mon coeur de campagne

living a simpler, rural French life


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Journées du Patrimoine

Le Jardin de Cuy

An oasis of charm in the wild Morvan

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It was cold and wet for this year’s Open House weekend so I decided to stay close to home and explore a garden that I had never visited before.

Le Jardin de Cuy is a Jardin Remarquable designed around a maison forte. The origins of the fortified house date from the 14th century and until the French Revolution it was the home of the Seigneurs de Cuy.  In 2001 the present owners began to transform one of the meadows into a garden full of romance and charm.

The paths through the two hectare sized, contemporary garden lead along fruit trees, a terraced garden with dark leafed plants,  potager or kitchen garden,  and a cut flower enclosure, an oval with tall grasses; and there are herbaceous mixed borders around the ancient courtyard.

There is an ancient cypress tree standing sentinel-like alongside the house, an avenue of 25 swamp oaks and lots of interesting plants – even a pistachio tree.

Water adds to the sense of calm with four small lakes in a row, hedge homes for wildlife and a gently sloping valley with Charolais cows.

Until the end of September the garden is acting as the perfect backdrop for sculptures made using local clay created by sculptor Andrew McGarva.

http://www.acmcgarva.com/sculptures/

To find out more http://www.journees-du-patrimoine.com/DEPARTEMENT/journees-patrimoine-58-nievre.htm

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A Gorgeous Glut

It’s harvest time and everyone has a huge amount of courgettes. Last year we hardly had any!  This year if you mention the word courgette, friends and neighbours widen their eyes and step back in horror with a shake of the head and a quick “Non!” Friends have even taken to arriving for aperos clutching a selection of courgettes or courgette apero cakes – even better!

One lovely friend had too many tomatoes and bought a big bag along to a party.  I love tomatoes so it was a great present for me.

The freezer is full of courgettes and runner beans, haricots espagnole and a variety of different soups.

Our vine hasn’t given us so many grapes as usual but they are sweet and juicy.  We have turned them into juice and are eating the rest.

We will just have to get inventive with the courgette recipes.  There’s ratatouille, chutney, soup, braised, grilled, roast, stuffed, pureed, shredded, salad, cakes and bread.

Any other ideas?

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Back to Routine

September brings a change in energy as the days are cooler and shorter, summer is coming to an end.  It is time to get back into routine again.

It’s la rentrée today, back to school and college but here in France, la rentrée is far more than that.  In August it’s not just school that is out but the government, offices, restaurants and businesses are also AWOL. Many French families take a long holiday for much of August too.

For weeks shops and the media have been talking about la rentrée.  The supermarkets have been piled high with exercise books, pens and folders. Harrassed mamans scan the aisles clutching long lists because French pupils are expected to provide all their own stationery and equipment.

This weekend our friends and neighbours have been wishing us and each other bonne rentrée à tous.

For me, la rentrée has a special significance this year as I am returning to normal routine (I hope!) after an operation and long convalescence. Chez moi, je suis le chef du bureau and my desk had ended up being a dumping ground.

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I have been preparing for la rentrée by tidying up, putting my papers in order and organising…ranger mes affaires,  trizer les papiers and organiser.

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I wish you a bonne rentrée.  Je souhaite une bonne rentrée.

 

 

 


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Time to Shine

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No-one told me that recuperating after an operation takes so much time and patience. The lack of energy has been a big shock and just getting up and showered is an achievement!   I am on the mend now and realise that as frustrating as it is I have to pace myself.

Due to the heatwave, la canicule, we have found ourselves living in one of the hottest places in France…hotter than the south of France!  Temperatures in le Morvan, Nievre are 37 degrees and rising as hot as Casablanca and Algeria.  Searching for a cool spot I have swopped resting on my bed for the hammock.

The hammock hangs in the garden between two old nut trees and has been lowered so that it makes it a bit easier for me to get in and out!

Encore une journee de soleil et de chaleur. Another day of sun and heat. The trees envelope me in their cool, green shade and an occasional gentle breeze makes the hammock gently sway.  I look up and focus on my breathing taking slow and deep breaths in and out.  The heat descends like a heavy blanket and even the crickets are quiet.  The only sounds are the repetitive thunk, thunk, thunk of someone in the village adding to their wood pile and the occasional distant burst of chatter from an excited child.

The warmth of the sun, the fragrant leaves, the muffled sounds lull my senses.  I feel calm….my jumbled thoughts drift away….I have found my perfect spot.

Soon my body will be recharged and I will rejoin the world brighter than before!

 

 


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Letting Go

 

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It may be another National Holiday here in France and talk of politics is everywhere. Le Penn, la blonde, got well and truly beat.  Macron will be the new President. I live in La Nievre where Le Penn won the first round.  I was holding my breath but over 76% of the local population turned out to vote with Macron winning 59.92% of the votes against 40.8% for Le Penn.

It’s time for all of us to let go of stress whether it’s politics, health worries, not enough money or too much work and not enough time!  It’s the start of another working week for me. Life goes on and that’s great…but sometimes it can be overwhelming.

How about combining learning techniques and gentle exercise to help you de-stress with a holiday in the beautiful Burgundy countryside? You can’t fail to relax when you are surrounded by green hills, forests and  lakes with the freshest air in Europe.  A three day Letting Go workshop is being held by international life coach and therapist Orsolya Rist in July.

For more visit http://shineconsciously.com/lessstress.htm

 

 


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Allez hop, au boulot!

Let’s get to work!

We’ve only got to get through this 4 day week and we get ANOTHER day off.

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Monday 08 May commemorates V E Day and then there is another Bank Holiday on Thursday 25 May for Ascension Day.

Not to mention 05 June Pentecost Monday!

Pas mal!


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Bon 1er mai!

Happy May Day!

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May Day started with a friend wishing me a Bon 1er mai and sending a Lily of the Valley posy.

The tradition started on May 1st 1561 when King Charles IX of France offered the ladies of the court a sprig of Lily of the Valley or Muguet as a lucky charm.  Over the years it has evolved into a way of showing friendship.  The florists and markets are full of Lily of the Valley in the lead up to the 01 May.  The local Prefrecture had to issue a warning this year not to pick too many from the woods.

The sunshine, bird song and wild flowers mean that spring is finally here.  The dark nights are over and there is a feeling of celebration in the air.  The long holiday weekend also celebrates the Fete du Travail.

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We spent a sunny afternoon with friends showing us how to spin and weave.  Spinning has been used for thousands of years as a way of producing yarn.  Charlotte enjoyed using a Spinning Wheel using wool from local sheep, a method in use for centuries since the Middle Ages.  She might be taking up spinning as a new hobby and wants to make a rug using wool she has spun herself.  A good start to the month.