Monday, 29 March 2010

More gardening

Much more mixed weather at the moment. Gorgeous for a bit then very wet and colder. Needed the rain though so mustn't grumble too much.

Been potting on some cucumber plants, tomato plants and some verbena bonariensis. All looking very hopeful at the moment. Have great difficulty throwing away the ones I don't need, but am trying to be more hard hearted.

Him Outdoors cut the grass a bit on the very longest cut that seems to leave the daisies - hooray. The grass in the vegetable garden is full of violets, periwinkles, cowslips, meadowsweet as well as dandelions and daisies. It's so lovely and sheltered, quite delightful. We cleared masses of deadwood/brambles/lilac out of the hedges when we arrived and this year it is really thickening up with the things we do want. Very satisfying.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Le Meteo

We have an Orange weather forecasting site on the computer that is set up to tell us in one click the weather for today here. Except:

they don't get up very early on this site. Today's weather is yesterday's until about mid morning.

the distance forecast changes daily. At the moment we are wanting rain. So the days with rain on them get one further away every day. Yesterday it was going to rain tomorrow, now not til Friday. And the same is true of the sunshine, if that's what you want, it's always tomorrow.

Wait for it.......................................

Monday, 22 March 2010

Imposter Syndrome

Just came across this in a novel I'm reading and it struck so true for Him Outdoors.

Imposter Syndrome - High achievers are convinced they're flying by the seat of their pants, about to be unmasked at any given moment and found wanting, not really worthy of their elevated positions or their impressive salaries. And the longer they stay away from the office the more likely it is that someone would realise they weren't needed at all.

However much external proof of their abilities they have - academic qualifications, job promotions, salary hikes - they put all their success down to luck or timing or contacts, anything, in fact, but their own abilities and perseverance.

from Fifty is not a Four Letter Word by Linda Kelsey

It is a very stressful way to live. After 20 years in Marketing, having reached the (literally) high levels of an office in Hong Kong, enough was enough and he downsized to working in a marina on the south coast of England. Now spends his time labouring, and loving it.

First cuckoo

What a beautiful morning. Daffodils, bees humming, first apricot and nectarine blossoms on new trees and now the first cuckoo. Spring is well and truly sprung.

Him Outdoors has gone off to Perigueux to buy some more slabs to finish off the second bit of terrace (so much more glamourous than patio!) This means he can have hours wandering round BricoDepot without me vaguely wishing he would hurry up and I can have a lovely peaceful morning. In some girlie shops in the Uk they have a space for boyfriends to hang out with football on the telly and comics. How about the same thing for girls in Brico sheds?

And first day for labouring in shorts by Him Outdoors - already had to wear the hat last week to keep the sun off his shiny head!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Yay, I won

The new Carrefour supermarket is inundating us with bits of paper. Some of which I sorted out today. In France, although they have offers in the supermarket, you don't seem to get them unless you have the loyalty card. (A fact I never noticed when we used to come here on holiday. And why would they tell you, because everyone knows that and that is why everyone has dozens of them on their key rings.)

You get occasional vouchers in the Publicite that comes in the letterbox with the postman every week, and since the Carrefour is new they are putting 10€ vouchers in. They also give you some bits of paper at the till which have the grand total of 20 cents discount per mega amount of shopping.

Today, the till girl looked kind and the queue wasn't long, so I gave her the handful of bits of paper I have acquired. One was for immediate discount, some came in a cheque at the end of the month (never seen that) and don't forget to show your carte to that cardboard machine over there to see if you have won.

Quoi?? Oh ok after some study of the cardboard box with flashing lights and the third time of scanning the carte, it said I HAD WON!!! (Much to the disgust of the french woman after me who couldn't get it to print anything because she hadn't won - ha ha.) A 'Panier Gourmand' value 20€. Yay - rush home to see what's in it!

What Carrefour considers a gourmand basket:

1 packet of aniseed cookies
1 packet hazelnut cookies
1 packet of madeleines cakes
2 litre box of orange juice
1 packet of four tiny tins of pate - qualite superieure (apologies for lack of accents)
1 dry pork sausage - recette traditionnelle
1 large tin cassoulet
1 jar fruits of the forest jam
2 packets of peanut Quaver lookalikes
1 packet ground coffee
and a large packet of 'Extra Sweet' jelly sweets that are at least half sugar and the rest E numbers
and a free heavy duty carrier bag to put it in

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Garden 4 - 18 march

Spent morning planting lavenders by the pool. Had to add some soil and a bit of muck to the gravel to give them something to get started in but hopefully they will like the baking.

Cleared one bed and planted onion sets and half cleared another one. Got another crop off the parsley which does really well here. Can get three or four cuttings chopped and in the freezer before it goes to seed.

Him Outdoors has been rejointing the walls at the back of the house which, weather permitting, means that I will be able to get the roses and jasmine that are waiting into the beds tomorrow in time for them to get a good start before the hot weather bakes them.

Got the pots of oleanders out of the shed and they seem to have survived the winter ok. The geraniums look very dead but maybe a bit of water and sunshine will perk them up.

Bought another water butt yesterday for the downpipe at the front. Another very french occasion. Card machine broke in the supermarket. Long wait while man wandered in to fix it and lots of consultation. Eventually went next door and got some cash and paid with that. They did very kindly let us try to see if it fitted in the boot before we bought it.

Les hirondelles

How lovely to see the first swallow today. It is promising to be much warmer this week and we can imagine that spring is on the way though I can't imagine that will be the last of the cold weather.

Thinking of Hirondelle reminded us that that was the name of the plonk that we used to take to parties in the 70s. Can't remember if there was a white one but certainly a cheap, and to our unknowing palettes, perfectly drinkable red wine. We felt very superior to the drinkers of Blue Nun and Liebfraumilch.

I wonder if it was some advertising man's pride and joy to call it 'swallow'!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Blimey it's cold - Gardening 7th March

Lovely bright blue cloudless skies but the wind is from the North East and straight off the Urals. As my mother used to say an East wind is a lazy wind, it blows straight through you.

Over the last couple of afternoons, I (with some welcome muscle from Him Outdoors) have turned a large expanse of weeds into a respectable flower bed. Last year it was the rubbish tip for the builders and the spoil pile for the drive digger man. Now it's a large flat flower bed with stepping stones and each plant that got put in last year surrounded with manure.

Yesterday I had a peaceful time handweeding and trudging backwards and forwards to the manure heap. Talking to the chickens and bonding with Mrs Wembley and her new chicks. At lunchtime today I made the mistake of asking Him Outdoors if he had any plans for this afternoon that might include doing the manure lugging. Ever one to oblige I had hardly got outside before he was there with his barrowload 'where do you want it?'. And what had been a peaceful afternoon turned into something from It's a Knockout with me vainly trying to clear weeds before another bucketload landed on top of them!

All done now. It looks lovely and will be much easier to see what's what. A little less icy wind would be good for everything but we have violets today that we didn't yesterday and they smell lovely so spring must be on the way.

And the man from It's a Knockout was Eddie Waring of 'up and under' fame :-)

Friday, 5 March 2010

French customer service

Maya Angelou : 'I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone, people love a warm hug or just a friendly pat on the back'

Or maybe even a smile would be good.

Today was my first visit to our local supermarket which has this week changed from being an Intermarche to a Carrefour. (Without announcing it to anyone, just shut for the first three days of this week and then reopening as something else. It was only because I asked why the shelves were so empty last week that someone told me they would be shut.)

As you would expect, the shop was full of people wandering about being irritated that their usual purchases were no longer on the shelves and having to make new decisions for every single thing - or maybe that was just me :-)

But oh for a smiley face on the staff. Oh for a Sainsbury's suit who had been round telling the staff to be helpful and apologetic and smiley.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Garden 3 - 3rd March

Spring has sprung. Well today anyway. First day I've been looking for shade to garden in. Lovely.

Today's job was to protect the Purple Sprouting Broccoli from the deer and generally tidy it up and to move the irises from the end of the bed. They were rescued from various places in the garden during the first year and have sat there ever since. This year they were looking really well - so it must be time to move them and set them back again!

Rigged up a string and CD scarer thing. Don't know if it will work, maybe just attract them for lunch. Or it must be breakfast because I haven't seen any eating them. By cutting off all the dead leaves it looks more like they have been trimmed by me than eaten by the deer!!

Moved the irises to beside the drive where there is virtually no soil and it is very sunny. Gave them some soil and hope there'll be happy in front of what will be an eleagnus hedge.

The pile of stones used to be a very neat little building that Him Outdoors built to make the old pile of stones look pretty. Whole thing collapsed this week!

While I was doing the scarer, Him Outdoors made me a beautiful cold frame out of old stuff. I then spent the afternoon filling it. Repotted all the little cuttings that have been sheltering from the winter. It's full now, can I have another one please ;-) Hopefully they can move out before what are now seeds need to go in.

Also used the rest of the tar oil winter wash on a euonymous that gets devoured by caterpillars. It should be covered in beautiful pink and orange berries in the autumn but 100s of caterpillars eat all the leaves, it replaces them but it never puts out any berries. Must try harder to stop that this year.

First cut of the lawn. Well, bit of the lawn that will be too long to cut if Him Outdoors leaves it any longer. We got a new lawnmower this year as a replacement for the one that was so bad even the man who sold it to us agreed it needed replacing. It's an ugly orange beast that makes a huge noise but seems to do the job. After promising that he would only cut the long grass, next time I look he's 'trimmed' all the vegetable garden and cut the tops off all the primroses that I was planning to move. Ho hum.

PS Does can anyone please tell me how to copy and paste things into a blog?