Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The good, the bad and the ugly of our long weekend

Thanks to Pentecost Monday we have just had a lovely three-day family weekend with no school or work interruptions and during the days at least, wall-to-wall sunshine. Here is a little of what we have been up to - the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good
Saturday afternoon started with a picnic before a wander around a garden show at a local chateau, Fete des Plantes et du Jardin au Domaine de Péré. It has been a regular early summer event for us for the last few years and this year it was better than ever. Loads of lovely plants, ideas galore and the cutest garden ornaments ever. We even watched a demonstration of a truffle hunting dog put on by the Association des Trufficultures des Deux Sevres and we didn’t realise we lived in a truffle producing area. We came home with some new pots and lots of goodies to plant up, which is what we spent the pre-apero hour doing. Tidying up the terrace and pottering with the pots before relaxing with a glass of chilled rosé, it doesn’t get much better than that.

French Village Diaries Fete des Plantes et Jardin au Domaine de Péré Deux Sevres Poitou Charentes France
Truffle dog demonstration

French Village Diaries Fete des Plantes et Jardin au Domaine de Péré Deux Sevres Poitou Charentes France
Garden ornaments at Domaine de Péré

French Village Diaries Fete des Plantes et Jardin au Domaine de Péré Deux Sevres Poitou Charentes France
Fete des Plantes et du Jardin au Domaine de Péré

With the warm temperatures and sunshine we also managed to get out on our bikes three times over the weekend. We plotted our routes to take in different sections of the Boutonne river valley that gave us gentle, shady cycling. The source of this river is in our local town of Chef Boutonne and it then winds it’s way through the south Deux Sevres and into the Charente Maritime before joining the River Charente near to Rochefort.

French Village Diaries river Boutonne Poitou Charentes France
The River Boutonne

The Bad
Despite the sunshine, it has been quite a wild weather weekend with storms every night, however we were very lucky to miss the really nasty ones. I usually wake at the first rumble of thunder and then worry myself into a sleepless state while the rest of the house continues to snore peacefully. After the third night of storm warnings, despite us having nothing more than distant rumbles of thunder during the previous nights I was a little too wound up to sleep properly last night. The window rattling thunder we had during the evening didn’t help and neither did the local paper reporting pictures of tennis ball sized hailstones. Yes – tennis ball sized! I was speaking to our insurance agent this afternoon and she has had a busy morning dealing with damage from fallen trees, hail damage to property, vignerons who have lost their entire grape harvest for the year and farmers who have lost fields of cereal crops. I am feeling very relieved and grateful today.

I had a bit of a shock when I opened the shutters at the lounge doors on Saturday morning as this poor fellow had taken refuge from the overnight storm. He wasn’t very big, so I managed to persuade him into our spider catcher gadget, which also allowed us to have a good look at him and try to identify him. We think he is a harmless smooth snake or courleuve lisse and as their population is in decline we set him free in a shady spot by our compost heap. It wasn’t the best start to my day I have to admit.

French Village Diaries smooth snake Deux Sevres Poitou Charentes France
Smooth snake

The Ugly
If storms and snakes weren’t enough to dampen our spirits we also found a tick on the dog. If you thought getting a cat to take a tablet was a high risk, stressful event you have never tried to ‘do’ something to our dog. Having discovered it we had to persuade her into her muzzle (to ensure our safety – see here) and then Ade held her down while I bravely went in with the alcohol and tweezers. Thankfully all Mini did was shake like a leaf and then spend the rest of the day hiding under the stairs and I’m pleased to report the tick was successfully removed.

Today we are back to a normal routine, Ade left for an early morning flight to London and Ed is back at school, although not for long as we only have four weeks until the big summer holidays – yippee!

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