Posted by: kathandroger | September 12, 2015

Swallows out and potatoes in.

It is a sad day for me. Our last swallows have left the buildings and all that remains is their calling cards all over my tools in the workshop. We will see lots of migration over the next few weeks, but not “our” birds. They have done really well this year, about six pairs, each having a couple of broods of chicks, and we have had new nests in the equipment store. I am told that there are less and less in UK, but happily we seem to have loads here. The recent sunny and hot spell has given way to rain today, and I am glad to have cut all the lawns-the grass seems to have a second wind recently. There is something very satisfying in sitting on a mower and rejuvenating a sad looking and ragged pasture, although I have to stop frequently to taste the flavour of our grapes. The vines we put in five years ago are now producing well, and it is no surprise that wines taste so differently given the completely changing grape tastes. Talking of which, Kath and I are cutting down on our alcohol consumption after friends Ian and Jo have upped our boozing considerably over their recent stay. I guess that resolution will last until tomorrow!

With the swallows moving out the potatoes are coming in. We had too many last year, and some ended back on the compost heap, but this year it looks about right, and I have only ruined a couple of spuds instead of leaving the harvest too late to see the plants and putting the fork through the biggest and best roots.IMG_3204 Desiree works best for us, and as long as they are dry they keep well in paper sacks in the back store. The glut of tomatoes and courgettes continues, and even the brassicas which seemed to be dying after a flea attack have responded to spraying with detergent, and are now huge.

I have made a few hypertufa pots this year. This is a lightweight material, reckoned to look a bit like stone, and is easily cast to any shape desired. We have a few awkward walls which need some brightening up and, after a few disasters, I have now got the mixture right and it is easy to stuff the mixture into boxes lined with a plastic bag to fit onto any surface. I use equal volumes of peat, vermiculite (difficult to find in France, but brought back from UK where it is as cheap as chips) and Portland cement. I have sometimes added straw or hay as a binder, but I’m not sure that is necessary. The trick is to not take the casting out of the mould too early as the resulting breaking up of the masterpiece results in lots of very rude and crude shouting.IMG_3207 The fresh pot can be rubbed down with a wire brush or paintbrush to give a rustic effect as required. No drainage holes are needed, and the pots and plants seem to love each other. It is a bit like playing with mud or sand as a kid, and I am planning to make some hypertufa sculptures when all the chores are done. Getting older is great-all the playing about but pretending it is an art form!


  1. That hypertufa pot looks great. Very interesting method and I’ve never heard of the stuff. It sounds jolly useful.

    • Susan, it is really easy to make;look it up on Utube- where I do all my learning!
      Bisous, Roger.

  2. Very nice Hippo-Toffee Belfast sink with a dented bottom there….
    if you mix a bit of soot or wood ash with some old yoghurt and some of the sheeps’ excrement and paint it on…
    but NOT all over… you need to make it look “natch’ral”.
    I suggest along the top ridge and partway down the corners on the south west side… all the way down the corners on the north east facing…
    plus a couple of random brush strokes there too…
    the lichens… and then moss…
    will colonise at around twice the speed of natural… thus making your masterpiece look as though it came with the house.
    This same method is used in Norfolk where brick and flint walls have had to be repaired… and the lime mortar looks too white and new.
    How much for a couple?

    • Good advice Tim, but in Dorset we just threw a bottle of milk on the masonry-quicker and less hassle! Will bear you in mind when next on a pottery phase, but concrete sculpture is the next on the list!

  3. Shame about the swallows ….but 2016 is just around the corner!
    Love the tubs….xx

  4. A courgette and tomato glut sounds familiar – I now have a freezer full of very tasty courgette and tomato soup!

    Still following your blog with interest

    • Hi Tim, pleased to hear from you, but when are you coming to see us?

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