Posted by: kathandroger | December 9, 2018

Trespassing, Tracks, and Telethon.

We live right out in the sticks. I am not sure where that expression comes from, but it applies to us in the depths of the French countryside. Not that civilization is far away; the nearest town is only ten minutes, but we feel ensconced in rurality. And wandering the local tracks with the dog is one of our great pleasures. The problem is that some areas, although completely devoid of humans, seem to prohibit entry with lots of signs and warnings. What to do? Well I reckon that if I am doing no harm, and the dog is doing no harm, and nobody knows we are there, then I will do as the French do and ignore stupid rules! So last week we had a lovely wander around a local private lake.IMG_0207 It belongs to a factory in a nearby town and is used as a leisure area in the summer, but in winter nobody is around…except me and the dog. I do feel a bit nervous about trespassing sometimes, and a few weeks ago a large pike decided to jump out of the water very close to us. I jumped almost as high as the fish!
The paths have become very soft recently, after the much needed rain of the past few weeks. Apart from mud on the dog and on the owner, it means the animal tracks are much easier to see. There are lots of Sanglier (wild boar)around, and I found these prints very close to home.IMG_0214 They are big, deep, and show the little spikes behind the main imprint. The only other animal could be the large red deer we have about, but the prints were too close together to be anything other than the pig. And a few metres away his digging in the field could be clearly seen.
Yesterday was the Sanglier hunt in the woods next to out house. About 40 hunters and loads of dogs, all wandering about and shouting and blowing horns, the hunters were on the horns, not the dogs. Kath was out with Polly, and saw an obviously wounded sanglier being chased by several baying hounds and several shouting hunters. I hope it was dispatched quickly. The numbers of wild boar are apparently increasing, and some control must be used, but I am sure there are more efficient methods of extermination. I went out to meet Kath in the village, and was greeted outside our door by a hound in our garden! How he got in I have no idea, as the walls are high and there were no gates open. He was a very friendly chap, however, and gave me a good licking before I let him out to find his mates.
The other change with the rain and the mild weather has been the eruption of fungi everywhere. It seems that over the past couple of days all the different mushrooms have decided to show themselves, and I bet the gatherers are everywhere.IMG_0216 They better be careful of the boar hunters!
I met Kath and the dog at our local village hall to drink a “vin chaud” (hot, spiced red wine) and watch the local parade of old motorbikes and tractors for the annual “Telethon” appeal. This charity raises money for research into rare childhood illnesses, and each year produces huge amounts of cash. We had seen it all last year, but it was good to be with the local mayors and villagers and for me to talk to a chap who has renovated an old Mobylette moped, exactly the same model that I have in the workshop waiting for some tender care. But for me the most interesting exhibit was this chap on his old puffing tractor.IMG_1892 They say that dog owners come to look like their dogs. I didn’t know that tractor owners look like their tractors. The vehicle was large, slow and rumbling, and the lovely owner looked exactly the same!

Posted by: kathandroger | December 2, 2018

Two Revolutions!

The Gilets Jaunes are still causing chaos. Yesterday they wrought havoc around the Arc de Triomphe, both breaking into it and daubing the exterior with graffiti. Damage will cost a huge amount to repair, and the allegedly suffering French will have to pay for it, perhaps with increased taxes! For the first time I noticed the word “Revolution” in the graffiti. I note that in Napoleons’ time he first came into favour after he quelled rebelling crowds in Paris by having his troops open fire on them. The revolt soon stopped. Not so nowadays, the thugs will probably have to pay a fine and have some psychotherapy! I just feel sad that the vast majority of the French only want to register their dismay at the standard of living not rising as it should, especially those country dwellers who live far away from their workplaces. At the same time the non political unity of the masses is in a way reassuring, and I feel it has brought the average worker closer together. But let’s hope it all settles down soon.

IMG_0196This is one of our local fields having just been ploughed. I wonder what the scene would have been a hundred years ago, before the hedges were all ripped out to make big fields where the heavy tractors could work. And before the bees and birds were killed by insecticides and lack of suitable environment. We know that ploughing reduces fertility, and nutrients have to be put back into the land, usually by powerful and dangerous chemicals. But now I read that a revolution may be at hand. Small robots are being developed which can map a field, plant crops, care for them with nutrients as required, and even laser kill unwanted weeds which can be recognised by the machine. Harvesting by machine is already happening remotely in some vineyards in France, and the technology in rapidly advancing. Huge fields are not needed, and smallholders will be able to efficiently produce crops from their land, negating the need for long distance transport from far off mass producers. It sounds too good to be true, so I hope it isn’t! But again it would mean less need for manual labour, and no need for living in unattractive parts of the country. Huge areas could become remote food producers. We better get on with it to replace the foreign labour which will no longer come to work in Britain!
On the same tack, we have an increasing number of wind turbines in France. Personally I like seeing them; they have a powerful beauty about them and are a symbol of mans’ taming of nature. But I am not sure how I would feel if I lived in this lovely old farm a few miles away.IMG_0197 I guess it is called progress.

I do see the world through rose coloured glasses. Especially when I am cycling. IMG_0205 They really do make the lovely autumnal colours even more lovely! It is best to remain the eternal optimist, and I hope I can continue to do so!

Posted by: kathandroger | November 25, 2018

Autumn Battles.

From the calm of late summer, the weather has become unsettled and sometimes violent. So have the people of France. The battles of the “gilets jaunes” continues and has affected everyone here. I could not get onto the motorway to fetch Kath from the airport a few days ago, and many petrol stations are still blocked. I have to say that locally, although there are lots of protesters, it all seems fairly good humoured, especially if I put my yellow vest in the front of the car. Not so in Paris, where yesterday there was rioting in the city with lots of damage and dozens of people injured. The numbers involved were actually less than expected, although 70% of the population are said to support the actions. As always, it is the very small proportion of mindless vandals who usually have no political motivation and just want to wreck anything around them that grab the headlines. I feel so sorry for the innocent shopkeepers and business people who have to rebuild their lives after the “casseurs” (wreckers) have destroyed their properties. And the Police, many of whom have sympathy for the cause of the protests, are often injured just trying to do their duty. What is it in the minds of hooligans that just wants to hurt people for no reason? But having demonised the few, most protesters are peaceful and it seems they have good reasons for taking legal action. Macron is a very clever man in my opinion, but like all talents, too much intelligence is not always a good thing. Like money, beauty and inheritance, these things isolate the individual from the average person, and the feeling here is that the “common man” has been forgotten by the rich and clever president with his lavish lifestyle. We saw it before with Sarkozy, and it is no longer tolerated. He must make some concessions regarding the rising taxes and the diminishing buying power of the currency for the average French individual. Politically France is as divided as the UK, with no obvious alternative to Macron, and anyway he has another few years to go before the next elections. Come on Emmanuel, have some compassion for the genuine grievances, and lets make the average Frenchie smile again!

So what is happening to cheer us up in the UK? It seems that Mrs May has got a deal on the table which will be approved today by the EU. Donald Tusk, the EU President has said that “no one has a reason to be happy”, and it appears that the deal will be rejected by the UK government in Parliament next month anyway!
How I hate politics!

Now back to real life. I had a lovely meal in the village hall yesterday lunchtime. It was the annual gathering of the mature elders for the first of the Christmas celebrations, and after foie gras, then confit de canard, then cheese, then gateau de noel, washed down with first rose and then red wine, all was well with the world. Kath arrived to taxi me home to watch the rugby on the television. And we won and France were beaten by Fiji! That will upset the locals. Better get some exercise in today, but we have the cycling club annual lunch at midday, so it may not get done!
Finally the local Salamanders have been showing themselves.IMG_0156 We see them in the autumn after the rains in the local oak woods. Apparently they are mainly nocturnal and move very slowly, a bit like one of our neighbours.
And the Autumn leaves are everywhere and need picking up.IMG_4089 This is another, less important battle we have to fight, and the leaves under the walnut trees need to be gathered because they do damage the lawn. The others under the fruit trees can be mowed and Kath has done a good job!IMG_4090
The sheep have been butchered, the chickens are still laying, and there are lots of vegetables still in the garden. Life isn’t as bad as the media portrays!

Posted by: kathandroger | November 18, 2018

Yellow Jackets and fancy fungi.

I love France. There is a different attitude to life in general here, which is often wonderful but sometimes strange. I guess it is all the now inbred emotions about equality since the revolution from over two hundred years ago, and is manifested in the vigour and determination which characterises the many strikes and demonstrations we have here. The government is led by Emmanuel Macron, and he is not having an easy time. He was chosen a couple of years ago, mainly because he offered something different (his was a new party with many new and untried members), and because he was young, good looking, and had an older wife who used to be a teacher at his school! There is no doubt that Emmanuel has brains and plans, but his reforms have not met with approval from the French, who remain entrenched in the old familiar ways they have practiced for years. He has become keen on reducing pollution, among other things, and has raised the price of diesel fuel quite markedly over the past months. Most French drive diesel cars, and they are not amused. The buying power of the euro has apparently also been reduced, and the average household is feeling the pinch. So the only thing to do is to strike and to demonstrate. IMG_4088 This demonstration is typified by the “gilet jaune” or yellow jacket. Everyone with a car has one, as it is the law to do so, so it makes it simple to don a car jacket and be dressed for the fun. But it is not fun when things get our of control as they have done over the past few days. One woman has been killed after demonstrators blocked roads and a woman trying to drive her daughter to hospital ran her over. And dozens have been injured in the inevitable violence which accompanies mob action. Mr Macron has said little, but his ratings have dropped to an all time low. I don’t think he really worries about that as he seems to have a vision for his country and won’t be swayed from it. Good luck to him. Nobody seems to mention the new scheme whereby car owners can change their old polluting machines to more modern ones and be helped by a grant of 4,000 euros! The French love to whinge and show their solidarity. It doesn’t help them at all, and there is no way things will change, but they feel they have made their point. God bless them.
With the first frost this morning, winter is almost here. The autumn, like last year, has been notable for the lack of rain, and so the mushrooms have been very poor again. It does give the locals another thing to whinge about, but I don’t think we will have a demonstration about it! Now I know next to nothing about fungi, but in view of the local residents being expert, have begun to notice these strange living things. IMG_0165 This big chap was on a dead tree by our local resevoir. I don’t know what he is called but he didn’t look good to eat. IMG_4085 This little group are in our wood. They look very sweet and perhaps they are edible, but there is no way I am going to try them unless one of my trusted local friends reassures me and eat some first. A bit further into the wood was this pretty little group, again attached to an old dead tree. IMG_4087 I don’t fancy this one either, but the local fungi are interesting when the local flowers are all gone. My culinary needs do not necessarily include smelly things growing on trees. Tonight we have something much better than that. The flock has been reduced over the past week and sheep testicles are on the menu!

Posted by: kathandroger | November 10, 2018

November 5th to 11th.

Virtually unknown in France, Guy Fawkes’ night is an enduring favourite of us Brits. We have managed to educate some of the locals about the “Gunpowder Plot”, and they do understand bringing down governments! A few years ago we had a celebration of the day here, after clearing the use of fireworks with our bemused local Mayor. He did understand that the English like to burn people as they all remember Joan of Arc! This year our friends David and Jayne who live in a different region of France, but only across the river a few miles away, invited us over. Now Kath loves making a Guy, and has done so all her life she tells me. My anatomically correct frame, made of old garden sticks with wire joints, was rejected in favour of her old trusted method of stuffing my old clothes with paper which she had begged from her incredulous English students. Now times have changed remarkably since our last event, and the face of the Guy just had to be Boris Johnston.IMG_20181105_191021 The Guy is on the left! He went up in smoke much to the enjoyment of the assembled multitude.IMG_20181105_191623 (2) After a lovely meal, including the traditional Yorkshire Parkin cake, an unrehearsed musical evening was enjoyed by all. I tried to help the French contingent in a rendering of “Le temps de cerises”, but reckon I was more of a hinderance! Thanks for a great evening.
The weather is definitely looking autumnal now, and the beautiful Autumn colours are a joy to behold. Our weekly club bike ride was not possible with the rain and wind, but I did manage to get out yesterday afternoon for a couple of hours. Since taking the iphone with me for photos, rides have become much more of an artistic affair.IMG_0186 The French love their woodpiles, and this one must have been made using a laser guide! I thought it was a French thing, but noted the same precise piles in Germany a couple of months ago…but I guess one would expect that of the Germans!
The local wild Boar have been causing their usual havoc on the roadsides.IMG_0182 We don’t see them very often, but enjoy the family groups crossing the local roads at night. I read that they are becoming more and more common, and whereas the roadside damage is minor, in a field of crops they can wreak havoc. The local hunters do their best, but numbers are still rising. Perhaps I can do a bit more for reducing global warming by eating more wild boar.
And talking of animals, our sheep are due for the annual cull soon. I hate it happening, but meat eaters must take responsibility. I was working in the field last week putting in new fence posts to try and curtail the goats’ escapes, when I noticed Polly paying great attention to Rosemarys’ hind leg. On further inspection, she was licking an old wound that the ageing sheep has sustained some weeks ago.IMG_0178 None of the other sheep pay her any attention. Lovely. My only mistake was to discard my shirt, which Moins Dix, the goat, started eating, and the sheep came to see if it was tasty or not.IMG_0180 It wasn’t!
And so on to the 11TH, Armistice Day. I had been asked to attend a memorial march in another village, to dress up as a soldier, and carry an old rifle. I used to love being in the “Drill Squad” in the Combined Cadet Force at school; all that stamping around and shouting orders, but just feel so sad now about all the horrific loss of life, and declined. There are small parades in most of the local villages even now, and I agree it is important to remember. It will be interesting to see if it has any effect on the volume of hunting and shooting that we normally experience on a Sunday.

Posted by: kathandroger | November 4, 2018

Dogs.

As a kid in London, I was always scared of dogs. Great big things that barked and ran towards us when we were trying to play football on Tooting Bec Common. I had never been bitten, but those big teeth always frightened me. One uncle in Sussex had a lovely dog called Bess, and she was kind and friendly to me and I think it was her who helped give me confidence. Now I love dogs, and would not be without one. My children grew up with Boxers, a lovely, loving and comically stupid breed who would play with the family all day long, and then come with me on my rounds in the countryside. Each died young, and many tears were shed on each occasion.
So now in France we have Polly, our second Airedale after Boudie left us last year.IMG_0128 (1) She is like all dogs, often wonderful to be with and often a real pain in the arse. But this week we have looked after two more dogs belonging to some friends locally. Rollo is a designer dog, a mongrel Spaniel and Poodle, so fashionable nowadays and a nice friendly little chap.IMG_4083 Butter would not melt in his mouth, but last year he found something better that butter in a local dwelling and sired a litter with a local Labrador. One of the resulting pups is FloraIMG_4084, more Lab than anything, and the two have grown up together.
It has been a real pleasure to see all three romping around the countryside in a playful threesome. Different directions, different scents but all round doggy fun.IMG_0151 How I wish I still had the ability to run with them, but our guests are a delight to have on a walk as they come back when called and even respond to my whistle. Incidentally, my whistle is extremely loud since I paid a fortune for Dental Implants…they ought to list that talent as one of the attractions.
Anyway we have walked miles with the dogs, and the only drawback is the change in the weather which means they have sometimes needed mud washing off before they can come back into the house. And the burrs! Rollo may well be a designer dog, but the designer did not know anything about the seed heads in France, which are everywhere at the moment, and become irretrievably ensconced in the designer fur coat. We may have to shave him to get them out before the owners arrive today. Rollo the bald designer dog may not go down too well though. Flora is the most licky dog we have met, and we have both been covered in abundant dog saliva in any available body part. She is very friendly.
So what about dogs in general? I love them, some don’t. I thought they were good for our mental and physical health, but recent studies tend to refute that. Common sense would dictate that walking for miles every day must be good, but for us both the use of the animals as confidents and understanding friends is a great comfort. Dogs don’t spread false news, always listen intently and rarely get as upset as we do. Their constant enjoyment of the simple things in life such as food, and the great outdoors, is an inspiration. And they love to play and show the pleasure of being with us. The feeling is mutual doggies!

Posted by: kathandroger | October 28, 2018

Bye Bye Summer.

Our last guests of the year left yesterday. We don’t usually have visitors this late because of the inclement weather, but Angie and Co had a lovely week of sunshine and temperatures in the 20’s. We still haven’t had any rain and the surrounding fields are as dry as a bone. The local farmers have been scraping the topsoil and feverishly trying to get the winter corn sown before the rain comes. The dust seemed to be rising from fields all around us.IMG_0145
But signs that the summer is over are all around too. This time of year our club bike rides are marked by cycling into strands of cobwebs which float all over the countryside. It appears that spiders are very active at this time of year and that the webs break off to distribute the baby spiders by wind power. The process in called “ballooning”, but I have no idea why! Anyway the busy little beasts exhibit their labours all around, and it does look pretty in the early morning dew.IMG_0141
I don’t think we will be cycling in shorts and shirts anymore this year, but it was wonderful only a few days ago to be able to meander our lanes and admire the horses.IMG_0135 I was lucky enough to be able to ride racehorses in the UK, and that and the pubs are the only thing I miss in France. These youngsters are bred locally, and all looked wonderful in the full sunshine.
Because of the lack of rain, the mushroom season has so far been very poor, to the chagrin of the locals. Usually at this time of the year we have some rain with the warm weather and the woods and fields yield the usual supplement to the Frenchmans’ diet. We did pick some big and ugly fungi on our ramble on Monday, and I am assured that they would be good to eat, but I would not touch them with a barge pole! We did have some mushrooms appear in out field though, and although Kath is wary, I had some on toast, with our tomatoes and lettuce and they were delicious!IMG_4077
So the summer has gone and the heating is on. The clocks went back today and we would have had an extra hour in bed if we weren’t looking after a friends’ couple of dogs in addition to Polly. Dogs don’t do time changes, so first light meant placating the pack and letting them out for a pee. Still, we have lots of good wood for the fires, plenty of dry logs to cut up, and we will not be cold. The garden is still looking good, and we have managed to rotavate the rows which contained the tomatoes and beans, and it all looks unusually tidy for this time of the year. We are promised rain from this afternoon, and that will be a good excuse to get into the workshop for a play.
The clouds today have been magnificent. All of natures’ emotions were there; the pure calm blue sky to one side, the rumblings of an oncoming change to another. The nests of pure white cauliflower like cumulus contrasted with the angry looking dark storm clouds which despite the threat never did arrive. And the fading sun seemed to have accepted that the days of heat are over and dipped gently away. The metal giraffe at the end of the garden watched it all without moving a muscle.IMG_4081.JPG Maybe she was admiring herself in the newly installed traffic mirror at the crossroads.
Come on winter, I want to light the fire!

Posted by: kathandroger | October 21, 2018

Save the World!

There is rarely any good news in the world. It would be lovely to read a newspaper and not feel depressed, especially about our environment. I was pondering over the problems this morning on our walk with the dog in the wonderful autumn early morning.IMG_0133 Recently the ongoing debates about global warming and pollution have been everywhere, and enveloped by pessimism. It won’t be us who suffer, but our children and grandchildren, but action is needed now, and most of us seem to want to blame the mindless inaction of politicians worldwide. So what can you and I do? A complete change of lifestyle, with no polluting travel, and a vegan diet, would be the most effective contribution, but all but a very few could manage that. We need to feed the world, and with the increasing demand for meat, and increasing affluence to pay for it, meat production has become one of the most damaging elements in the overall production of greenhouse gasses. Beef is the main culprit, largely being the most ineffective way per unit of land for protein production, although there is a great difference between pasture fed cows and those from newly deforested land. And meat production also pollutes both water and air. Poultry is better, eggs not bad, and surprisingly to me, crustacean and farmed fish are among the greater polluters. But overall damage to soil fertility with some modern farming methods for plant production has also to be taken into account, and there is no doubt that managed grazing by animals can maintain soil fertility. Nitrogen fertilizers and insecticides have decimated insects in the never ending quest for increasing production.
OK, then, what am I going to do?IMG_4074 I have stopped drinking milk and am using soy milk on my morning cereals. I will not eat beef, except when given it (the day after my bold action, we were served a fillet of beef in our meal with the walking club, and there was no choice!), and will try to cut down on other red meats. I do feel slightly guilty in that dairy farming is not nearly as bad as beef farming, and I knew so many struggling dairy farmers in the UK. I have to say that the soy milk change has not been a problem, and I quite like the taste already, but I will miss that lovely rare steak!
But what about all that polluting travel? Our new petrol care is amazingly economical (50+ miles per gallon), but we live out in the sticks, and cutting down on trips will be difficult. The bike is used a lot, but only for pleasure rides, and in mid winter, carting our shopping back from the local town will be a bit of a drag. Air travel is hugely polluting, but cutting that out would mean not seeing family in Australia, and not taking advantage of the incredibly cheap flights that Mr Ryanair offers. It is a bit ironic that I want to see granddaughters on the other side of the world, but will be poisoning their future by doing so.
I must eat more nuts! We have so many hazelnuts and walnuts here at the moment, and still have boxes left over from the past two years. Nuts contain 2/3 good fats, and the other third is equally protein and carbohydrates. Great food which we stupidly ignore!IMG_4076 The wily Filbert Beetle knows all about the hazelnuts, and this little chap has grown fat on one of them. Luckily we have not had such a heavy infestation this year, and there are still loads of nuts to be picked up.
So in conclusion I am feeling a tiny bit better about my polluting the planet, but accept that Draconian measures are needed by governments worldwide to prevent the problems worsening. But hey, the sun is shining, it is still a beautiful world, and we must go on enjoying the pleasures we have.

Posted by: kathandroger | October 14, 2018

Pool pointing and Descartes Flowers.

There is always something to repair at La Belardiere. Most of the things I can do easily myself, but others are more complicated. Such is our swimming pool. The terrace was laid by a local mason, and at the time we had no idea that he was particularly useless. It is always difficult in a new home to pick the best local workers, and we made a mistake. The paving stones, perhaps not the best choice, but cheap and presentable concrete slabs, were laid in sometimes wavy lines, and were not the best feature on our project. Now, after nine years, it is a bit of a mess, with stained slabs and the pointing loose in several places. So what to do? The Boss engaged a local reputable builder to come and give us an estimate. 15.000 Euros to replace the slabs and re-do the pool margins. Bloody Hell, I thought, that is a lot of Euros. “But we can afford it” was the voice of reason from the feminine one. Now I don’t think I am really a miser, but hate spending cash to see someone else do something I can do myself, although the task is huge. And one daughter is struggling for cash at the moment and the thought of spending that sort of money on tarting up a pool did not feel appropriate. So plans for the task have been made and work in underway.
One reason the wife used for my non participation was the strain on my prosthetic knees. No problem, the Prior portable de-pointing trolley was made.IMG_4072 This is the wheeled base from a generator with an old mould box on top, which enables the worker to move freely up and down the rows whilst sitting in great comfort. The cushion has yet to be fitted. It works superbly, and after buying a good dust mask, donning the ear defenders and glasses, work was begun.IMG_1851 Care has to be taken with the diamond cutter, and dust is a bit of a problem.IMG_1849 I am made to undress outside after each session, and severely scolded for getting too much dust on the pool cover, but progress is being made. The slabs themselves are very stained, and after some research on the internet I bought the allegedly best product for cleaning them for 50 Euros. Cobblers! The stuff is OK, but no better that strong bleach costing a fifth as much. After power washing the slabs post chemicals they come up like new! So Rog has his task for the Autumn, and has put off the time when labour has to be done by someone else!

We had a lovely walk through some woods the other side of the river yesterday. The weather has been amazing, 27 degrees in full sun, and we were plotting a route for the rambling club walk tomorrow.IMG_1854 The dog, who had decided to have a limp the day before and did nothing all day, seemed to have had a miraculous recovery and ran around like a two year old. She will be two next month! We reckon she may be a “Tamalou”. This lovely French expression means “tu as mal ou?”, meaning “where are your medical problems today”, and is used for whingers who take days off for imaginary illnesses.
We had lunch in Descartes, sitting outside in the hot sunshine and admiring the autumn flowers around the Town Hall.IMG_1858 This year the displays in October are still wonderful.IMG_1857 I must try to get to know the Head Gardener for some advice!

Posted by: kathandroger | October 7, 2018

The Great Escape.

We have a lovely sometimes neighbour who spends several weeks every year in her holiday cottage adjacent to our house. She makes the long journey from her home in Northumberland with her little spaniel dog, and camps overnight half way in her tent. We are always pleased to see her and to learn of the meteorological difficulties in the North of England. She is welcome to use some of the vegetables from our garden, and the dogs frequently play together. Pam kindly offered to look after our house whilst we were away in Germany, and had a set of house keys. One of her duties was to check that the automatic cat feeder in the scullery (I haven’t used that word for many years-the wash house out the back), was working. Now this room adjoins the garage for my old car and the car trailer, and the door into it is large, heavy, and prone to shut on itself. Poor Pam was in the garage doing her checking, and the heavy door, which is self locking, closed behind her. Trapped. Floyd the dog was with her, but unable to offer advice. This was early evening, and the outside doors were locked securely.IMG_4071 After several minutes of pondering, and several screaming pleas for help to the non existent neighbours, the situation seemed helpless. Now Pam is a contentedly mature lady, very fit, but upon whom the ravages of time have wreaked the inevitable lowering of our centre of gravity. Her gymnastic abilities, like mine, have long been lost. What to do? Night was fast descending, the space above the beam over the door was small and seemingly unreachable, nobody could hear her screams, and the dog was of no help. My trailer had been thoroughly swept out before we left, and there were some old rugs on the floor, so that became the bed for the night. Sleep was interrupted by cold and discomfort, but it only served to engender the determination to escape. The cat coming into the scullery behind the locked door did not help. His pathetic mewing was only interpreted as a laugh of derision, and his eating his dispensed food only illuminated Pams’ lack of sustenance. She did have some onions and a tray of apples, but it was poor compensation.
Come the first rays of daylight, and a plan was made. An old rope was found in the trailer, and a rough ladder made with girl guide learnt knots from all those years ago. After several attempts it was slung over the beam above the doors, and secured. The ascent was apparently not graceful, and not immediately successful, but the will to overcome the incarceration was enough to heave a determined feminine form over the obstacle and there was then only a gentle drop to freedom. The dog was then released from within the house. Well done Pam, and thank you for looking after our house. I am not sure we will have the courage to ask again!

But back to the garden. The squash have been harvested, dried on the mobile drier (the bloody wheels fell off again!), and stored in the empty gite. They should see us through the winter.IMG_4067
And the tomatoes are still going strong. They seem to grow anywhere here, and a few weeks ago we spotted a pear shaped variety growing spontaneously into a large rambling rose on the front of the house. It has not been watered at all during this long dry spell, but seems to be thriving and is about three metres tall now!IMG_4068 What a wonder is nature.

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