Friday, 21 August 2015

Harvest with Musical Accompaniment!

Harvest time in the potager, and today we picked the first of the apples..

Next came the daily tomato pick..

And a comparison of sizes from the smallest cherry tomatoes to the big coeur de boeuf..

The coeur de boeuf weighed in at just under 400 grams!

And now they are all stewed/roasted/frozen/bottled/wrapped in newspaper and all the other things you do with nature's bounty.

Colin picked the crook neck courgettes, cucumbers and the first of the pears whilst I went out for a bike ride round the village.

The telephone wires were like musical staves; so full of swallows. But just as I was about to take a photo the first car to drive through the village all week (probably!!) came along and the birds took flight.

I managed just a few lines of music...

and then it was back to pick some beans!

Monday, 17 August 2015


We have started to sort out the mess left by our cowboy Poplar tree cutters. At least the first side they did will give us a supply of logs in the future.

There is still plenty left to sort.

The improvised  'sack truck'  trailer makes life easier.

But the hole is filling up fast...
Roll on bonfire night...

Saturday, 15 August 2015

A Day of Two Halves...

It was 'two for the price of one' today at Le Grand Pressigny..

First on our agenda was a look round the Autobourse: "Retro Mecanique Sud Touraine"

It was a chance to line up our 2CV along with other Voitures Anciennes (sounds so much better than "old cars"!)

A chance, also, for a look at what was on offer, a gasp at some of the prices, a chat with friends and to compare different vehicles...

Who needs a sat nav when you have one of these, it was attached to an old BSA with several oil leaks!

Then came part two.. A visit to the Chateau grounds for tea and cakes and a look at "L'Art et la Matière"

Oh yes, this handsome beast was spotted, too!

(Colin was wondering about getting one for the front lawn..!!)

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Drone Flights.

My latest toy, and it is a toy, is a Syma X8C drone... I am getting better at controlling it BUT I have found that it does not like even the slightest wind. Last night with very little wind in the garden, at about 70 metres the wind started to push it away and even with the control fully back it only just returned.

It has a range of about 300 metres and if it gets out of range it will just fall from the sky, there is no return to base GPS on this one. If that happens from any height it is likely to be fatal as it is quite a heavy beast especially if it has the HD action camera attached.
Syma X8C with HD camera strapped on
The camera that comes with the drone is not very good but you can take pictures remotely with it. The HD is mainly for video but you can take snapshots from the video that are acceptable.
HD Video snapshot.
Enhanced photo taken with the drone camera
Here are a couple of my YouTube videos taken with the Drone with the HD camera attached. The first one is new but some of our readers may have seen the second one via my facebook page.

I just love flying it both with and without the camera attached and it is quite easy once you get the hang of it. I still have the occasional crash landing but to date nothing that has done any damage. It has also been stuck up our trees on more than one occasion.

I learnt most of how to handle the controls with a very small drone (of which I have two and a broken one) Costing less than £10 delivered free from China. They are great fun to fly and crash really well... The small ones have a range of about 50 metres.

You can get spare parts for both drones from China and I am currently awaiting a replacement motor for the tiny one, cost £1.25 delivered free.

If you have any interest in flying I can thoroughly recommend a drone. My next problem is do I buy a bigger and better one !!! 

Monday, 10 August 2015

Artistes (were) en Village (yesterday)....

Regular readers will know that I had foolishly agreed to paint at the Artistes en Village event at Faye la Vineuse..

I was able to work from the home of friends Brit and Herman Horemans. Their courtyard, with shelter and ample shade,formed an ideal backdrop.

I had been apprehensive as, although I've exhibited before, this was the first time I've painted at an event. However I really enjoyed it!

The artist behind me was another friend, Marian. She and her husband Peter were full of encouragement throughout. Marian is usually fully occupied running their gites, so she relished the opportunity to spend a whole day painting! Her work was magnificent!

I was surprised at the amount of interest people showed in watercolour as a medium. The children, in particular, were keen to watch and ask questions.

One little girl, who couldn't have been more than three, stood entranced, watching every move and in the end I gave her a painting. She asked if she could keep it in her bedroom, and seeing her eyes light up when her mum agreed, made all the preparation worthwhile!

I left at the end of the day feeling glad that I'd done it and as a bonus I had made a reasonable profit; I'd never get rich off it but I do enjoy making things and this was the perfect outlet.

Thanks to Brit and Herman for suggesting the location and thanks to Marian and Peter for their help and encouragement!

For more about Brit and Herman, see here

For information on Marian and Peter's Gites see here

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Colour Matching!

If in doubt, go for matching accessories.

This spider did and the results are rather fetching...

Not sure about that colour on me, though!

Friday, 7 August 2015

A New Hobby!

Don't worry; it's only the groans from Colin you can hear...

This one, flower bashing, is thanks to Susan and for the time being, it will have to go on the back burner. But it's still fun to do!

What I need to concentrate on is the mound of "stuff" I've got ready to take to "Les artistes au village" at Faye la Vineuse on Sunday 9th August ...

This represents some of my stock.... See the problem?

I shall be in the courtyard of 11 Rue du Chapeau Rouge:

(GPS co-ordinates to the back of the building and the courtyard :
rue de la Corderie 8
37120 Faye-la-Vineuse, France)

The observant among you will have noticed two subtle "plugs" in the above text. No prizes for finding them but a generous reward for reducing my stock! 

I really don't want to take ALL of it home afterwards!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Les Peupliers - All Fifty Six of them!

For some time now we have been discussing what to do about the poplar trees which surround the garden on three sides.

There are always going to be pros and cons but in this case the pros won. The trees were simply too high to be safe and something needed doing. We had asked around locally and found no one prepared to undertake the job. Then, by chance, when we went to Lencloitre for the monthly market, we saw just the team.

They started work this morning and haven't stopped all day - that's 9 hours in temperatures in the 30s.

The first tree

Once they established what needed doing, work progressed well...

I cycled round to the road by the woods to get some "distance" shots..

And then again, just a few minutes ago...

This short video shows the men at work earlier...

We look forward to it being completed!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

"Fete du Setout" August 2nd 2015

We had received an impromptu invitation to a meal with some people from the village - and didn't know what to expect, when this appeared in our post box:

Attached, was a note to take our own plates, glasses and cutlery; which seems a really sensible idea.

So along we went on Sunday at 12noon, to be met by a group of 20 villagers..

The drink was already flowing and with temperatures up in the 30s someone in particular appreciated the shade.. and the wine!

With mise en bouche out of the way, it was time to take our seats for melon with epine, a home made liqueur made from the new shoots of blackthorn. 
If you are interested in making some, here is one recipe:

Épine apéritif
2½ litres of red wine or homemade red fruit wine such as blackberry or elderberry
Half a bottle of brandy or eau-de-vie
500g sugar
About half a litre of blackthorn leaves (don't use more leaves than I recommend because blackthorn, like all the plum species, produce traces of cyanide as a byproduct of the almond flavour it imparts)
Put all the ingredients into a food quality plastic container, stir and fit the lid tightly. Leave for two weeks, stirring occasionally. Transfer to clean bottles using a funnel and some doubled-up muslin cloth to filter out the bits. As with nearly all drinks it improves with age. Santé!
I can testify to it being absolutely delicious with melon and Madame in the foreground (left) made short work of it. She has recently celebrated her 90th+ birthday. (not sure what the + equates to!)

After salad and paté, Philippe had the unenviable task of manning the barbecue in the heat..

The entrecote were absolutely delicious.. and huge - served with potatoes and salad...

Then, of course, came the cheeses and many and varied puddings, followed by coffee and a chance to circulate in the courtyard..

At least it was for some people... Cecilia and Jaques and Colin and I were "volunteered" for a game, involving being tied at the wrists with a length of string and your partner's string being looped round yours thus effectively tying the two of you together. 

Colin told me at the start that this was easy, so "Colin dit que il est facile" passed quickly through the group.... Oh I wish!!

At least we weren't the only ones struggling..

A pair of scissors did the trick and shortly afterwards the men decided on a game of boules. Colin's first throw showed them that he was going to be a hard nut to crack..

By the end of the game Colin had been asked to play on the French team in Richelieu's inter France/England boules game later this month. They told him they'll pay more.....!!

It started to became apparent that talk of a sausage supper, which we had thought was a joke, was very much a reality..

And so we took to the table again....

It was midnight when we set off to walk home. By this time there are no street lights, so we borrowed a torch and walked the few hundred yards back home after the most enjoyable 12 hours imaginable with some lovely people, who, even though we've been here nearly five years, we only met for the first time that day.

Thanks to all of them for the welcome they extended to us and for the conviviality and hospitality - and for the two bottles of wine which were left in our garden for us the next morning!

A la prochaine!!