Saturday, 30 April 2011


This morning we had a stroll round the lovely town of Chinon. It takes us about twenty minutes in the car travelling north from Braye sous Faye and it is a real gem.

We usually park up by the fortress and take the glass lift down into the town. The view en route is amazing.

Chinon was at its best in the sunshine today with its stalls selling fruit and vegetables.

I particularly liked the little arrangements of mugeut des bois this stall holder was selling.

We walked through the back streets admiring the quirky architecture of the town.

The narrow streets and the tree filled square provide welcome shade and the opportunity to sit with a coffee and watch the world go by.

Then it was back for  a spot of shopping and window gazing... 

Chinon has some lovely little shops, always with attractive window displays, even if it's only needles and thread they are selling!

Friday, 29 April 2011

Ground Wasps

Our garden is full of small holes which house wasps!! We have investigated the books we have and the internet to little success.

Can anyone out there throw any light on what these are. We have seen them before when camping and they do not appear to be bothered by humans.

We will leave them alone for now as they are aerating the soil

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Getting to the root of the problem

Any gardener would be pleased to see a root system as strong as this one developing on young plants....

Or would they? Not when they see the whole plant!!

This is bindweed, a very difficult plant to eradicate once it is established in the soil.

However, we were not going to be beaten, so for a couple of days we've been digging all the plants out of two sections of the front border so that we can get rid of every last bit of root. If any small section of root is left in the soil it will sprout and the problem continues.

Once we were as sure as we could be that no bits remained, we were able to replant the two sections of front border.

We'd like to think that we've got to the root of the problem but only time, and the appearance of little green shoots, will tell!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

A Rose by any other name

When I told my friend Elizabeth (the other Elizabeth, that is!) that I was coming to live in France with Colin she offered to buy us a rose for the garden. Knowing I love the old fashioned heavily scented roses, she chose  Ispahan, a damask rose from David Austin rose growers.

It was delivered bare-rooted to my daughter's house in England back in November and she heeled it in until we could bring it back to France in the new year.

I know everyone was concerned that the 'twig in a bucket' would survive, but we need not have worried; it is flourishing.

At the last count it has twenty five buds on it and they are just about ready to burst. I can't wait to see and smell the open blooms!

So thank you, Elizabeth, it's a delight and it will give me lots of pleasure for a long time to come. And thanks to Jane for looking after it until we could bring it home!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

French Butterfly Atlas Part Two

A while ago we mentioned that I was taking part in the French Butterfly Atlas (STERF) study. My survey area is not far from here and today we went up for the first of the 'counts'.

One of the transects I am surveying
I thought that armed with a clip-board, a field guide and a cold drink I'd be ok but how wrong can a girl be?! Fortunately for me Colin offered to come with  me and take photos as I did the recording.

Between us we got quite a number of sightings but it was far from easy to identify, in the field, what we saw.

Some were easy....
male orange tip
Some were not so easy but with the help of Colin's photos I've been able to make an educated guess...

Duke of Burgundy
Duke of Burgundy - underwing
Sooty Copper
Sooty Copper - underwing
Small Heath
Small Heath and friend!
And some I'm not too sure about...

Large White? Small White? Medium White??!
Susan, who first introduced me to STERF, very kindly offered to help with any identifying if I needed it..... I fear she may now regret this offer!

Susan? Are you there???

Monday, 25 April 2011

Not in England?

When we visited the Supermarket  last Saturday there was a display of farm animals in the entrance walkway. I am sure this would not happen in England for "Health and Safety"!!!!! The children loved it.

Elizabeth's daughter Jane stroking a pig
The cockerel in the hen pen looked really cheesed off .......
and who can blame him.....

Humans keep making images of him and sticking them high on churches etc.

The previous week the same supermarket held a flashmob actually in the supermarket itself. Watch it here.

Never in England !!! or perhaps?

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Poplar Trees

Since we have been here in Braye I have often wondered how high our poplar trees are? It was suggested that I climb to the top of the tallest tree, jump off and see how long it took me to hit the ground and calculate the height based on that.

Given that we had Elizabeth's son David, a first class mathematician, staying with us we set him to work on the problem. He may have been up to the calculation but it seemed too complicated to me. We decided to use the standard method as described here.

One of our tallest trees

The apparatus set up to give the angle to the tree top
We set up the plasters feather directly aligned to the tree top and measured the distance to the base of the tree. After a search for my protractor we measured the angle of dangle.

This gave us the following dimensions, distance to tree 40.85 metres and the angle of 30 degrees. David quickly calculated the height to be 23.58 metres.

Quite high then !!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Geranium seeds...... we think!

The unmarked seeds have now developed their second leaves and after searching the internet, google images of seeds and racking our brains, we've decided they are definitely geranium seeds .....we think!

The seeds have now been transplanted into separate pots and we hope they are going to make geranium plants for our garden borders.

Also, whilst we're on the subject of identifying things... the object in question Qu'est que c'est is indeed a withered magnolia fruit. Thanks to Niall and Antoinette for the suggestion. We have now confirmed it by finding another of the withered fruits at the foot of a magnolia bush.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Route des vignobles

Today we visited the vineyards along part of the Route des Vignobles, driving from L'Ile Bouchard, through Panzoult to Chinon.

 En route we stopped at a couple of the smaller Domaines for a 'degustation'.

The most interesting and friendly was the Domaine des Rouet where we spent a good hour tasting and making our purchases from Madame Rouet.

Madame was quiet a character, as the posters on the walls showed.

Our favourite and choice for the wine cellar was this rose.

The Domaine is organic and so, Madame told us, you can drink yourself "sous la table" and not have a headache... Well, we'll see!!!