Saturday, September 17, 2011

Well, Do The French Like Trees?

Sunday 4th September 
Daniel and Amelia left today. Jim drove them to Capdenac Gare where they caught the train to Toulouse and then on to Madrid by air. We shall miss them. They have worked hard and cheerfully during their stay here and we have learned much from them about their lives in America. They are planning to marry next year and perhaps buy a small farm and raise sheep. We wish them well in their endeavours and hope to see them again sometime. They have kindly suggested that we might like to visit them in the USA next summer - we shall see.
Note the different sized claws - the right being larger than the left
Malek and Yasmina also left this evening after ridding the Millpond of a quantity of American crayfish. We are happy about this as the French ones have been decimated.

So we are back to being on our own and the house is rather quiet. I am back on my diet for a few days as the constant intake of bread, cheese and wine is having a deleterious effect on my waistline.
The weather is now rather dull and colder.

After spending the day doing very little I took a walk with Rufus along the nature trail to see any development in the Octopus Stinkhorn Fungus. Although I hadn't marked it's exact position I was pretty sure I knew the stretch of the path where it was but it was not to be found. I retraced my steps back and forth and used the photo on my camera as a guide - there was a walnut leaf nearby in the picture but I could find no trace of the mushroom. What has come of it? Perhaps some marauding slug has devoured it, smell and all. I looked around for other examples but found none. I will keep my eyes open during the next few days perhaps more examples will appear. If so, I will be careful to mark their position.
I think the Stinkhorn might have been responsible for the malodorous brown smears on Rufus last week when I was obliged to take him and myself into the shower for a thorough wash. He has taken to rolling in stuff and we couldn't make out what it was on that occasion.

Another fungus - as yet unidentified
Typical Monday morning - wet and dull. Plenty of washing and cleaning required after the visitors have gone. Also, I have to finish the arrangements for Thursday when we set off for Patrick and Eleri's wedding in Aberystwyth. We are flying from Bergerac to Bristol by Ryanair which means carry-on luggage only. Crafty packing needed.

Jim has embarked on fixing the bedroom floor which has developed a bow, due to dampness I suppose.

We arrived safely at Bristol airport where we had to hire a car. I had been unable to do this before we left due to broadband failure - again! We had to take a Megane Coupe - manual gears which I have not used for 10 years. We managed to get to Graig Fach however without incident. A delightful time here with grandchildren Joni and Ben. Here are some gifts they gave us:
A drawing by Ben showing dinosaurs - some with spines and others with sharp teeth

Joni gave us a plate she had painted. It depicts the longest sausage dog in the world!
Two pictures of Eleri and Patrick's wedding for the record. A very pleasant occasion and even the sun managed to shine for the photographs.

Patrick is in the Royal Navy hence the uniforms and the swords. Eleri is training to be a doctor. We wish them a happy life together.

We spent two nights in Eastgate (it was looking good) before our return to the Moulin. On the Monday night we went down to the theatre to see how the performances of the play were going and to give some advice on set and costumes. Camilla seems to have everything under control.

Wednesday 14th - back in Fournoules. All as we left it except perhaps the weeds have grown a bit more.
Weather much warmer and sunnier here at the moment. The walnuts and chestnuts are now falling and Rufus keeps dashing out after imaginary? squirrels - we haven't seen any. The quinces are large and I have got a bagful picked ready to make some jelly.

So, do the French like trees? A silly question really because I suppose some of them do. This part of France is quite densely forested but everywhere you see signs of cutting and clearing. This year a huge area of hillside visible from Peter's Place has been felled and the whine of the chainsaws spoiled many a quiet afternoon.

Even our neighbours across the river are at it:

But more recently the EDF sent some men with chainsaws to cut a swathe through the trees where the electricity cable went. This had an element of sense to it although I was reluctant to admit it and Jim was a trifle surly with them. However the resulting damage isn't too unsightly except for the mess they left - all the cut off branches and chopped trees just left where they fell. 

Then there is the custom of lopping branches off trees in public places and sitting areas to force the trees to compensate by growing extra large leaves which provide good shade in hot weather. Again, another sensible sounding idea but for half the year the sight of those tortured trees makes me sad - they look so ugly.

Of course, we occasionally cut down trees here at the Moulin as a brief look back through the weeks will show. Sometimes a tree is in the way or the wood is needed for another purpose - like the pergola for example but for use in the woodburners we have plenty of dead timber. We have also planted some trees - a Sequoia, some fruit trees and the previously mentioned Sumach - all of which we brought from the UK and I expect before our time is done here there will be more planting.

On the work front the terrace extension is growing:

and I have nearly finished weeding the boules piste although I have to do a bit every day just to keep up with the new growth.

Here are the two largest pumpkins drying off in the cave roof:

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