Monday, 26 October 2009

Rob's main job for this visit was to install three velux style windows in the roof of the garage. There is a large space above the garage about 9 x 6 meters which Rob is intending to use as an artists studio. Saturday Rob and Richard work all day but installed the windows with relative ease. They bring in lots of light and also mean we can see out across the fields.

Richard and Rob satisfied with their hard days work!

View of garage windows from the garden - they look as though they have always been there.

The garden is looking good, there are still some vegetables to eat
and others which were ready to be harvested have been cleared such as butternut squash, marrows, courgettes, aubergines, peas and runner beans. The areas which are now free of plants and weeds have been covered with either black plastic or with the cardboard packaging from the new windows. Hopefully this will prevent the weeds from taking hold this winter.
The eating apples are beginning to fall - so I have been using these windfalls to make apple juice. Not sure what the variety they are but they make good eaters and good sharp yet sweet juice.

We had rain on our journey down here, and the ground is now damp. With the damp and the mild temperature we were hopeful that mushrooms might have started to poke their heads out of the ground, so we went out yesterday to our usual spot but we weren't very successful, we did find a few which we ate with our supper last night. We did find an interesting beast, just 5cm long which we have now identified as a fire salamander, however not before posting it on the Autumn Watch site for identification.

The fire salamander

The grapes have ripened well and they are good to eat if full of pips. After our last attempt at wine making we will just enjoy these grapes fresh and leave the wine making to the experts.

All around us pear picking is in full swing, these are the small round pears used to make poiré (perry) which is a speciality of the region. These pears have to be picked of the ground by hand while they are still fresh, unlike the apples for cider which can be gathered by machine and can already be beginning to rot for the cider. It is really hard work, and apparently they don't know yet how much they will get per kilo for the pears, but it has been a good year so there are plenty to gather.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

London, Honey fungus and friends

Six of us got together last week for lunch. What's so unusual about that one might think but ten years ago we met for the first time when we embarked on our degree course organised by the WI. That first semester seems a long way off now, in fact it is hard to believe we spent so much time on our course, but we all survived the course and we all became good friends too. It is always good to get together as we are all very opinionated but generally we all think along the same lines so we don't fall out or argue. As usual the conversation was dominated by WI issues, but with interludes of family weddings, house moving and new kitchens....

We went to London this week primarily to visit the private view of an exhibition put on by one of our friends, but used the opportunity to explore Bloomsbury. We followed a planned walk, which took us down streets we hadn't yet discovered. Lots of beautiful squares and gardens - people were out picnicking at lunchtime - it was a lovely day dry and sunny and pleasantly warm. Just a few streets away from the main thoroughfares it is amazingly peaceful and quiet, hard to imagine you are in central London.
The photo shows a charging point for an electric car - the only one we noticed but I am sure there must be more around.

It continues to be very dry which means there are very few mushrooms around, we did find some honey fungus last weekend which was growing abundantly on some trees in a local wood, but they don't need rain to grow. We are still eating the tomatoes which are ripening well on the window sill. We have stored the pears in the fridge to prevent them ripening too fast but we have had plenty despite pruning the pear tree very hard last winter.

Saturday, 3 October 2009


Despite the horrific weather reports from the UK, the east of England has not had rain for about the last ten weeks. The ground is hard and the grass has resembles dry straw. The local paper reported that the local sugar campaign had been delayed because the farmers were finding it difficult to harvest the sugar beat. Our region of France has also suffered from the lack of rain since the beginning of August and it proved very difficult to lift the potatoes as the ground resembled concrete, the main crop of potatoes was very poor I think due to lack of water - I suppose i should have watered them. However it is not a matter of life or death unlike areas of East Africa who are suffering a severe drought after several years of failed rainy seasons. I don't think any of this is particularly due to global warming but it does bring home the fact that no matter where we live we all need rain even if we moan about a wet summer.

We spent last Saturday at Great Yarmouth, it was good to see the resort so busy, there were families on the beach and enjoying the fun of the pier. The beach cafés were also doing a brisk trade. We haven't spent much time in Great Yarmouth before and I had forgotten how wide and clean the beaches are. Lots of space for everyone. Just off shore are 32 wind turbines, currently one of the largest offshore wind farms. They are really impressive and there is information centre on the sea front explaining how they were built and how much energy they produce. Unfortunately when we first arrived they were still as there was no wind, not something you usually encounter on the British coast. Later on the wind picked up a little and they were soon turning into the wind. There is something special about sitting on the bench over looking the north sea whilst enjoying 'good old' fish and chips.