Sunday 30 January 2022

Remember this?

While trying to find a photograph of the beginning of our renovation project I stopped scrolling and sighed at the sight of a shady part of the garden. Shady . . . sheltering from the sun. Difficult to imagine at the end of January when the sun seems to have been covered by dull blankets of grey for some days now. I'm not complaining. I like winter with all its melancholic landscapes of skeletal trees, the layering of clothes before venturing out - or in fact staying in - our heating is very minimal; wood fires, soup, brisk walks, etc... but I would be quite happy to time-travel back to that point of tea under the apple tree for a few minutes. Still, signs of spring are well established in the garden - daffodils and snowdrops in abundance, birds establishing territory for nesting and the days stealthily lengthening.


Thursday 27 January 2022


And we are! The little 'eari' chicken has 'done' three eggs . . . unusual for winter time and a young lady at that but she's obviously happy in her new home, so, wonderful. The two 'Pekin' chickens who look as if they are wrapped in downy duvets have yet to lay an egg and the Russian chicken I anticipate producing a sort of odd cubist egg possibly in a black and tan colour-way to match its livery.

The chicken man who turns up in the local market with a van full of fowl hasn't been there recently so we can't buy a few more normal hens at the moment to add to our flock. There is talk of going back to the place of weird chickens, maybe another earring one, a silk feathered specimen, a giant Sussex white . . . 

We had the clutch of pale green eggs for breakfast this morning and they were delicious, just on a slightly smaller scale than the average supermarket ones. These chickens lay less than the full-on egg producers and that's fine. They lay slower but over a longer period of time thus probably living a longer and less tiring life. 

Monday 24 January 2022

Chicken soup weather

Uniform grey sky, no useful rain, no sun, just very cold. Chicken soup, or in this case, guinea fowl soup makes everything 100% better. Souped up now I will venture into the garden and do raking, cutting back, and visit our horse next door... see next post.

Sunday 23 January 2022

Being in yourself

In the moment, just being, awareness, awakened, in the now, in the present, fully conscious . . . there are many terms for this state we all, or possibly not all of us, experience at regular or regular intervals. I think I've blogged about this before but it's lost somewhere in a blog backlog - nice tongue twister! (red lorry, yellow lorry) anyway, meditation having become more prominent in my life over the last couple of years requires further feature in my ramblings.

I usually find a twenty minute spot during the day - it works best for me in the morning after writing, but can be at anytime - in place of flipping through a stack of thumbed magazines in a waiting room/ phone scrolling, or after a frustrating call to sort some tedious piece of bureaucracy when the mind needs a sense of reality. Anytime, even five minutes to listen inwards, feel one's body doing its miraculous continuous activities and stop any futile overthinking.

I do use recordings, and favour the voice of Sarah Raymond from the Mindful Movement; a clear and gentle voice. I tend to stick to her videos which have emphasis on breathing and mindfulness and with little or no music rather than the more instructive and personal development type ones. 

Two phrases of hers that always stick with me are: living between your thoughts, and you may find you notice more. The former is a valuable line of words to carry about in the head especially in stressful times. The latter is certainly true. I always was a cloud/bird/tree gazer but now, through practicing meditation regularly, even more so, happy to walk locally and find continual amazement in the small and overlooked details of nature doing its thing without our interference. Unfortunately there's a lot of interference in our particular stretch of countryside with fields of one-use plastic mini-tunnels, which brings me onto the subject of acceptance - something often talked about in meditation and of which I am trying to practice as it's true it does make for a much easier and more pleasurable day-to-day 'life experience'.

So, how much does one accept? The past and its stories of events and times that may feel hard to accept, an obvious one to work on; the way other people function, accepting that they may do things differently to oneself, yep, certainly reduces the small and unnecessary pressures and irritations which are so readily present if we let such things bother us. What about the bigger things? Like the one-use plastic and general ravaging of our countryside for winter salad that I know most French folk push to the side of their plates. If I do nothing and everyone else does nothing it will get worse, more hedges cut, habitats destroyed etc. So, I've gone ahead and made enquiries, contacted environment bodies and it's worked so far in that a keen sounding young man is coming to look at our immediate surroundings and add our complaints to the many others he is apparently receiving.

In a highly turbulent and worrying time, which is probably pretty much the entire history of mankind, I feel meditation could and possibly should have a place in everyone's lives. On another plus side, it costs nothing, unless you go on a fancy retreat, and often feels like the mental equivalent of a relaxing massage, and personal reboot for those muddy-minded times.  

Tuesday 18 January 2022

Birthday blog for the lad

Wow, twenty-four years ago he was a silent little bundle brought back from the maternity ward to our freezing house in Birmingham. Wonderful and utterly terrifying . . . where was the manual? what did this mean, or that mean. Should I feed on demand? Should he sleep in our bed? etc, etc...

A few months on and it was all normal - ish. Black and white leopard car seat in the old Saab, little pots of whizzed up food portions everywhere, visits from family and friends,  walks around the reservoir; even a trip to our favourite Tandoori house where Ezra experienced his first 'Bombay duck'.

All these years on and we are lucky that he is living with us for this year. We do click, no arguments really, shared sense of humour, love of walks, music, art and road trips! These have been a little curtailed due to Covid and work on the house but for his birthday I booked a B and B on the Vendee coast. Cheap and cheerful, and although the outside looked like a condo from a forgotten Russian town, the view was something you could just gawp at for hours. Used to the Mediterranean coast as we are the Atlantic is a  powerful sea full of constant movement, the ubiquitous wave noise something lulling and just a tiny bit eerie in January.

We were budget-sensible, only ate out once on a sunny terrace in Les Sables d'Olonne, and the rest of the time ate picnics and made food in the flat. I slept in a bunk bed and Ezra (longer than me) had the raisable bed. Great sleeps brought on by long, long walks and the wave's nighttime shushing. Wonderful memories and the perfect slightly in advance present. He's visiting art school friends in Bordeaux today after a dog walk and presents this morning. Happy Birthday our creative lad.


Saturday 15 January 2022

New residents

Finally, after weeks and possibly months of chicken house and compound building everything was ready to welcome our feathered guests.

I happened upon a ornamental chicken breeder website within our locality and . . . well, we had to go and look. The original idea of yr usual rusty specimens evaporated on seeing the selection available. Of course they still 'do' eggs but unlike the bred-for-egg production variety, these are slow-motion eggers. And that's fine. The former produce many but over a shortish space of time, the latter, less, but produce for longer. And they are soooo funny and beautiful. We may still buy a small flock of rapid egg producers but for now we'll see how our four new lodgers do.

Freezing weather speeded up the choosing otherwise I think we would have been there for hours cooing over the various 'models'. So, we opted for a mad looking Russian breed with black feathered hairdo, two 'peking' fat brown and white speckled ladies who walk as if they have shoplifted masses of items within their amble father gowns, and a funny little beige and white female with two feather earrings who I think may be actually a small dog.

They were introduced to their new home yesterday and have spent much time scratching away in the undergrowth of their pen, and sleeping in the straw of the timber framed chicken mansion. We might just have to go and get a few more, budget allowing... 

And, they have names . . . Above, the Eerie One. Below, Mussorgsky. Below, below, Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

Tuesday 11 January 2022

Chicken mansion

It started out as a simple 'let's make a chicken shack' idea but morphed into a miniature timber and mud house with slate roof. We completed the compound yesterday, just a few boxes and straw to add, and the ladies themselves. The last ones we had in the south were all called Gladys; this may continue with our new flock, or not. Possibly an equivalent French female name - a voir/to be seen.

The purchase of yr normal rusty-red birds was prevued but now due to the time and investment taken we may well add a few more unusual birds. I've found a bio-chicken breeder half an hour away with some fabulous examples on their site. 

Watch this blog...


Saturday 1 January 2022

New Year's resolutions.

None. Can't be bothered as I never keep them for more than about four hours.

I like swearing, so I'll keep on doing so, in moderation, for moments which require it. Not much to give up as we eat pretty frugally already - all previous meals surpassed however by this new year day's lunch - an ex milk carton of frozen soup; not sure what it was, possibly split pea and vegetable matter, actually rather good. And a recycling point for milk carton re-purposing rather than buying plastic food containers?

Speaking of which, it seems Macron, our leader, has decreed that there will be no cucumbers wrapped in plastic from the first of January. Some other veg and fruit too. A long way to go still but it's a start. I might invite him for lunch and point out the fields near us which are covered in meters of one time usage plastic, a new and ugly thing which must be hugely more devastating for the climate as I suspect it is burnt after being rolled up and discarded at the edge of the fields...