Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Nature's Jewels

Before Elizabeth returned to the UK, we completed a second butterfly survey for the STERF project, but this month saw us photographing more damsel flies than butterflies!

Their colours are truly jewel-like as the following photographs show.

So come on butterflies! The survey is about you not your colourful cousins! On the plus side, at least there wasn't much to complete on the speadsheet.....

(If you were wondering, being short on both time and knowledge I am NOT going to try to identify these!! C)

Monday, 30 May 2011

Where is my breakfast.....

As I have blogged before, our garden is full of youngsters at the moment. I had noticed the parents feeding a group of Grey Wagtails in front of the kitchen window for a couple of mornings. Yesterday morning I could not resist taking this little fellow sat on our patio.

Come on Mum where's my breakfast...
I am still waiting
What am I supposed to do with these??
Still waiting
May as well have a rest my little legs are aching!!
In the end no parent turned up so junior hopped along the patio, pecked at a couple of ants and walked off across the garden. So no photograph of Mum feeding baby. Ah well better luck next time..

Footnote. It rained this morning.... the full extent shown here..

A pathetic event not enough to wet the grass. Everything here is like a dust bowl........

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Richelieu Park Wall

The whole of Richelieu Park is 475 hectares and it is surrounded by a mostly intact wall. The wall was built between 1631 and 1642 at the same time as Cardinal Richelieu's château, which was demolished in 1835. The seven kilometres of wall however is still standing. It is visible that it has been repaired many times and there is  a partial collapse at the moment awaiting repair. The wall skirts our village behind the church.

Wall as seen from the main road (D749) from Braye to Richelieu
Looking towards what was the château main entrance
Looking towards Braye
Looking towards the D757
The track in the last two photos runs from Braye to the D757 and is used by locals as a short cut to the supermarket. It is said that at the time many properties were demolished to provide the stone to build the wall. I have done a quick, tongue-in-cheek, calculation based on the wall being 2.5mtrs high and 0.5mtrs thick and a length of 7000mtrs. This gives 8750 cubic metres of stone which at 2.4 tonnes a cubic metre gives a total of 21,000 tonnes of the stuff!! Whow!!! How long did it take to build...... I think I will pass on that one.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Potager Update 2

When writing yesterday's blog I realised I had not done a potager update since 20th April. See here. As I said then things grow at an alarming rate here. Looking back I still find it difficult to believe the difference a month makes. I suppose it is with trying to grow things in the cold and wet Ribble Valley, Lancashire.

The Potatoes
The beetroot, onions, carrots and dwarf peas (some are over 1mtr high).
From left to right we have spinach, more carrots, dwarf french beans, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and another row of beans.
Space for our leaks, celery, etc and then Courgettes and more cauliflowers
Here in the salad area we have Radish, melons, chilli and ordinary peppers, bush tomatoes, cucumbers and then the tomatoes I wrote about here. In all 42 plants (Yes 42 tomato plants???). Some of the plants have there third truss (flowers). We also have several lots of lettuce maturing.
The Artichoke which was left to us is now maturing.
Likewise the rhubarb which we bought in March in a 3" pot with stems like matchsticks is now matured... Unbelievable!!
Finally as some of the potatoes had started looking a little ragged I decided to test dig one up...
They will be lovely with my barbecued pork chop and salad for tea.. By the way Elizabeth have you used the barby in Preston this week!!!!!! 

Friday, 27 May 2011

Strange happening on the seed table

A few weeks ago I created a large seed table outside on the rear patio. It is improvised from a fence panel and four fence posts from the old fence we removed from the middle of the garden, it has and still is doing the job well. The table stands one metre high as shown below.

The seedlings are watered daily in an evening by yours truly. Most of the seed trays and pots have been there for some weeks now and other than some minor earwig damage have remained undisturbed.

Until today that is!! Something had completely uprooted one of my Chilli plants, placed it on another pot and removed about half the soil from the pot!!

The pictures are as I found things this afternoon, I can only think it must be a bird looking for insects or grubs. I hope it found what it was looking for. I have now replanted the undamaged plant so I will wait and see if it happens again.

I also had some chilli's in a small seed tray which motivated me to plant them in the salad part of the potager. The trouble is the soil is that dry I had to use a small amount of compost to bed them in. Bring some of that rain back with you Elizabeth.....

Rain through the windscreen in Preston

Thursday, 26 May 2011

The Goat will be out again soon

June 4th will see the start of the 30th "Foire Nationale aux Fromages", to be held at Sainte-Maure de Touraine. It is on for both Saturday and Sunday see full details here

We went along last year and really enjoyed the event. Most memorable was the huge goat, complete with milk flowing from its udder, standing in prime position outside the Mairie!!

Yes; it's THAT huge..
Nothing left to the imagination here!
The fair is to promote and sell the local goats cheese and you can taste the various cheeses before you buy. Other stalls display a variety of local goods, wines and foodstuffs.

Last year saw a display of old agricultural vehicles and machinery

....as well as many pens of livestock.

Part way through the proceedings there was a parade of dignitaries in full regalia (we are not sure why!!) but they made a colourful, if rather unruly, spectacle.

Apart from this, the dress code was somewhat more 'relaxed'

This year we will be taking my mother and son along and, judging by last year, it will certainly be worth a visit.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Pruning the grapevines! Now on hold!

This morning I was about to take the secateurs to the vines as discussed here a few days ago.

When we last examined them we noticed a bird's nest. We thought it must be a finished nest, due to the number of young birds we had seen in the garden. Elizabeth took a couple of photos, as she does.

This morning when I looked, a bird was sitting there on the nest. I went for my camera but initially was unable to get the photograph as it saw me and was off at high speed. I wasn't even able to identify it. Not wanting to keep  disturbing it I waited and tried later, managing a reasonable shot.

Can you see what it is yet!!


It's one of our many Goldfinches, so it looks like the pruning will have to wait....... Maybe it was this one I photographed yesterday... It was singing its heart out about something!!

Well its one less job for me to do on my lonesome!!!! (Remember the blue sky Elizabeth, not often seen in Lancashire)

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Rainwater Goods 2

I have written about Rainwater Goods (gutters) before. Generally those in a poor state of repair BUT this one is in perfect condition. It is located on the Rue de la Porte du Chateau in Chinon which is the road from the Chateau carpark to the lift to the town centre. I think it is brilliant and very well crafted.

Perfect in every detail. Weather it does any good is another matter (sorry)

Monday, 23 May 2011

Garden additions

Being so hot again this afternoon I decided to take it easy and sit in the lounger with the camera. I managed to capture two additional garden birds I had not managed to photograph before.

The first is the Tree Creeper which appears to spend its life running up and down my willow trees. Difficult to spot and photograph. The camera does not want to focus correctly...


The second was the Black Redstart. I had seen it many times before but not managed any photographs. I think they may have a nest somewhere possibly in my eaves but it is not obvious.


I also took some more of my friend the Hoopoe who came once more to pose and enjoy our ants!!

I also did some weeding this morning but unfortunately it became too hot. Shame really!!! Elizabeth is enjoying the rain and cold wind in Lancashire. Shame really!!!