Friday 31 August 2007

End of Summer

The swallows left yesterday. It's so quiet without them.

Wednesday 29 August 2007

Day Trip


Visitors this week so a trip out to the most famous landmark in Normandy, the Mont St. Michel.

Beautiful to look at, it is swarming with tourists from all over the world from June to October, which makes for an uncomfortable day if you're not good in crowds, but we didn't do too badly although my guests eschewed a trip around the Abbey which is really the point of the whole edifice.

Read more about it at the official site here.

Sunday 26 August 2007

Red Sky at Night


Another brilliant sunset tonight, the sort where you have to fight with yourself to stop trying to suck it all into the camera so you can can keep it crippled but for ever and just absorb it into your soul. The magic of gold tinged pink and celestial blue will ever be my joy, it cannot be bettered.

However, to more prosaic matters. Today I harvested a crop of onions. It's not the sort of produce that will have the French onion growers shivering in their shoes but it's still a gathering. If the end days came and there were no more seed companies we could preserve our lifestyle in a small way by propagating from these onions and keeping the race going. However, it's more likely they'll be gobbled up in a couple of weeks worth of curries and stir fries.


Note the damage to the leaves, those allium addicted deer are still in the neighbourhood. Just as well I'm not bothering with leeks this year.

And now I return you to that psychedelic sunset. Thank you and Good Night.


Saturday 25 August 2007

A Productive Day

Sun came out and I basked in it like a basking shark. Then I got the lawn mower out and started on the grass, again.


While I was mowing I came across this interesting and remarkably large (at least compared to the other grass insects) grasshopper. My tentative identification is of Tettigonia viridissima which is most often given the common name of Great Green Bush Cricket. However, I'm not entirely certain what distinguishes a cricket from a grasshopper and at least some American sites (and one British one here) refer to this as a grasshopper. So that's good enough for me, it's a grasshopper.

(addendum: the wikipedia entry gives some explanation about this insect but as it lays multiple eggs underground I still think it's a grasshopper.)

warty puff

Then, wandering around in the warmness of summer at last, I found (as well as a couple of deliquesced unidentifiable fungi) this Common or Warted Puffball, Lycoperdon Perlatum along with a couple of friends. These are edible when young but tiny and since I'm waiting on the Giant Puffballs to appear hardly worth the effort but at least they show the fungus season is just beginning.

Moon over Kite Field

Thursday 23 August 2007

How Wet It Was, How Wet.

Back at the farm, everything is the same but much, much wetter. The seedlings are swamped and beset by slugs, the hay bales sit in stagnant water, the streams and ditches are overflowing with excess moisture.

And how does this make me feel? Drenched, wringing, sodden with sorrow, wretchedness and depression.


But enough of these pipe dreams, maybe it will be brighter tomorrow.

Sunday 19 August 2007

Something of nothing

Fallen off the blog wagon...

well, not really but I've been in the UK and there's not much to talk about. I've made entries before where the depth of my despair is revealed and then had to delete them and that's sort of the point I'm reaching here.

Back to France tomorrow, to spend a couple of days at the little house with Roy before he drops me off at La Rup. on his way to the ferry. I'm looking forward to seeing the new seed bed again and keeping my fingers crossed against those pesky deer. I'm also looking forward to the time in Ouville, the other home that has held some of my dreams in France for the last 18 years. We'll do some gardening and reminiscing.

I was looking for a picture of the Ouville house but can't find one... if you squint your eyes a bit, this might almost be it!

Anyway, plans for the next couple of weeks include:

Seeing the Dog Woman (formerly the Cat Woman) to give her a tutorial on managing her own website. I'm not really too stretched to do it for her but I'm beginning to become irritated by the need to edit her words and manipulate her very poor images before page mods can be made. Is that mean and small minded of me?

Doing a lot of house work as I have visitors booked for the last weekend in August, my friend V and her daughter, another V. Wondering what to do to entertain them, and hoping the weather will be good enough to make their break a pleasant one.

Concentrating my mind on finding a way to earn money. A storm is looming and I have no resources to meet it.

That'll do for now.

Tuesday 7 August 2007

Car Fixing


The red car is sick and is gradually getting sicker but while I was using it for a trip to the shops a week or two ago it decided to have an acute attack of failure and broke its exhaust. I had an interesting trip roaring back from the Carrefour in St. Lo and subsequent investigations revealed that it was fortunate I hadn't lost the whole thing during the journey.

Luckily it was hanging on by a thread as the economics of repairing this 10 year old vehicle are poised on a knife edge - we only want to get it back to the UK so that we can use it as part exchange for a newer vehicle and it's extremely unlikely to ever pass another MOT test without a substantial injection of cash. The decision was made to do a running repair which we hope will last long enough to see us back to Newport Pagnell.

Flashback to the summer of 1976 where the adolescent M was first learning about the art of car maintenance at St. Margaret's House University Residence, Southampton on the hulk of an old Austin A40 owned by the first Paul. In those days an exhaust bandage and a set of gaskets made from cereal packets were the only requisites for repairing any vehicle, provided you were allowed to put the head on the dining table whilst tootbrushing the valve seats...

Anyway, a set of ramps and a tin can from the breakfast ackee and the repair has been made. So far, with fingers crossed it's holding but we'll test it properly tomorrow with a short run to the Le Molay Littry with the cat for his vet's appointment. Wish us luck.

Friday 3 August 2007

Previously on The Cats Tripe

sun set

Updates on recent posts...

The new vegetable plot is looking so good we have irrational fears for it, and some rational ones it must said. Already seeds are germinating, we have two sorts of radish, beetroots, peas and Paul almost convinced me that a few onions were poking their heads up but maybe it was grass. Apart from a dread of failing good fortune and some unforeseen catastrophe destroying our hard work there is the ever present threat of deer and other vermin which might well damage all our hopes in one night. Even the feral cat isn't entirely safe, the soft earth has tempted her to befoul a spot already. We have plans for protective enclosures but they're not yet in place. It's a worry.

We've decided to double the size of the plot over the next year. Paul has cleared down the rough grass and we will cover the ground with black plastic until next March. This worked well on the piece we've already cultivated and should enable us to rotovate the fresh earth in time for crops next year.

The cat, that most wicked of creatures has not been at all well these last couple of days. We're not sure what upset him but he was sick and dopey, unable to eat and wanting only to sleep. Today, he's a bit better and eating best steak. Does he rule our lives? Of course not.

Each night this week we've been out late, risking total vivisection by midges, trying to catch a glimpse of the barn owl. A couple of times we're caught a good view, out of the corner of our eye, just as we've decided to give it up for the night. That barn owl is a tease.

And if the owl is a tease, the buzzards are positive flirts, sitting on hedges, flying overhead and generally putting on some amazing aerial displays accompanied by heart rending shrieks but they're clever enough to only do it when the camera is pointing in another direction or there's not the slightest chance of recording their antics. I think they're holding out for a licence fee.


This Buddleia x weyeriana has a long history with me. The original plant was rooted from a cutting stolen from a Worthing front garden years ago after a drunken Karaoke night at the Elms in Broadwater. That plant produced a cutting for the garden in Ouville, now that plant has made a child for the garden here. It really is a most obliging rooter, just stick a bit in the ground and stand back.