Thursday, 28 April 2011

Four most influential women in my life.

With no rain on the forecast it has been a slow and determined effort to kick start all my young prodigies in the garden to grow and flourish. I have been double miffed by this unseasonable lack of water and the realisation that chickens are the most destructive and careless creatures if left to run free in a garden. Mike did say that the chicie chicks should be encouraged to stay in the heneriea but I have enjoyed watching them strut around the gardens until they started to scratch out in every area that I have been planting in. OK then, Mike was right and a plan is in a very advanced stage to heighten the fence and discourage that little hop and flutter the girls have developed to get themselves  precariously over their wire boundary.  The Cock whom I love dearly because he has the truest doodle doodle I have heard has fallen ill. He is over weight and totally inept at doing what he was put on this earth to do but despite all of that when I saw him down on his haunches I started to cry and ran into Mike blubbing “cock down” . Mike in his patient and knowing way got the poor fella back on his feet and for three days we watched his behaviour. On Tuesday night I had to place him in the Duck Palace as he was unable to sit himself up. I covered the entrance with tarpaulin to keep the draught off and told my Mum that he would be dead by dawn. Imagine my inner smile and  joy when I heard him doodle in the morning and last night he climbed himself into the hen house and this evening although a little unsteady on his pins actually looks a lot better…..but we know that pets have a habit of showing a little rally of good health before kicking the bucket and making me cry

My three sisters came to pick up my Mum yesterday and stayed over night so we could have a few precious hours together and a jolly good time we have had.  Maggie had not been here since our first year so she saw a huge change to the garden and I couldn’t believe that Mim had not even seen the kitchen changes so there was lots of ooing and ahhing and if you follow this blog regularly you will know that people wowing at me gives the greatest of pleasure. In a time warp of twenty four hours we must have got through enough food for twenty with the catch up chat fast and funny. We invented three extra sleeping arrangements in the house and all had a good nights sleep. So this morning HOSS got a chatting gang to walk on the beach with and after lunch before we knew it our time was up and Gigi’s  car was backing out of the drive with a precious cargo of the four most influential women in my life.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Happy Holidays

Now watch this space. Sweet corn, dwarf beans, cabbage, cauliflower, broad beans, onions, peas and strawberries. This is the season of promise and in the dry but gorgeous weather we are experiencing, the definitive  cure for osteoporosis lugging  endless cans of water to keep the little blighters content. My brother is on the south coast of France and has rung me this morning to say that it is teaming with rain, oh what I would do for a bit of that. I have worked hard to get all this in so that they will be absolutely set with their feet in the ground before we set off on holiday and have to leave them to fend for themselves.
Mike has been working on the mobile homes and all the services are on except the electricity, well you just knew that  one of the utilities would let us down. It is a really good job we don’t
need the phone up there as well. There is a glimmer of hope, and the devis for the electric hook up came in at half the expected price and the job looks simple enough to get completed within six weeks or so….. hoo ray to that.

My Mum is here for two weeks enjoying the weather and watching Mike and I dash from one job to the next, we are on the move all day long  and she is learning how to keep her head down when things go wrong and the air goes blue, but only Mum’s know how to do that with style. Happy Holidays

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

We really had a good time. Thank you

Events and auspicious occasions come and go in ones life but to have been invited to take part in my younger Brother’s marriage to his long lost love puts auspicious into a new league. I was truly looking forward to our trip to the UK to share in this happy ceremony of linking Billy and Maxine under one surname and despite the agony of what to wear and how to wear it I pulled through wearing my Mother of the bride get up I wore in 2005 knowing that, that sort of look is ageless, or hopeless depending on the angle you viewed me from. I have lost weight since those way back years so I felt not only OK to go, but actually a bit more comfortable than I did six years ago although I still can’t manage the pain and dare I say agony of teetering about on stiletto heals for twelve hours and by the time we had concluded all the fun of the fair activities of a well oiled wedding planners creation I swear I thought I would never walk again. 

Mike was in charge of catching a few pictures for us as the entire day was being loaded onto flash cards and mega sticks and I am looking forward to getting a definitive version of the day to re-live the moment at my leisure, but this one picture just said it all to me. My Mum and Sister in awe of the moment as Mr and Mrs Field walked out of the ceremony room and at that moment we knew Billy would not back out and Maxine could not get cold feet, the coin was struck with new currency of love and devotion that we will all share with them for the rest of our lives.

We stayed with Mike's Mum and Brother for these few days and they fed and watered us  listening to my constant references to plants and gardens and gardens and plants and when I went out and stole white bells from their borders  I am sure they will be thinking twice before committing to us visiting again, but we really had a good time. Thank you

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

you know, we probably will.

The mobile homes are now in their final position, it was all a bit fraught, they are heavy, cumbersome and delinquent objects and it took a lot of planning and walking the course to get a set of plans on the table. Mike had a bright thought that he could move the tow bar from the front of the van to the back so he could push and not pull, apparently that would give him more control and I was all for that. So we went up and took the tow bar off the front to go on the back and blow me down it did not fit and not just by a small way but by miles so we abandoned plan A and slipped into plan B. We coupled up the car and pushed and pulled and pushed and pulled until they both lay within a nats whotsit of the exact position Mike had marked out.  I was in charge of  aesthetics and spent my time making sure the wheels were clear of newly dug trenches and then stood at the front doors to confirm the desired view and role played a happy holiday maker just out of bed on a bright sunny morning in Brevands.  We have had a letter from the Electricity people who now require a signed document from the Maire to say that he has authorised our project. Mike was very keen to get down to the Mairie today as it is only open to the public two afternoons a week. I humphed and puffed a bit as I so did not want to be out today, we are planning a trip and I had four bags of plants to dig in. Ann had triaged through her garden and wanted me to have her plants to recycle into mine so they were really ready to go and I was determined to get them in. Mike was busy digging trenches to lay his tubes and pipes and I was planting an array of flora when we heard the Maire’s motorbike coming down the road.  I managed to wave him down and ask for the authorisation we required, we showed him the installation so far and generally sweet talked him, because that what you do when the Maire comes round.  Our chap is a hoot and I respect and love him for being the patriarch of our petite commune and turning up so that I did not have to go to him and  he loved how our project had developed and was enthused and happy then suggested we could have an inauguration party, porte ouverts with a fete for the commune and I stepped back and cooled off and suggested we might like to think about that, and you know, we probably will.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Both had a good afternoon out.

I sang with the choir on Sunday afternoon and frolicked once again amongst the treasures of the little church of Heisville. I stood in the line of Altos to the left of Ann, in front of Veronique and behind Solange with the tenors on my deaf side. Of all the Altos,  I am the only justified volunteer to stand against the men as I am unaffected by their rhapsody in base. They are in real need of new blood to flourish their numbers, but always manage to hold their own when the chips are down or the crochets are up which ever way you want to view the situation. So there I was in line for voice warm up when I saw at the far end of the isle over the front entrance this delightful statue of Joan of Arch. My Belgian Aunt, Bayia, often talked about the story and how the French would never forgive the English for murdering good old Joan. Bayia’s passion and reverence on the subject has always had me fascinated as to why they might hold a grudge and frankly, I must confess that  if the real Joan was as pretty and powerful looking as this statue then I too would never forgive they, who did her in.

As we mingled into place the audience assembled and we sat, all fifty of us waiting for the last of the stragglers to take their seats. A long haired cultured gentleman walked to the front and sat in one of the private pews that would have been reserved for the gentry of the time. Veronique was sat next to me and exclaimed that the long haired hippy type in the front row was a great musician, renowned and respected for his talent and I could see she was a bit twitchy in his presents, perhaps like the Simon Cowell of the choir world she was scared of his opinion of our promised performance. I turned to Ann and past on the information in a whisper but she simply replied that she loved the French word for Magician and as she was sat on my deaf side I let the comment go but wondered throughout the performance, which was rather good if I may say so myself , that Ann thought the long haired gentleman was a magician and not a musician and perhaps she was expecting a white rabbit and a pair of doves to embellish the afternoons program. As Ann, Sarah and I  dawdled back to the Mairie in the afternoon sun for the traditional pot d’amity after the concert we fell about laughing like a gang of school girls at the translation mishap and the possibilities of the error. I asked a little boy what French magicians say for abracadabra. He was a little concerned and confused as to why an aging chorister might ask him such a question and replied c’est pareil, I remarked to Ann what a very non magical word to use and she was unable to contain herself as she tried to explain that the word pareil means “the same”, well I knew that!  and then tried to say abracadabra with a French accent, we both went into a silly giggle again and needless to say both had a good afternoon out.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Picnic in the park coming on

I am singing at Heiseville on Sunday afternoon and on Tuesday evening the choir met at the church to do a practice en place so to speak. This little church is so typical of all the little village churches with statues like this and little treasures to discover. Along the wall is an exquisite set of the twelve stations of the cross and is a wonder to behold.  Like the church in Brevands there are no regular Sunday services held and the buildings are kept in this original and beautiful condition for weddings, funerals and concerts like ours on Sunday. I am really looking forward to it as the acoustics are super and I just hope we can all pull  together to make it a pleasurable experience for our audience. Oh, the reason for this picture? well I am a sucker for a good mother and child and if I had the money I would  collect them all up in my barn and just sit, and look at them.

It is only April and we are already out with the water bowser keeping our plants wet and in good condition.  It is a delicate balance, I spend all my time and energy planting my offspring and then we become acutely aware that without rain the new roots will not take and all the work and care is for nothing so we fill up the barrick and do a  circuit of the gardens. If this dry weather keeps up we will be doing it again very soon, and this is not a complaint, just an observation.

The boat garden is looking good, the broom is crisp and yellow and the tamarisk is showing it’s buds in red, what a lot of promise for a fab summer.
We have been out for two lunches this week and also had a lovely surprise visit from Peter and Sarah for cider and crisps up in the garden. We have sometimes been low and perhaps a little homesick and the things we miss most of all are friends and family to visit and folk just knocking on the gate to see if you are in and this week we had it all. Invites to lunch where other friends just passing by join in and a ring on our gate bell from peter and Sarah to see if we had time for aperitifs. It is rare these days that we need to list our strengths and weaknesses to make sense of our life change here but when old hankerings come good then we know we are in the right place.

Thank you to Nicola and Gary who we lunched with on Wednesday, Sarah and Peter who we shared aperitif with on Thursday. Jill and Tony for lunch on Friday and Shirley and Marc  for turning up and being part of our jolly week. I am feeling a Picnic in the park coming on as soon as 
we get back from the UK………

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Mike quite likes it too.

It is all over, well the muck and guts is over, and all we need to do now is get the caravans in place. We took a ride down to the beach to take HOSS for a run and also to check out what the camping sites are doing in our area. We were in Point P the other day picking up more building material when Didier, our neighbour's brother, shook us both by the hand and said, comment ca va les campings??  I had never conceived of the idea that our two little vans constituted a “campings” but there you are, we have purpose and possibilities so we must rise to the mark and see what everyone else is charging and come in under the going rate to encourage the punters to come to us.

We started off at the Utah beach Camping sites and took a photo of the tariff board. We are amazed what people will pay. To get a triangular view of things we went to another site down the coast where I pretended that we had a crowd coming from the UK and needed prices and they gave me brochures with prices, contents inventories and just about everything I need to know. They also invited us to wonder around the site and we looked at what is normal and noticed that the vans at both sites did not have concrete bases or terraces and we began to realise that we were perhaps over thinking our installation. Mike is, as I write, measuring and pricing up to install our vans  like the professionals have. We need to make a few short cuts as some of the costs have mounted and cutting down on concrete bases seems like a good idea. I am, however very pleased to say that the Dr Groundwork’s invoice came in bang on Quote and Dean even scraped a flat area for Mikes over ground swimming pool, a spontaneous buy that I am sure I am going to love. Ami and Dean came over this morning to pick up the digger and collect their money and presented us with a home made cake creation which just bowled us over and means that we have posh cake for the rest of the week.


I mentioned in a recent blog that I burnt the scones,  well, yesterday I incinerated two fruit cakes and was feeling pretty fed up but Ami has put all that to rights and I am delighted. I know she is hoping to make a little cottage industry out of her cakes and I hope she finds a comfy little client base who want celebration cakes. I am going to order Mikes quite soon.
So Mike and I can cut down on the expenditure now that the big job is finished, we are going to work steadily for the rest of the summer watching out for bargains to get our project ready to market and earn some income.  I am quite looking forward to have guests and If you would have said that to me five years ago when we came here I would have said nahhhh, don’t want customers, but here we are, on the brink of this next adventure, and excited…..

The poly tunnel is a hive of industry with all the little seedlings developing and growing every day. I know why I love gardening this way, it’s like being a new mummy, every year. I nurture and develop all this new growth and it makes me excited and satisfied to know that the time spent here will make our summer colourful and edible.. Every one of these babies is a meal in the making or a vista to appreciate and I am proud and glad that I am able to do it but more importantly, that Mike quite likes it too.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

What more can you ask for.

My goodness me how this year is flying by already and before we know it the time has come to plant seeds and pot-on, till the soil and allocate growing space. I have made two plans for the allotment one with my idea of the path going down the side of the plot and the other with Mike’s idea of having the path down the middle and guess who’s plan we are using. It actually makes good sense as Mike is the ground works department and he has the authority to choose whatever the configuration of the growing plots should be, because, he owns the keys to the tractor and the skill to use the cultivator. All I ask however is that he gets the keys and his skill out soon to get the  job done before the vegetable seedlings decide to walk out in protest.

We took a day off on Friday to celebrate Anna birthday.  The six of us have made a pact to celebrate all our events through out the year and Anna’s birthday was next so we packed picnics and bottles of bubbly and went to Carteret to walk along the cliff edge then we huddled around a picnic table in one of the millions of picnic areas that the French cherish as their right to a meal al fresco and en famille. When we arrived there was a stiff breeze and a mist on the sea to eliminate any chance of seeing the Channel islands but it was good to chat and walk and laugh and sing Happy birthday and then the sun came out and the afternoon was perfect

On Saturday we had a “two reasons” drive to the bottom of la Manche. We had planned to pick up an above ground swimming pool that Mike found on Anglo info and as it is all in English and the people who are selling are ex-pats of one type or another I had no input into the plans for our outing until Mike remembered that he had seen a commercial roller in Le Bon Coin not far from where we were heading so then I had to get involved to see if we could hit two birds with one stone. I made the call and got a very young voice who proudly announced that the rouleau was still for sale. My call was going  well as he agreed to see us the next day at about midday and then I asked for his address for Lovely, the GPS and then the whole information transaction went into a steep decline when I was totally unable to understand a word this young man was telling me.  I thought I was getting good at this address taking lark, such a simple activity but oh so fraught with difficulties. I had only managed to decipher from this deep agricultural French accent, two words menil and tove and the code, which, unlike the UK post code gives you an area of many kilometres to cover. Our 50500 code takes us into Carentan and out the other side so we know not to think it will help to hone in to a definite position. Mike got Lovely out of her case and started to put in the info we had and like magic the address jumped up and she programmed herself for a two hour drive and promised to know exactly where we were going. We like a run out in the car and we like it even more when there is purpose and I have mentioned before that we have our board meetings in the car and get a lot of stuff off our chests and plans are realised quite quickly. 

Mission accomplished, a large unopened box in the car with a 12x24 foot swimming pool and a trailer loaded with the most divine all metal, all singing and dancing agricultural roller. Did I sound a little too enthusiastic?  Well so sorry but I am, we have had our eye on one of these for ages and decided it had to be cheap and with the two deals in the same area we guessed it was all worth while.
The young voice was a young farmer who is an apprentice on another farm during the week and he works with his Dad on their farm at the weekends. I have renewed hope for the next generation when I come across a youngster like him. I handed over the dosh and he carefully counted it to the last euro in front of me and that I admire, and I can only guess he had observed his Dad counting the lolly throughout his life and thought nothing of it.  So there we have it, Mike can now roll away the indents the JCB has made to the lawn and I can swim in my garden, what more can you ask for.