranged around the indoor market, which is famous architecturally for its design, serving as a model for the market of Nanterre and as the CNIT of the Defence near Paris. Built in 1955 by the architects Louis Simpson and Andre Morisseau and the engineer Rene Darger, it is a round shell in reinforced concrete eight centimetres thick. At 52.40 metres in diameter and 10.50 metres high, it rests on thirteen peripheral support points without any internal pillar.
The form of the exterior can just be seen in the background of this photo..

Fascinating as this all is, we were more captivated by the colour and buzz of the outside area. 

The fresh flowers displayed to perfection by the owner of this stall...

The fruit and vegetables competing with the supermarkets on price; not all uniform in shape and size but fresh,  full of flavour and making the most colourful and tempting display..

The freshest seafood alongside a stall selling gladiolii...

It really was a feast for the senses and guaranteed to whet the appetite.... or was that just the fresh sea air??

The market in Royan is held every morning except Monday.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Painting Problems!

As regular readers know I am currently painting (varnishing) our windows. It is a slow job made even slower by my enthusiasm towards doing them.

This fellow caused another welcome diversion... Yet again a feat of climbing or jumping as she/he was on one of the first floor frames...

We think it is a Female Bush Cricket but are by no means certain!

It was safely removed to ground level and the rubbing down continued...

Thursday, 26 September 2013

A Very Short Butterfly Survey...

After a foggy start to the day the sun broke through and temperatures quickly soared. But by early afternoon the rain had come and looked as if it was here to stay.

As so often the case round here, just as quickly as it had come, it disappeared and again we had warm sunshine. We thought we'd make the most of this and do the Butterfly Survey for September. As we left home the garden was full of butterflies feasting on a variety of plants.

However only a few feet into the survey it was clear we were not going to see masses of butterflies as on other occasions. In fact we walked the length of four "tranches", each tranch being about 200m in length, without seeing a single butterfly!

Then Colin spotted one! Unfortunately it flew way up in the air and even with a telephoto lens, it was impossible to identify it accurately.
 Can you spot the butterfly???

Things picked up later on and by the end of our survey, which usually takes us an hour and a half to complete, we had clocked a total of two Clouded Yellows, two Small Whites and the indeterminate one above!

No other butterflies to be seen...

So this is going to be a very short survey to write up; the shortest we've ever had in fact.

However, we did see the most lovely specimen of Toadflax...

I've always loved this plant since I first came upon it in the hedgerows leading to Lligwy Bay, Anglesey, when on holiday as a child with my life-long friend, Christine and her parents, Stan and Audrey.

This lovely flower evokes really happy times!

But where, oh where are the butterflies???

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Up Up and away at Sunrise!

We do not normally see this time of day...

However when we go on a trip we do!! Elizabeth captured last Sundays perfectly...

We bet they had a great flight, it was perfect weather for it.

It is on the list of things to do... Perhaps on the next big birthday!!!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013


On our way to Royan we have passed Cesar Deco four times...

and I loved their display of farm animals
 especially this cow

I so wanted one for our grassed area, until I looked up the site on the internet...

If you are sitting down see here!

I could probably buy a live one for as much given the average prices here

It would not look half as good now would it!

Then Elizabeth has enough with three hens and she has little experience of hand milking. I also only drink skimmed milk so definitely a no no...

Better start saving up then... I wonder if we need permission from the Mairie?

Monday, 23 September 2013

Answer on a Postcard..

What were we doing yesterday??

Well, not canoeing or whaling, Jean and Tim, but good guesses none the less!

We were enjoying a walk along the coastal path to the north west of Royan, in Charente-Maritime.

The path is well marked and closely follows the coastline (a feature which is always a plus point for a coastal path, but cannot always be taken for granted!).

We had wanted to do this walk when we went to Royan earlier in September but that day was too hot. Yesterday it was around the 27C mark but as the path has plenty of shade in the form of shrubs and trees, it made for a pleasant walk

We set off from Vaux-sur-Mer and walked northwards, on Le Sentier des Douaniers.

The coast line here is made up of deep inlets, sandy bays and craggy headlands giving a different view round every corner.

We stopped to watch a couple of fishermen shrimping just off shore.

This chap had rather full wellies at the end of the afternoon!

We were surprised to see some of the things which had been washed up along the shoreline.
The tree trunk was quite a size, too!

By the time we reached le Plage du Platin St Palais, the sun was getting rather too hot for us.
We went on just to the Corniche de Terre Negre and then made our way back.
This was one of the nicest coastal walks we've ever done and one thing's for sure... we'll be going back to do more of the path, because from what we can see, it stretches off up the coast for some miles.

Highly recommended and well worth the journey!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Saturday, 21 September 2013

It's been a long climb...

We photographed this little creature at lunchtime today in the full sun.

Yes it is an Earwig. There are some interesting facts about the creatures here

This one is certainly out of character in it's behaviour, most of the information including the BBC site referenced above say...

"Earwigs rest during the day inside damp crevices such as under bark or in hollow plant stems. They are scavengers and emerge at night." Not so this one...

And what a climb it has had, at least five feet to the top of our Verbena. I hope it thought it was worth it!

As readers will know I have do battle with the earwigs every year when they start eating our young sprouting dahlias but according to the RHS site here they are also partial to other flowers!

They do however have a positive side in that they eat many small insect pests and their eggs.

We also photographed this one when processing our hazelnuts... 

after the weevil larva we assume, it appeared dead, perhaps it got stuck after a gorging on the larva! It was not the only one like this...

Friday, 20 September 2013

A Celebration of Time...

Autumn feels as if it's coming a little too early this year. Or maybe it's just that the passage of time is speeding up. Age does that to you!

We will soon be celebrating the third anniversary of moving into the house; where did that go??

A dear auntie of mine celebrated her 90th birthday this week; I hadn't realised she turned 80 yet!

We hit a milestone today on the stats for all time pageviews, topping 90,0000 since we began in January 2011. We could never have foreseen back then where the blog would take us as time went by; the wonderful friends we've made; the advice we've sought; the recipes we've found' a source for the seeds we wanted and a gift from the Isle of Man to boot!

Out dividing some perennials in the garden today, I was aware that for the first time we are in a position to give away plants because we are running out of space in the garden; it's not that long ago we were begging any specimens going to stock the newly created borders.

Some things in the garden try to trip us up in terms of time. The primroses are out in flower; is that late for 2013 or early for 2014? The advent rose hasn't stopped flowering for the last two years!

But one of our favourite trees today reminded us just what we are facing, all too fast...

Autumn is upon us and the colours are changing at a reasonable pace now.

The maple tree has supported my craft work each autumn/winter for the past three years, I've pressed the leaves and used them to make pictures, like this one above our hearth..

and to make paperweights to sell....

We'll watch the colour of the leaves changing and deepening again and we'll be out there collecting the best of the freshly fallen ones for me to press. thus preserving their shape and colour against the normal ravages of time.

It's perhaps a good job we can't preserve ourselves in a state of suspended animation. Change brings with it so many new opportunities and experiences which we'd miss if time could stand still for us.

So whilst time may be going too quickly, I suggest we celebrate it to the full!