August 28, 2015

WHERE DID AUGUST GO?

I can hardly believe that the end of August is here already.  How did that happen?  The year has whizzed by, and the summer has been a good one for us in France.  There’s lots to tell, some of it seems like very old news now but it’s worth telling it all the same – when I get round to it !!

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I’ve mentioned it before but we’ve done really well with our few tomato plants this year.  Other people have done well with courgettes and we have benefited from their success.  I decided it was time to make a real effort to use them productively.

On exploring the contents of the fridge today I found a few other bits and bobs that needed using up so, remembering this recent blog post, an idea evolved in my mind and I produced smoked salmon and halloumi stuffed courgettes for lunch.  They were very tasty and I shall make them again.  You can read all about them here.

August 20, 2015

OF PAINT POTS, TOMATOES AND MOLE HILLS

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There is nothing the least bit sinister about the fact that I haven’t posted for absolutely ages.  The simple fact of the matter is that I have been busy.  Not that that is any real explanation or excuse for neglecting my blog.  I have been busier than this in the past and still found time to blog.  Gawd knows how I found the time to do it when I was working, now that I have retired I seem to have even less time to do anything for myself than ever before.  Now how many people warned me about this……?

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I first saw these paint pots on offer in B&Q in early spring.  They looked like they could come in handy but I managed to resist buying them.  Then back in June (I think) I went on a blueberry and raspberry picking morning with friends, in France, and they were much more well equipped than I.  Whilst I grappled with plastic bags and boxes they picked efficiently with paint pots and much more sensible boxes. 

I did well though, coming home with several kilos of blueberries and raspberries, but I resolved to return to B&Q next time we were in England, and get a couple of those paint pots.  Ideal for picking a few blackberries from the hedgerows or load of tomatoes from our garden.

Considering how much trouble we had growing tomatoes in the UK, even in a greenhouse, we have done staggeringly well here in France this summer.  We have had tons of them.  Well maybe not tons, but many, many kilos.

We bought a handful of plants in the spring, planted them out, added a few plants given to us by friends, and from a very small patch of appallingly poor quality earth and by more or less ignoring them completely, we are up to our necks in tomatoes.

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We have made and frozen tomato sauce, various flavours.  I have bagged up chopped tomatoes for the freezer and, for the first time in my life, roasted and preserved herby tomatoes in olive oil.  Yum.  Two of these little beauties squashed onto a slice of baguette makes me feel full of sunshine and incredibly smug.  Our tomatoes have without doubt been a huge success.

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I wish we were as successful with the use of mole scarers.  We bought one at huge expense and have positioned it in various mole hills around the garden only to find the mole pops up somewhere else.  This morning I rounded the corner between the house and the barn to find Daisy poised to pounce over a throbbing piece of gravel and a mole hill.  Obviously Mr Mole was about to emerge skywards right next to the mole scarer, completely unscared and unperturbed.  Unfortunately my plodding in his direction with a basket of washing was enough to send him in the opposite direction and Daisy retired to her favourite chair in the sunshine.  Later that day the mole hill was up to the top of the mole scarer, which continued to buzz ineffectually.

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Last but not least, we have a little conundrum for now.

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We have commissioned our friendly local builder to redo the front of the house.  This involves picking out all the existing cement render and putting it back in a much more beautiful fashion.  Which sounds simple but is actually a big job.  The house will look fabulous afterwards, much better than the mish mash of finishes that adorns the front now.

The question is, which colour of cement render should we choose?  We have a choice of three colours from hardly pink at all through fairly pink to positively peachy.  Our builder has done us a sample of each on the front wall.  We err towards the middle one, just slightly pink.  But with each hour of the day the colours look different and as each day goes by and they dry out they look different again.

We need to get this right, as we may have to live with it for the next hundred years or so!

Bon weekend !!