Sunday, 10 May 2015

Je Ne Suis Pas Un Rock Star.....

May has been an odd month here in France so far. Too much windy weather with dipping temps - never Swedish dips - and rainy too much of the time, for my liking. Now again, at last, we seem to have turned a corner with warm, sunny days and glorious vegetation/flower growth etc. Lots of beautiful Goldfinches bobbing around the garden, picking up grain from our Hens run and drinking from the pool. All beginning to feel as it should at this time of year here in this part of Froggoland.

The cats are once again living outdoors for the most part and have changed diet from Whiskas to dried food, supplemented by the ocassional mouse and sadly - Goldfinch! Save of course for Ginger who remains firmly rooted to the idea of living his life as an indoor cat. Golly could do with having his hair cut severely, as it's a beautiful, straight, almost wispy coat that flaps and flounces around him as he belts around the garden. It will soon be too hot for him, so we must make arrangements. Benny on the other hand has a shortish coat and follows J around like the proverbial lap-dog!

J is once again busy in the garden, following a plan of sorts and having again manured the veg plot/potager etc., has began planting for the season: Strawberries are doing well and we should have some very soon; Apple, Pear, Gooseberries, Rasps, Blackcurrants and Cherries all coming on and as we had no late frost and bumper flower blooms on the Victoria Plums and Greengage trees, we are hopeful of a good crop there. The Vines are in good heart and the Walnut tree we managed to rescue from its darkish space behind stifling Hazelnut growth - which we cleared away for most part - is also looking much happier. The Pots, Toms, Courgettes, Aubergines and Beans are also all in though, as the temps have been a bit lower than expected till now, the Beans have yet to sprout. Maybe have to replant/reseed those. The Melons are going in today and the lettuces are already well established. We will add Cauli, Cabbage and Broc to the mix and though we have elected to forego Onions this year we will plant some Shallots, a favourite in Froggo cooking and a winner. Also Garlic, but not until late Autumn together with Leeks etc and a range of winter veg. It's amazing what can be grown here and we still have loads of fabulous beans etc from last year in the freezer. Only just finishing off last season's Aubergines now, tonight will be their last.

The locals all love our old 'new' car, and smile and wave heartily when we drive through the village. They almost all had one at sometime in their younger lives and, if not, admit to having had the ubiquitous - and now collectable - Citreon Deux CV.  As the Renault 4 is of a similar stripe, they are pleased with our choice and make comments about how we are now just like them - ie. driving left-hooker. It's great fun to drive and people actually smile evrywhere we go, stop and point etc. These simple cars, once so common here, are now few and far apart, it seems, much to our surprise.

Our neighbours' Goats appear to be thriving, again to our surprise, as the neighbours, well meaning though they are, clearly still have little idea of how to handle or manage the creatures. We always had a few for milk - Anglo Nubians - when we lived in the Brecon Beacons area, in the hills above Crickhowell. So we have books on husbandry and many years experience with them. The young nanny kid is growing fast and now climbs the neighbours' crumbling walls and peers over at us, always a troubling sign and development given the breeds propensity for trouble, their curiosity and voracious appetite for most garden plants etc. We'll have to keep a keen eye out for the little boooger:

Always on the lookout for nosh and trouble: just over 1 month old, our neighbour's Alpine Nanny Kid

Today is just too hot for gardening, so J has elected to have a day pottering from time to time in it but mostly sitting back, in shade, and reading:

J struggling with parasol while Ginge makes one of his rare forays into the outside world and Benny sits supercilliously in the shade to the side.

The entire village has undergone a facelift-cum-makeover in the past six months with cables being put underground, new water mains pipes and new drainage. To cap it all they also landscaped the place which will no doubt, as many neighbours say, result in a hike in local taxes/rates next year in all probability. However, it certainly looks better, in our view:

This last one, is our alleyway to the house, down behind the Mairie on edge of village.

And last winter, at this small pond outside the former Cure's house - now empty and unused - a beautiful Kingfisher cottoned on to the fact there were large goldfish in the pond, so steadily picked them off so there are none remaining. Sad in a way but a pleasure to see the bird in middle of the village:

I'm still busy writing for an ever increasing number of music titles across three continents and receive anything between 20 and 60 CDs a week for review. Keeps me occupied and it's something I know about and enjoy. I'd prefer it if I could have a better income from it but it's steadily improving, I guess, and I'm making good connections in the business both in the UK/ Europe and the USA. I reckon I'll have to move into music/artist PR work to get a decent, reliable income from it - a similar field but not one I have great experience with. 
A few weeks ago, I spent an afternoon chatting to one of my personal favourite UK musicians, Andy Fairweather Low. A Welshman, he was frontman with Amen Corner back in the 1960s and for past 15 years has been Clapton's guitarist - Clapton credits him with the arrangements for his hugely successful 'Unplugged' album and Andy did help with them, he confirms, and went on to record it and tour in support of its release with Clapton's band. In addition, he  also played with George Harisson; Van Morrison; Tom Jones; Pink Floyd; Bob Dylan, almost everyone of importance, it seems, including our daughter, LVP's old buddy, Robin Gibb of the BeeGees. Nowadays when not fronting his own outfit, The Low Riders, he tours and records with Clapton - he was in New York's Madison Square Gardens with him only last week - and is a member of Bill Wyman's band the Rhythm Kings. Speaking of whom: I'm scheduled/down to chat with Bill next week about his latest solo album, the first in about 30 years. I have a preview copy etc and it is all a bit like his surprise hit 'Je Suis Un Rock Star' in the early 1980s. Still he should be interesting, given his remarkable background!

A cheesy song but I'm looking forward to chatting with him Wednesday 13th - lucky for some, I trust - middle of next week. Andy Fairweather Low tells me Bill's a real nice guy. I certainly hope so!