What a difference a week makes…

So this is all about taking your eye off the ball . In so many ways…

It has been a truly mad summer, zigzagging in all directions, holidays, partys, doings, makings and rekindlings, it was only a matter of time before something had to give ! And like buses and boys, everything seems to have come at once.

Got back from my little trip to find the garden in a state of utter distress – the greenhouse a jungle, weeds everywhere, slug attacks on new plantlets and harvesting long, long overdue ; corn, beans, beets and tomatoes begging to be picked before giving up and going over. Where was my happy helper ? Curled up on the couch feeling sorry for herself with a poorly hand – you just can’t get the staff !!

So there’s been nothing else for it but to roll up the sleeves and get on with the graft. Grabbing my machete I headed for the vines…

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Six hours later, encrusted in tomato sap, things were looking a little clearer, but my worst doubts had been confirmed – the dreaded blight has pointed it’s mouldy muzzle..

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Nothing for it but to strip back as much leaf as possible, leaving only the youngest, healthiest shoots to keep the plants alive. It’s not too advanced so I’ll just keep an eye on it before digging out the bordeaux mixture.

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Time to start picking……Toms done, back to the cornichons, now bearing in mind these little beauties are supposed to be a few centimetres long…

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…I’m seriously wondering if this is the vegetable for me? Still to get one jarful – oh dear 😦 even the goats and chickens are getting sick of them.

The rest of the picking went smoothly enough, and at the end of day two I sat back feeling a little less discombobulated.DSCF2452

Maybe even a tad smug? Well what’s that they say about pride?

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And the culprit?   Yup, ‘TiBouc our pet castrate, after months of careful observation has finally worked out how to open the terrace gate….and boy does he love beans.

'TiBouc

The chickens also had a go, spattering the terrace with generous helpings of ripe tomatoes – juice, seeds and stalks everywhere…it never rains…

On a happier note, I’d completely given up on the loofahs ever setting fruit, having waited so long for the seeds to arrive the plants were awfully late in. The two planted outside really haven’t done much at all but the greenhouse now has two large set fruit, so even if I’ll not be replacing a years worth of washing up scrubbers this summer, at least I have the seeds good and early for another attempt next year. And the plants are an unexpectedly beautiful bonus…

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And the cherry tomato glut gave me an opportunity to delight the two families with one of the simplest but most glorious of summer dishes. A loaded platter of garlic and herb, oven roasted delights – gone in seconds, every last drip of juice mopped from the pan. Yumyumyum…..

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Another excellent suprise was coming home to find the hot tub very near completion. Yup hot tub – My mother, on hearing this couldn’t resist, ‘you haven’t got a bedroom but you do have a hot tub?’ Oh priorities!

from tank to tub2

We’ve been warming the water in our old milk tank with a wood fire for years, putting up with smoke in the face for the pleasure of nightime dips, but now we’re chez nous we figured things can be a little more permanent. A friend had a load of torchis (a mixture of clay, straw and cow poo, traditionally used in local construction.) left over from a chimney rebuild. Christophe happily trailered it home and using the stones gleaned from our own roof renovation began creating a heat storing surround and chimney stack.

Just a touch of lime morter around the base, a bit of linseed oil on the wood, some good weather to dry it all out…

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The industrious boy even got around to finally fitting the windows upstairs, so though we still have no insulation at least there won’t be gales blowing through 😀

b4 bath and windows
before…..
after bath and windows
..with windows and a hot tub!!!

So, back to eyes and balls…

Even I, arch ostrich that I am, haven’t missed the media frenzy surrounding the current world refugee crisis And though originally heartened by the response both on the internet, through facebook and locally, with a neighbour setting up a super hub to collect and organise donations. I’ve been ( some would say naïvely) shocked and dismayed by the climate of bigotry and racism that appears to hold sway – with polls in Le Parisien still suggesting the majority of French are against extending help to the dispossesed Syrian people and the cruel and abusive comments I’ve read on websites all over the net. The lack of humanity and awful ignorance has had me literally head in hands over the last few days – underlining if anything why I choose to live in the middle of nowhere. Sad.

So we at 23 are going to try to do our bit. After all, as someone tagged on a Liverpool bus shelter ‘No human is illegal’.

Have a happy, warm and well fed week,

mandy x

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