Wednesday 31 March 2021


The mirabelle is a type of plum, slightly larger than the tip of a thumb, and yellow in colour.  It has a superb, distinct, sweet flavour, and if you eat it straight off the tree it tastes of honey.   I'm lucky to have some trees in the garden and they are covered in white blossoms right now.   I'm hoping that this indicates a big future harvest.

Tuesday 30 March 2021

Free dirt

In refinishing the grass area destroyed by the wild boar, I find myself in need of some topsoil to fill in the holes.   You can buy it commercially but it's only available when there is construction work going on that digs it up, so supply is not very reliable.   The only enterprise locally that had any was asking €50 the metre cubed, which I though was a bit much.   Anita put in a request on a facebook group to ask if anyone had any to get rid of and they suggested looking on le bon coin, a French small ad site, so I did. 

Turns out that someone has done some demolition not far from me, so I went with a trailer, wheelbarrow and shovel.  Free for the asking, requiring only a bit of sweat and energy.   Can't be bad.  Also, here's a free pic of the wild daffs I saw on a walk the other day.

Saturday 27 March 2021

Sanglier damage

When it comes to the lottery of life, it seems to me that the sanglier (french for wild boar) got a raw deal.  He is not cute, he is a pest, and he is good to eat.  Consequently, the sanglier is hunted (and consumed) with enthusiasm in this part of rural France.

My top field of grass got a visit from a group of them not so long ago, and they upended the turf over a wide area in their hunt for worms and other delicacies to eat.  The problem is that I can no longer mow the grass there since the uneven-ness of the ground now means that the mower blades hit the hummocks and the blades bend.  I have trashed two mower blades with the mowers on the highest setting, trying to cut the grass.

So I have to rotovate the ground, flatten it, add some topsoil where needed, and replant with grass seed.   It will be a long job since they covered a wide area.  I would feel better about it if I didn't know that another troupe could arrive tonight and do the same thing again.

 Perhaps I should invite some hunters....


There were two notable music shops that we found during our stay at Concarneau.  One was a wonderful second-hand record and CD shop that we stumbled upon as we strolled around Quimper on a day visit.  With records and CDs stacked in a jumble it was the sort of place you could spend days in discovering new (old) gems and listening to them.  A 40-year anniversary special edition (vinyl and CD) of Aqualung, with souvenir book?  Set you back €75 if I remember rightly.   But I'm a fan of the music rather than memorabilia so I let it pass.  I did buy some jazz and a classical CD though.

The other shop was on a roundabout on the outskirts of Concarneau and it specialised in the sale of celtic music, instruments, CDs and sheet music.  It included Scottish, Welsh and Irish traditional music as well as the usual Breton.  The instruments were the bodhran, penny whistles, and the bombarde.  The bombarde is described as a kind of oboe, which sounds quite innocent, until you hear it.  I don't know what a strangled cat sounds like, but I imagine that the bombarde comes close.

The big bass penny whistle that I fancied  was a bit more than €200 so I passed on that.   I bought some sheet music; a suite on celtic themes for flute and organ.

Friday 26 March 2021


Pont-Aven really is a pretty little town, evolved around the river that rushes down the valley.   It used to feature a number of water mills that have fallen into disuse these days, but that will find their place in the future, I imagine.   There is a raised pedestrian walkway that takes you along the river to various shops and restaurants, and that allows you to enjoy the river in its various aspects.

I was amused by the WC suspended over the river.   I don't know how the plumbing works today, but I can guess how it used to work.

It even had a chocolate shop, featuring choloate lollipops; I haven't seen those before.  What's not to like?

Wednesday 24 March 2021

The gardens

While staying in Concarneau we visited three different gardens, all of which featured acid-loving plants.    We were a little early in the season,  so the Magnolias and Camelias were in full bloom, the Rhododendrons were a little behind, and the Azaleas were mostly not open yet.

The gardens that we visited were the Domaine de Trevarez, the Domaine de Boutiguery, and the Chateau de Laniron.  Trevarez features an enormous red chateau, the last to be built in France, occupied by the germans and bombed by the allies.

Saturday 20 March 2021

We sailed on the good ship Venus

Concarneau has a pretty walled town on a promontory in the bay.   It is lined with shops selling local produce and touristy souvenirs.  There was a wonderful spice shop with all sorts of spices for curries, pizza oil, herb teas and so on.  It smelt divine.  We bought some chilli oil spice for pizza oil, and some curry spices.  The rain chucked down as we left the shop.

The walled town is dotted with informative notices on the history of the buildings, and the entrance displays some ancient cannons, retrieved from the sea bed, originating from the good ship Venus that sank a couple of years after it was built.  Joyful memories of boyhood rhymes, of which one verse survives bowlderisation.

The bo'sun's name was carter,
He really was a farter,
When the wind wouldn't blow
And the ship wouldn't go,
We got Carter the farter to start 'er

Friday 19 March 2021

Chilly Concarneau

We felt the need to get away for a few days, celebrate our birthdays with a change of scene.  March isn't an ideal time for outdoor activities, and with much of the tourism sector shut, we were taking a risk on the weather.  We were away from March 11th to 16th.  I think someone up there was taking the Mick.

We went to the Brittany coast, a town called Concarneau, not far from Quimper, and with easy access to several gardens.  We took the bikes in the car so we could explore some of the cycle tracks in the area.

We stayed in the hotel Ker Moor, which means "Sea House".  It's described as "quirky" in the reviews, not inaccurately, but it was warm, comfortable and friendly.  The fixtures and fittings were from boats so the whole place had a very nautical flavour.   We had sea views from our room (and a visiting cat)  and we watched the windsurfers and kite surfers enjoying the strong winds.

The plants are more advanced in Brittany than in the Mayenne, and Magnolias were in full bloom, with Rhododendrons and other acid-loving plants just behind.


The hotel had an unusual system for evening meals; they didn't cook, but you could order in food from your selection of the local take-aways, and eat it in your room or in the breakfast room.  That seemed to work well.

Monday 8 March 2021

The phoenix greenhouse

We saw the ad on a billboard while driving in to Laval, some time ago.  A plastic-covered greenhouse about 6 square metres, for €50.   I was looking for a greenhouse, so why not give it a try?

The frame is made from steel tubes that are held together with plastic connectors, of different shapes for the different types of junction.   I put it up in Springtime, near  the veg patch.  We had a gale.  The greenhouse was trashed.   Although the cover didn't blow away (I had tied it to a tree), most of the plastic connectors had bent, broken, or come undone.  They were unuseable.

Anita found a replacement set on the interweb, cost €35, nearly what I paid for the whole greenhouse, but given the situation, it seemed like a sensible buy.   I needed a greenhouse, had a cover and some steel rods for a frame, so we bought them.

I put the greenhouse up again yesterday, in what I hope is a more sheltered part of the garden.  I have tied it to the ground again, just in case.  If this doesn't work, I'll have to go for a plan 'B'.

Sunday 7 March 2021

Artificial strawberries

I have some strawberry plants in the garden, but I don't get many strawberries.   The birds, however, do quite well.   I don't pick the berries until they are ripe, that is, red all over, but the birds seem happy to peck out the red bits from the semi-ripe ones, leaving the remaining green or white bits to rot.

Anita was reading on the interweb the other day, that if you take some stones that are about the same size as strawberries, paint them red, and scatter them among the strawberry plants before the fruits ripen, the birds quickly learn that there is no nourishment in these little red things, and leave the strawberries alone once they are ripe.  So she is painting some up for me.

It has to be worth a try.

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