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August, 2007:

On shiny boys toys, mid-life crises and buying a porsche

When an English gentleman reaches a certain age, he is prone to pondering. Having recently passed a milestone birthday (in some style, it has to be said) it’s only befitting to treat oneself with something a little bit special.
The only solution? Buy some boys toys!

My main criteria.

  • Must be shiny.
  • Must be of the highest performance.
  • Must be precision engineered.
  • Must turn heads of impressionable young ladies.
  • Must make the pulse race with its sleek lines.
  • Must be a little bit intimidating, knowing that if improperly handled some ugly accident might ensue.
  • Must be a teensy bit spendy.

all is revealed after the cut!

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Incredulous.

When I’m not busy a-lime-mortarin’ or a beekeepin’ I sometimes parachute into the UK to do a little work for the UK clearing banks, this means a flight and a car rental and over the time I’ve been doing this it’s passed by largely without incident. Erm, until now that is.

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Mole Boom (part II)

Result ! One charge blown up and one mole with it.

Though to be honest – there have been 3 explosions but only one caused by a mole. The others unfortunately were by me setting the boom. Luckily the explosives were underground so no lost fingers!

I now have the knack for setting it – which is good as the charges are quite expensive. I now await for further signs of intruders as the fields surrounding our property are covered in little brown hills. The photo shows a charge before and after exploding.

Mole Boomed

Yes that is mole fur on the blown charge.

Since then Adrian did spot the ground moving while mowing the lawn but after attacking it with a pitchfork no moles have been seen.

To be continued …

Sweet Satisfaction

It was a long time in the coming but this afternoon saw a small milestone passed and for me, something uniquely satisfying – our first honey harvest.

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Fete de la Chasse

For as long as I can remember I have always loved horses and riding. It has never really been practical for me to own a horse due to money, space and time constraints.

When we moved to Bellebouche, I could not help but notice a nearby field with a number of horses. After getting to know the neighbours I discovered that our french farmer friend is a member of the Touraine Hunt who hunt regularly in the very large foret de Chinon.

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Mole Boom

I am afraid that I have succumbed and bought a mole boom.

When we first moved in and managed to get the garden under some sort of control we had the odd mole appear in the border areas of the garden. This wasn’t much of a problem and a few moth balls down the mole holes seemed to do the trick.

After a few months the moles got more daring and progressed across the lawn. We bought a mole trap and placed it in numerous places around the garden over the months. The only thing the mole trap caught were mole hills!!!

The only way to catch them seemed to be standing and waiting for them to dig up a dirt hill. After many many hours and days I managed to dig up only 3 moles. With the very wet spring and summer making the ground lovely and soft for the moles we ended up with giant (no exaggeration) mole hills across the whole of our lawn.

So after waking up and finding my lawn looking like moonbase alpha again … enough was enough. Off to the local DIY store and I am now the owner of 1 mole boom with a box of cartridges.

For those of you who don’t know what a mole boom is I shall explain. It is basically an explosive charge you put down the mole hill with a trigger attached to a paddle on a stand. When the mole pushes earth or itself against the paddle the explosive … well explodes, mole and all.

Mole Boom

I know this sounds a little harsh and the cartoon directions on the box are quite comical but once you have had a mole problem you will understand my reasons for purchasing one. Not only do the hills set like cement in the sun which in turn dulls the blades on the mower but the tunnels and holes are ankle twistingly dangerous. I’m not one for having a bowling green lawn as I like the clover, dandelions and daisies attracting our bees but having a lunar landscape is a totally different scenario.

Hasta la vista moley !!

Unusual Year in the Garden

It has been a very wet year here – there has been no need to install a watering system (yet) down on the potager. In fact, some of the crops have suffered due to the deluge of water from the skies, while others are loving every last drop.

echinops
Last year we had a bumper harvest of cherries – what a difference this year. They were tiny and lacking in numbers, such a disappointment. By this time last year we were harvesting baskets full of rosy tomatoes. This year, the plants that haven’t been attacked by blight are just producing green fruits now. The chilli plants are really struggling – only a handful of chillis on 5 surviving plants.

But luckily, other areas have come on in leaps and bounds. In the orchard we are currently having a bumper harvest of wonderful, large, lush, delicious strawberries.

strawberries  Strawberry Harvest
The lillies were spectacular, so too are the gladioli and the plum trees are now groaning under the weight of the fruit. The ancient espalier apple and the pear trees are covered in riping jewels and the hedgerows are heaving with blackberries and sloes.

gladioli

An area where we have had various degrees of success is with our beans. This year, no problem, I have just frozen over 5kgs from just a handful of plants. Unfortunately my sweetcorn bed has been used as a dust bath by the guineafowl so of the 50 seeds I planted I have approximately 20 plants growing with about half of these with fruit.

But we do have some new things that we have enjoyed or will enjoy this year. Our asparagus bed gave us some wonderful spears early in the year. We have some figs on our newly acquired fig tree which we may be able to eat later on in the year and we have discovered a number of plum type trees in our hedgerow with large very sweet purple pink fruits.

Unfortunately we seem to have lost one of our new coeur de pigeon cherry trees – I think it was attacked by a grub in the trunk. This is a disaster as we had originally planted two trees to balance out a number of views from various areas around the garden. The remaining tree is quite tall and it will be hard or expensive to replace the dead tree with another of the same size and stature.

veronica

All in all it has been an unusual year so far in the garden but I’m sure next year will be totally different – weatherwise and due to the fact that we now have a very happy and active bee hive with thousands of new pollinators around the garden!!


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