Thursday, 31 May 2012

Multistorey dwelling

We are not sure of the creature that produced this multistorey dwelling, it could be the dreaded Asian Hornet or perhaps the European hornet.  The linked articles provide good commentary on both.

But you have to admire the scale of the structure created from 'paper mache' made from chewed tree and plant material...

Interestingly the article says the nests in trees are often hidden by foliage, a fact I am well aware of!! When cutting a large beech hedge I used to have as a property boundary I sliced through a wasp nest with the hedge trimmers... The wasps were not to pleased and I received a couple of nasty stings... C'est la Vie...

That foam wasp nest destroyer is certainly good stuff!

The nest was on display at our local chateaux Chateaux Rivau but there was no description evident as to what it was.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Clover mystery..

Our lawn consists of 9 parts clover to 1 part other green weeds..

We have noticed that one clover plant has variegated leaves. As we haven't come across this before, we wondered if it is recognised by any of our readers.

It forms a rather attractive little plant, so we are reluctant to remove it. Any ideas anyone??

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

This One's for Jean...

Jean, a very good friend of ours, writes a wonderful blog about baking which can be seen here

I say this only to point out the contrast with what is to follow.

In a moment of insanity I bought a packet mix to make "macarons".. I will live to regret it.

The results are here....

My only defence is that the instructions on the packet are in French

and I was VERY tired when I made them. Well, hey ho! NEVER AGAIN!!!

For all future baking ideas and recipes, please refer to Jean on the above blog address!

Monday, 28 May 2012

Orchid Flowering

We have been carefully mowing round the orchids in our lawn for the past couple of months and eagerly awaiting their flowering.

At last we have a result! The bee orchids coming into flower...

As with so many things in the garden this year, they are later than last year, but no less beautiful for the wait.

The lizard orchids, too, are just starting to bloom. They make an impressive show across the front of the garden wall.

So all that contorted mowing has paid off - even if we do get some strange looks from the locals!!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Amazing Growth...

In March this year we had an over-large willow pollarded.

It looked a sorry sight at the time but we were confident that it would regenerate reasonably quickly....

And it did!

Even we were amazed at the speed of its regeneration! Amazing growth...

Saturday, 26 May 2012

A Very Special Rose..

We are fortunate to have a David Austin rose called Ispahan bought for us by my friend, Elizabeth Basquill.

It is a free flowering rose; one of the first of the Old Roses to bloom and one of the last finish. This is its second year at Braye. Last year it surprised us by producing over forty blooms but that figure pales into insignificance by this year's standard...

The first photograph gives an idea of the sheer number of buds it has produced so far.. We have tried to count them but gave up after the first hundred!

The following show the various stages of bud development..

Thank you, Elizabeth, for a lasting gift.. I only wish we could publish this with its wonderful damask scent attached!

Friday, 25 May 2012

She Sticks Sea-shells on the Sea Wall....

Well, not quite the sea wall; on the house walls to be precise....

Whilst we were at the coast last week we visited the Ile Penotte area of Les Sables de l'Orlonne. The exterior walls of the houses in this fascinating area are decorated with mosaics made using shells.

And for the ahhh.. factor...

These are the creation of 'La Dame aux Coquillages', Dan Arnaud Aubin, a local artist who, with the blessing of the authorities and of her neighbours, has been working on these tableaux since 1997. More can be read about Dan here

The mosaics, like everything else, need to be cared for and it is good to see that work is taking place to keep them looking their best.

They certainly make a bright and cheerful addition to the town and if you are in the area it is worth taking the time to go and see them for yourself. They're wonderful!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

STERF Butterfly Atlas Project 2012

We've at last managed to do our first butterfly survey of 2012!

Conditions were really good, with no rainfall and little wind. Whilst the butterfly spotting seemed to get off to a slow start, but when we compared it to this time last year, we were saying the same thing!

By the end of the afternoon we had an impressive count. Colin was quick with his camera, as ever, and here are a selection of today's 'spottings'...

Of course, when you're out in the fields you can't help but notice a few 'none butterfly' specimens!

So tonight we'll be checking we have identified each one correctly before entering the data on the STERF database.  For  more information on the Butterfly Atlas project (STERF) and to find out how to get involved, go to

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Tomatoes and other crops. Potager 2012

At last we have managed to transplant this years tomato plants exactly 3 weeks later than last year. We always grow plants from seeds and because of the cold start nothing wanted to grow but over the last couple of weeks, despite the rain, the tomatoes have grown sufficiently (just) to be transplanted. The cucumbers and peppers however are a different story, it will be a while before these are ready.

Other crops are also growing with a spurt, the lettuce, also grown from seed, have got to harvesting stage and we will be having one tonight with our meal. The first salad for weeks!! Also, as can be seen, the peas are progressing well as are the potatoes, onions and the first batch of haricot verts. The down side is that the weeds are growing even faster, as weeds do...

The big plus is that the last couple of days of sun (that big yellow thing we haven't seen for ages) has started to ripen our strawberries... Yum Yum...
Things are looking up...

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

And then the sun shone!

It was such a pleasant surprise to wake up to better weather today after a foul day yesterday.

We were so lucky last week with the weather at the coast. Just a week ago we were enjoying the delights of Les Sables d'Orlonne on the Vendée coast.

We parked by the fishing port and walked past the upmarket shops to the Place Navarin, with its slightly over-the-top architecture..

and on to the Promenade de l'Admiral.

This smart seafront borders a glorious sandy beach which seems to go on forever....

Just a shame about the hoards of people spoiling the peace and quiet!!