When we were in the UK on two reasonable salaries, the local wild birds had the very best food. CJ Wildbird Foods finest products were delivered to the door in what can only be classed as industrial quantities.
Beaugut birds, which so far number some 35 species, have the cheep stuff (geddit?) – the very best that the Top Budget branding, similar to Tesco blue and white striped stuff, can offer.
They love it! The feeders are full of mixed stuff and sunflower seeds – can’t seem to get peanuts – and they are getting through fat balls like they are going out of fashion. The posh fat balls cost around 4 € for 10; we pay a bit over 1 € for 10.They are showing nesting behaviour, and we believe a number of sparrows have set up home in the gaps between stones in the barn opposite.Meanwhile, on Friday morning 9th March I had to visit my GP for a repeat prescription for my blood pressure and cholesterol meds. Whilst there, I owned up to some issues in the water works department.
Bad move – ’nuff said!
The format of the prescription is very good. It is for one month’s supply, with three repeats. That way I see him every four months and re-use the prescription in between.
I took the prescription to the pharmacy, where they had only two of the three sets of pills in stock. I paid for all three and they said they would send the others on. The following morning at 10am the post lady arrived bringing with her a paper bag with my name and address hand-written on it and containing the third set of tablets.
How’s that for service!
Meanwhile, the man who was asked to quote for the blockwork supports for the decking area has decided it is too small a job for him to bother with (the fact that he has no other work and that Rik had said if he does this one well he will have at least another six weeks’ work for him seem to be irrelevances) so Rik will do that, too. Unfortunately, Rik has had to return to Belgium for family reasons which has put the completion of the decking back to late April.
The electrician who had quoted for the bathroom work has decided he can’t do it now. Another man has visited to look at the job which is, of course, much more complicated than was expected. We are awaiting his quote.
I wonder if we shall ever get to use this bathroom that has so far cost just shy of 10 000 €!
I know the forecast says a risk of snow and overnight temperatures over the next couple of weeks occasionally below zero but,as reported earlier, the trees are in, and yesterday we saw the first leaves beginning to emerge on some of our wild roses. They are very small, and you need to get quite close to see them at all, but they are there and heralding the arrival of spring. Now we are looking forward to the return of our visiting birds and, who knows, maybe even an electrician!
On that note, Rik came around yesterday with the guy who is going to do the blockwork for supporting the decking area. It still looks as though we shall have that in time for Easter. Whether the balustrade will be done by then is still up for grabs, but if the structure is there and usable …
We saw a new bird this morning. It seemed to be trying to get into the study – hovering outside the window looking in. At first sight I thought it looked like a pied wagtail or even a white wagtail, Clare thought a long-tailed tit. It was too lean and a little too large for the tit and its markings looked more like a pied or even a collared flycatcher. When it flew off, there was definite bright yellow around its rump, like a bluetit. Grey wagtail is a possibility, although there was too much black. I’m baffled. Maybe we’ll get a better look at it another time.
The weather held off nicely for us. It was a good day – overcast with temperatures hovering around 10-12°C, very light winds and no rain. Ideal, in fact, for the back-breaking job of lifting the turf from the rest of the circles then digging holes in which to plant ten fruit trees varying in age from one to three years.
The trees themselves were well packaged; not with the rootballs we were expecting (having no experience whatever in this field we expected them to turn up like smaller plants, in pots with established rootballs), but with dry roots and the entire tree wrapped in straw. There was no appreciable wind today, and the trees are, with one exception, of a reasonable age, so we probably didn’t need to give a lot of support. However, as the forecast is using terms like gusting to 57kph for at least one night next week, we decided to give good solid support to all of them.
So that’s it. They are in. Unfortunately, though not unexpectedly, Flash has found them, so now we need to protect them from his urinary activities.
Not much else to say at the moment, so I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures (both, of course, clickable so you can see them larger if you choose).
By the way, we missed the lunar eclipse – mostly because by the end of the day’s work, we had no energy left to stand in the field waiting for the eclipse to reach totality.
I don’t know what happened to spring. We had a brilliant day a couple of weeks ago – 22°C and sunny. For the last week it has been between 5° and 10° mostly, rainy and winds gusting to over 55kph!
We now have ten trees in the workshop ready to be planted – a one-year Williams Bon Chrétien pear we bought locally, and nine two years olds (two apple – Belle de Boskoop and Reine des Reinettes, and one each cherry Belle Magnifique, peach Reine des Vergers, plum Reine-Claude d’Oullins, pear Beurré Hardy, apricot Bergeron, nectarine Fantasia and mirabelle Mirabelle de Nancy) that were delivered yesterday. We really want calm conditions for planting them. We have prepared the land for six of them but need to have the trailer on the back of the mower to haul the turf away, and I can only use that on dry ground. On the upslope, and over tussocks, the wheels just spin.
The forecast for today is rain, max 9°, for tomorrow rain and 10° and for Sunday, sunny periods 16°. I hope the trees can hold out until Sunday.
We have seen some signs of other trees budding, but the 15 day forecast suggests that winter is coming back for another go on 10th, with some snow forecast!
We had a visit this morning from a lady selling cleaning stuff. She was actually looking for two of our neighbours but as the houses are neither named nor numbered she kind of did an eeny-meeny-miney-moe (are we allowed to say that these days?) and chose us. Anyway, we let her come in and tell us all about her wares – it’s good practice for our French, and between us, I think we understood about 60% of what she said. She left us with some samples and will call for an order in a couple of weeks. It seems like good stuff – all nicely green and ecological and, if it does as good a job as our regular products and is no more expensive, we may grace her with a suitably small order.
We had plans for this weekend. Plans that involved doing things in the garden. Unfortunately, the weather has other ideas. It has been very windy, blustery, cold and showery since Friday. Result? Weather 1, Channings 0. During the week – before the rain came, we had finished off trimming the field and started planning what we wanted to do with the areas.
First decision was just a confirmation that we wanted a small orchard. We carefully measured and marked out the positions for ten trees at 8 metres separation in a 4,3,2,1 triangle.
We went out over a couple of days and dug out circles of 1 metre diameter (exactly!) for the first three rows looking from the house. Only the last row of four remains to be dug out.We have also purchased our first tree – a Williams Bon Chrétien pear. The plan was to plant it to give us a sense of achievement and to show some result for our work beyond holes in the field. Then it started raining; fortunately before we planted the tree. Then the wind came – blustering up to 40 to 50kph, more than we felt that a young tree should have to deal with. So that one is on hold until the wind drops. In the meantime, we have just placed an order for anotherpear, two apples, one cherry, one nectarine, one peach, one apricot, one mirabelle and one plum. These are all two and three years old specimens bred in the open just outsideCommentry, which has the same climate and soil type as we do, so we are hopeful of a high level of success.In another area, yetto be defined, we shall be planting small fruits – raspberries, gooseberries and the like.As you may know, I display a number of my photographs on DeviantART. Some of these photographs show areas where I have travelled in the past, and I have been asked by a number of my fellow deviants (I hate that name) to talk in detail about them, particularly about my time in Africa.
Whilst I am happy to do that, I really don’t want to get into repeatedly saying the same thing to a number of people and so, after some thought, I have decided to do a bit of an autobiography.
The outline is pretty much in place, and I am currently going through and scanning a load of old photographs and slides to illustrate it. I am hoping that one or more of my siblings may have some of dad’s old photographs and/or slides that may help with the early part of my life.
This is going to be a long job, and I do not expect to start seeing substantive content on the site for a couple of months at least but, if anyone wants to bookmark it and check on my progress, it is called “The journey of a lifetime”.
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