Sunday 31 October 2010

The diner dansant

Every year about now the Harmonie of St Suzanne hosts a dinner-dance. The purpose is to raise funds for the band, but it's also a really good excuse for a night out with great food and music. Come with plenty of friends.

The evening starts with a short concert from the Harmonie, after which the meal is served, with an entr'acte featuring entertainment from the Banda'Suzanne. After the meal, the dance music this year was provided by a four-piece cover band. It's quite a big event; there were 650 diners, and we broke a record, serving them all the fish course in 20 minutes. Here's a few pics and a video to give you an idea.

Sunday 24 October 2010

Aliens killed my Dahlias

Look! Ruined! They waited for a clear night so they could see them from space, and used their dastardly ray guns to zap my plants! Zap! zap! zap! But I'll outfox them. I'll dig my plants up and put them in the shed where they can't see them! And I'll only bring them out when they've gotten bored with waiting, in a few months' time. Mwwwwaaaahahahahahaha!

Saturday 16 October 2010

Les Pipelettes

As you might be able to tell from the presence of a miniatures museum on the site, the wife is into miniatures.

There is, in Brittany, a group of friendly ladies who call themselves the "Les Pipelettes" (chatterboxes) who meet once in a while to talk and talk and also to make miniatures. They are careful not to call themselves a club, because if you have a club, you might be entitled to some state support (government money) but also there is a rule book two inches thick that tells you how you must manage your organisation. So they're just a group of friends who get together from time to time in each others' houses to have lunch and share their passion for miniatures. Not a club, oh no.

Anyway we went to one of their meetings in a little village near Rennes this weekend, and it was an opportunity for me to take a good walk in the countryside. Apart from enjoying the crisp Autumn air, I collected some acorns and chestnuts to plant, and discovered some interesting mushrooms. It's mushroom season, and people like to collect them to eat, engaging the services of an expert to weed out the deadly ones. As a kid, it was drummed into me never to eat mushrooms picked in the wild, an aversion that I have largely failed to shake. I did find some mushrooms in the garden last year that were clearly the same as the ones you get in the shops, and I ate them. The wife cooked them for me for breakfast, but refused to eat any herself.

Thursday 14 October 2010

Conkering hero

I have been occupied in planting or preserving trees during these last few days.

I had been looking for a while for some decorative trees to plant beside the road running past our house, and some ornamental pear trees were to be had cheaply in the local supermarket. So it's back to the shop with the Espace, and home with three of them. And a few hours planting them. Here's one. Good home offered to three partridges.

When I pass a chestnut, oak or conker tree I stop to pick up a few nuts/acorns/conkers with a view to planting them. It can't do any harm and they might just grow into proper trees. With a bit of luck I might even harvest some chestnuts in my lifetime. These conkers are my latest acquisition and will be planted this afternoon, in the field over the road.

I mowed that very same field earlier in the week, and found quite a few yearling walnut trees. They have managed to survive this Summer's drought, and I think I avoided mowing most of them, so hopefully they might stay alive and grow. I also found traces, I think of wild boar. (French for boar: sanglier) The grass was all scuffed up, and a track leads from the field, over the road, to a worn part of the bank the other side.

This hazelnut tree is a gift from Leo, who digs them up from his garden where they grow like weeds. I have a gap in a line of hazels that I planted, where one died, so this one has an immediate home. They attract red squirrels, an added bonus.

Monday 11 October 2010

Sober butterflies

Last year, the Red Admirals got drunk on fermenting plums on the ground. This year either the plums fell early or the Admirals are late because the plums fell a few weeks ago and the butterflies have just arrived. They (and a tortoiseshell) are feeding on my Asters instead, which I am sure are probably equally nourishing, but perhaps less fun.

Wednesday 6 October 2010


Spectacular sunset this evening, which these pictures don't do justice to.

Sunday 3 October 2010

Day out in Le Mans

The Plantagenet city of Le mans has for the last few years had a "garden fête" in the old town. Literally, a celebration of the gardens there, the little patches of green that people cultivate even in the smallest places in town centres. Private gardens that aren't usually open to the public are on display, and there are also plant vendors, craft stalls, etc.

People made a effort to smarten up the gardens for the occasion, so the plants on display were not necessarily representative of the garden in its natural state. There seemed to be a job lot of potted Chrysanths dotted around, and some spectacularly tasteful plastic rabbits also put in an appearance in several different gardens. But overall it was good to attend, and we came away with some more Asters for the garden, and some bright red Tulip bulbs for the Springtime.

I can't really do better than give you a taste for what was there via a few of the photos I took, so here they are. We started off with a coffee, visited the gardens, then lunch then more visits. There was a concert in the evening too, including a superb performance from a Soprano, Gabriela Guzzo, of Three Argentine Songs, by Gilardo Gilardi and conducted by his son. Gabriela Guzzo; one to watch.

Friday 1 October 2010

Reaping what you sow

I've mentioned here my recent enthusiasm for hardwood cuttings. I taking more this year, with a view to expanding the number of rose plants in my garden. I like scented roses in particular, so I am taking cuttings from the red climbing rose "Ena Harkness" and other, old-fashioned scented roses that I have. I am also taking cuttings from the plants from my friend Leo down the road, as he prunes his, and have given him some of mine. What a fine way of economising on plant purchases!

The weather has just turned a bit wet after the Summer drought, and this means that with the still-warm days, and moist soil, the cuttings stand a chance of growing a bit, and surviving the Winter to come. Here they all are, lined up and labelled in my veg patch.

Some of last year's cuttings have survived, making small but healthy plants, and I have planted these out beside my driveway. I am hoping that they will perfume the air for people arriving on foot.
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