Sunday, 22 February 2015


Another week done gone by. Today is positively Spring-like; bright blue skies, sunshine - with warmth in it - and birds fluttering around. I took Golly for a long walk just after noon and disturbed a pair of Ravens busily renovating an old nest high in an ancient Oak tree. And so, even if I might be optimistic, the darn birds are unlikely to get it wrong.

I've listened out in the hope of hearing our old feathered friends The Common Crane passing overhead en-route to Scandinavia on their Spring migration, but have heard nothing. We are quite close to their normal overhead migratory channels, so remain hopeful. In addition, there's a significant lake site nearby which I'd think is perfect for a resting/refuelling overnight spot. I know they have Avocet, Spoonbill and many other species there, so would expect the Cranes, or Grues, as they're known here - Trana, in Sweden - to possibly benefit from the site. It's a nature reserve with hides etc provided, so almost perfect. They used to arrive in numbers, with an incredible cacophony, (genuinely extraordinary noise) in Sweden around us in lateish March/April for the nesting season.

Cranes in field below house, Sweden. (Not a good piccy)

As it's almost March, I'd also expect the old Hoopoe/Hups (here in Froggoland) to arrive in the near future. We have a pair that nest in woodland surrounding the house/garden. Always a pleasure  to hear their call and see them pecking in the garden:

A few evenings ago we were invited out to the local FM Radio station for a pre-blues festival show that was going out live/en direct. The show ran for five hours. We turned up, as suggested, within minutes of it kicking off and were ushered into the studio with a mic in front of us. Everyone was already pretty pissed. A good bottle of Glenmorangie was almost empty and the wine was flowing freely. What could we do? We had to help out with a fair few glasses from a local, Loire Chateau and polish off the Scotch. I found myself suddenly, and for no discernible reason, being asked for my thoughts on a variety of subjects including the previous blues festival of 2014 and to explain the meaning of guitar finger-picking - in French. I managed to largely avoid the questions where possible and restricted myself to single-word responses, even using English on occasion. By the time we left the gang were pretty well smashed and still had hours of live broadcasting ahead of them. We drove home and listened to the show for much of the evening as it steadily became increasingly riotous and raucous.

I started this blogging lark shortly after having a, fortunately minor, stroke. It gave me a routine back then, in Sweden, and J was able to see what was going on as she was working at the time in Midwifery in St Mary's, Paddington, working - as an NHS employee - on the private unit, The Lindo, much favoured by stars/celebs/ royalty: Diana gave birth to he two Princes there and the trend continues with the latest crop from William & whatsername.  Having moved around a fair bit, Spain, Sweden and now France, I find things rather staid and pedestrian (almost normal if you get my drift) here, after Sweden with its extremes. But we have pitched up in a remarkably welcoming and friendly village. With only about 50 souls, there is a genuine warmth to the locals who have been incredibly warm and welcoming to us. Of course, it helps that J is fluent in the lingo, but they try to include me too.

Just before Xmas I was rushed off into a local hospital as an emergency surgical admission. The villagers rallied around J with offers of help etc. Very heartening, to say the least. And when I was discharged after about two weeks as an inpatient, they again were astonishingly considerate etc, calling to visit me and enquiring after my health. Indeed, they still do from time to time. It would be difficult to single out any one person but without doubt our near neighbours, the farming couple who run a large organic farm on the village edge, were and always have been exceptionally warm and friendly. I trundle down to the farm every few days to buy our 'raw'/unpasturised organic milk by the litre as the cows are literally being milked. The charge is a mere 60 centimes a litre. Which can't be bad.

The village from one of the many farm tracks where we walk ourselves and the dogs.

J spent most of today working out in the garden, prepping things for the next round of planting. She had a good day but as the temp is dropping has decided to call it a day. As will I. It is now wine o'clock, after all.

The garden in full bloom - if that's the word - last summer. The bottom wall is festooned with plums, blackberries - always a pest to contain - and vines.

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