Monday 31 May 2010

Le weekend

As everyone knows, the weekend starts on Friday night, and there was a free concert by Volubilis, a classical choir, in the church just ten minutes down the road at La Chapelle Rainsouin. They're a good group, run by Anique, who also teaches at the Evron school of music. Great concert too.

On Saturday, a group of miniaturists came to visit. Their reason for being in the area was to see the wife's miniatures museum, but it was also just intended to be a fun day out for them, and they brought a pic-nic.

They had a good look around the museum in the morning, but at lunchtime it was raining so they camped in the gîte dining room, and had the pic-nic there. They invited us to join them, so we had a good social time, chatting especially with the English teacher who was sat near us, and who had just come back from a trip to Bath. She had bought Paddington Bear badges for everyone in her group, and I'm a fan, so we had a good natter.

Incidentally, they were at some pains to not call themselves a club. Apparently, if you call yourself a club, there's a two-inch thick book of rules that tells you how you have to organise yourself. So they're just a group of friends, interested in miniatures, who get together on a regular basis. Club? Ohhh nooooo, not a club.

On Sunday the Euromayenne plant swap and barbecue. You bring your spare plants along, and take away whatever takes your fancy. There is no concept of a one-for-one or anything, and it's all very informal. Here's a picture of the plants I took, the event, and the plants I came home with.

On the same day, the village of St Pierre sur Erve held its "Belles chaises" day. We couldn't really attend, being at the plant swap but to show willing we took along a couple of things to display. A vase full of iris from the garden (with some gîte brochures) and a miniature scene of someone sat down, at a cream tea, with a vase of iris beside them.

And finally we noticed that the mayor has at last got the new roadsigns in place, indicating prominently how to get to our gîte. He's probably fed up with people wandering around the village asking him where we are.

Monday 24 May 2010

Idle snapshots

Catering for guests is tiring work, and in between breakfast and the lunchtime barbecue, I was leaning against the side of my conservatory, taking a break and lazily admiring the garden. So I took an idle snap for you too. The second picture is the view of the garden as seen from one of the guest bedrooms. By the way, the guests, you will be pleased to hear, have booked up for the same time next year: they said they had a great time again, next year will be their third visit.

And some Peonys for Eloh. I was going to wait until the later ones came out, and post them all together, but, I thought, why wait?

Friday 21 May 2010

Garden tour

The wife's favourite flower is the flag Iris, and by happy coincidence, this plant thrives in the soil here at Les Hallais. The earlier ones are in bloom right now, so we can take a stroll round the garden and have a look.

On the left below is a little snow in summer plant, on the right a river of catnip. My old cat has a routine in the mornings: He comes down and eats, then goes out and rolls in the catnip. He comes back in high as a kite, and races around the house, attacking the other cat if he's around. Then he falls asleep. He's a druggie.

This white flower is about 2 feet high, and is growing in a little corner. The wife thinks it's a weed, but I don't. I have no idea what it is though. On the right, my attempts to provide some decent growing conditions for a hazelnut sapling.

This shrub sits in the lawn, and is just festooned with white flowers.

This flower bed owes its shape to a happy accident in laying out stones. The curves at the front edge of it save it from a stark rectangular look, and also serve as a souvenir of its construction. The perennial poppy "Aurora" is the first of my poppies out this year.

Finally, a sight (and sound) just down the road, that I'm sure i will never tire of.

Thursday 20 May 2010

The right stuff

The Dahlia cuttings are getting quite mature, so they are ready to plant out. The weather has been strange lately; we are in our second unseasonably hot spell, with temperatures around 23 degrees during the day. In between these spells we have had unusual cold, with air frosts. Dahlias hate frosts, but the usual planting time is about now, when danger of frost is normally past. So I'm just putting them out and crossing my fingers.

Preparing the ground requires large amounts of manure, and I have been shoveling it where it's needed. Still not quite done, but in a few days I expect the Dahlias will be planted. Incidentally, I left the trailer-load of manure out overnight, and in the morning, I discovered a toad in there trying to get out. He was lucky to survive, I think. I put him at the base of a dry stone wall, and he hopped into a gap in it.

The plants look a bit small when they're planted, but they will soon grow. This work takes a toll on the forks, though. The ground is very stony, and the forks bend. Bend them often enough, they break. I'm glad I didn't use my good stainless steel one.

Finally, a couple of pics of the Ena Harkness climbing rose that's on the wall of the gîte. A lovely shape, and strongly scented too, so you catch a whiff of it as you enter and leave the building.

Monday 17 May 2010

A castle for the painting

We are expecting a group of painters to stay with us in the gîte this August. I am looking forward to seeing what they will find appealing in the countryside around Le Domaine des Hallais, and how they will decide to represent it.

You can't come to France as a painter, and not paint a château. A pair of Dutch friends have rented a home right next door to a wonderful castle, and have secured permission for our artists to come and paint it, so today we went to see them, stay for lunch, and take a look at the château. Magnificent. I can only show you a small sample of the photos I took, but I'm sure it will make a wonderful subject.

The house that our friends have rented is the mill that is attached to the castle; it's lovely. Here's a couple of pictures to give you a taste.

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