mon coeur de campagne

living a simpler, rural French life


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ATELIER construction de nichoirs pour hirondelles

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We went to a workshop to learn how to make nichoirs – nests – for hirondelles – swallows – at la Maison du Parc, St Brisson.    It was one of a series of ateliers organised by La Parc naturel régional du Morvan and la Société d’Histoire Naturelle d’Autun.  We learnt a lot about the birds and discovered that there are two types of hirondellesL’Hirondelle de Fenetre and L’Hirondelle Rustique.  L’Hirondelle de Fenetre like their nests to be up close under a ledge, window or balcony.

L’Hirondelle Rustique often make their nests in or around barns and old farm buildings.   L’Hirondelle Rustique have a wide chest and the tail looks longer and more pointed than  LHirondelle de Fenetre.

Numbers of hirondelles have declined dramatically.  When we first bought our house here in Le Morvan we would regularly see hirondelles at the end of a hot summer’s day swooping to catch flies. Sadly their habit is under threat due to old buildings being renovated, the increased use of insecticides and predators such as cats and pigeons.

Charlotte

Charlotte getting hands-on!

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Mix it up!

You need plaster, water, generous handfuls of earth and straw – mix together to make a paste.

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Use a bowl as a mould and cover half the bowl. As the paste sets you can feel the heat, leave to set for around 30 minutes and then gently ease the bowl away.

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Voila! A chateau de luxe for the hirondelles!

We had an interesting walk around the parc looking at birds nests that had been made  to encourage the birds to nest.  There was an impressive tower or bird hotel housing rows of nests, it has been built high in the air to keep the birds safe.

The hirondelles are due to arrive between March and April.

We hope they like the nid and move in!

 

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Beating the Blues

 

 

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Vauminot, Lac de Pannecière

 

It’s been a hard few months.  A long winter and health problems since last October have made it extra challenging.  Husband hurt his back working on daughter’s renovation project.  He went from doing pretty much everything around the house to nothing.  A huge shock for me!  I had to get stuck in, despite my back problems and do all the dog walks in rain, fog and snow, the cooking and work too.  Bringing the wood in was the particularly tough.  Believe me there is no romance in lugging wood however warm and inviting wood burners look in homes magazines, the reality is a bit different.

Two bouts of very debilitating flu since New Year has not been fun either. It felt like Groundhog Day.  I just had to focus on getting through each grey day.

And all the time coping with a daughter with severe epilepsy.  So yes I have felt sorry for myself, probably been moaning too much and been seriously questioning how we can manage living here as we get older.

Today Husband is on the mend, our hacking coughs are gradually going and the sun has come out for the whole day!  Instantly life seems brighter.

 

 

 

 


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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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Verre de L’amitié

champagne

 

Last night, the Mayor invited everyone in our commune to toast the New Year with a verre de l’amitié, a glass of friendship.  We made it through the snow thanks to a lift from friends with winter tyres on their car.  The snow was so pretty and the Christmas lights in the centre of the village made it look very festive.

It was nice to see so many people there from our small community.  The Mayor welcomed and thanked everyone who had managed to get there.  He then thanked everyone who works or volunteers for the village, the school, the library and various associations.   He outlined what work had been done around the commune and plans for the coming year.  There was a poignant moment when he asked us to remember everyone who had been touched by terrorism and for those that had passed away.

The champagne was flowing but as we are having a dry January we politely declined.  A first for both of us!  Despite lots of attempts to fill my glass I managed to stick to orange juice until the Mayor handed me a glass of champagne – it would have been rude to say no!  I discreetly passed it to a neighbour who was more than happy to drink it for me.

For a small commune of around 200 people we are an international and friendly bunch made up of mostly French, a couple of Dutch (the numbers of Dutch increases in the summer!!), an English family (us), a German couple, a Texan and a South African.

We thanked the Mayor and asked if he could organise more evenings like this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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A close call

  
Freezing fog, snow, frost and icy roads. We are in the grip of winter.  Our region, La Nievre has been on alert for bad weather this weekend and we’ve been advised not to drive unless you have to.

The snow has been melting and we went to see friends 10 minutes drive away and the roads were clear. On the way back I suggested driving back a different route and on the hill up to our house the road was unbelievably slippery. Our tyres couldn’t get a grip and I had a flash back to my car crash. Very scarey!

A wolf has been spotted not far away! An animal has been attacking sheep and a very wolf-like animal has been caught on camera.  The authorities are taking the threat seriously and are investigating.

So maybe it isn’t so bad staying close to home and hibernating!


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L’Epiphanie

 

Galette des Rois

 
It is the 6th January and we are celebrating the Epiphany, the end of the festive season with more food! On this occasion it is a cake called the King’s Cake or the Galette de Rois.

It is a frangipane pastry cake made with with a feve or lucky charm hidden inside.  This custom dates back to pagan times when beans would have been used. The feves are tiny figurines, often babies and the three Kings made of porcelain. Nowadays the feves come in all sorts of shapes and are sometimes made of plastic.

Families have fun collecting the lucky charms and you often see baskets full of little feves on sale at Brocantes.

The cake is sliced and whoever finds the feve chooses the King and Queen for the evening. 

Qui sera la Reine, que sera le Roi? Who is going to be the Queen,  who is going to be King?

  Bon Appetit.

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A 3 bed house in a small country village near Varzy –  58 – Bourgogne.  A house pretty much ready to move into – if you like crazy floral wallpaper and plenty of wood!

Good sized house and located near the pretty town of Varzy.  A little town with a monthly brocante, shops, restaurants and bars.

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For more information contact: https://www.century21agenceducreux.com/trouver_logement/detail/1279515687/