August Calendar 2015

Hybrid pattipan squash

Hybrid pattipan squash

August has followed on from July with less hot weather, but still a couple of spells of 30C+, one of which we are in at the present.

Bit too hot to do anything after midday!

The picture of the squash above is a mystery as it should look like the picture below.

sunburst pattypan

sunburst pattypan

I think it’s been planted too close to some potimarron squash and a bit of hybridisation has occurred.

Lots of beetroot available now, which we normally make into soup to have chilled on these hot days.



Plenty of courgettes and leeks are also available, though generally the garden still looks a bit scorched from the heat. We have only had one apple make it through to the end of summer, so we are monitoring it daily.

Flowers below all grown from seed provided by Ben over at the Higgledy Garden. If you don’t buy your flower seeds from him you should give him a try.

elderberry cordial, from bush to mug


We have made cordial!

Originally posted on la petite maison bijoux:


We have a large elderberry bush in the garden, and we’ve been watching it closely for the past couple of weeks. The berries have been formed for a while now, and it’s a fine balance between them being ripe enough to pick, and birds stripping the bush. Yesterday we decided it was time to harvest.

We got a good haul from the lower branches, but we did leave plenty higher up for the birds. Our plan was to make elderberry cordial, but in the event we got enough to make some jam too. Those have gone into the freezer for another day.

We follow a recipe from James Wong’s book Grow Your Own Drugs. He recommends taking a spoonful to ward off winter coughs and colds, but we prefer to dilute it it with hot water and drink it by the mugful. It’s a bit like hot Ribena, but with…

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pom poms and ice cream


Trying to escape the heat…

Originally posted on la petite maison bijoux:

The square at La Chaise Dieu The square at La Chaise Dieu

It was another very warm afternoon yesterday, so we decided to take a trip out to La Chaise Dieu. It’s at a higher altitude than our house, and often seems to catch the breeze. It also has a magnificent, and very cool, abbey, and a patisserie that sells wonderful ice creams, so it’s a good choice on a hot day.

I’m always vaguely surprised when it’s busy, as we’ve often been there and found tumbleweed blowing down the streets. It’s another one of those places that only really comes alive in July and August, and there are even craft shops that just open for those two months each year.  I’m not sure what the pom-poms on the fountain signify (if anything).

And here it is; the all-important ice cream.

I chose raspberry and this one is myrtille, which I would call bilberry, but I think most people would…

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Brioude en fête


The Bienale d’Aquarelle comes to town!

Originally posted on la petite maison bijoux:

Brioude Brioude

Our nearest town, Brioude, is usually very quiet and sleepy. It has a population of just over 6,500, and whilst it does attract some tourists in the summer, it’s not exactly swamped.

All that chamges for a fortnight every other year, during the month of July, when Brioude hosts its biannual watercolour festival – the Biennale d’Aquarelle. It’s a truly international affair, this year featuring artists from countries including Japan, Poland, the UK, Switzerland and Slovenia, as well as all parts of France.

The town has got the bunting out, and it’s crammed with people browsing the exhibitions, admiring the newly-restored cathedral, attending workshops, painting in the street, and enjoying a coffee and a chat outside the cafés.

I tend to associate watercolour with hobby painters turning out pretty views (probably very unfairly), so I’m always amazed by the incredibly diverse range of styles and techniques on display…

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July Calendar 2015

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We are just coming out of a heat wave here with the temperatures hitting a high of between 36c – 41c (96F – 105F) on most days for the last three weeks or more. The garden is therefore not looking its best with a lot of scorched areas and plants. We also now have water restrictions and our water butts ran out about a fortnight ago. Luckily we have had a couple of heavy thunderstorms lately and they are now full again.

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However the squash and courgettes have thrived in the conditions and we have nursed most of the plants through.



We have left some ares of the orchard to grow wild and have been rewarded with many wild flowers. The star of the moment though is this enormous thistle which the bees love.