News bulletin: fait divers

On Saturday night, for the first time in this neighbourhood, probably because of the Covid restrictions regarding taking holidays, there was a big family gathering about half a mile along the lane. We heard the music, French yéyé from the 1960s and 70s, before our evening dog walk took us past the house, where we saw the cars in the driveway, the floodlit tables outside, with dozens of people from tiny tots to grandparents.

Later, from half a mile away, we heard them singing. The entertainment climaxed around midnight with Bella Ciao, the whole song, and a rousing final chorus that set the dogs off, reminding us that we live in a département where a sizeable percentage of the population claims Italian origins.

owls listen bemused

minnow-moths shoal in the light

human partying

July 4th

It’s our wedding anniversary today and the weather is finally starting to settle down. We took a picnic out, all the way to… the plum tree.

house and picnic table

picnic table

and we had our first pan bagnat of the year

pan bagnat

Finbar was tied up just in case he decided to run off, but I think those days are over. He’s getting very sensible in his old age.

Finbar 4 July

Trixie didn’t move from the chair she’s appropriated.

Trixie's chair

Ninnie got as far as the doormat.

Ninnie on doormat

It’s a good thing we don’t crave excitement.

Hay raking

Haymaking was put off for three weeks which is what I wanted, to let all the wildflowers finish and set seed first. The hay is now all raked into an interesting geometrical pattern like a Neolithic temple site, waiting for the baler to come.

This is the west meadow looking south

west looking south

East meadow looking west. The red and white tape is to cordon off an area where saplings are planted.

east meadow looking west

The south section looking up towards the house.

south section

The part I like best, the bottoms where the willows are, a section about 20 metres by 200 metres that isn’t mown and is just left to its own devices.

unmown beneath willows



I love this place with its layers of song

and the traces of criss-crossing hoof and paw

bird voices calling taking it in turns

to send echoes racing.


I love it as I love Redon colours

the tragic beauty of a Marc

intangible elusive

brushed with fingertips never seized

always the onlooker.


We think we own because we have measured

signed papers handed over cash.


Wind blows.


Sunlight stretches leaves unfurl

blossom scatters in the wind.

A shower patters, ringing wild garlic bells.

The blackbird looks at me with bright eye,

tugs at a worm.


I watch the world whisk by

in the flash of a white scut.

gogyohka for spring confinement

I took a lot of photos yesterday but the light was too strong and the colours came out lurid. Internet is beginning to get flaky here, erratic and extremely slow so I can’t upload the pictures anyway. This one will have to do for now, colours toned down to near natural.

looking east

all this light and growing

in the quiet of birdsong and a distant tractor

chicken-fussing and woodpeckers

we hold our breath

keeping things to ourselves


The deluge ended at the end of the afternoon and the sun came out briefly. I took some photos of the wet. Unfortunately they don’t do justice to the scale. They only show the fast-running water and the deep lakes of it. They don’t show the sound of boots sinking into water and mud at every step, nor that the ditches are too wide to jump across and too deep to wade across. Fierce weather! It’s raining again…


This is the water running down the ditch outside the barn,


spilling over into the path that leads down to the bottoms


into another very fast-flowing ditch

full ditch

along the willows.


The stream stayed within its banks at this point though it has carried away the dam made when the woodpecker’s tree was blown down. Just a part of the trunk is left.

dam gone

There is now no culvert. The tufts of sedge mark where the path should cross the stream, which now flows straight over and cascades down the other side.

Caillou full

Between the ditch and the stream a lake is forming. Too deep to wade across in places.



more waterland

It’s a lovely natural milieu, but it won’t stay like this. The farmers upstream will have dammed up the source of the stream and it will dry up completely if the summer is as dry as last year. There won’t be a drop of drinking water for the wildlife, nothing for the trees. The frogs will do whatever frogs do when their water source dries up, and the ducklings, well, I don’t know what will happen to them.

There are natural events and environments.  Sometimes they get a bit out of hand, like at the moment, but everything goes back into its bed eventually.  The willows were planted along the bottoms almost a hundred years ago because there is always water there. Except that often nowadays, when the maize or the sugar beet takes priority, there isn’t. It’s when we tamper with things that lasting damage occurs. I’m hoping for at least a bit of rain over the summer.