Tuesday, 31 July 2012

STERF Butterfly Survey July 2012

We left it until the last minute but this afternoon we managed to complete the July survey for the STERF Butterfly Atlas Project.

The weather has not been in our favour, this year, and of course this has impacted on the butterfly population. However, today a few species were out in force.

The Gatekeeper was the most prolific..

closely followed by the Meadow Brown..

One species which we saw in some number last year at this time was the Silver-washed Fritillary. This year's count was down somewhat but Colin was determined to capture the wonderful colours of this bright butterfly..

Of course we can't help but spot other creatures and damsel flies always make for an excellent photo opportunity

All that remains now is for me to write up the data collected today... and, if I'm honest, that's not really my favourite bit!!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Fête Champêtre du Bois du Temple 2012

Braye-sous-Faye's annual event, the Fête Champêtre du Bois du Temple, was held yesterday.

There were more brocante and vide grenier stalls this year, but it didn't hold quite the same interest for us without the display of old cars which were there last year. There was the usual entertainment for the children and various animations including a demonstration of Zumba Fitness... (which we missed!!!)

Elizabeth had her eye on this gardening tool... but ended up with some sewing machine needles as a consolation!

and the most bazaar item we noticed for sale was this rather large doll!!!  Scary or what?!!

The event was rounded off in the evening by a firework display which is in the field right opposite our house. We have the best view available!!!

Despite our vantage point the firework photos Elizabeth took are not worth publishing! It just goes to show.... location  location, location ISN'T everything! Or perhaps it was just the wine....

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Phare des Baleines, Île de Ré revisited

We have just had a weekend at the coast, staying on the outskirts of La Rochelle. Whilst there we revisited Île de Ré and in particular, it's northern tip where the famous lighthouse, Phares des Baleines, is situated.  The lighthouse was constructed in 1854 by the architect Léonce Reynaud, to replace a smaller tower which had proved to have insufficient range of illumination for ships to sail safely in the area. More can be read about the lighthouse here.

The last time we were there the queues to go up the lighthouse so we gave it a miss.This time we were lucky and, having paid our 3euros each, we began the ascent to the top.

Concentrating on  watching our footing we both missed counting the steps, but three French sisters supplied the information for us. After some deliberation they settled on a compromise - 265 steps! We could have sworn it was twice that many but hadn't the energy to argue the toss!

But when we stepped out onto the platform at the top there were breath-taking views..

We could have spent all afternoon admiring the views but unfortunately we had to make way for others, and so it was through the tiny wooden door...

to begin our descent..

And just to prove we did it...

Our stay on the coast was short but full of interest and we'll be posting more in coming days.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Gourmet Delights!

A menu seen in our hotel at La Rochelle...
(note second item on menu!)

Or Pizza Hut!

What would YOU choose?!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Gardening for the senses..

For a few years after leaving teaching I worked as an amanuensis or reader for a blind law lecturer.

One of the many things he taught me was that gardening can, and does, involve more of our senses than just the sense of sight.

With that in mind, we've tried to plant the most heavily scented flowers on or near the patio, close to the house where we can enjoy their scent as well as their beauty. Alongside the aromatic herbs these are some of our 'stars' in the fragrance stakes...

This is the first year for this lily "Tiger  Woods"
The magnolia flowers are short-lived but have a heady perfume

Now a little past their best, the carnations have been beautiful

A sure favourite of mine - the sweetpea
Grown from seed, the garden is now full of these delicately scented Phlox
We took two or three dozen cuttings off our old and very large lavender;
so wherever you are in the garden , you're never too far from the calming fragrance of lavender
Sadly Michael died last year, doing what he loved best - fell running! So this post is dedicated to his memory and to his wife and family, who I came to know well.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Wildflower canvas

A strip of land, owned by the commune, has been sown with a wild flower seed mix this year and the result is just staggering!

The colourful mix of flowers is buzzing with insects and bees, and unmistakeable sound of hundreds of grasshoppers...

Here are a handful of the photos I took the other afternoon....

In botanical circles there is some debate about the choice of mix for these areas of planted wild flowers and their efficacy in achieving the aims for which they are sown. But whatever one's feelings in this respect, the indisputable fact remains: the flowers not only look beautiful, brightening up an otherwise dull patch of ground, but they also attract a wide range of mini-beasts - which must be good news.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Festival Cape et Epée, Richelieu 3

The Festival Cape et Epée ended on Sunday night with a spectacular fireworks display, beginning just after 23:00.

Here are some of the many shots we got of a display which delighted the crowd...

And how the crowd cheered!! A master-stroke for those who organised the whole event. 

We look forward to the next Richelieu Festival Cape et Epée, which, we understand, will be held in 2014. We'll keep you posted!