Monday, 22 June 2015

Rocking along.....

Another month has slipped past, seems to be the way these days. Summer has at last arrived, after a decidedly variable, unpredictable sort of Spring. Temps now firmly established on a daily high-twenties/thirty basis. All a bit tiring at times, though we have breezes from the coast to temper the heat. Unbearable at times overnight, though.

The festival season is unpon us and we've been to a small local music festival that was, in reality, pretty dire with Hunting Horn ensembles and a truly scarily out of tune, for most part, Big Band with a Brit singer who struggled to find pitch most of the time. His vesion of the old Sinatra classic, 'New York, New York' was frightening, and that's being charitable.

We're off to UK in afew days time; only for abour 4 or 5 days, then back. A friend's daughter is going to house-sit for the cats, dogs and Hens. Hopefully she'll also water the vegies which are now growing profusely. We're already being over-run by Courgettes and Strawberries, Balckcurrants, Rasps and Goosgogs are all excellent. We've also, sadly, had a visitation from the dreaded Doryphore - Colorado Beetle. They are rapatious bastards and can strip Pots/Toms/Aubergines leaf growth in no time at all. J seems to be on top of them now and we think/hope to have caughtem in time before any true damage was done.

We were surprised to find them here though we once saw them marching in huge numbers down the petite rue where we were renting a cottage a few years back about 80 miles South of here. So we knew thm to be in the area/region.

We were given another young Hen a few days ago. She's rather nice, I reckon, though she is being mercilessly harried and attacked by the other four old lags who resent her arrival. It's normal, of course: 'henpecking is a viscious fact of Chicken life, I fear. We're seperating her from the remainder of the flock now and she wanders the entire garden freely and returns to her own hutch each evening at dusk. Oddly, however, she manages to fly/jump ober the fence into the main Hen-run for egg-laying and so far manages this without attack from the others before reversing the process and escaping once again into the main garden.

Yesterday evening we were surprised to see a couple of owls seemingly having a bit of a fight as they flew low over the bottom part of the garden. Territorial, no doubt. They seemed to sort themselves out before flapping off and one of them took over quartering a neighbours garden. They must be facing a challenge from our three cats who still catch mountains of small rodents, tjough Ginger is unlikely be a threat to their diet as he tnds to let the little creagures go and they oft escape his clutches.

Golly, one of the new dogs - the younger of the two - has develpoed a skin problem and is losing his coat at an alarming rate. It seems to have coincided with his being 'Frontlined', so we've shampooed him with a medicated animial product and will ensure he has a different anti-flea/parasite application in future in the hope that will solve the problem.

There are loads of snakes around this summer: mostly Western Whip Snakes, it seems. These are attractive greeny/yellow critters, non-venomous and a pleasure to see. They are on the verges of many fields/woodland edges and scurry out of sight as we approach with a loud, crashing noise through the dry grasses and verge hedgerwos. As a result, they're pretty easy to follow and identify. We also came across a giant bright green caterpillar - clearly a Hawk Moth or something similar, we eventually decided it was in fact a Swallow-Tail Butterfly caterpillar. Hopefully, it will survive the snakes who would no doubt be more than happy to meet it.

We're off to Cognac Blues Festival in a week or so, where we're on the gust-list of an old US soul singer, Otis Clay, for the event. I know his manager who has added us to his meet list for the event, as she'll also be over for it. In addition, a young US blues player, Selwyn Birchwood will also be on the same bill, and as we met him a few years back just after he won a number of big US blues music awards, we'll be catching up with him and his band too. We also have Passes for the entire event, though we won't stay for all of it this year.

Next month we were planning to attend another Blues Festival in Cahors, in Lot et Garonne, a fair way South of us. However, though we have passes etc for the event agreed, it clashes with the Annual Renault 4L International Meeting which is held a lot closer to us in a small town near the Loire. So, with a recently purchased Renault4 GTL - stil running well - we have elected to attend that event instead, where we will be camping and meeting up with a substantial British contingent who are travelling over specially for it. Should be a gas, I'd say. I certainly hope so, though I fear many will be anorack-enthusiastes with near-perect-concours condition cars, unlike ours which is scruffy but servicable!:

Bill Wyman was perfectly pleasant to chat with. Happy to talk about The Stones etc - despite his minders trying to control everything and keep the Stones on the back-burner. He waffled on about Mick and Charlie and only fell silent - with a capital 'S' - when I introduced dear old Keef to the conversation. Clearly some history there, I guess!

I've also a Pass for the forthcoming Cropready Festival in Oxfordshire later this summer. I hope to meet up with Emmy Lou Harris who  will be there with her old buddy Rodney Crowell, a great US/Americana singer-songwriter that I met back in January at Glasgow's wonderful Celtic Connections Festival: