On Wednesday it was officially autumn according to our calendar. This of course a significant date as it gives free licence for everything to fall down with gay abandon. We have already had apples falling but now they are falling even faster as if they have been given the go ahead. We have walnuts dropping and the chestnuts will not be far behind. The trees are also starting to lose their leaves. At the same time there are the autumn fruits to be picked and we have loads of raspberries.

So not only is this the season of bad backs as we all stoop to pick up the fallen fruits and clear away the leaves but it also the season of getting rid of the surplus. We have bucket loads of walnuts, but then so does everyone else and if you offer walnuts or apples to Giselle she already has her own glut which she is trying to foist on us. Of course she has been in this business a lot longer than we have and she has fruits we do not so around she comes with baskets full of peaches and pears. Of course we cannot refuse as this would be rude, so we take them in. Mrs. Parish has managed to convert most of the peaches into jam but we still have loads and also a huge quantity of pears which we are struggling to find a use for.

Our own fruit trees have produced a bumper crop of apples and we have some trees with eating apples. Everyone else has apples and so we have stored half a dozen boxes in the store and we have several buckets full of walnuts. As soon as someone weakens we dump a bucket load onto them quickly so they can’t refuse. We are now trying to see what we can make out of the apples. The remaining trees all have cider apples and we are waiting for our friend Emile to come round to help us collect them up to make into cider. Of course this means shaking all the apples out of the trees onto the ground and then going around on hands and knees picking them all up again. This seems madness and you would have thought with the advance of technology that someone would have invented a way of getting the apples off the tree without all this tedious picking up. Mrs. Parish tries to explain that this is part of the natural process and that it is traditional and suggests I stop moaning and think of the cider. It is hard to be positive when your back is aching and there are still several trees to go.

Picking up leaves has no end product other than a tidier garden. However I have found a use for some of it by making a bug hotel. This is part of the developing nature trail and is a way of encouraging insects and wildlife. So I have searched the internet for plans to follow and have spent the last week constructing my bug hotel. This has involved using several wooden pallets as the basic framework for the hotel. This has the advantage of making several layers and I have cut up the pallets to make it the right size. I have then used bricks with holes in, lots of sticks and bits of old plant pot as well as wooden blocks into which I have drilled holes of varying sizes. Mrs. Parish has stared in bewilderment as I go past her collecting all sorts of bits of wood, bricks and pots and sticks and have then disappeared into the lean to shed where sounds of sawing, drilling and hammering have issued forth.

The final ingredient was a good supply of leaves and Mrs. Parish was somewhat taken aback as I said “I’m just off to collect some leaf litter”. Not a phrase I have often uttered. By this time Mrs.Parish was convinced that I had finally taken leave of my senses.

The bug hotel has been constructed in layers in the shed so that it can be taken apart for transportation to its final resting place. I managed to find some terracotta roof tiles to put on the top to try to make it reasonably waterproof. Saturday was the big day and I loaded up the trailer and with my tractor towed all the component parts to the nature trail at the bottom of the big field. The selected spot is down near the winter stream at the bottom of the field in a shaded spot under a tree but in a damp area. This according to the internet will be the optimum environment for the hotel. I managed to put it all together and even put alongside some old wooden fence posts to rot down. So all of this should produce habitat for all sorts of insects and spiders and other creepy crawlies to live and breed. I have been to check today and it is still standing but no sign of any bugs yet. They had just better come along soon after all that hard work!

the bug hotel

Autumn is also the season to start repair work and Mrs. Parish and I have been out replacing fence posts and looking at what clearance work we want to do to further develop the nature trail. There is plenty to do but we have all autumn and winter to do it.

Interrupting all this has been the rugby world cup which is this year in England. So plenty of expectation on the England team and here in France on our other team the French rugby XV. To prepare for the world cup I got a French magazine guide to the tournament produced by the local newspaper. This has a guide to the teams and the fixtures and which TV channel the games are on. It also had a guide to all the signals given by the referee for all the various offences that take place. This not only gave me the French for all these but also the arm and hand signals. So now I am very smug and while watching shout out the French for the referees decision. All was going well until the English lost to the Welsh yesterday. Not only was this bad for England but it was not good for me. My welsh friend Steve was quick to send taunts throughout the game and to gloat afterwards. So now we are relying on the French to do well.

This afternoon we were invited round to spend the afternoon with Giselle and Daniel. The reason was to say farewell to our English neighbour Peter who is in the process of selling his house and is going back to Britain tomorrow. Daniel was quick to make a joke about England losing at rugby, just to rub in the defeat. We had a typical afternoon with French fiends. This started with a bottle of rose wine, with some chocolate and cakes which Mrs. Parish had rustled up. This was soon followed by coffee with a drop of Daniel’s homemade calvados. The afternoon was going well and my ability to speak French seemed to be improving. We then moved on to trying the equally homemade calvados liqueur. This of course led into a wide range of discussions about tax and politics. At this point Giselle’s daughter and granddaughter arrived and we had welcomes, kisses and of course more to drink. When more friends arrived we had another round of introductions and this time we decided we had better go home while we could still walk. The cats were of course waiting for their tea and were very annoyed that we were late.

Our neighbour Peter and the Calvados Liqueurs in their posh bottles!

So we are now at home and having a little doze before we embark upon supper. It is also a chance for me to get the blog written up. In the next few days we have the prospect of seeing the full moon and it supposed to be a super moon. As we have little light pollution here we should be able to get a good view.

Mrs. Parish is cooking dinner so it is time to go and sort out some wine to drink. Thanks to the “Foire aux vins” we now have plenty to choose from. There is still a few days to go so a chance tomorrow to buy up a few more bargains as well as getting in some wine to take back to Britain. 

Bon Dimanche