Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Nature's Bounty

A good part of the orchard has actually survived the fire and we are now eagerly awaiting our fruit (strawberries already well underway though they don’t make it to my jam pot as the boys sit up there all day munching them). We have plums, cherries, apples, pears, quinces, walnuts and peaches. Not quite as many as I might have liked due to some little folk deciding that the peaches made great ‘missiles’, better than the potatoes that they’d pulled up earlier!!!!! Grrrrrrr.

Friday, 12 June 2009


Le Mans was buzzing with excitement on Wednesday as the 24 Hour starts tomorrow and the place is just coming down with visitors, mostly Brits in very fine cars. We of course know that the Bongo is indeed the finest car that one can own and were proud to be seen in it amongst all the Aston Martins, Porsches, Audis, Mercs, TVRs , BMWs etc. Actually, since saying that we sadly have to part with her (and we still do and are looking for a suitable replacement) we have had lots of offers from folk who will happily give her a loving new home.

June is a very busy month here at LPM with folk staying in every week. Made all the more busy by some friends from the UK just appearing on Wednesday evening (as Ben was about to change into his swimmers to go rescue the geese) and hoping to stay overnight with us!!! They had been saying that they *might* come over but that they would confirm exactly when at a later date. Well, I guess the ‘confirm’ bit happened as they drove through the gates!!! Still, it was fine and Ben helped them get their Blackberry phone/gadget thing working in return for them helping him to fix the rails for the doors of the solar tunnel. Worked quite well actually.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Feathered Friends

We have yet more additions to the family. We got some more hens. We now have 5 ‘normal’ ones (ie not bald necked) and they go by the names of Neige (a white one), Feu (a black one with orange flecks on her), Grace (a black one), Mrs Brown (a brown one – you’d never have guessed that one eh?) and Smokey Jo (a grey one). Their fortress is hopefully now very fox proof so fingers crossed as these ones are very friendly and the boys love them. They are totally free-range – so much so that they even try to venture into the house, the besoms. Calyx sorts them out though at that point so we have a seemingly endless flutter and squawk at the front door. The first day of being out of their pen, supposedly hen-tractoring the potager, they escaped into the main garden as we haven’t clipped their wings. And I’ve not laughed so much in ages when we tried to catch them to get them back to their ‘safe’ place. I say we, it was more Ben and Rowan, but the chooks were definitely not up for it and it was hilarious to watch Ben stalking one, go diving into a bush to get it only to have it happily zip out the other side laughing at him. Needless to say, all were safely shepherded back to their pen and are now, 6 weeks on, very tame. Three out of the five are now laying every day – well it might be 4 out of 5 as Mrs Brown has the right signs to be laying (red, long comb not pink and short) but she’s perhaps found an ‘away’ place to hide her eggs. Not easy to track down in this place! We found Neige’s stash in the tractor barn in an old pile of dry grass – 9 eggs! We all had omelettes for lunch that day. Yesterday Grace laid her first ‘egg’ but it had a really weird soft papery shell – apparently quite normal.

And we also have some organic lawnmowers by way of 3 geese. Actually they are goslings and just 7 weeks old at the mo (got them at 5 weeks old). Very entertaining. They are Dirty Gertie, Filthy Phillippa, and Minky Mel. They are supposed to be keeping the grass down in the orchard and actually are really brilliant at it even at this age. That is, really brilliant if they would stay in the orchard. Not their fault as Ben reckoned that a ditch and some very long grass would be sufficient deterrent to keep them up there but no. They came waddling down the drive on day 4 pooping everywhere (they do LOTS of poop). So we herded them back with them squeaking in protest and put up a little barrier. We went to Le Mans on Wednesday and when we returned they were out again and swimming in the pond, laughing. We thought that Ben was going to have to wade in in his bathing costume but just as he was about to effect the change of clothing, they waddled out and back to their bunks. So once again, the animals rule the humans here.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Fireworks and Feelings

We have had a big week-long international arts and technology festival in our local town, La Ferte Bernard, with an emphasis on robotics. The boys loved it as there were stands all over the place where you could remotely control the robots and get them to do things. Plus the town square was converted into bouncy castle heaven with about 10 different things for them to expend their energy on. On the last day, yesterday, there was a big fireworks display down by Le Lac (loch/lake) in the evening. It was supposed to start at 10pm and the evening was warm and balmy, the Lac was mirror calm and the scent from the mock oranges was super sweet in the air. A very large crowd gathered on the banks, mostly families, and we waited. Then, about 10.30pm the music from the loudspeakers stopped and everyone waited expectantly. The air seemed charged with anticipation. Then, into the black of the evening came the sound of ‘No More I Love Yous’ from Annie Lennox and I came over all emotional and had tears filling my eyes. There we were, on a beautiful evening, watching a beautiful fireworks display, surrounded by happy French folk, feeling very foreign, listening to the lilt of a Scottish voice, and what seemed like a million miles from friends and family. No I wasn’t homesick but I did feel very emotional.