21 May 2012



Lunch in the sunshine on our little terrace in early April.

I love the way you can plot the progress of the year through the appearance of flowers.

Snowdrops come first in the year.  I’m not that fond of snowdrops.  They are pretty and cheerful but they only come when we are still in the throes of winter and the worst is not yet over.

tulips1 Tulips in our little garden.

Next come the daffodils.  I love daffodils.  I sometimes cheat and buy them in the shops in January, just to kid myself that spring is not far off.  But when I see them in our garden and by the roadsides it really cheers me up.  When the daffodils are here you know that spring is definitely just around the corner.

We usually make our first trip to France at Easter and by then we have missed most of the daffodils. 

tulips2 Tulips past their best.  Tulips fade and die so beautifully I think.

My favourite flower of all is the tulip.  They come in such a myriad of colours, shapes and sizes and, with their stems pointing straight and skywards, it is as if they are shouting out :  look at me, spring is here !!  When the tulips arrive in our garden we know the winter is definitely over.

tulips3 Tulips in the courtyard.

Alex and Nicole do a fantastic job of looking after our little house in Le Grand-Pressigny while we’re not there.  They keep an eye on the place, solve any problems such as the burst pipes we had last winter, arrange for work to be done such as sweeping the chimney and, most of all they keep the garden in great shape.

tulips4 Tulips of all shapes, colours and sizes.

They get the house ready for our arrival and it’s such a joy to hop out of the car, turn the key in the lock, find all the shutters open and sun streaming into the house, put the kettle on and step out onto the terrace.  Then, if we are lucky with the weather, we sit out with a cup of tea and think “at last, we’re here again”, and see what has come up in the garden since we were last there.  It usually takes a couple of chimes of the church bells before we can tear ourselves away from the view over the rooftops and start to settle in.

tulips5 A pot of smiley pansies.  Very pretty and an all-year-round delight.

We also enjoy doing a bit of gardening ourselves when we are chez nous.  Planting up our patio pots and moving things around to the position they look their best is so relaxing and enjoyable – not like the crisis gardening we do at home – which often seems to be a race against time and a battle with the weather.

tulips6 Lilacs blooming near the château.

And of course it’s fascinating to see what flowers are in bloom around the village.  It’s amazing how much things can change in a few short weeks between our visits. 

tulips7  Lulu’s close encounter with a prickly new friend.

Lulu, on the other hand, probably doesn’t notice the tulips but looks forward to the variety of different animals that appear each visit.  Chasing lizards is a favourite summer pastime but of course they were not out and about much at Easter.  

One night she became very excited when we strolled up to the château for her bedtime “constitutional”.  The cause of the excitement was a hedgehog in the courtyard.  He was there several nights in a row – I’m absolutely sure she will remember the minute she jumps out of the car when we arrive and start searching for him. 

Tulips and hedgehogs.  I wonder what we will find next time.  Only five more sleeps…….

16 May 2012


close encounters3

When we were in Le Grand-Pressigny at Easter, Nick had to visit the insurance office in Descartes – a challenge for his French language skills but he was determined to manage by himself – so Lulu and I went to the park for a walk.

close encounters1

There is a little zoo in the park.  We have looked around there before and in summer the animals are often sheltering from the sun in their little huts so we don’t see them.  Equally in winter they are indoors keeping warm so we still don’t see them.

This day, Good Friday, was a lovely warm spring day and they were all out enjoying the sunshine.  Amongst the various animals there were some very cute baby goats.

close encounters2

Lulu was very interested in the baby goats.  I guess they were of a similar size to her and she pressed her nose through the wire fence to say hello.  I wondered if she thought they were some kind of dog – she had never seen a goat before, not to my knowledge anyway !!

Next thing – THWACK !! – mother goat hurled herself at the fence to head-butt us !!

She was obviously not too keen on this strange poodle creature getting close to her babies.  I was very glad the fence was between us.  Having several kilos of goat thumping against me or Lulu would have hurt a lot I think.  Mother goat bounced off the fence then decided to have another go !!

close encounters4 After that Lulu kept her distance from the fence as we strolled around to see who was out and about.

close encounters5 This bush with legs turned out to be a sheep.

close encounters6

Some of the animals were tall and handsome.

close encounters7

Others were small and …. bushlike.

close encounters9

The chickens were magnificent.  Click to enlarge.