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Inspired by comments

I am so behind with blogging I should pay a fine! I have also to catch up on everyone else’s wonderful blog posts and apologise for being so sloth in adding my comments.

But tonight I managed to read a few and this prompted me to manage an update. The Anxious Gardener is busy. I grabbed the most wonderful sunny day this week to heave out my ride on mower and tackle one of our two vast fields. One hectare of overgrown grass, mother nature had managed to somehow keep under control. My panic of last autumn as the grass grew to shoulder height, was resolved. Nature cuts down her grass tresses and rots them leaving the fresh grass to shoot in spring. The sun shone and the shorter more stubborn grasses were easily mowed and after four hours of chugging in I hoped a rather artistic manner, creating crop circles and patches for the caterpillars to breed in, we celebrated with a dog and cat walk. The Jack Russell puppies and seven cats have a bonding session and we head off for a tour of the fields. It’s time I cherish. What can be better than time spent with this happy little gang, leaping through the grass, climbing trees and keeping close to us as we chatter about the following days plans and adventures.

Thistles and Kiwis asked us about small pleasures. This month has had many. We cleared all the mud from the front of our farmhouse and laid gravel and stones. We pruned trees. We installed a woodburner and we planned our new gates and fences and cleaned ditches. But best of all we are rescuing another cockerel. We have three so far. I am not sure I have even introduced you yet..another post is due. I have chickens and rescued a naked Neck boy last year. A Cou Nou in French. Mr Chicken has settled and rules the roost. We moved and a new chicken barn is about to be built. With more space a germ of a dream could perhaps become reality. I wanted to rescue battery hens. In England there are many such rescues. Poor ghostly pale, floppy combed and knackered hens hope for a new life and on a regular basis a mercy call goes out for rehoming. The sheds are cleared at some ungodly hour and the girls feel fresh air and grass beneath their toes for the first time. In France we have yet to trace a rescue team. The hen rehoming wasnt possible, but somehow word has got round that I rescued roosters instead.

Ronnie.
Billy.

Ronnie Rooster and Billy Bantum arrived. They get on. Mr Chicken does not. There was blood. A torn comb. More wire was installed and they now tolerate each other’s neighbourhood. The girls have “days” with each cockerel. It’s actually hard allocating who goes with whom. Mr Chicken is a big guy and a little hard on the girls. Visits are limited. It’s a logistical nightmare and I need my new barn space and better accessible pens. But it’s a happy coop. This week Napoleon will join us. A handsome Maran who has been ousted by an alpha male. Lonely and isolated he needs a new home. Well that’s us. It will be muddly. Probably the other boys will be put out or maybe they will just crow louder. A short quarantine and then the girls can visit. For me it’s just a bigger meal worm order. One more boy makes no difference. With no neighbours there are no rules here. The more the merrier as they say. Actually a big pleasure.

Finally I get to be here.
Ink feathers.
My illustration of Heff. Criteria was an animal or bird in its natural environment with some humour or narrative.
London. The old and the new. The skyline changes all the time.

Other small pleasures? I made the perfect cup of tea last week. In fact 10 cups. I was in London. I booked a short course at the UAL to study drawing and painting nature. The UAL is part of the Camberwell and Centre St Martin’s Art schools. The course was held in the restored Kings Cross area. Once a hot bed of prostitution and crime, it’s now gentrified, cafe lined and safe. Back in the 80’s we carried pepper sprays and rape alarms there. Last week I carried a Tate Modern bag with hog hair brushes. Times change in some parts of London. In others the knife crime is incomprehensible. I took care. I stayed in the safe places and enjoyed my cosy apartment.

Without my husband, I had to make tea. In France tea is awful. If I make it, its even worse! Yorkshire tea however, has arrived. Hopefully Brexit wont scupper that. So I made an effort. I scalded the tea leaves. I added milk after and sugar and I took time. The art course was worth the effort too. my future art plans are ambitious. I am renovating an old 1970’s paint shop to set up an attelier. The white paper fear had to be conquered, so the course was an ice breaker. I met some lovely fellow students and will teturn for further courses on printmaking and botanical illustration. The one issue however is the Coronavirus. With chinese students en mass round Kings Cross and the risks anyone could have been in touch with family back home along with now cases arising in France and UK, my plans are on hold for a while. Playing safe. I have a new life. I cant risk it.

Talking of risk, Storyteller mentioned the death of Kobe the basketball player. Sadly I do not trust helicopters or flying for that matter. Turbulent flights to my husband’s home in Romania and a failed engine put an end to that. Even the fast train from Paris to La Souteraine scares me. I do a slow train to Paris. It’s cheap at forty euros from Montlucon and at a pinch I could jump, Sundance and Cassidy style and incur only a busted leg if I had to. For that reason I still drive an English van. Sitting on the right I can avoid being hit by a coffee fuelled Frenchman or woman. I can swerve into the hedge for safety and live another day. I can’t say the same for my Citroen 2CV.

Amelie

Yes I actually have one! Another item off my bucket list I have failed to tell you lovely bloggers about. That is for another post, but this small pleasure is a long overdue dream. I always wanted one. I first saw one near the Kings Road. Like Toad in Wind In The Willows I was smitten. Love at first sight. But I was sensible, newly married, and skint!

The long grass awaiting the mass butterfly breeding season ahead

Forward over 30 years and now in France there was no excuses. I found an emerald green Special 1983. My favorite colour. We towed it from Vichy on our trailer. It’s maximum speed is 65km per hour on the flat. Up hill we are inclined to lean forward in the vain hope it assists the climb. Downhill we beep our very loud claxon because we can. It’s a glorified lawnmower with deck chairs under a roll top canopy. If we got hit, we’d be pushing up daisies in no time. The advice is to only drive in fair weather, in daylight hours and not on narrow lanes. That’s sad because driving this great little car makes you smile. It’s slowness gives you time to take in the views, amuse yourself with slightly temperamental manual instruments, and plan ahead on how to traverse the next incline. With no power steering roundabouts can be unnerving. You have to “drive” this tin snail. It needs to be coaxed, respected. I haven’t used a choke for years. The air conditioning is a long flap above the bonnet you crank open via a knob under the dash. I have cushions in the back. A sun hat. A hamper. I have my yellow Mr Happy hanging from the rear view mirror. This car makes me very happy.

Finds at Brocante for the writing studio

And before I drone on too long, Vero, now from The French Chronicles has updated her French blog. That’s my resolution for 2020. We all revamp our blogs at some point I think. The fact so many of us are hanging in there is great. But it’s not easy keeping them relevant, tight to subject and inspirational. Mine had certainly wandered from its Frenchness at times and I have failed to add links to topics that have inspired me in my renovation journey and creative plans. So changes are afoot. The blog desk is being renovated. It’s a rescued desk, a pre-loved collected after a short and pretty journey through the French lanes. The owner had no further use for it. A brocante would take it but better a fellow chicken owner. Once the desk had gone we stayed in touch. A new friend in a new country. Next Heff the Pekin duck arrived. He was pre-loved too but had lost his two girls to a fox. Too amorous with the new girls, once again my friend and I agreed a handover time. Finally Ronnie rooster came too. In France word gets round fast in the Brit pack. We might be rural but it’s a close knit community. The social media forums sure help and the negotiations are swift. I think because most of us have arrived here clutching onto dreams and maybe some baggage too along the way, we all want to move on swiftly and embrace this French life quickly. I know I do. Change is good. Fulfilled dreams are even better.

Heff and Penquin

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