31 August 2016

More Farming Stuff

The boys came yesterday with their big tractors and trailers and cut the maize fields.  One minute our garden was surrounded by a sea of tall leafy plants and within an hour or so the fields had been reduced to stubble.  They worked so quickly, shredding the maize and shooting it directly into the trailer running alongside the harvester.  It will be used for animal feed.

The fields surrounding our house provide a constantly changing scene.  Last year the fields were golden with wheat.  Reeshard’s fields are now left for hay or grazing since he retired but previously he grew tobacco and sunflowers.  Watching the harvesting of the tobacco plants used to fascinate me; the plants were cut with something like a giant pair of scissors and then taken along a conveyor belt and laid flat on the adjacent trailer.

Reeshard (aka Richard Escalier)
tobacco plants on their way to the drying sheds


29 August 2016

Give It Some Welly

Paul and I have a different approach when it comes to tackling hills whilst out cycling.  If I am free wheeling downhill and there is an uphill ahead I like to pedal fast and get as much speed and momentum as possible to tackle the incline.  Paul, on the other hand, just maintains a steady speed and ambles up the hill without a care in the world.  These differing techniques can cause a problem if he is just ahead of me and I can’t overtake.  On these occasions I tend to call out in a ladylike manner “For god’s sake, give it some welly!”

When we were cycling in Shropshire earlier in the year this wifely call almost ended in disaster.  Reacting to my “give it some welly" Paul accelerated down a very narrow lane only to suddenly meet a Range Rover coming in the opposite direction.  He applied his brakes but as it was pouring with rain and he was hurtling downhill at breakneck speed they had no effect whatsoever.  I have a clear recollection of his legs flying out in an ungainly manner as he ended up in a grassy ditch.

So, dear readers, does anyone out there in blogland know where the elegant phrase “give it some welly” comes from?

28 August 2016

Culinary Disasters

Today I picked one of our beautiful, shiny aubergines and decided to make an aubergine and chickpea curry.   I made the sauce first, using the usual spices and adding a can of coconut milk.  The result was rather disappointing, gloopy and bitter. I chucked in a few extra tomatoes, a teaspoon of sugar and some tomato puree and that improved the taste and consistency.  The aubergine was sautéed and added just before serving, I think it could have stood longer cooking but I didn’t want it to go mushy.  Verdict from himself - “Not a patch on your chicken curry.”

Fruit salad for dessert, well you can’t go wrong with that, can you? 

I chopped plums and pears and added raspberries and grapes.  The peaches weren’t ripe enough to use.  Sloshed in some brandy to macerate the fruit and then, remembering Paul is not keen on brandy, added some red wine and citron syrup.  The result was pretty disgusting, rather like cheap sangria.  I should have made a crumble.

27 August 2016

Gimme a Cold Beer

Phew, it's mighty hot here.  It's not entirely comfortable sitting in the shade of the hazelnut tree as it is rapidly shedding leaves and nuts. Everything is scorched, the grass is brown and even Philippe's vineyard is looking dry and thirsty.

Our grapes are looking splendid this year, these eating grapes are just starting to go pink.

(I'm sorry these pictures are all over the place tonight - I blame the computer, or it could be the heat, or maybe the whisky.)

We are due a storm in the early hours so we might be blessed with some rain and cooler temperatures tomorrow.

honey bee busy at work
Still plenty of colour in the garden.

sparrows enjoying their bath

pampas just starting to pamp          

I wouldn't make a very good barmaid

25 August 2016

It must be the heat

I have just shed tears over a dead mouse. 

We had just showered after our morning cycle ride and I was dressing in the bedroom.  I looked up and saw a mouse scuttle along the edge of the bath in the en suite.  I squealed, as women tend to do, and slammed the bathroom door shut.  Paul came upstairs to find out who was murdering me and seemed unperturbed by the news of the unwelcome guest in the bathroom. 

“I’ll sort it later, I’m in the middle of making a tomato sauce for lunch.”

I finished dressing, cleaned the bathroom and as I was standing at the basin washing my hands the little devil ran across my feet.  Again I squealed and fled the bathroom.  Paul didn’t even bother to come upstairs this time.  I told him the intruder was much bigger than a mere mouse and must surely be a rat!  He continued to make the tomato sauce.

I went outside into the garden, and picked more tomatoes.  Paul took some mouse traps up to the bathroom .  When he came downstairs he was not happy.  I had left the tap running in the bathroom and nearly flooded the house.  Oops!  The temperature was still rising and a hot wind was blowing from the south, too hot for lunch outside today.  

We ate indoors in the cool gloom, the tomato pasta was delicious.  While I was clearing the lunch things Paul came downstairs carrying a dead mouse.  Not a rat, just a poor little mouse.  I don’t know why I cried. It must be the heat.

24 August 2016

Dog Attack

"Shall we cycle to Bonaguil today?"

"Are you crazy – it’s going to be 35 degrees by eleven o clock."

"We’ll be back long before then."

"Okay, let’s do it."

We set off just after 8.00 a.m.  Through the woods and out onto a rough gravel and sand track, it’s a short cut to the road we wanted.  Ahead of us was a jogger with his two dogs running loose.  We carefully passed the jogger with a cheery bonjour.  He half-heartedly called his dogs but they had other ideas.  Two cyclists were fair game and those ankles and shapely calves looked like a tasty meal.  Unfortunately we could not outpace the dogs as we were now on a steep incline and the loose stone did not make for easy riding.  No matter how fast we pedalled we could not lose the snapping, barking animals.  Should I stop and attempt to pacify them?  Not on your nelly, one of them may have been a playful chihauhau but the other beast definitely had a look of pit bull about him.  

The adrenaline finally gave us the surge we needed and as we crested the hill we finally managed to lose the little devils.  After that our ride was relatively uneventful and we were home by 10.15 a.m.

We had lunch on the terrace (salad followed by raspberries and delicious ripe plums from the garden) and have been chilling out on the terrace this afternoon listening to some jazz.  It’s not a bad life.  I'm just thankful my ankles are still in one piece.