Saturday, 20 September 2014

A Move, an Ensilage.....and introducing Harry.

A pile of Tabbycats
Well we have move in.  We always said that the day we caught the kittens was the day we would move and by sneakily feeding them in the cat boxes we just shut the doors and into the car they went.   They were so good and only one of them started crying towards the end of the 2 ½ hour journey, and I think that was because the poor little thing had been sick.  So safely ensconced at Bonkers we now have four house cats, who show no signs of really wanting to go out.  They have turned into lap cats and it is almost as if it is a case of “ we have done the living under the bush, eating squirrel and rat and now we want cushions and cuddles!”

The not so "Secret Garden"
An Enid Blyton Mushroom
The weather has been so good here.  Much better than the summer, and reminded us why we always chose this time of the year to visit Normandy.  So whilst the good weather holds, we are going as much as we can in the garden.   “Secret Garden” is not completely clear but at least we can see the hedges. 

Our neighbours have told us about the people who lived here before us.  Not the Brits who we bought the place off and for one reason or another, had let it all to get overgrown, but the couple before that, who had a rose garden at the front of the house and a vegetable garden in Secret Garden.  As that is what we have planned it was good to hear that we are turning the gardens back to how they were.  Not sure that we will get veg next year though. 

Max getting "Tooled up"
Max going in for the kill
The front has had a major massacre and we found a vine peach tree and roses, which we have cut back, hopefully to become bushes again.  I say “found” our next door neighbour Nelly, is very knowledgable about the house.  Her husband Rolande grew up in the hamlet and was billeted in Bonkers during the war as the Nazi’s took over their house. Nelly has taken me around the garden telling me what fruit trees we have hidden.  Vigne de peche (vine peach), Quetsche (a small type of plum that I think we would call a Damson)  Noisette (Hazelnut) and something that the French call Le Neflier.  This turns out to be a Medlar tree, an ancient fruit tree that I have heard of but never seen.  So plenty of jam making opportunities for next year me thinks.
Sunday saw the excitment of the Fete Ensilage, literally translated as "silage" so we didn't know what to expect.  In fact it is a Tractor festival, or Sourdeval's answer to the Dorset Steam Fair.  I can't believe that we waited around in a field for two hours to watch a load of old tractors parade up and down a dusty field.  I think there is more to it than that, as it went on until late in the evening (we didn't) and when we passed a couple of days later there was a beautifully harvested field.
No not something for the children, a whole load of tractors to collect!

My turn next Sunday it is a Vide Grenier  (empty attic sale.)

Highlight of the week
 has been the delivery of Harry, our tondeuse autoportee (sit-on lawn mower) and Max’s new toy! We needed something beefy to cope with our field and Harry certainly is that.

Please can you clear the ivy off our chimney while you are up there?

The telephone line was put in on Thursday.  Great excitiment, they had to actually lay new line from the main road to get us attached.  Though about asking him to remove that ivy for us whilst he was up
there, but thought that might be pushing my luck!

The next big excitement is our furniture arriving on Tuesday.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Introducing “Bonkers” Farm

We hesitate to give our new home this title formally, just in case the word “bonkers” has a derogatory meaning in patois Normandy, but this is what amongst friends we are calling our new home.

 “Bonkers” is a traditional stone Normandy house dating from 1751.  About four of the houses in our small hamlet have these stones in the wall.  They give the name of the people who built the house and the date.  We are one of the oldest but our neighbours have a barn which is about 100 years older.

  Situated in a small, and I mean small, hamlet about 1.5k outside the market town of Sourdeval, we are about an hour drive from Cherbourg, Caen and St. Malo.  The Normandy beaches are close by, as is Bayeux, Barfleur and the beautiful coastline of Côte des Îles  (Islands Coast) facing the Channel Islands and lower down, their French counterparts Les Îles Chausey.


Why “Bonkers Farm”?  Well contrary to popular belief, it is not because we are bonkers to buy such a big project, but more due to the face that the current layout of the house is completely bonkers!  Who but the French would have a oil tank in the middle of a potentially, huge, kitchen?

We managed a good day in the garden on Saturday. 

We started to  clear the "Secret Garden"

Unlike the Frances Hodges Burnett book of the same name, we haven't found a sleeping garden, with a swing and a robin, more a complete tangle of brambles.  But hey, look we found the gate!

Max made a start with the diesel strimmer and I am taking over from here with the manual blades. 

I found the sweetest little birds nest, perfectly formed.  It was a shame to chop the brambles down around it.

We are the last house in the small hamlet.  So small that the houses don’t have numbers, it is all done by name.  A bit concerning as we are new and  haven’t actually moved in yet.  Our worries about the postie finding us were unfounded and mail has arrived.  What were we worrying about?  The only English in the village, of course he would find us!

We are right on the edge of parkland.  The old steam line ran at the top here and much to Max’s dismay the rails and line were removed about 10 years ago and now and the area is awash with walking routes.  We have one of the resting spaces right at the top of our hill, with panoramic views.  We intend to bring a bottle of wine here on our first evening, and celebrate the start of our Big French Adventure.