Winter is coming!

Last fortnight has been glorious sunshine. Admittedly the mornings have been chilly but then its dawn and even in the height of summer dawn is often chilly (though a damn sight earlier of course). Later dawns mean that Siena and I can enjoy some beautiful sunrises, Siena often stops and gazes into the distance giving the illusion that she is having deep thought, when as evidenced by her suddenly sprinting off, she actually thinks she can see a bird. For what its worth, if it is a bird its long gone by the time Siena gets even halfway towards it, but usually its just a tuft of darker grass or even a cow-pat – neither of which are especially perturbed by her approach. Friday was mostly wet, but today, suddenly its winter. 3°C and sleet. In fact as I sit in the kitchen, there are a few flakes of snow.

Last Monday I became a great uncle to Frank. Suzannah my neice (ie one of my brother’s daughters d’uh) is the first of my nieces to have a baby. I sent a card with his first Peter rabbit toy.

This week was Delia’s birthday. No surprise presents from me this time though; at Delia’s request I had ordered a handmade messenger bag from one of my recent website clients – she’s not selling live yet but shows her stuff. Delia was pleased with how well-made it was. Val (the weebaglady) has a house over in Lageyrat across the valley from us. Her website sprang from when we had met her and Graham, her partner, on the Voie Verte walking Siena. Delia also got a book from me (again not a surprise) by the Skeptics Guide to the Universe. She had made a special request for her birthday breakfast and I happily obliged – long slow cooked… creamy scrambled egg, bacon and toast. Her day was spent just relaxing and that evening we went to our local Italian. For a week day evening it was crowded, we had to sit by the door, which wasn’t so bad. The food was, as usual great. We enjoyed a carb excess, me with a veal escalope and chips Delia with a tagliatelle carbonara. Nothing very exotic but just what we wanted. We had a three chocolate entremet for dessert.

The food theme continues with yesterday. Two friends came to lunch, Jayne, who looks after Siena in return for any computer work they need doing, such as, this time, getting google to stick to English. We had slow cooked leg of lamb with assorted vegetables. Jayne had never eaten lamb so I figured rather than traditional slightly pink slices, it would be better to have the lamb equivalent of pulled pork. Our friends also enjoyed the handful of roasted chestnuts we served with other titbits before the lamb. For the veggies we had swede, sweet potato, cabbage, parsnip, carrot, peppers, courgette and tomato all roasted in garlic oil. Cheese and then orange and lemon sorbet for dessert. Jayne was so taken with the chestnuts she went out with Delia and Siena and gathered a bag of them. Even though they have already been harvested, there are still plenty around the edges of the grove. Its a pity Delia doesn’t like them or we’d be having chestnuts with everything!

Here’s the birthdy girl last year, the seaside a bit later than this year.

Glorious Autumn – 21st October 2018

Moving from Australia to Europe has really made me appreciate autumn. A lot of my European friends think I’m mad that I like autumn so much but I really do like the feel of it. There is such a definition of seasons here, it is so obvious when one season ends and the next begins. With autumn the leaves turning brown (and many a time of having the song California Dreamin’ running through my head) and the nights getting cold, but we are having such glorious days with warmth and sunshine. It is all so lovely.

We had an interesting visitor this week, on Friday I headed off to my art class, and as Pat was heading off to walk Siena, I shut our bedroom window. That evening when we went to bed, we discovered a little wren nestled in the join on our wooden beam, it was definitely settling in for the night. After a brief effort to try and get it to head out the window we gave up and decided that would be a job for the morning. So we were woken by the soft song of a bird in our bedroom. Thankfully after a little effort we were able to get it out the window in the morning.

Not a lot else to say, we’ve been enjoying the sunshine during the day while we still can. Our neighbour is harvesting the falling chestnuts, the cranes have started the migration south and the flowers are starting to fad in the garden. I do need to get my bulbs planted so that we will have a wonderful spring display – so that may be a job for this afternoon.
My photo’s below from our time at the beach.

So for now, à bientôt, from our wonderful part of France – Delia


I forget how lovely October here is. In the UK, as I remember, it’s usually damp and misty and getting cooler if not cold. But then what I am also remembering is the early morning commutes and darkening journeys suddenly becoming night when the clocks go back. Or perhaps even further back to living in Wales, where the rain is a constant companion. What happens in my life is a bit less frenetic now. I am rising and walking Siena soon after dawn at this time of year. This, of course, brings cooler temperatures and some mist, but it’s the light that is perfect; the “golden hour” beloved of photographers and artists but usually too early (in summer) or too cold (in winter).

October also brings the ripening chestnuts. I avoid the main groves as I lack a hard hat, but I can hear the regular thud as the large “chataignes griffé” (grafted chestnuts) fall. Last year I saw my neighbour actually doing the grafting onto young chestnut sapling rootstock. My regular morning walk takes me up a track lined with wild chestnuts whose fruit is much smaller (and safer!). Siena carefully avoids walking on the track since the chestnut casings are painfully prickly.

Last week I was on this same walk and encountered two hunters whom I had seen several times before and so they recognised me. One asked if I had insurance against being shot. I was still processing this and so hadn’t time to register alarm before he said he was joking. I carried on as if I knew this, but it is a concern, especially after the hunters enjoy a long and perhaps, inebriating lunchtime!

Perhaps this October is especially good for me is that I lost so much of the summer avoiding anything that might hurt my shingles affected torso. It’s only sensitive now, uncomfortable to wear a shirt but otherwise not affecting me. Phew! And it does mean that I savour the morning walk just that little bit more.

It’s been a while… 6th October 2018

Autumn has arrived and I can also safely say that Pat is definitely on the mend, which is all good. We have had a wonderful summer and it is still warm enough during the day to not worry about a jumper, but it is cool in the mornings and the evenings, so much so that I’ve started the process of packing up my summer clothes and getting my winter ones out. It has been an interesting process as I’ve had to also get rid of clothes that no longer fit but some of them are ones that I like, but thankfully there isn’t that much that needs to be replaced.

I really enjoyed our trip to the seaside a couple of weeks back. It was fantastic and so relaxing. I really enjoy being beside the sea, especially when there is a white sandy beach. We were able to do some lovely walks, which Pat really hasn’t been able to do for a while so that was great. Siena loved it and it was great to actually exhaust her.

We went for a lovely walk today around a nearby lake as it was a wonderful day with the sunshine out and no breeze, very relaxing and something we really enjoyed. The rest of my week has been very busy though I have started back at art class. I will admit for the first time I really struggled to choose a picture to paint. I’ve ended up with an Australian wildflower which I didn’t know/recognise (a Spiked Andersonia if you are interested). I’m not sure how it will turn out, but I think this painting will take me some time.

Tomorrow’s plan is to get back into the garden to try and sort a few things before the autumn really hits, I did some transplanting of plants last weekend and so far they all seemed to have survived. I have however ripped up the courgette and squash plants that I had in the garden and I’ve only got 2 tomato plants left (though I didn’t have many and they didn’t go well this year) and after tomorrow – no tomato plants, but I will be putting my bulbs in so that I have a fantastic spring display – hopefully.

Do have a look at the below blogs, Pat has still been blogging over the past couple of months and there are some good photos.

So for now, à bientôt, from our wonderful part of France – Delia