Saturday, May 14, 2011

May Day

This is the post that disappeared - I have re-written it.

Sunday was May Day and I picked some Lily-of-theValley, (the French called it Muget) to give to Marie-Therese and Brigitte along with their invitations to the party next Monday.
I used part of the poster I designed for Temporary Shelter as the picture as it seemed appropriate.

We took a trip north to the village of Saint Illide as there was a vide-grenier there. Very pleasant journey of about an hour and a half taking in the picturesque town of Laroquebrou with an impressive chateau. It looks worth a visit sometime.
We spent about an hour at Saint Illide but didn't buy much. Jim is looking for a one-hole leather punch and I am always on the lookout for small stuffed animals - a little friend for Martin. we were both disappointed on this occasion.

Vide-grenier at Saint Illide
Most of the week was spent get ready for our visitors on Friday and the party next week. I have been busy sewing the bunting to put up around the pergola.

One evening when we walked up with Rufus to Peter's Place we saw this:

At first I thought they were 'processional caterpillars' (Thaumetopoea pityocampa) and was horrified. They can be lethal to dogs and very unpleasant to humans who come into close contact with them

'Traditionally, the nests are found in the pine trees and their home is usually positioned on the sunny side of the tree and can often be spotted from a distance where the pine needles have turned brown.

On closer inspection, white candy floss woven on the branches and delicate silk bags can be seen decorating the trees. These are the nests of the procession caterpillar, protecting them as they grow and keeping them warm. So called because they travel nose to tail in a line, processional pine caterpillars are quite small, but they present a major danger to trees and animals, and can cause a severe allergic reaction in humans. 
The caterpillar’s ‘fur’ is where the danger lies. It is in fact a layer of poisonous harpoon-like spines that remain toxic even when the caterpillar has died. 
The hairs can also become detached and float in the air if the caterpillar is disturbed, creating the risk of inhalation. Care must be taken when walking dogs in areas where the caterpillars may have marched as there is a possibility that some hairs may remain on the ground.'

After further investigation I decided that they were simply the Eastern Tent caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum) which are harmless except to the trees they inhabit. The webs are woven on fruit trees, particularly the wild cherry and several webs can denude the tree of leaves. As we have recently planted a new orchard and the domaine has many old fruit trees of various kinds we decided to get rid of the web. Jim cut it down and burned the contents. Since then we have seen several more, mostly out of easy reach.

We drove to Rodez on Friday to collect Peter and Jennifer off the plane from Stanstead. On Saturday we made our usual visit to Figeac taking in the market for a few vegetables and then Carrefour for party food and champagne. On the way home we stopped at Bagnac for the excellent five course lunch there for €12 including a bottle of vin ordinaire. We decided it was the best meal we have had there so far.

Back to Bagnac on Sunday for a plant foire and vide-grenier. We bought a few plants for the garden and then Jennifer spotted this:

Another Pine Marten
The stall holder wanted €20 for him but we haggled and managed to get the price reduced to €15. He is quite a bit larger that Martin who has has a sex and name change to Martine so that the new one is now called Martin. We are running out of mantleshelf space.

Peter's sister Vicky arrived Sunday afternoon and the bunting is now in place and the champagne cooling in the fridge.

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