Welcome to the visual diary for November….
From The Forest
Squirrels (black ones) are busy gathering chestnuts and
stockpiling for winter. There are signs of sanglier everywhere
and ‘la chasse’ season is in full swing, with extra days granted
to hunters and a new law that allows wild boar to be sold..
As high winds sweep up through the valley, leaves have been
whirling and many of the chestnut trees are now bare. The harvest
has ended and the road is once again quiet as autumn fever abates
– it has been too dry for mushrooms.
Saturday 16th November. Although it is still chilly, the wind
has calmed and a gentle, welcome rain is falling…
17th November. And then torrential rain, ceaselessly, for days…
In The Garden
With unseasonaly hot weather, tomatoes have continued to ripen
and strawberries have appeared. The raspberries have also started
producing again and the salad patch is full of baby mesclun mix
leaves. The fennel is nearly ready and green beans dying off as
we harvest the last squash and silverbeet (blettes) takes off.
Days are spent clearing the beds, weeding and cutting, as well
as gathering seeds. The compost is filling with offcuts and
potting mix as we clear out the hothouse. The olives are almost
ready to pick as they turn black – we are unsure of the variety
(the tree was in the garden when we arrived) and have a different
method of conservation to try this year.
Mademoiselle Célestine joined in garden activities for a day
– part of an experiment to see if she would settle in her new
Exploring – Further Afield
1st November. Post: Toussaint
Château Azay-le-Rideau, Indre et Loire.
Walking in the woods, in the grounds of a private château near St Maure de Touraine, paths lead to étangs that are completely obscured by trees. A haven for birds and animals, they offer magical views as the mirror-calm waters reflect passing clouds… interupted only by fish jumping…
On The Menu
Pesto – the basil has grown so well this year there is an abundance
to use before the first frost. Slow-baked tomatoes, Provençal style
with olive oil and herbs. Apple tarts with blackberries and spiced
grape confiture. Raclette and tartiflette as the weather suddenly
cools and the icy fingers of the Tremontane grasp at the stones
of the bergerie.
Canigou has had his first sprinkling of powder as temperatures
plunge to 6 degrees overnight here and snow falls at higher
altitude in the Pyrénées (600 m). Sunsets have been dramatic
and the trees surrounding the mas flared in a blaze of autumnal
colour before they were stripped bare by winds.
The garden around the bergerie is flourishing…
As the fire glows in the grate, we have now laid down carpets
on the terracotta tiles and pulled out jackets and jumpers in
readiness for winter – there is no gradual descent into cooler
days, it always surprises me how sudden the change can be…
one day 24 degrees as we enjoy breakfast and lunch on the
terrace, the next, out with a down hooded coat and gloves…
Thursday 28th November. Snap frozen…
Long wisps of mist hover above white fields. Chimneys smoke and
the gauge in the Citroën has given an ice warning – it is -4ºC
and far from the postcard view of the South in November. Thousands
of leaves tumble in an instant, snap frozen and ‘shocked’ off