Since the sejours with the French students have come to an end for the summer, we have managed to find some time for ourselves and the added bonus has been that the good weather has continued into our ‘holiday’ period!

A relaxed start to the week

After our lovely day with the Ronsin family on Sunday (see post ‘A Lovely Family’) we gave ourselves a break and didn’t rush to get up at the crack of dawn!  Instead we started the days with several cups of tea and a late breakfast!  The weather has been gorgeous, if a little hot to be doing anything too energetic.  As usual, we have a list of jobs that we want to get on with at some point and we thought we might make a start on them soon…. but we wanted to take some time out too.

Preserving

Monday we had a lazy start then did a little shopping in Evron.  In the evening I decided to pick some of the blackberries I’d seen around the garden, to make our first batch of jam of the season…

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We’ve got a bit of a bramble problem here in the garden – we’ve made a start on removing them but we have some quite large thickets, which are going to take time to get on top of.  In the meantime, I’m quite happy with my haul!  Some of them were gathered from the lane, just at the end of the property – we’re so lucky to have so much on our doorstep!

It wasn’t long before they were in the pot….

DSCF9770And a short while later I had 7 jars of blackberry jam!

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A visitor and a trip to the lake

So, after another lazy start on Tuesday, Edward suggested we went to the lake in the afternoon.  However, before we even managed to leave La Biochère, I noticed we had a visitor in the courtyard…

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At first glance, I thought it was a large dog, then quickly realised one of the new calves had found it’s way into the garden.  Edward rang the farmer, Hervé, to let him know – we were quite concerned as he seemed extremely hot and was lying in the full sun.  We were both surprised that Hervé seemed less than worried about him – never mind that he was sitting in our garden!  Mouse didn’t seem to know what to make of him either…

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We sprinkled some water over him before we left and hoped he’d be OK until Hervé arrived…..

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So, we eventually arrived at the lake at Sillé – what a treat!  We had a light lunch at the outdoor restaurant overlooking the lake, then brought out the loungers for an afternoon of, well, lounging really!

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I also went for a swim a couple of times to cool off – it wasn’t exactly the Mediterranean, with it’s clear blue waters, but it did for me!

Back home and initially, there was no sign of the calf, until Edward spotted him in the bank, lying all over my flowers 🙁  Poor thing must have been hot and sought shelter and there had been no sign of Hervé.  Not wanting to wait any longer or risk losing more of our treasured plants and flowers, we decided to take the situation into our own hands.  Between us, we lifted the exhausted animal into the small barn, where it just flopped onto the floor.  I brought the hose down to it and sprayed it all over with a mist of water.  After a few minutes, it was on it’s feet. So, Edward went off into the cow field armed with some apples, to encourage the calf’s mother to come and claim him.  In the meantime, I grabbed a rope from the barn and attempted to lead the calf back into the field…. easier said than done, I must say!!

Luckily, Edward has an ally in the herd, No. 2771, which followed him with his apples to the edge of the field and by the time I arrived with the calf, his mother and half the herd were there waiting!  Phew!

A return visitor!

While watering the garden on Wednesday morning, I noticed Hervé had arrived to feed and check on the cattle.  I went to say hello and we had a little chat (in a manner of speaking!) with my pidgin French and his country dialect!  I managed to tell him about the calf in the garden – “Merde!” he exclaimed – “oui!” I agreed – the calf had done quite a lot of damage to the bank planting.  Still, he didn’t seem that bothered and pointed out another calf had been born in the night.  Eventually, we said goodbye and I went back to my watering.  It was after Hervé had gone that I discovered a different calf had found it’s way into the meadow and the same calf from yesterday was back, wreaking havoc in the bank – grrrr!  This time, I man-handled them back into the field, the latter was a bit more tricky but we got there in the end.  I was hoping that would be the end of it but today, Thursday, he was back again.  He really is becoming a nuisance…. Edward dealt with him this time and as Hervé hasn’t seemed too perturbed up until now, he dismantled the crates that held the roof slates and put them up against Hervé’s fencing, where we think the calf may be getting in.  I guess time will tell but the bank is looking decidedly sorry after it’s repeated visits.  It’s a bit demoralising – hours of work went into making the bank a picture this summer but on the flip side, we are living in the heart of the French countryside, and I suppose things like this are likely to occur now and then.

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Around the garden

All through the summer I have kept the garden watered, as much as possible.  The new beds, created in the winter and spring, have done surprisingly well but the hot, dry weather has taken it’s toll.  The ferns in the woodland area are looking a bit crispy – it’s not so easy to get the water down there, but hopefully next year, they will be more established.  We didn’t have a particularly good spring – mostly cold and wet – so the seeds I’d sown took a long time to establish.  Some of the sweet peas only started flowering in August, despite being planted out in May.  The Morning Glory also took a long time to get going but now, if I take a stroll down to the seating area behind the small barn, there is a lovely show of flowers, all different colours too….

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As I’ve said before, the bank has been a picture all through the summer – it’s done particularly well given the poor spring and I thought the seeds I’d broadcast had been washed away in the rains!

It’s hard to think it looked like this:

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 before it looked like this!!:

DSCF9373The flowers have attracted no end of wildlife, not just errant calves!  We’ve both spotted a ‘scarce swallowtail’ butterfly, which was stunning…

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and the humming bird hawk moth is a regular visitor – sadly it moves too quickly for me to get a half decent picture!

The plum trees have produced no end of plums – Edward did a great job of picking them before they fell, but there still seems to be lots on the ground…

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Some have been made into delicious crumbles, while others have been frozen, to be used later….  Perhaps this evening I’ll pick some more blackberries – they make great jam but are also good for the freezer, for adding to pies and crumbles!

I think we are still recovering from the summer sejours and every now and then we find ourselves asleep in a chair or just relaxing in the hammock or swing seat under the apple trees – the view is very tranquil and peaceful….

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We’ve both been up reasonably early to see some lovely sunrises….

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If there’s time, I’d like to get out with my camera to get some more early morning photos – the light is amazing at this time of day….

Back to ‘work’

In the meantime, we are gradually getting back into some DIY.  Edward has started making a plate rack for the hall and I have been repairing the paintwork where the new windows and doors were installed in the living room and dining room.  Unfortunately, the way the windows have been installed means the curtains I’d made for them will no longer fit.  Luckily, I’ve discovered that the Roman blinds we brought with us from England are a perfect fit width-wise and just need adjusting for the length.  So, once the paintwork is done, here and in the hall, we’ll have another ‘transformation’ to show for these latest efforts.

We have a week to go before Mum and Dad come for another visit – we’re looking forward to seeing what they make of the changes at La Biochère since their last stay in April! ♥