Posted by: kathandroger | August 25, 2019

La Rentree…but not for me!

Well, it is nearly the end of August, and the schools go back tomorrow. It is a strange time here; all the collective energies of the French seem to be concentrated on getting the kids back into the classrooms. The Supermarkets are full of school stuff, and the news is all about the end of the holidays. But much more surprising to me is that the families seem to have gone indoors for the preparation; very few children are about, all doing their preparations for the new term I guess. My son and his family visited this week from Germany, and we cycled to the local “Beach”-in fact the mown bit of river bank at Leugny, expecting it to be a bit crowded with merrymakers, and I was astonished that we were the only ones there!

What a joy are grandchildren; all the pleasure and none of the responsibility! Aged two and four it is a delightful age, even though communication is sometimes difficult with them speaking German. In fact my son speaks only English to the children, and they understand the language well, but speaking has to be coaxed out of them. IMG_0985And when the English does come out it is always perfect and without any trace of accent. I love to hear truly bilingual children, but it does make me feel very inadequate. And I do remember the potty training days, but sometimes two year olds can be a bit too enthusiastic!IMG_0978He was supposed to be playing stones with his bucket!

We tend to forget that we live in a very pretty part of France where people want to come to walk or bike the local trails. There have been a few of these recently, and this morning my usually solitary walk with the dog was joined by hoards of “foreigners” taking part in an organised event from the village. The only problem is that the way marking is becoming a bit complicated, with arrows on the ground all over the place.IMG_0986 I guess they will all be gone when and if we get some rain.

A good friend of mine helped me with some plans I have for building in the future. He has renovated an old property locally, and being an Architect, has done a wonderful job over a couple of years. His wife has a white van. Yes I know that is nothing unusual, but she has come up with a good way of recognising her vehicle amongst all the other hoards of white vans locally.IMG_0960There is a large frog on the other side!

Having a dog is good for knowing when there are people about, much louder and more persistent than a door bell. Perhaps even better than that is a flock of geese. I used to keep some in the UK, but they are not friendly animals, and are the only beast which can poo more than it ingests! Anyway, a local chap has installed a flock in his front garden, presumably as a deterrent to burglars.IMG_0955They are certainly very noisy, and after I went closer to say hello, a very large and fierce looking dog ran out and barked at me…. belt and braces or what?

Posted by: kathandroger | August 18, 2019

A Year already?

It is true that the years get shorter. They seem to last a couple of months nowadays, and the annual car rally at Lesigny was on us again on the public holiday last Thursday. Where did that last year go to? Anyway, the pilgrimage was made in the old banger, with Polly the dog at my side as usual. We did not want to go on the rally with all the other old cars, because mine tends to overheat when the line of old vehicles slows and often stops, so we arrived a bit late and apologised for missing the start. A few others stayed behind as well. I loved this old 2CV.IMG_0941I don’t know if it was a standard model, or had been converted as a mini camping car. And I used to have one of thesesIMG_0942The year on the number plate is about right too! I sold mine for £320, and thought I had done a good deal. Nowadays a good example will sell for nearer £32,000!! A lovely looking car, but no proper windows and a bit draughty in the winter.

But this year we decided to look at the accompanying Brocante in the village.IMG_0947 This is now a huge affair, with hundreds of stalls, and in the good weather everyone seemed to be doing a decent trade. Most of the stuff is pure tat, but there are always some little trinkets to buy, this year some old door fittings and locks. The atmosphere is always pleasant, the prices low, and lots of fun is had by both sellers and buyers. The dog felt a little upstaged however, when this little thing appeared in front of her.IMG_0946 (2)It seemed quite happy and made no attempt to get rid of the encumbrances, and I guess it is not the first time it has performed. A good day, and later enriched by a drive to the other rally at Le Grand Pressigny, where there were lots of old tractors and bits and pieces for cars, as well as a craft fair in the Chateau. It is always a pleasure to see the diversity of talent in the area, but I did baulk at the prices for old lamps made out of bits of old metal. I made one last week, it cost next to nothing, and was at least as good as some on sale for a hundred euros. Maybe I should sell some myself, but the pleasure would have gone from the making.

Lots of good hay was made this year, particularly at the start of the heatwave. But lots of fields were left uncut. This was particularly thoughtless when it involved some of our walking routes. The tracks are in some places shoulder high in grass even now, and it must feel like a jungle to Polly.IMG_0940

The harvesting of the onions and shallots has been completed. What an embarrassment! Usually I reckon to have three or four long strings of fat onions which last all through the year. Not foreseeing the canicule, and thinking that everyone starts too early in the planting season, the sets were planted at precisely the wrong time, and fried in the sun! My neighbour Claude, who put his in early, had a good crop, but this is the entire produce from our garden.IMG_0950 (2)How pathetic! Still, there are enough little onions and shallots to make one bowl of soup I reckon, and I will know better next year. We live and learn!

Posted by: kathandroger | August 11, 2019

English weather at last!

We have had some rain after seemingly endless weeks of hot sun. 15 degrees this morning on the regular trip to Descartes market, and only a few pairs of shorts to be seen. Great news for the garden, and the last desperate attempt I made at sowing some seeds seems to be working, with carrots, turnips and even some late onions showing signs of life.IMG_0927As always, there are some crops which seem to like the heat: here are our squash, which are doing well, and behind them the courgettes and cucumbers, which are in their usual abundance. The tomatoes are only average, but as we have so many plants there will be no shortage, and I hope Kath will make more of her lovely ratatouille this year. Some fruits show signs of sunburn, IMG_0932but the majority are in good condition. Incidentally, I found a dead weasel in the garden a few days ago, killed, I think by our cat Dennis. He was certainly looking very proud of himself, as I understand that weasels can be a very aggressive foe. Anyway, it crossed my mind that my artist friend may want the skeleton of the little beast for one of his creations. Preparing the corpse would be a problem I thought, but the next day the problem was resolving, with hundreds of tiny maggots doing a super job of cleaning flesh from the bone. What a wonder is nature!

I tend to forget a bit about the sheep at this time of the year. Their pasture has been mown to try and reduce the thistles for next year. This is done with an Allen Scythe, which is an attachment to my big rotavator, and I was very pleased with myself to be able to do it in third gear, reducing the time it normally takes as the ground was so dry. Our field of about an acre is next to a huge one of many hundred acres, and whilst I was making my way up and down, with a cutting width of about a metre, my friend and neighbour Emilion was topping his great field with a huge tractor. We smiled and waved at each other, then laughed, but I was finished before him! The flock tend to spend most of the day in their cave, where it is cooler, and feed in the early morning and evening.IMG_0923The four lambs are almost as big as the parents now, but were not sheared, and their coats are a much duller colour. I still occasionally feed them some “sheepnuts” to keep them tame. I have no idea what they contain, but it must be delicious, and they run over to the feeding area as fast as they can when I call them.

The calm of our little road was pleasantly shattered by the sound of horses hooves this morning. IMG_0936I had noticed a vast new congregation of tents, bikes and horses in a local village a couple of days ago, and the roads and tracks have been adorned with arrows in various colours and pointing in various directions. It appears that this is an annual event, held at differing venues and attraction several hundred participants, in carriages, on horseback, on bicycles, and on foot. This year the participants came from 27 different French departments (counties), all intent on enjoying the delights of our little remote area. What a pity it rained! It has stopped now, so I hope everyone has dried out and is no doubt drowning their sorrows at the celebratory meal.

Posted by: kathandroger | August 4, 2019

Just rambling on.

In fact our rambling with one group has stopped for the summer break, a good thing as midday temperatures have been around 30 degrees still. Early morning is the best time for walking at present, with the sun just enough to dispel the cool from the shaded areas. The corn has all been harvested, and only the sunflowers and maize remain. Polly the dog loves rampaging through the tall plants, which seem to be planted with just enough gap between them for dogs to chase whatever they can. Today it was an artful moggie that sent Polly the wrong way on our walk; it makes a change from the hares, which give her no chance whatsoever, and even pause to look back and admire their cunning when she has been left miles behind. Having lost my loud whistle with stitches in my upper lip after the bike accident, the facility has now been regained, in fact even improved, and the dog must be able to hear from the next department, and she comes back looking very pleased with herself, just as I am!

It is still dry as a bone here. The local reservoir, which doubles as Polly’s swimming pool, has never been as low.IMG_0913The carp are all around the edges in the early morning, and delight in swimming away from the dog when she tries to chase them.

De Gaulle has been installed on the edge of the goldfish pond. It was only after taking this photo that I noticed I have put his left ear on the wrong way round!IMG_0917I mentioned my latest game to a friend last night, explaining it was mad out of an old stone. “Oh yes,” he exclaimed, “it must be a gallstone!” Clever bugger.

Talking of making sculptures out of rubbish, I visited a French neighbour locally who has been rebuilding an old family house on the banks of the river. I had given him some old oak door fittings a few months ago, and I reckon he was trying to pay me back. Anyway he proudly announced that he had collected a “few things” for me, and proceeded to load my little car with what felt like tons of old twisted bit of metal, including tools, old saw blades and various unidentifiable lumps of metal. I had to look grateful, and took it all away, but have no idea what to do with it…. actually, I have, and am starting to make a huge metal bird that he can have back in his garden!

Another chum, who has become a respected local artist with his varied creations, asked me if I had any owl droppings in our big barn. He wanted to dissect out the tiny bones they contain to use in a very delicate piece he is working on. In fact I didn’t find any for him, but mentioned a dead long eared bat that I found in my workshop.IMG_0912Apparently, the skull will be exactly the right size for his masterpiece, and he will dissect it out and clean it. Nowt as strange as folk!

It was the final performance last evening for the Black Prince in a local production. Again we had a good attendance of several hundred, but again my own participation did not start until about 11.30pm! And I buggered up some of my lines about numbers, but that only seemed to add to the amusement. A good enjoyable local event, and I was pleased to have done it, but feel it may be my last performance.

And finally we were just saying that we hadn’t seen any wild boar for months, although their damage is all around. Today at 10 30 this morning a family of them crossed the road in front of me; daddy and mummy pigs and several little ones. It was lovely to see, especially as the local hunt had been out after them yesterday!

Posted by: kathandroger | July 28, 2019

General de Gaulle and the garden disaster.

In our field there are lots of stones. Some of them are fossils, which I collect from time to time, and others flint or just funny shaped stones. One of these, which may itself be an old fossil of some sort, seemed to have a familiarity about it. Soon the penny dropped, it was a likeness of General de Gaulle! In fact it was not really like him at all, but a bit like some of the cartoon images of him. There was no choice but to bring it back to the workshop and make a better likeness. But then disaster! My precious stone fell and the Generals’ huge nose was broken off. To discard or not to discard, that was the question. I chose the latter option, and with some difficulty and some good glue, the offending proboscis was realigned. After welding his cap from some metal, and some wire wool for eyebrows and moustache, he is coming on well, but not yet the finished masterpiece. It took a long time to find a flat stone that looked like an ear, and even more difficult to find another one which matched for the other side!IMG_0905 (2) I am expecting to be offered huge amounts of cash for the finished article to be displayed in the finest museums in Paris. Yes, the canicule has sent me a bit mad!

At last the canicule has left us. I even put some long trousers on last evening for the first time in weeks. But the poor old vegetable garden is a disaster, the worst we have had since being here. Despite watering every night, the brassicas have wilted and been eaten by little flies.IMG_0904Usually these plants would be supplying us with big fresh cauliflowers, but fat chance of that now. No parsnips, radishes or turnips, with the seeds just being killed off by the fierce heat. The tomatoes seem OK, and some of the early sowed perpetual spinach is providing good meals, but the French beans are very slow and small, and we have not been able to eat any yet. With the few centimetres of rain we had over the past few days, and the drop in temperature, I have resown lots of roots, and we may be lucky and have a late crop. At least the cucumbers, peppers, aubergines and most of all the courgettes have not minded the heat, and are doing well.

But what of the poor farmers? Actually, they have done rather well. The wheat and barley harvests have been good, the oil seed rape not bad, and the maize is doing well in the heat with the profuse watering going on. And that bugs me not a little. The rivers are very low, water is in short supply, we are not supposed to wash our cars, and any watering of the gardens has to be done in the evenings or overnight. But this does not seem to apply to the farmers! In the heat of the day, the great water shoots are all over the maize. I don’t really mind that too much, but it would be better if it went onto the crops, and not over the roads and tracks!IMG_0896There must be better ways of aiming this precious liquid, and preventing losses due to the inevitable leaks I see everywhere.IMG_0899

Anyway, that’s enough whingeing from me, and I do really like the local farmers, honestly!

But another disaster today, the Tour de France finishes, so what to do in the late afternoons, other than watch those magnificent athletes exhaust themselves riding up mountains? I am particularly poor at riding up hills, and even looking at some of the climbs makes me feel weak. I have immense respect for all the riders, drugs or no drugs, to be able to push themselves as they do. And it is good to see a young Colombian win for the first time; I would love to see the parties in his home town tonight!

Posted by: kathandroger | July 21, 2019

Bats, Music and Physiotherapy!

I like bats. We have lots around here, almost exclusively the little Pipistrelle, who flits about the buildings in the early evening and sometimes shares the sky with the last swooping swallows. But again this year there seems to be a death wish for bats in our boiler room.IMG_0880I found this clump of animals in the sink the other day. They looked dead, but on separating them, only one had left this world, possibly suffocated by the others.IMG_0881Carefully carrying them out on a sheet of paper-I am a bit scared of being bitten- I released them in one of our out houses, and they were gone the next day. The same procedure was used for the several more we found over the next few days. This event has happened over the past few years, so I thought I had better investigate.

Interesting little things are bats. They hibernate in big colonies in winter, then in spring the females form large maternity colonies together, the chaps being banished from the area. Sounds like a good idea to me. Usually only one “pup” is born, and the nursing mothers send their offspring to the outside world in late July, and follow them to join the chaps. I reckon our bats are mostly mature females, but I am not good at sexing bats, and that they have left their maternity ward in the roof about the boiler room. But why they should target the sink in the room I have no idea. I have found others scattered about the place, but maybe the white sink reflects the light from the nearby window and it looks like an escape route. Anyway, the chaps by this time are flitting around elsewhere in their own little areas near the hibernation sites, and puffing their little chests out to attract a now available female. They emit low pitched calls, allegedly audible to humans. I don’t think I have heard mating male bats calling, but maybe I am a little deaf. Any way that is not all; the chaps modify their flight pattern to attract the girls, who have a vast choice of mates. Their testes enlarge during this time, and the demand for a mate apparently gets earlier and earlier each evening. I vaguely remember those day. And after the deed is done, those clever girls store the sperm until fertilisation in the Spring, individually and within that is, not in a huge vat!

I hope I have saved some of those struggling little females, and that the local bat population will survive and flourish.

 

My physiotherapy for the broken shoulder has nearly finished. I must have had about 30 sessions of half an hour or so. Here in France the system is excellent. Instead of being in a hospital, the therapists set up their own enterprises in their own buildings.IMG_0882Our local establishment is a converted residential bungalow, run by a husband and wife team, and crammed with all the required kit. They have too many patients, they tell me, and certainly there are usually four or five of us in there at the same time, with taxi ambulances arriving and departing continuously. For me it has been good fun and certainly effective, although I have learnt not to try to do too much during a session as the pain from overusing withered muscles was worse that the injury itself! What a pity the same system does not exist in the UK; it is effective, free, and fun!

Finally, with the long warm evenings, it has been a pleasure to attend outdoor musical evenings, which seem to be everywhere at the moment. Yesterday it was in a local restaurant with a performance of Celtic music from a group of friends.IMG_0886The venue was full, the ambiance good, and the meal a bit disappointing! But a nice evening with chums and a good celebration of summer.

Posted by: kathandroger | July 14, 2019

The Black Prince….and Harvest Time.

Life is pretty easy here. The days are long, we are not constrained by the hackles of employment, and  there is a temptation to do little and fall into a rut of routine. So when several months ago a friend was looking for someone who could speak a little French to take part in a local play, it was time to get out of the comfort zone and do something different. The event was a “Visite Nocturne” at Preuilly sur Claise, a dusk presentation in the little town half an hour away, and consisted of several scenes depicting life there at differing times over the past several hundred years. I was to play the Black Prince during the Hundred Years War in France.

I hated history at school, but now find it fascinating. Especially concerning the relationship between our adopted country and the land of our birth. The Hundred Years War lasted longer than that, and was very intermittent, but at one stage there was a conflict between the King of England’s son and the leader of the French Army, the “Connetable de France”. His name was Bertrand de Guesclin, and he and I , the Black Prince, have a contretemps about the probabilities of our forthcoming combats. All this with me in full costume, including crown and big sword, standing high above the audience on the ramparts of an old castle in the town, and shouting at my adversary below. I stood there before the performance thinking how the hell did I end up doing this in a foreign country, not really knowing what I was saying, with a crowd of several hundred below me. Anyway all went well apart from some microphone malfunction, and although our performance did not start until about 11.30pm, the audience remained, perhaps transfixed by the strange Englishman shouting his accented threats from above them!

Ours was only a one of several performance we had been rehearsing over some weeks. There were also some very good Medieval musicians,IMG_0867 and the locations included the magnificent church in the town,IMG_0869 the entrance guarded by make believe ancient gendarmes; and they were fairly ancient! IMG_0866All in all a lot of fun, and I look forward to the next performance in August.

Sadly, this event contrasted badly with out little production in the local grottoes in St Remy. Our play here had been rehearsed, and was due to open a couple of days ago. It was cancelled due to lack of an audience! A lesson in the fact that any play needs to be well publicised beforehand.

Back to real life, and the Harvest here is in full swing.IMG_0870 It always amazes me at how quickly the fields are cleared of the crops, and the long hours the farmers spend in their labours. The air is full of the scent of harvested wheat and barely, and the combine harvesters throwing out clouds of dust behind them. The Maize remains, of course,  being irrigated by these great big reels of hose which seem to be everywhere.IMG_0871 Water is in short supply here, and it annoys me when most of it seems to be sprayed onto the roads between the crops, especially when I am in my open top car and have to wait for the storm to pass!

Wimbledon tennis is almost done, but we are still in the throes of the Tour de France. Today a Frenchman is in the lead, a rare event, but I would love to see him win. It still means a lot to the French, and will do wonders for morale if he can hold on. Time will tell.

Posted by: kathandroger | July 7, 2019

Canicule continues!

It was only supposed to last for about a week, but afternoon temperatures have not fallen below 30 degrees for at least a fortnight now. The pool is a welcome relief, but some of our guests from Ireland, with lovely white sensitive skin, have been too wary to expose themselves until the shade of the evenings! Storms have been forecast for several evenings over the last week, but, having taken all outside cushions and hammocks inside, none had appeared.

Until last night that was! No storms were forecast, and we were enjoying a lovely evening at a musical event alongside the local river. Many villages have these events, and in fact last night there were two, within a few kilometres of each other. Anyway, these events take a huge effort to set up; not only the tents and catering facilities, but the electrical supplies for all the musicians and their amplification kit. And this event was to be followed by fireworks! All went well, with a variety of performers, sometimes on the stage and sometimes in the crowd, and we had even managed to get some chips and burger to go with the rose wine. But then the heavens opened, forewarned by some spectacular lightening which we initially thought was part of the firework display! We managed to get to a friends’ house close by, and were welcomed into his new covered “drinking area” that he had just completed. How lucky were we! The storm lasted at least a couple of hours, with torrential rain and hailstones the size of cherries. Heaven knows what happened to the tents and equipment next to the river, but we had to stay in the dry and drinks Davids’ nice Bordeaux and then sample some very old Highland Whisky. The roof of his shelter is laminated plastic, and at times it really was impossible to speak because of the clatter of the hailstones. After midnight the storm ceased, and I was worried that my car would be lost in the rainwashed  parking field, but managed to slither out without any problems. Here there had been some rain, but nothing compared to the deluge only a few miles away. Such is nature, but it was really bad luck on the village of Barrou.

The previous night had also been musical, at another local village in Le Grand Pressigny. An Irish night, with two bands, one local and one visiting, and a big event with almost a thousand attending. Having been a part of the labour force for erecting the stage and viewing areas, I was looking forward to the heavily advertised Fish and Chip supper as well as enjoying the music. We had been assured that the firm could cope with the numbers attending, but we were sorely disappointed! One fryer for that number of people was a slight error. After more than two hours in the long queue, most of us gave up! But the music was good, and I had forgotten how lovely an instrument the harp is. I guess it helps when it is played by a long limbed lissom lady!

And back at the ranch, we have had some new arrivals this week. Our young Light Sussex chicken, named “Flappy Wings” by a young guest a couple of weeks ago, has hatched six fine looking chicks.IMG_0861 (2) All seems well at the moment, with none falling the water and drowning, as has happened in the past, and we shall soon be looking for new homes for them. Another chicken has gone broody and she will inherit the maternity ward left by Flappy Wings, so we may soon be over run with chicks!

Posted by: kathandroger | June 30, 2019

Canicule!!

It has been hot here this week. And I mean hot. Over 40 degrees centigrade which is more than 100 degrees in old money! Anything over 30 is too much for me usually, but we were well warned about this heatwave, and really it hasn’t been too bad. We are about midway up France, and in the south it has been even worse, with records being set, schools being closed and workers being sent home. I work at home, so have continued cutting the grass and trying to prevent the weeds taking over the vegetable patch. Why can’t the heat just kill off the weeds, rather than encouraging them and making my beetroot flop? Watering is needed every night, but the flowers don’t seem at all grateful. The roads have been meltingIMG_0856and instead of having to avoid the crop sprinklers on my bike ride today, I had to avoid the seas of molten tar! Actually, today is much better, and it was a pleasure to be out before 8am in the cool of 25 degrees! Life is tricky, but after much experimentation, I have found the best way to stay cool is to lay in the shallow end of the swimming pool, with a nice gin and tonic to hand and to think nice thoughts in between sips. After lots of practice is becoming not too difficult.

The dog hates the hot weather, and spends all her time in the house trying to find a cool position. It is usually where she blocks a door, or she can be fallen over, and the only time she ventures outside during the day is when I am trying to have a little siesta in my hammock. Polly likes to join me!IMG_0848It is not really conducive to a nice little snooze!

But there are some people who are not put off by the hot weather. The Triathlon of Nouatre was held yesterday, again in temperatures of around 40 degrees. Swimming in the river was not a problem, in fact it was probably a relief, but the competitors then had to cycle for varying distances, and them run for the third leg. Kath and her intrepid friends competed as a relay team, one doing each discipline, and were the overall winners of the ladies team event. Inquiries as to how many ladies teams there were was met with some evasiveness, but well done anyway girls. It really is a lovely event, in a small local village which transforms itself into an international athletics centre on one day every year. Hats off to all the competitors.

Now it really was a lovely ride I had this morning, seeing hares and rabbits in the road, noticing unusual trees for the first timeIMG_0857and, as usual, very few cars on the road. But I really was not prepared for the animals I encountered just outside a local village. First there was a Llama, then several donkeys, and then this chap.IMG_0858 (2)The signs on the accompanying vans revealed a local circus, presumably making a short stop before the next show. The camel was the only one not complaining about the weather!

Posted by: kathandroger | June 23, 2019

Music Weekend!…and shearing again.

Our grass seems to grow more quickly each year. It needs cutting at least twice a week at the moment, and each cut takes about three hours. I used to love it, but it has become a bit of a bore, although at present the cherry trees are in full production, and each pass under them means stopping for a handful of the lovely fruit. Things weren’t helped yesterday when I stupidly mowed a hanging Globe Artichoke bush and completely buggered my mower! A bit of metal glue on the works and fingers crossed it may mow again. But at least the sheep don’t grow their fleeces at the same rate. The two ewes, and Hercules the ram, have good thick fleeces, and with the coming heat wave it was time to get the old sheep mower out and try and catch them for the annual haircut. Unlike some of our neighbours, I don’t shear the lambs, who seem quite content, even in the hot weather. Catching sheep is a bit of a game. I find it much better to do it quietly by myself, rather than several cussing runners trying to round up several excited sheep. I built a sheep trap a few years ago, and it seems to work, by putting some food inside and then quickly shutting the wire gate when they all enter. Hercules the ram is never any problem, being the last in and the last to try and escape. Rosemary, on the other hand, the mother of sixteen lambs, is always very suspicious and the first to escape. So it was on the first mornings attempt; only Hercules was caught. Now he is a great big heavy old chap, who has not attacked me for a couple of years, and I like to think we have an understanding. It appears I am right. The old ram just stands still and lets me shear him standing up.IMG_0834This is only halfway through, and it is a bit of rope on the grass, not Hercules eating a snake! The cans  contain a wonderful aluminium spray to be used on any cuts I make in the skin with the very aggressive electric clippers; they were hardly used this year! He didn’t thank me, but I reckon he must have felt better to be rid of that mangy old overcoat. He certainly looks better.IMG_0838And to my astonishment, the two ewes were easily caught and sheared the next day. I see that the World Sheep Shearing Championship is to be held in France this year, not far from us, and the top chaps shear a sheep in about a minute. That is about half an hour quicker than me!

One nice event each year in France is the Fete de la Musique. This was started here by Jack Lang, the then minister of Culture, in 1982, and has now spread worldwide. It is held on the longest day, June 21st, with some latitude for events on two days. Locally the villages have some sort of celebration, and I was involved in Le Grand Pressigny, a few miles from us.IMG_0846Those empty seats were not empty for long; various groups, both young and old performed in two locations in the village, food and drink was widely available on the streets, and the weather was perfect for a great evening. It was typically French, in that temporary traffic lights were installed, by villagers, not the Police, and the centre of the village was completely closed to traffic for the event. I was chatting to a retired Policeman from the UK, and comparing the ease with which a village can be closed here and there!

So here we are at the longest day, and the evenings will soon be drawing in! The Barley is ripe for harvest,IMG_0830 and my favourite time of the year has gone. But I still heard the cuckoo this morning, so all is not lost.

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