Planning for 2015

This time of year its normal to start thinking about what we would like to do next year, taking into account what did well this year, what failed etc. All those listed below did well this year and merit another year.

We try to concentrate on veg that we like – obviously – but also that is expensive or impossible to purchase, especially organically. For the last two years we have been here, french beans, both climbing and dwarf have done very well and we still have freezer bags full of this years crop.The borlotti beans were new for this year and produced many excellent large beans, which we used fresh and  froze.

We grew peas for the first time and were very pleased with the easiness of cultivation and the crop produced, especially as the seeds – “Douce Provence” – were bought very cheaply from Lidl.

I read lots of dire warnings about trying to grow fennel, however either the difficulties were exaggerated, or we were lucky as we have had a large number of good-sized bulbs which we  have turned into risotto and slow cooker stews.

So I know now roughly what we will be growing next year, and so its time to plan the beds.

The climbing beans are staying in the same bed as last year so it will need a good feed this winter. Other than that there is a rotation around for the rest of the veg, to cut down on any diseases.

November calendar

november rose

the last rose

It’s been a mild and dry November so far with only a couple of frosts overnight and the last few days sunny and peaking at 18c – 20c.

We have cleared and covered up some beds for winter but others are still productive. So we are still picking beetroot, swede, leeks, fennel, chard, kale and cauliflower, and aside from carrots we haven’t had to buy any veg for weeks.

In the flower garden we have one lonesome rose, borage and the indestructible self seeded calendula still flowering. The hyssop is now gone over but the dead flower heads still have a fantastic structure especially when backlit by the morning sun. The beech hedging is turning a burnished bronze and has grown well this year, as has the mixed berry hedge at the end of the orchard.

looking north

looking north

raised beds - november

looking south

A walk around Domeyrat Castle



Sometimes the best walks are the unexpected ones. We had set out to do a favourite walk from Domeyrat village along the railway line and back through the woods along the river. However the local chasse (hunt) were spread along our proposed route and we never feel particularly safe if walking paths in the middle of the chasse.

So we decided on combining a couple of routes we had covered on other longer walks to make a shorter circular route past and around the castle. It was a beautiful afternoon with the trees looking particularly fine in the late afternoon light.


weekly photo challenge: minimalist

terracotta tiles

terracotta tiles

This weeks challenge is  “Minimalist”  It should “illustrate a moment in time, or an artistic perspective, with simplicity and grace.”

I decided to work on a photo which for me just didn’t work as it stood. The original photo is below, however I prefer the cropped version above, focussing on the terracotta roof tiles. I love the repetitive pattern though in fact each tile is completely different.

The roof is part of an old mill, down on the Doulon river just outside our village of Vals le Chastel. Its unoccupied now, except for once this year when an elderly couple stayed in part of the mill for a couple of days. The son of the original owners maybe?

old mill roof

old mill roof

weekly photo challenge: descent


Heading down into Horton in Ribblesdale from Pen Y Ghent

This weeks topic gave me an opportunity to look through the many photos I have of walks in the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. I’ve been using Lightroom for over a year now and these were all still in iPhoto, which now seems a complete pain to use! I also always shoot RAW files nowadays and these were all jpegs, mostly from a small Canon Powershot, so I’m quite pleased with how they have turned out with a little tweaking in Lightroom.


Descending Pen Y Ghent


Leaving Great Gable and heading towards Styhead


The restored path from Sty Head to Seathwaite


Descending from Helvellyn via Swirral Edge, with Catsycam in the distance


walk PR 15 (Lavoûte-Chilhac) – Le Tour du Pié du Roi (9.5km)


A (mostly) lovely walk in glorious late autumn weather.

Originally posted on la petite maison bijoux:


Making the most of the continuing warm sunny weather, we headed out to the village of Cerzat yesterday, for a walk which promised a volcanic crater, basalt cliffs and spectacular views over the Allier valley.

It all started well. We found our way out of the village, and across open farmland to the Pié du Roi, which is the crater of a long extinct volcano. It was a glorious day, with mellow autumn light and long shadows.

It was soon after this that we started to have “challenges” with our route finding.

Walking in France on official routes is usually pretty easy. They tend to follow clearly defined paths and tracks, rather than cutting across open ground as they often do in the UK. In addition, there is a clear system of way marks, and wherever there is a choice of paths, the correct one will be marked with a dash, and…

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October calendar


looking south

Its been a glorious autumn here, with dry, settled weather for most of the month. The garden is quite productive now with leeks, cauliflower, kale, fennel, beetroot, swede and chard all available. We are also picking the last of the “Fallgold” and “Heritage” autumn raspberries. Looking towards next year we have planted a new pear tree – “Louise Bonne d’Avranches” –   to replace a comice that failed and five red currant bushes – “London Market”.