Posted by: kathandroger | March 12, 2017

The Comma and the Chiffchaff.

Where did the winter go?  A moment ago I was hauling logs in for the fires, and now spring has arrived. It was 20 degrees in our courtyard yesterday, and the forsythia is bursting into flower. We have brought the overwintering plants out from the gites, and today the light rain should give them a good start. I love the spring, and we only await the swallows arrival to start our celebrations. They were here for Kaths’ birthday on the 17th last year so I have taken out the winter windows from my workshop so that they can fly in and poo all over my tools! The chiffchaff is already here, and looked in at me from our rambling rose bush whilst I was watching England thrash Scotland at rugby yesterday. I was trying to think of other birds named after their song, but after the cuckoo and the hoopoe I could go no further. The latter is known as the “Huppe” in France, and that is a much better description of the call; I await them both in the next few weeks. Brimstone butterflies are in abundance and I was surprised to see a comma on the gravel yesterday, but I learn that some can overwinter and appear this early. Must have been a tough little bugger to survive the prolonged frost we had in January. But all this means that the grass is growing and the mowers have to earn their living. I don’t mind, making new stripes in the lawn on the sit on mower is one of my favourite jobs, and the first cut has already been made. Mouldiwarp the mole and his mates have been having a field day in the orchard, with little piles all over the would be badminton pitch. I have caught them in traps before, but I don’t like killing the little animals just because they interfere with our games, and have found another way of dealing with the piles. Amongst the tools I pinched from over the road was one great big hoe.IMG_3692It is about 50 cm long and I have no idea what it was originally used for. After cleaning and fitting an acacia handle it is ideal for pulling mole hills flat and distributes the soil so that the old grass can grow through. Even Polly was impressed.

We took the little dog to her first education class yesterday. I am not really a believer in dog classes, and have never done them in the past, but it was an education for me to see lots of puppies, of all shapes and sizes at the club in Targe, near Chatellerault. The aim of the group is dog agility, and there are courses for them to jump and run about in, but we went mainly for Polly to meet and socialise with other dogs. She did very well, despite being worn out beforehand by Rollo, the Springadoodle we are looking after for friends. Her training is being supervised by Kath, and I am an amused onlooker. Shoes and boots seem to be her favourite playthings, and are usually found in the middle of the yard.IMG_3690 (2)It is difficult to get too angry with her!


  1. Your hoe is for earthing up ‘Sparrowgrass… but I could do with it here for the same purpose that you’ve found!!

    At Valmer, they have a very good way of keeping the ground under the swallows nests “propre”…. they have screwed thin plywood to the beam underneath… necessary in their exhibition area.
    It doesn’t seem to interfere with the birds’ comings and goings…. you can actually buy a posh one from the LPO to fit under the House Martin nests they do… which, given the organic nature of things at Valmer… may have been where they got the idea!

    Spring is most definitely here… we’ve had snakes out and about when we’ve seen the sun.

  2. Thanks Tim, obvious when I think about it. Unfortunately our asparagus could be earthed up with a trowel! I will work on my poo catcher when the swallows arrive.

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