a walk and some walls

When you’re a dog owner you need to go out for daily walks with said dog.  Yep, even when you’re lucky enough to have a large garden, orchard and stream . . . a young dog, like Gibbs needs his exercise.

Gibbs 14 07

Here he is, now 10 months and 36 kilos of muscle, totally recovered from his recent little op.

Gibbs 2 14 07

This taken in the shade of the orchard, after a dip in the stream, and before heading off out for a proper walk.


And, because we live in the country, with lots of quiet lanes . . . and because he’s obedient, and doesn’t rush off willy nilly, he gets to trot along without being on the leash.  He’s just walking a few steps ahead of my husband, who has leash to hand, just in case we meet a passing car or other walkers.


On that day, we didn’t meet much of either, but we did go past a field and a curious donkey who watched as we sauntered by.

I, for once, had taken my camera, because I wanted to snap a few shots along the way.  Not of nature and greenery, but of a couple of walls.  A strange thing to take photos of, perhaps, but in our little village, where houses are very old . . . I never go past without admiring some of the old stone walls.

walls 01

There’s the wall around the graveyard . . . and then several similar walls on a few of the houses.

walls 02

walls 03

walls 04

And then there’s the inner walls of the really ancient communal bread oven, just in front of our house.

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Bread oven which is used by neighbours, about once a year, for some communal cooking. Although we haven’t cooked anything in it yet.

church 03

And, so you can enjoy some of our blue skies . . . this is the 12th century church, which is just in front of our house too. 

church 02

Ducky’s in the wars (again)

Ducky is in the wars again.  After his insect sting in May, we had to make an impromptu visit to the vet’s this morning, because he came home yesterday evening with a wound on his side. (yucky photo further down so ye squeamish, be warned).

He wouldn’t let us see or touch and got very hissy.  He hid under the bed in our spare room and I left him to calm down before we went back for a closer look.  By which time, he’d made the job easier for us, since he’d been licking, and his abrasive tongue had stripped away some fur.  We were able to see this


A yucky injury about 1cm in diameter with 2 puncture holes about 2cm apart, either side.  Our thoughts: a cat bite.

Unfortunately, he came home too late for me to phone the vet, so we left him shut up in the spare room with litter tray and only water (no food).  I also slipped on a cat-sized plastic cone to prevent any further licking, and we left him alone for the night.

This morning . . . he had managed to remove the cone, and done some more licking, so the wound was now 2cm in diameter, and even more fur had come away.  Making things look even yuckier.  We phoned vet’s and managed to get an appointment.

Vet’s verdict was the same as ours: cat bite.

I was praised for having had the foresight to remove food, because vet needed to keep Ducky for a couple of hours.  She gave him a general anaesthetic, excised some tissue which had already started to necrose.  Gave everything a good clean & stitched him back up.


Ducky is already back home, hiding under the bed in the spare room.  He’s still very groggy from the anaesthetic and can’t walk without falling over and rolling onto his back.  But he should be feeling better by this evening.  He’ll be allowed a drink of water tonight, but will have to wait until tomorrow for food.

I have no post-op care to do (for which I am very thankful).  Vet gave him all meds by injection and wants to see him next week just to check on stitches.  Which will come out on 19th July. 

Ducky will therefore have to stay indoors for the next 12 days, and wear this very fashionable “suit” to keep bandage in place.  A lot less stressful for him, than having to wear the plastic cone.

Obviously, when you live in the countryside, like we do, cats love to live outdoors and go exploring.  The upside is that they lead a very healthy, active life.  The downside, that they’re more likely to have a road accident or come up against an unfriendly cat who picks a fight. 

As soon as Ducky is over this scrape, we’ll be letting him out again.  Being indoors all day isn’t good for him.  He had put on lots of weight over the winter months, following his urinary blockage, with weight creeping up to 6.7 kilos.  However, with the good weather, all the time spent outdoors, and a bit of food rationing,  he is now down to 5.3 kilos – pure muscle, no excess fat. 

best layer of the month #June

egg photo

Temperatures in our corner of France have been very very hot this month and, despite, having their enclosure in the orchard, in the shade of apple trees, our hens have been suffering.

Eggs count is way down as a result.  Not that I can blame them, because I wouldn’t feel like laying eggs when it’s been as hot as 35°C in the shade either!

Total egg count was 22 for June.  With Miss Marple laying 12, Miranda 9 and Miss Moneypenny only 1 egg.

I am pleased so say though, that temperatures have dropped over the last few days. We’ve had storms, buckets of rain, and today I don’t think it’s above 20°C.  Miss Moneypenny has left the nest, and is pecking & scratching with the two other gals in the cool grass.

when it’s hot

Our corner of France has had nothing but sun, sun, and more sun.  Gibbs is a happy dog because he can go for a dip in our little stream to cool down – something he does at every opportunity.  Water is somewhat murky though and I honestly don’t feel like following suit.  Yet, I’ve been suffering from the heat, with swollen hands & feet (due to bad circulation) and my back, which still isn’t 100% has been causing more leg pain.

My lovely husband took pity on me, and was trying to think of a solution, bearing in mind that summer temperatures are likely to continue well into September.  The solution he came up with is


Our own little private spa!  It’s basically a glorified inflatable paddling pool, but a bit more high-tech.  A Bestway “Lay-Z- Spa”, the “Paris” model.   The advertising photo shows


It has a pump with an incorporated heating system so water can be heated (or you can just leave the cover on for part of the day and let the sun heat it up) . . . and then bubbles.  Lots of lots of bubbles that massage. 

I never imagined having something like this in the back garden, but now it’s there, I have to say – yippee!!!  It’s brilliant!  Ever so refreshing to take a dip, and let the bubbles massage my back.  It’s a bit noisey when the bubbles are doing their thing, but oh!  how relaxing!

We don’t go away on holiday, so with this spa, I’ll be able to take frequent dips throughout the day, and keep fresh.  A shame it’s not practical to do needlecrafts at the same time.


harvesting vitamins

As you know, my husband loves gardening, and now he’s retired he has more time to spend in his veggie patch.  I’m not particularly interested in gardening, and much prefer to keep my hands busily clean doing needlecrafts.  But I’m more than happy to down needle and applaud, as husband brings fresh veggies into the kitchen each day, and sets about preparing dinner.


Husband only planted 2 courgette plants this year but we’re already being inundated with fresh courgettes, literally every day.  Here’s a basket of courgettes, a handful of pois gourmands (or mange-tout), a couple of beetroot and our very first cucumber.

Cucumber which rather tempted Gibbs


Who put his paws up on the table and had a chomp before I had time to tell him off.  That dog  will eat anything!

more veggie

And then only 2 days later . . . even more courgettes and some home-grown potatoes.  They made a lovely change . . . rissoled gently, until they were golden & crispy, served with green salad and Italian smoked ham.  Yum yum.

Cats are also bringing a few things home . . . and the garden path is littered, daily, with the corpses of dead mice (I apologise to the faint-hearted, but cats will be cats).  However, occasionally, one does get away. 

another one

This little one was brought, alive, into the veranda, and from there, managed to scurry into the house.  It then spent 24 hours in hiding before I was able to locate it, trap it, and set it free.  Although saying that, if it hangs around in our garden, I don’t give it long before it gets caught again. 

one man and his dog

One man and his dog have been trying to keep cool in this heat

1806man and dog

This was taken of Gibbs surveying the dam building in the little stream that runs along the edge of our orchard.   By the way, we’re still waiting for Gibbs’ biopsy results.  I’ll let you all know as soon as we do.


My husband enjoys playing with water almost as much as Gibbs does.  Anyway, they were both nice and cool, in the shade . . . meanwhile in the sunshine . . .

1806bald patch

This is what the hens’ enclosure looks like, after several months of pecking, and scratching.  The only plant that has survived is

1806 flowers

I’ve no idea what it is, but it’s very pretty.  Hens meanwhile have been moved to summer camp, in the orchard.


They’ve got plenty of fresh grass to peck/scratch and they’re in the shade of two apple trees.  You can only see two gals in the photo . . . Miss Moneypenny is brooding.

Anyway, a quick tour with the camera to see how everything is growing in the heat.

1806 kiwiws

The kiwi vine is covered in tiny fruit.  That won’t be ready for harvest until December/January, but I’m keeping a close eye on them already.

1806 vine

This is one of the our grape vines (for eating grapes).  Husband cut it back last year and it has grown with new vigour this season.


In the veggie patch . . .

1806 courgettes

Courgettes are spreading and we’ve already begun harvesting & enjoying them while they’re small & tender.

1806 spuds

Same goes for potatos which husband planted under straw this year.  We’ve already enjoyed some baby new potatos (from the middle row).


We’ve got 18 tomato plants under cover and first tommies are there.

1806 tommies 02

1806 tommies 01

Other plants are looking a bit sorry for themselves, but growing nonetheless, apart from the brocoli which has completly gone to seed.

1806 veggie patch

And I have no idea what’s going on with my beans this year!


We’ve planted 3 rows so far, at fortnightly intervals, but things are either coming up patchy or not at all.  Husband suggests he turn over the soil in what was the hens’ enclosure to plant more beans there.  I think he might have to.

vitamins galore, sashing and quilting

It’s that time of year again . . . when we can go with our little basket into the veggie patch, and bring back fresh home-grown produce for dinner!

veggie & fruit

Here are some of the home-grown ingredients for dinner the other night.  Courgettes roughly chopped up and pois gourmands  which my husband stir fried with chicken in miso.  Plus some freshly chopped chives to sprinkle on top of the tofu.  Followed by a mix of strawberries and raspberries, which we enjoyed with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream.  Yummy.

I am very lucky that my husband loves cooking, and he’s an excellent chef.   Now that he’s retired, he is taking over more and more of the cooking, although I do help with preparation.  This leaves me with more time to do what I love . . . crafting.

F2F2 blocks sashed

And recent days have seen me busy upstairs in my sewing room, quilting.  All I will show you for now is this.  To say, I’ve finally finished quilting all thirty blocks of my F2F2 quilt and am ready to move on to the QAYG part.

I was umming and ahhing over whether to use white strips or more of the solid orange . . . I’m going to keep things really bright, and QAYG strips will be in orange both front and back.

And speaking of bright . . . lookee here


One of our cactus plants has flowered!  This is the first year it’s ever had flowers, and there are so many of them!  Cactus is obviously telling us that it really likes its place in the veranda.