Monday, 21 March 2011


It has been a beautiful Spring weekend, sunny but with a sometimes chilly north wind. I invited a small group of people to my house on Saturday to learn how to make scones. It's funny how much enthusiasm the French show for anything "teatimey" about English cuisine and reject all the rest! They were delighted, we ate lots of scones with Jersey cream (can't get clotted here) and raspberry jam and they went away with leftovers and the recipe.

Yesterday, late in the afternoon, I went to the second of the five theatre/concert events that the children gave me for my birthday. It was called "Concert au Chocolat n°5" and was a Chostakovitch and Tchaikowsky chamber concert (a trio of exteeeeemely talented young men, piano, violin and cello) and if one arrived half an hour early, it was preceded by a cup of chocolate made in the old fashioned way, by the most famous of Quimper's chocolatiers. It was absolutely delicious, I've never tasted anything like it. Well, it tasted like chocolate of course, but the texture was amazing, like drinking silk. Beautifully served in quite large, warmed cups, on a large oval saucer, with three beautiful little chocolates on the side. Quite a treat. And the concert was most excellent.

It was quite surprising to come out of the theatre into the broad daylight of a sunny Spring evening!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

I went to see The King's Speech the day before yesterday. I found a cinema in Quimper where it was playing in English. Wonderful film, fantastic actors, but quite stressful. One found oneself completely rigid with the effort of trying to help the poor man out.

I have photographed my two latest pieces of pottery. One is a simple shell shaped bowl, the other a large rather lopsided plant pot with the front and back sculpted in a sort of seaside rocks theme. Difficult to describe the inspiration, rocks at low tide, with seaweed, crevices, water, etc. (P.S. Lopsided with me is entirely intentional!)

I have been putting the power hose over my back terrace. It was filthy with moss, grime, mud, and lots of bits of plant pots that fell apart during last winter's cold weather. It's such hard work, but at least the result is immediate. I have to do the front as well, but am not quite sure how, since it slopes down towards the house and front door and all the water will run down and maybe not drain away fast enough before inundating me! I think very small doses will do it, stopping and starting so that the water has time to disappear. I've got lots of pretty flowers on my front terrace, hyacinths (which are starting to fall over but which are a lovely colour), daffodils,  and various shrubs with sweet smelling flowers.  (The "boards" behind the daffodils are the old door of the vegetable cellar in Le Mée!).

My back garden is also progressing, but more slowly now that the pressure of planting is off. I've sown a few seeds, cleared a bit more turf, and transplanted various things which were not in the right place.

Monday, 7 March 2011


I haven't written in a long time, I've been doing so much, it's hard to know where to begin.

Just after the New Year, I joined a nation-wide (world wide in fact) group with a section in Quimper, called On Va Sortir, all sorts of outings and activities are organised by various members, and one can join in whatever takes ones fancy. So I've been to restaurants, knitting bees, bingo evenings, bowling, English conversation meetings, etc etc, which has kept me very busy and I've made a few friends. The chess tournament was part of that... by the way, I got eliminated in the second round!

I have been reading John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley. I can recommend it,  easy to read. He writes simply and with a lot of humour, and the book is an insight into America 50 years ago, before camping cars, mobile phones, internet, almost before television. Before political correctness, before black people held positions of importance and power, before ecology.

I've also been listening to The Millenium Trilogy as an audio book, or rather three audio books, that go on for days and days. I really enjoyed it, anyone who enjoys audio books should listen to it, it's remarkable value and really well put together (get the version read by Saul Reichlin). But I wouldn't read the paper version or go and see the film.

The weather was mild in February and I did a lot of gardening. With Christmas money from Michael I bought various plants, including twenty Eleagnus angustifola to plant as a hedge between me and my neighbours. I planted two a day, just after lunch usually when the temperature outside was at its highest. But I had to clear before planting, so it was actually quite strenuous. I had to deturf and get rid of loads of couch grass, which will mean that much less to have to look at next summer when it grows and I haven't mown. I've finished planting and have put bark around them.

Next I planted two cordon apple trees as a backing to my future fruit plot with money Stephen gave me for my birthday!  I did it very carefully with posts covered in coconut husk and wire and everything. Looks good. I've unplanted other things, a couple of brooms, an osmanthus burkwoodii which obviously was not happy since it hasn't grown in three years, a couple of grasses... All the turf I remove I chuck to a lower level of the garden which I shan't have time to do this year.

And continuing deturfing, I planted three artichoke plants and three rhubarb, in front of the hedge. Then I made enough room for a strawberry bed, this involved moving an enormous pile of rubbish, wood, branches, clippings which I've been accumulating for three years. I've piled it all up between me and my neighbour in a lower part of the garden, it makes quite an acceptable barrier. And I cut down the willow tree right in the middle of the plot, but can't get rid of the stump or the roots. It'll grow again throughout the summer. But I had a brainwave, and instead of chucking out the bits I cut off, I have woven a willow barrier, hedge, whatnot, partly with willow cuttings, partly just long branches. Not a work of art (Tom Deacon would not be proud of me!), but I'm quite pleased with it nonetheless. It makes a backing to my apple trees and will shelter them from north winds next winter. It also sort of finishes off the patch.

Looks more professional with cloches!

Today I planted out the strawberries in the black plastic, a few herbs along the end of the patch, and yesterday I put in a row of broad beans. So I'm inordinately proud of myself and shall continue to deturf, and plant a mixture of vegetables and lilies and this and that that needs moving from elsewhere in the garden or terrace.

Ellie  had her stitches out and has the neatest, tiniest little scar you ever saw. All a thing of the past.

I'm knitting myself an enormous jacket in grey wool. Lots of complicated stitches, endless counting, mistakes and undoing. But when I get it right, it looks good. I've also almost finished a sleeveless pullover for Cécile at her request. They had a series of snowstorms this winter, there are pictures on her blog

Marius spent a week in Paris with Jacques and loved it. He's very independent at only four years old, didn't seem to miss his family and had a great time. Pictures of that also on his blog.

I'm taking part in an art club outing this evening. We had to create something on the theme "The Four Elements" (air, earth, water, fire). So I've done an acrylic and felt tip pencil rendering of Leonardo da Vinci's birth chart, rather quickly done I'm afraid, not brilliant, a bit messy, but at least I've got something to take with me this evening.

There we are, quick round up of a month's activities.