Category Archives: Nature

Lichen to This

‘Why don’t you write a post about lichen?’ the SF asked recently, inspired by the plentiful specimens adorning the walls of our barn. What I knew about lichen would go on the proverbial postage stamp – not that this usually … Continue reading

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Montgolfières and Shooting Stars

  The sky is where it’s all at for the moment – whether during the day or at night. We have been enjoying luminous days with improbably blue skies for the past few days. The evenings are, alas, starting to … Continue reading

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Trip to the Camargue 1

It’s flat. Very flat. And most of it is barely a metre above sea level. The Camargue is a precious wetland area, the delta of the River Rhône, and a national park. I stayed there for a few days in … Continue reading

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Hedgehogs in the Bush

Occasionally in the winter when it’s grey and cold and summer seems a long way off – like this year – I wonder what the hell we are doing here in la France profonde. Then something happens that makes you … Continue reading

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Let There Not Be Light: Light Pollution in France

One of the things that attracted us to this place back in 1997 was the lack of light pollution. We came house-hunting in April that year and enjoyed skies of cloudless blue in the daytime and inky velvet at night, … Continue reading

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Orchids and SW France Weather April 2013

Orchids grow abundantly in our region at this time of year. We have good and bad orchid years – no doubt a reflection of the weather we’ve had. This year is a good one. Our walking group took a route … Continue reading

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Geraniums

Wrought iron balconies decked with glowing geraniums are evocative of France for me – and for many others, I suspect. So after such a grey and damp winter, it was nice to introduce a touch of summer by making our … Continue reading

Posted in Gardening, Nature | Tagged , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Seven Signs of Spring in SW France

Spring has taken a long time to arrive this year. Everything is coming out very late and the weather – up till this weekend – has generally been cooler than normal. However, we saw incontrovertible signs that spring is here … Continue reading

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Getting a Buzz(ard)

This weekend, thank goodness, the weather bucked the trend and we experienced luminous sunshine and improbably blue skies from dawn till dusk. We sat outside to eat lunch on both days – a rare event this year – and attacked … Continue reading

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Snow Again…

This is starting not to be funny. Yesterday it rained and the snow had almost melted completely when we went to bed. By the time we woke up it had all come back; as much as before, if not more. … Continue reading

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Snakes Alive!

  I don’t care for snakes but, like many, I am fascinated by them. I’m sure this is something deeply primal. Snakes equal danger but you are rooted to the spot watching them. The latest in a series of snake … Continue reading

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Monthly Météo: Weather in SW France May 2012

Contrary to popular opinion, this May was one of the best we’ve had in 14 years. However, temperatures were very variable. This, in my opinion, contributed to “the cold”, which has been around most of our acquaintances and landed up … Continue reading

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Penne: Silent Sentinel

    This week our walking group chose a route that the SF and I hadn’t done before, close to the village of Penne in the Tarn Département. Since we didn’t go into the village, I’m afraid that nearly all … Continue reading

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Wine Blight: How the French Wine Industry was almost Wiped Out

France is peppered with wayside crosses. Some are modest and plain, fashioned out of a single lump of stone with perhaps a roughly incised date. Others are more elaborate, featuring carvings and inscriptions, in stone or iron. Some were erected … Continue reading

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Ticked Off

Before we moved to southwest France I had never seen a tick. They are very unpleasant blood-sucking creatures that make my flesh creep when I think about them. Unfortunately, they are endemic in our neck of the woods and have … Continue reading

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Nature Comes Back to Life

I am constantly amazed at nature’s ability for regeneration. Following the longest and most rigorous cold snap in 25 years, everything outside looked dead. I gazed out glumly on the brown, seared leaves of my shrubs and anticipated having to … Continue reading

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Bats in the Pigeonnier

Thanks to this week’s warm spell, signs of spring are everywhere, although somewhat later than usual. Our daffodils suddenly burst into flower one morning, clumps of tiny, brilliant purple violets have appeared on the lawn, the dawn chorus is tuning … Continue reading

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Saffron: Quercy’s Red Gold

  Most people associate saffron with Middle Eastern cooking. But this exotic and highly-prized spice was successfully produced in the Quercy region of southwest France throughout the Middle Ages. After a hiatus following the French Revolution, production resumed in the Lot Valley … Continue reading

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Walking the Viaur Valley

  After a weekend of cold winds and low temperatures – I was picking walnuts wearing a woolly hat and a jacket on Sunday – the weather turned again on Monday. A cloudless blue sky and temperatures in the mid-20s … Continue reading

Posted in Aveyron, French life, Nature, Places, Walking in France | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Signs of Autumn and Weather Update September 2011

Despite the unseasonably hot weather and the persistent drought down here, there are signs that autumn is here: There’s a perceptible nip in the air in the morning, sometimes accompanied by skeins of mist over the valley below. The swimming … Continue reading

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Awesome Auvergne

This week we made our annual short visit – almost a pilgrimage – to the Cantal Département. It is a spectacularly beautiful, mountainous area in the Auvergne Region, about two hours’ drive from us. It offers excellent walking: the peaks … Continue reading

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Figs and Fig Recipes

  This is the time of year for figs, those strangely luscious and fleshy fruits. We have plucked these figs from our own tree – alas, we have only one. They are unusual in that they are not the small … Continue reading

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Feral felines

We were on cat feeding duty last week while some friends were away. It wasn’t actually their cat: they don’t know where it came from. She turned up one day desperately hungry and demanding food. She remained ravenous, however much … Continue reading

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White birds and weather August 2011

It’s already 6th September and the SF (Statistics Freak, aka my husband) is going frantic because I haven’t yet posted up the weather update for August. Before I do, I’ll share with you the image above that I took a … Continue reading

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What a Hoot: in Praise of Owls

Yesterday morning, I opened the door to our bolet (local word for a covered veranda). The tell-tale signs were there on the stone-flagged floor. They were back, after a gap of several years. We would have to act fast.

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Dry gardening

I’m back on stream again, having had awful computer problems recently. This explains the lack of posts in the last week or so. These were solved only by investing in a new one. It’s a real luxury for the moment … Continue reading

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The First Cuckoo

One of the harbingers of spring has arrived. The cuckoo has already been heard – if not seen – in this corner of southwest France. This year it has arrived early.

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Bee glad

Last week was cold, grey, damp and utterly depressing, as it can be in February here. To the insult of greyness was sometimes added the injury of pluie verglaçante (freezing rain). This was not a week for venturing out. We didn’t … Continue reading

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Walnuts and walnut recipes

  I’ve written about walnuts before, but that was in May when they were unripe. June is the time to pick the unripe green ones for walnut wine (see my post about it, here). October is when the nuts start … Continue reading

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Mushroom picking fever

After this week’s rain, the event we’ve been waiting for has arrived – the mushroom season. People carrying baskets or plastic bags are seen disappearing furtively into the woods. They look round suspiciously, as if in a spy movie, in … Continue reading

Posted in Food/drink/recipes, French life, Nature | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments