1 EAGLETON NOTES: August 2008



Sunday, 31 August 2008

Les Orages

How quickly change can happen. After my posting yesterday on a hot afternoon, the haze lifted, the blue sky returned and the evening was very pleasant. Around midnight bed beckoned. I opened the windows (closed earlier to keep out the evening flies looking for a home for the night) and, as I did so, I noticed lightning far away to the south west. Meteo France had been promising for many days les orages for last night. The promise was fulfilled.

Lightning towards Angouleme to the south west

At about 0130 I was woken by the storm having moved much closer, a wind was getting up, things were clattering around the house and the sky was constantly illuminated by sheets of lightning from afar. They would not be afar for long. I went back to sleep.

I was woken again by a light so bright that I thought it was a dream and that my eyes had been burned out. I was facing into the room not towards the window but the lightning was so bright that even keeping my eyes closed did not remove the discomfort of the brilliance of the frequent and prolonged display of pyrotechnics. By this time the rain had started and as the wind was beating the rain onto the window. I had, naturally, closed it. I had not, however, closed the shutters. So, as the storm raged, I put my head under the covers and lethewards returned. When I awoke (around 0500 I think) the storm had passed over but could still be seen and heard as it headed towards the unfortunate people of Limoges. How many of them would wake this morning to burned out microchips?

So at 0730 the morning is sullen and, to me, the air hangs heavily. There are lots of jobs to be done indoors today: books to be read; blogs to be written; computers to be mended. The list is endless. But first there is more Earl Grey to be drunk.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Black Redstart

One of my favourite birds at Maumulon is the ever-present Black Redstart, a rather shy bird which, though often visibe, rarely comes very close - there's a lot to be said for long-focus lenses:

The most common perch - the roof ridge

A Patisson or a Patty Pan

I have always loved produce stalls in markets and have blogged on them in my New Zealand Blog. There will be a 'proper' market blog after the Civray market next Tuesday (please don't let it rain - whoever it is that has a say in these things) but when I was in Charroux a few days ago the market was in full swing (all six stalls - it is a small place). The small vegetable stall which was for some reason tucked away in the open Market Hall was not noticable if it hadn't had a vegetable none of us had seen before: a Patisson.

The result was that I wrote a blog entry about a Patisson. None of us here had any idea what a Patisson is. So I went onto a French website and managed to mis-read it and thought that a Patisson was a Jerusalem Artichoke. Niece, Helen commented:
"I'm afraid that this isn't a jerusalem artichoke, that being a tuberous root and not a squash.

In England we often call the pattison a 'patty pan'. I first heard of them due to Beatrix Potter and her book 'the pie and the patty pan'. Ian bought us some from a local seller a couple of years ago and we stuffed and ate them. Yummy.pointed out that she was afraid that it wasn't a jerusalem artichoke, that being a tuberous root and not a squash and that in England we often call the pattison a 'patty pan'. She first heard of them due to Beatrix Potter and her book 'the pie and the patty pan'. Ian bought tus some from a local seller a couple of years ago and we stuffed and ate them. Yummy."
In future I will read my French websites more carefully. In the meantime, thanks Helen.

A Hot Afternoon at Maumulon

It's 1600 hours. John and Sue have taken Sue's Mother to the airport at La Rochelle for her plane back to Edinburgh. I will be alone until late this evening. The temperature on the terrace in the shade is 39.5 deg c. It's hot. In fact it's so hot that you can hear the heat because the silence is palpable. There is no bird song. There are no crickets. There is no zephyr to move the leaves. The air hangs heavily over the garden. The occasional insect comes too near and sounds like an aeroplane in one's ear breaking the silence as it breaks the thick air. Until now the day has been hot but pleasant but all of a sudden every movement causes perspiration and even just sitting outside will ensure potential de-hydration if one is not careful.

Within the last half hour as the air has got thicker by the minute the brilliant uninterupted blue sky of the last few days has begun to be veiled by a sort of high mist. I suppose it's cloud but it's so hazy and bright it's difficult to think of it as such. One thing is certain: it is encapsulating the heat and moisture and thickening the air even more.

All this will break tonight as the rains come and the thunderstorms rattle around the area.

In the meantime, having cooled down in the salon to write this posting, I shall sit by the pool and read and cool down every so often by going into the water which, at 27 deg, feels absolutely freezing until one has swum around for a few minutes.

Life's not so bad really.

Friday, 29 August 2008

A Walk in the Country

This time yesterday (Thursday about 4pm) I was out for a walk down the lane at Maumulon. It was hot but quite bearable. Today it would be quite out of the question. In fact it is so hot that, even sitting reading in the shade, I have decided that a few minutes in the house doing a posting will cool me down a bit. This is not, you understand, any sort of complaint.

The walk was fascinating in that I usually cycle this lane and therefore don't stop to look at the nature around me. The first thing that struck me was the many many hundreds of little butterflies everywhere - almost all of a similar marking though some were cabbage white size and some much smaller. I did see a small blueish one and a very large one that actually stopped in front of me for exactly the amount of time it took my camera to decide to hibernate and then come out of hibernation. It (the butterfly, you understand) flew off as I was ready to take the photo. I have no insect books here but I think I'll remember it.

Unlike CJ's or Helen's postings this one will have no names against most of the flora and fauna 'cos I have no reference books here and have no internal hard drive memory for these things.

Anyway I hope that you will enjoy my walk as we go along the lane:

The start

Bullrushes - memories of childhood. I've loved them ever since

We had them in a vase at home when I was wee.

It's a long lane - fortunately shaded

"I trust you are not coming in my field"

You never know what's on the other side of the hedge

No idea

A wild bee ? on clover

Hot out here

Wilder than Helen and Ian's garden but still teasels

Is it really this long?

It's cornflower blue but ??


I coud have had enough for jam for a decade

No I don't think hip gin would be nice and I could find no sloes


One of a thousand

Some sort of growth on the roses?

Thursday, 28 August 2008

The Boulangerie

One of the joys of France is French bread. There is nothing more tempting than a well-baked baguette to help increase the intake of cheese and, thus, the spread of the waist. Charroux has two boulangeries. The one that John and Sue usually use is closed this week for holidays so we went to the one in the square.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008


My first night at John and Sue's at Maumulon and it is Toulouse Sausages from the BBQ and cauliflower cheese. I can live with this. In fact I've been doing exceptionally well in the food enjoyment stakes since I arrived in Exeter - Helen and Ian, quite unwittingly I think, managed to feed me four of my favourite meals on the four evenngs I was there.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Exeter to France

I started out early today from Exeter with the aim of getting the 1550 train through the Eurotunnel. Fortunately I went the route that Garmin (I must give her - my SatNav - a proper name) suggested along the A303 to the M3 and M25 because if I'd used the motorway all the way (M49 and M4) I'd have been stuck for hours because of rush hour traffic round Bristol and the total closure of the M4 for hours because of an accident. As it was I arrived at the Eurotunnel at 1230 and was put on the 0115 train so didn't even manage a loo stop at the terminal.

Despite what some of you who may be reading this think the Eurotunnel is a brilliant way to travel. It saves at least 3 hours travelling time. Today, for a variety of reasons, it probably saved me six.

Driving off the train onto French soil was a dissappointment because it was dull and raining and much worse than the weather I'd just left in the UK 23 miles away. This did not bode well for the sun I was hoping for. I arrived in Neufchatelle-en-Bray North of Rouen at 1700 hrs after driving nearly 600 kilometres today and having been guided by Garmin to the front of the Hotel, booked in and went for a walk. The evening has been very enjoyable and relaxing. I have managed to hold all my conversations (except with an English couple) in French which appears to have been understood without any problem or concessions by the Patron and the lady of the Hotel. This has given a considerable boost to my self-esteem which has never been high when it comes to languages and that then makes it easier for me to understand what people are saying to me. I'm not sure whether that makes sense to you but it does to me.

The bonus for the evening is that I have a new love in my life. Transitory it may be but then I've come to the conclusion that 'transitory' is a relative term. Many things in my life that were 'permanent' were simply of a longer transitional nature than others. Tonight's fling is probably only a one night stand and we have been inseparable. I may not even see my love again in the morning but while it lasted ............



Tomorrow will be another day. I hope. When you go to sleep you just never can tell.

Monday, 25 August 2008

From The Sublime....

We went to the Otter Nurseries this morning - one of the largest nursery and garden centres I've been to. The plants we saw combined with discussions amongst us and a book on grasses which CJ kindly bought me have supplied me with lots of ideas for the garden for next spring.

Prize Vegetables on show

When the recipe said 'a large onion'.....

I just couldn't believe these

or these (though secretely..)

And iron decorative hens?

Southern Hawker, Dragonfly

One of the lovely things about being on holiday with CJ, Helen and Ian is that there is always so much to be learned in the fields of flora and fauna. It would be lovely if I could remember even a small amount of that which I'm told but I have come to accept that I'll just have to make do with an appreciation of that which I see. Today at Ian and Helen's we saw a splendid pair of Southern Hawkers: male and female.

Male Southern Hawker (which can be identified by its blue stripes)

Female Southen Hawker ovipositing (laying her eggs) out of water which is, apparently, unusual.

On Taps, Hot Water and The Vagaries of Life

Hot water comes out of the left hand tap as one looks at the taps. That is a simple enough truth. It seems to hold true as a general rule in much of Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. I can't really speak with certain personal experience for other countries. On the whole it would not be a major issue if the hot water came out of the right hand tap provided that the tap was clearly labelled with a red or blue band or dot in the way that almost all taps are. It would help, too, if all the taps in a bathroom were consistent - whichever way round they are.

However, if one is faced, as I was when I arrived at Helen and Ian's, with a bathroom where the hot tap on the washbasin is on the right and the hot tap on the bath is on the left and there are no distinguishing marks of any sort on the taps the first time of using the bathroom can be a slightly strange not to mention rather invigorating or burning experience.

Coming up with a memory jogger such as "the hot tap is always furthest away from the window (or nearest the door)" is ok if you have been told the rule and can remember it but of no use otherwise. It's not very intuitive either.

So what is the purpose of this posting? I have absolutely no idea. I thought I'd share it with you anyway.

Not Just Water Pursuits

On Sunday the area round the The Quay was so full of families and people indulging in all sorts of recreational activities. There were more cyclists and dog walkers and joggers per square yard than I've seen in one place for many a long year.

The Quay: Eateries

Around The Quay on the River Exe are many old buildings some of which have been very extensively renovated. There are lots of residential flats and offices but also many eateries:

Music and dancing too!