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Saturday, 11 February 2023

Look what the snow brought!

The snow’s gone now, but it stayed around for about a week. Although we only had about one inch, it brought some interesting birds to our feeders. What is it about Bramblings and snow? I’ve never seen one here before (even when we did have snow), but this time our temperatures hovered around zero for about a week, so that might have something to do with it. First there was just one Brambling, then after a few days more arrived, and we saw two males and two females. They then disappeared as soon as the snow did! It was the same in Brittany, they would appear, usually with other finches, as soon as there was snow, then go off to who knows where when the snow melted.

It wasn’t just this one exciting garden tick, but two. Because after a couple of days of snow, a female Hawfinch came to our feeders and hung around for a few days. Now whilst we saw Bramblings when we had snow in Brittany, we haven’t seen a Hawfinch since we lived near Geneva over 18 years ago, where we would have flocks of them in the garden in the winter. Shame no male came, but we are not complaining!

It’s the first time we’ve seen snow actually fall on the plain here, normally we have snow up on our hill and nothing down below, 

Male Brambling

Female Hawfinch

All photos taken by Keith, and this post has been done on my iPad as my desk is still not accessible, though I have nearly finished the office!

P.S. I wrote all this a week ago but kept forgetting to post it! The office is finished now apart from a large cupboard which I’m painting, I’m very happy with the colour and will share some photos when it’s all completed. 😀

Wednesday, 18 January 2023

Back to the decorating....

A Happy New Year, somewhat belatedly, to everyone!

I haven't been near my desktop since Christmas and I shall soon be unable to get near it at all, as I will be decorating our office. I completed one corner and wall before Christmas, as we had a new unit to install, so I needed to paint that wall and wax the parquet under it. There had been a hideous 1970s G-Plan corner unit there for maybe the whole 15 years the previous owners were here, plus our three years, so it was rather dirty and horrible behind/underneath! We had inherited this unit but whilst it was handy for places to display photos and nicknacks, it didn't have enough actual storage and I wanted a unit where we could keep all our photography gear together, in some semblance of order! So I bought a unit from Ikea (of course). 😀

G-Plan is probably very trendy at the moment with this fixation on Mid Century Modern style, but having lived through that era and the pass me down furniture from it, to me the whole look is ugly and old fashioned. So shock, horror, the old unit is in pieces, a cupboard part of it is in the garage and the rest is being used as either spare bits of wood or going to the tip!

I now have to move desks and other bits of furniture around whilst painting the rest of the walls, which is going to be fun. Especially the tall cupboard full of our files which will weight a ton so will have to be emptied..... all this is the not so fun side of decorating.

I forgot to take a photo of the G-Plan unit but I'm sure most of you can imagine a horrible teak coloured 1970s wooden corner unit. 😀😀😀 

Here's the after shot for this corner now:

The wall paint is light blue, and I am going to paint white the cupboard in the next photo that you can just see with a 'wooden' front, because it has really silly handles which are too high up and difficult to grab hold of, so as I need to fill in the holes to install new, better handles, it will have to be painted to cover the filled in bits. It has black sides anyway which I don't like. The brown built in cupboards will stay like that as I like them and there are identical cupboards in the room next door to this, plus they match most of the internal doors in the house.

The rest of the 'before' shot:

I might even tidy up my desk, which is always a mess! By the way, the shelves above my desk were bought for a new kitchen we installed in 2003, two houses ago, which were never used in the end as they stuck out too much for the place I had planned to put them. So they had sat in the garage, forgotten about (by me anyway) until K mentioned them and hey presto - I think they work perfectly there!

Going back to Christmas, I didn't get around to posting my home made twig decorations, which I did once before, though I can't remember if it was last year or a few years back. I think these branches came from the same tree (I don't actually know what species!) but I'll have to leave it a couple of years to grow again as we took most of the young branches that K could reach even with a pole to grab them. 

I have lights in there too though they don't show up well in daylight. I love making home made decorations and I bought another little living table top tree from Lidl and changed their red decorations for lights and gold decorations, although they had some lovely white wooden stars which I kept on it. Hopefully I can use the tree for a few more years. 

Browsing in a shop at Xmas decorations last year I was pleased to see so many wooden decorations and no tinsel at all! I bought more pine cones and painted them white, gold and copper to go with the rest I had done last year with cones I'd gathered in the wild and displayed them in a blue glass bowl. 

In fact I have only just taken my decorations down as I've become more and more 'French' over the years, who don't follow the 12th Night rule at all, and take decorations down 'some time' in January, when it suits them. I put decorations up very late compared to most people but love having all the lights on in the evenings so I'm happy to wait until mid January until I take them down.

Well that's it for now, we have some day trips coming up with our birding group and I am starting to plan our summer holiday to Provence (timed to see the lavender fields over there) and we may be going on a two day trip up to the mountains for wild flowers, butterflies and birds with Birding Languedoc, in mid June. I have still to finish posting October's holiday photos so I will try to do that once my office is accessible again!

Sunday, 25 December 2022

Christmas Greetings!

We’ve just had three lovely warm sunny days with no wind, so to make the most we visited the Cite of Carcassone yesterday. We had lunch out, then visited the inner castle and walked around half of the ramparts, giving us lovely views of the mountains and countryside all around, not to mention the interior of the old medieval town.

We took many more photos, but these are just a few to say Merry Christmas and wish you all a happy and healthy festive period.

I’ve been a bit busy, but once Boxing Day is over I will take time to visit your blogs! Sorry I have got behind on catching up with you all! 😘😄

All best wishes
Mandy and Keith xx

Keith standing and my brother sitting, squinting because of the sun!