Monday, September 13, 2010

Bits and Bob (and Eleanor)

As the view is now
  Bob and Eleanor left yesterday morning. They had been staying in the gîte all last week. They arrived bearing gifts from the UK – several tins of baked beans and Birds Custard Powder, which we can’t get here and miss along with proper bacon. Also a bottle of Pimms which Jim very generously mixed up for us!

The weather was reasonably kind to them during their stay – the first two days were a continuation of the hot dry weather, followed by three days of heavy rain and clouded skies. One night included several hours of thunderstorms, which are often impressive here. and this occasion did not disappoint. However, no one thought to get up and take a photograph – pity. We needed the rain as the ground was very dry and watering the garden had become a daily chore.

After the storms the weather cleared up again although not as warm as before.

Barbecue in the gloaming
Bob and Eleanor cooked us a barbecue and here we are waiting for Bob to grill the kebabs. I am adjusting my camera hoping to get a picture of a Hummingbird Hawkmoth feeding off the Nicotiana. I have tried to get pictures of these before but they are so quick it impossible. I didn’t succeed this time either, so I have cheated and used someone else’s.

Hummingbird Hawk-moth
“The Hummingbird Hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) is a species of Sphingidae. Its long proboscis and its hovering behaviour, accompanied by an audible humming noise, make it look remarkably like a hummingbird while feeding on flowers. It flies during the day, especially in bright sunshine, but also at dusk, dawn, and even in the rain, which is unusual for even diurnal hawkmoths.”

One evening we all went out to the Hotel Beausejour at Calvinet for a meal. We shall not go there again. The food is good but we were the only people there and we had to wait over an hour to be served. It is rather expensive and I think it is pretentious – check out the website if you are curious. However, the return journey proved interesting. We saw two Coypus and an animal that Bob later identified as a Beech Martin.

“The coypu (Myocastor coypus) is a large, crepuscular, semiaquatic rodent native to South America, but now also present in Europe. The coypu, an herbivore, has been introduced from South America to every continent except Australia and Antarctica.
The animal is adapted to subtropical and mild temperate climates. The coypu somewhat resembles a very large rat in appearance. Adults are typically 10-20 lbs in weight, and 15-24 inches in body length, with a 12-18 inches tail.
The nipples of female coypu are on her back. This allows their young to feed while the female is in the water.”
There – you didn’t know that, did you?!

 “The beech marten (Martes foina) is a small, weasel-like omnivore that weighs 1 to 2.5 kg.  An adult's coarse pelt varies in colour from dark brown to a lighter shade of greyish brown, with a thick white strip running from the chin down to the chest.  Body length for the beech marten ranges from 40 to 55 cm long; the tail measures between 20 and 30 cm.
Beech martens frequently live in areas of human settlement, but can also be found in the countryside, although they avoid areas where there is no cover. They inhabit the whole of mainland Europe as well as Western and Central Asia. Beech martens sleep in cover during the day, and hunt for food in the twilight. They are omnivores and their diet includes smaller mammals, earthworms, small to medium-sized birds, eggs, and fruit.

Beech Marten
I think I have one like that bought from a vide-grenier for €2 and mentioned in a previous post. He now stands on our mantleshelf here.

Martin the Marten

Later in the week we went to our favourite restaurant at Mourjou where we were treated to an excellent meal.

Jim and Bob working
Jim and Bob spent some time playing with the tractor doing general management activities around the domaine. Here they are trimming branches from around the telephone wire using an ingenious makeshift cutting device (patent applied for).

After our visitors left we went to Trioulou to another vide-grenier where we bought a slow-cooker, a Victorian shift/nightdress, a hat block, a selection of fèves (no, not broad beans – try again) for  Galettes des Rois and a saw. Such fun. 

We have a few days on our own now until the end of the week when more visitors arrive. Perhaps I shall get the dragons finished. Also, I may use more of our surplus courgettes to make more of this:

Chocolate Courgette Cake/Bread

here is the recipe - it's delicious!:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups shredded courgettes
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans.
2.In large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt, mix well. In separate bowl, combine sugar and eggs, beat until well blended. Add oil and vanilla; beat until combined. Stir in zucchini. Add flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon evenly into loaf pans.
3.Bake in preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove bread from pans; cool completely on wire rack.

We ate one and I froze the other.

Bob also took this picture of an unwelcome visitor at the barbecue.


1 comment:

  1. Always fascinated by your accounts of Mill life. Mind you we've been keeping our end up on the rainfall front here. The swords are impressive; I could perhaps add to my father's collection but I'm not sure that Ryanair would be impressed. I saw a Marten on one of my very first, possibly the first, visit. But I took it to be a Pine Marten. I have never seen a Coypu. Very shy animals, coy even. Don't half stink - poo!