Thursday, 31 January 2013

A Journey of Contrasts

We drive to the Chasseneuil du Poitou area fairly frequently and the journey is nothing if not one of contrasts.

From Braye we are able to cut through and take the D757, which is an altogether quieter route than going via Chatellerault.

Not far from home we pass the property of the local saffron producer, Annie Godard-Devyver. A little further, and out in the middle of nowhere, is the Titan discotheque we mentioned in a post some time ago. Last weekend it was advertising a "Sleep Over" (Don't ask!)

Through Faye-le-Vineuse, with its twelfth century église Saint-Pierre de Marnay and the église paroissiale de Saint-Georges-de-Faye-la-Vineuse.and on to the place which must take the prize for the most unusual name in the area....

It takes longer to read its name than it does to drive through, but where its name comes from we don't know. If you've any ideas please tell us.

Nearby is a major melon producing area of Val de Serigny. The region employs an army of pickers when the melons are ripe.

This section of the journey is blissfully devoid of traffic and a real treat to drive. It does, however, attract an surprising number of gendarme armed with speed traps, so BEWARE.

We always look out for the small-holding with the unusual combination of alpacas and peacocks... Not what you usually see round here!

The largest settlement we pass through is Lencloitre, with its colourful monthly market where you can buy anything and everything....
From here the road passes a camp for "les gens du voyages", through woodland, small settlements,  and vineyards; a landscape of gently undulating hills and valleys, before opening out onto the plain as we approach the outskirts of Chasseneuil du Poitou

Here the scenery changes dramatically. At present there is significant disturbance with the construction of the new LGV line, which we posted about here and here...

And finally on to Chasseneuil du Poitou with the outstanding architecture of the Futurescope complex,and the neighbouring economic developments of Les Temps Modernes, Les Portes du Futur and La Technopole. These create an almost alien landscape, but all the more fascinating for that.
Of all the journeys we do pretty regularly, I don't think there is one with greater contrasts...

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Smocking Revisited

Last February, after a visit to Saumur, we wrote about the price of some little girls' smocked dresses we had seen there.

The end result of this was my first smocking for many years....

But since then, despite several encouraging comments regarding the "Gone Smocking" post, the two lengths of fabric have remained untouched in a drawer....

However, this month I finally got round to making the first piece up into a christening gown...

Quite what I'm going to do with it, I'm not entirely sure...

So if anyone knows of a good marketplace for a Christening gown in pure cotton jacquard, fully lined and to fit a 6-9 month old... I'd be only too pleased to hear.

It even comes with its own matching hanger...

Now whose bright idea was it to do the second piece of smocking...!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Health and Safety with a Humorous Touch

Anyone who has ever been accompanied by a small child when out shopping knows the trials and temptations therein.

Leroy Merlin's current advertising campaign aimed at parents made us smile. Posters up around the store and leaflets to take away and read at leisure (!) warn of the dangers lurking there...

......the cars on the car park, the sliding doors at the store entrance, the sharp things, heavy things, toxic things and cutting things, the risk of choosing the wrong trolley...

Parents are advised, if possible, to:
 "prenez....un chariot dote d'un *siege enfant" (take a trolley with child seat). 

Then comes the really silly bit: parents are told if they observe all these guidelines they can conduct their shopping "sereinement"..

Now call me lacking in imagination, but serene is not a word I would ever have used to describe my emotions whilst shopping with children in tow.

*Interestingly the French word "siege" has two meanings, namely seat and siege... Yes; that speaks volumes!

Monday, 28 January 2013

Good hiding place?

We have a pair of Kestrels that we often see hovering around our house and in the fields opposite. They also love to sit in our poplars watching the world go by. Elizabeth managed a distant photograph of one.

When the Kestrel is about the birds on and around our feeders disappear rapidly. One bird must give the alarm and within seconds they are gone. Sometimes it is a false alarm and they are back equally as quickly but yesterday when we looked at the feeders there was not a bird in sight.

Or was there? Click the photo to make it bigger.

Take a closer look.

Yes it is one of our Nuthatches

It was there hiding under the bird table, absolutely motionless, where it stayed for several minutes until a Great Tit flew to the table and in a flash the Nuthatch was gone.

Things were soon back to normal, birds everywhere happily feeding.

Until the next alarm call!!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Apple A-Peel

The other day I put an old apple out on the window-sill, intending to take it to the bottom of the garden for the black birds to enjoy.

Unusually for me  (!!) I forgot about it and it stayed there overnight.

By breakfast time the following day, the blue-tits had beaten me to it...

By the end of the day there was little left of the apple - except for the peel! They obviously weren't too keen on that..

"Who, Me??"

"Yes, You! Get it eaten; it'll make your hair curl!"

Saturday, 26 January 2013

LGV Tours - Bordeaux

We first blogged about the new rail link in April 2012 after reading a poster in Marigny-Marmande. At the time there appeared to be little information about it.

How things change...

Work is now progressing at great speed. The first three photographs were taken near Futuroscope (Poitiers) yesterday.

These two were taken this morning on the D749 to Chatellerault. The straight road has been diverted around the site where the bridge is being constructed and will be reinstated once the bridge is complete.

The works themselves do not directly affect us as we are several kilometres from the route of the new line. One thing we have noticed is the great number of lorries carrying stone passing through Richelieu. Each time we go out there are several stone lorries on the road, but most appear to be empty? 

When you look at the excavations there is an awful lot of earth / stone to move and the track itself will need a solid foundation! No wonder the trucks are out and about!

The line is set to open in 2015.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Hawfinch Returns

Following on from last nights post, our patience and gazing through the windows paid off... This afternoon the Hawfinch returned, we were ready with the camera and managed some reasonable photographs.

What's this then?

I will break it open!

We didn't notice at first but this time round he brought his mate with him...

Now Tim that's what we call a sighting and we look forward to more.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Another new visitor to our garden.

Yesterday, whilst observing the birds around our feeders, one flew down from the willow to see what was on offer. It had a enormous bill and was quite colourful and I had no idea what it was. Why is the camera never to hand when you need it?!

Elizabeth came to the rescue and I managed to get one shot before it flew off. Unfortunately it turned its head, hiding its enormous bill...

Can you see what it is yet?

We have to admit it was out with the bird books but it was quickly identified as a Hawfinch. For more information see here.

Looking at the RSPB site, linked above,  it looks like a male in breeding plumage.

We looked intensely for the rest of yesterday and also today but have had no other sightings.  In our bird book it says they like to eat cherry stones, so we will save ours later in the year to see if we can tempt it back next winter. (that is if we have any cherries this year!)

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Winter Floods 2013

Travelling to Chinon today we noted the rise in water level in some of the smaller streams and that the Veude had broken its banks at Champigny.

This, coupled with the amount of standing water in the fields, made us curious to see what the Vienne was like at Riviere....

Compare this with the same scene,  from a slightly different angle, back in August 2011...

As we left the river we noticed a pillar, carved with dates of previous "crue" or rise in water level...

As you will see from the position of the pillar (arrowed below) relative to the river, the floods today were nothing compared with the level the water reached back in 1923 and 1913..

Signs warning of floods had been placed on the route des pressoirs..

And in Chinon itself, the water level of the Vienne had been to the top of the stone pillars..

Not as bad as the devastating floods some areas of the UK have experienced recently, but certainly as bad as we've seen it.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Beaten to it...

When I blogged about my camera remote shutter release and posted pictures of birds taken with the camera and tripod sited closer to the subject, I mentioned my desire to try to photograph the Blue Jay. Unfortunately the showery windy weather has not been conducive to putting the camera outside. So no progress there then...

However with my procrastination I have been beaten to this by Elizabeth and her new camera.

These were taken through the salon window and given the distance the bird was from the window, I don't think they are too bad.

But I will try to improve on them!