Monday, 24 October 2011

Rouge Encore

Is it possible for a foreigner abroad to look more at home than the Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) which cloaks the house and rockface just a little way opposite from here? I think not.

Mid- Autumn always leaves this falaise napped in crimson, a beautiful sight in the late October sun.

I've heard it described as a 'chimney reacher', but it left the chimney behind on it's way to the sky.

I've also seen it described as not a plant for the laissez-faire gardener. Pourqui? I put mine in seven years ago, did nothing and it romped away. That'll do.

But it's a two horse race this October rouge stardom thing. Sumac looks positively illuminous with the light from behind.

Even the Sun God is mellowing as the light lowers.

This has been one of the warmest and driest starts to Autumn in SouthWest France. That said, there was a ground frost a few nights ago and this evening the skies have finally opened, not a bad thing.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Bloody Wild Boar

There's a lot of wild Boar in this corner of France. Their numbers seem to have exploded in recent years, there's not a day goes by when I don't hear them squealling and grunting over in the woods on the other side of the river. I wish they would stay there!

Boar do enormous amounts of damage in their quest for food. At this time of year they are particularly active as they search out nuts, berries and various grubs. Autumn is nature's bounty, they know that. Winter is fast approaching, they know that too.

It's the 'grubbing' aspect of their behaviour which causes the real damage. They merrily churn up large areas of turf to find chafer grubs ( another pain-in-the-arse pest of which I have too many) and other protein rich tasty morsels, and all with the finesse of a drunk driving a plough.

They've torn swathes of the field up away from the houses, and it'll take hours and hours for me to reorganise and stamp the turf back down. I'm going to wait a few days before I attempt it. The ground's so dry at the moment, It has only rained twice since the beginning of September, so if Wednesday's promised forecast comes true, Thursday will be spent piecing the jigsaw back together.

They could easily come back and do it all again though. They've ravaged some of my neighbour's gardens. It ain't funny.

This year's continued shortage of rainfall has contributed to the Boar creating so much havoc. They seem to be travelling further and further to find food and have no problem crossing the little river Beune which runs through here as it is at a record low.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Where I'd Rather Be

I'd happily be here, with a bottle of 2009 Rouge or a 2006 raised in Oak barrels, but I can't. It'll have to wait. It's a shame. Right now I'm in the midst of a major DIY project and other things come second. Discipline you see, or possibly neglect, or even a failure to multi task. Who knows, one things for sure, it only just dawned on me the other day, when Marie commented on my last post as to where I was, that I hadn't been here for some time. As before, DIY discipline you see, or possibly neglect, or even a failure to multi task.

This time of year is prime mushroom season. In the markets I should be able to find Saffron Milkcap (Lactarius deliciosus), Cepes and other tasty boletes, but alas, nay. I haven't had time to visit, such is the extent of my current Le bricolage.

This afternoon, on route to the local DIY store (the bloody DIY store, why have I become their best customer ???), I passed the grandest 'pick your own' apples farm. If only I had the time.

Whether you like apples or not, that is just secondary when visiting, look at the place. You may even hate apples, but get picking all the same.

But no, no. They'll not be any wine, mushrooms, apple picking or general loafing amongst the vines for me. I'm in the process of renovating my tired ol' kitchen and that starts with the old concrete floor which had 'failed' in places (long story) and had to be broken with a sledge hammer. Want to burn calories? come break my floor.

But progress is being made. That's me having pretty much laid the new concrete joists and thermo blocks ready to receive an eight centimetre layer of concrete this weekend. All will be mixed and laid by myself together with help and valuable guidance from my good neighbour Paul. Wanna burn even more calories? Lay my floor.

I will return to the garden once the hillock of ballast and palette of 30 bags of cement have gone!