Walk on the Wild Side

Posted in: Blog- May 09, 2014

The dog and I kicked off for a walk to nowhere in particular and found the lovely IMG_4214wild orchids have re-emerged all over the orchard.

Visit to the Aunts

Posted in: Blog- May 06, 2014

Paul’s aunt Léonie has been a Carmelite for 55 years.  Visits used to be stricter with Léonie accompanied by another nun, talking to family from behind a barred window.  Today the beautiful convent building in Bayonne is an industrial centre for baking Skofa biscuits which finance the convent.  Mayi is 95 and retired in Cambo-les -Bains after a lifetime teaching French in her Algerian convent (until only two years ago).  She was once asked whether she had any particular wishes.  Her answer;  to climb to the top of the dome of the cathedral in Algers.  Her wish came true when she was led to the foot of the building on her 95th birthday and told to “get onto the scaffolding and get going”!  Just in time!  The scaffolding was about to be dismantled a week later.  She made it to the top and was able to view the “Blue blue sea for miles in every direction far below”  She is still vital, alert and sharply articulate.  We visited them both with my sisters-in-law, Claire and Anne and their men, Peter and Steven, and stayed at a hotel right on the beach at St Jean de Luz, the only calm bit of the Atlantic coast.  Lovely to swim in, if a bit freezing.




Happy Summer Visits

Posted in: Blog- Aug 21, 2013

DSCF0511 IMG_5419 IMG_5447 DSCF0490 IMG_5436 DSCF0393 DSCF0451 DSCF0470 DSCF0460Joel, Clelia and Boris escaped London and to my delight stayed here a week.   Boris discovered he adored jumping in the pool, feeding the fish, riding the tractor and checking out the plums and grapes.  Bea, Angie and Henri followed them, and went paddle boarding and kayaking on the Dordogne nearby.  We were treated to a fabulous Angie feast to celebrate B’s birthday, and they kept horribly routing me at Trivial Pursuits.    Dominic (Paul’s brother) arrived for 2 days of serenity before his daughter’s beautiful wedding.  Linda and Richard drove their 5th wheel behind the  Dodge Ram, parked in the croquet pitch, and looked after everything for us here so we could go to fore-mentioned wedding.  b & b guests interlinked with everyone else and a blazingly hot sun brightened up all our days.

Linda and Richard to the Rescue

Posted in: Blog- Jul 10, 2013

Isabel and Paddy’s wedding in the UK means we’re deserting our posts here for the next few days.  So Linda and Richard, Tom’s in laws, kindly drove to the rescue to look after visitors, wine customers, dog, cats and fish.   Their Dodge Ram sparkling in the sun now lends a new glamour to the outside of our drive.  Shortly it will come back towing the 5th wheel they are currently living in, so we can be off again, this time to Charlotte and James’s wedding in August.  IMG_3788

Sandra’s Pears

Posted in: Blog- Jul 09, 2013

The Tuesday art group will continue to meet here through the Summer.  This fabulous painting of pears in mixed media by Sandra Hall is just one of many lovely works created during the sessions here.

In addition Jan Winser and Lynne Staunton will be supervising a printmaking workshop in our new (ish) studio.  We’ll be making collographs, lino prints and monoprints.

Sandra's Pears

Open House at Plum Village

Posted in: Blog- Jul 03, 2013

The Buddhist monastery, Village des Pruniers – Plum Village,  5 minutes away from us here,  held an Open House on Sunday.   (www.new.plumvillage.org) The most delicious vegetarian feast was prepared for hundreds of visitors under the ancient oaks.  The community of Vietnamese monks and nuns settled here in 1982.  The co-founder, is the world famous Zen Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, (‘Thay’) teacher poet, author of 100 books, peace activist and nominated in 1967 by Martin Luther King for the Nobel  Peace Prize.   He travels all over the world to spread his teachings.  Nowadays up to 2000 people come at any one time Open House feastingto the yearly  retreats from all over the world.   We often get ‘overspill’ staying at our bed and breakfast.

Yesterday, I enjoyed the experience  in the beautiful surroundings, with old and new friends, Mair who lives near me here, Luke, Kate’s father from St Diego, and two friends of his, Faith and Joanne from California.   Their company and the kind welcome and serenity of our hosts made the evening very special.   As well,  the first really warm Summer evening at last !

Ladies who Walk

Posted in: Blog- May 28, 2013

Posted in: Blog-May 28, 2013

Three of us and one dog, take a brisk walk a kilometre uphill to the village twice a week. En route we discuss everything from Life, Death and the Universe to the state of our fridge. The dog starts off bounding ahead, but then flags and trails (at 67 dog years old, he’s still going pretty strong and a rabbit or deer in view can set him off like a cannonball). After the baguette and paper stop we prop up the bar for a coffee. “Chez Nellie” has turned into “Comme Chez Mamie” after Nellie died last year and her two granddaughters took over. Nellie said she did neither “vacances ni retraite” and fabulous workmens’ lunches were served there for 40 years. The girls have made discreet changes so as not to upset their grandfather Martin who still has his lunch there. But on Friday nights it rocks, as suppers are accompanied by live bands, and young people are now flocking to this middle-of-nowhere village. I lined us up against a garage for the ‘shoot’ and we now have a record of Gill, Linda and me just a minute away from our coffeesIMG_3768IMG_3780IMG_3775

Half an Hour in the Garden Today

Posted in: Blog- May 25, 2013

My camera & I took a turn round the garden this evening and met:  A toad & snail meditating, the dog & cat having a love-in, 3 hens a-visiting, 3 new waterlilies in all their glory, Marie Pavie rose (I love you) in a tub, unusual petunia, the smoke bush brilliantly red against the sun, The philadelphus against the tiniest patch of blue sky.  (but storm clouds gathering pace, so dream on for Summer days) and old barrel hoops trying to resemble garden structures (Chelsea has clearly had an impact.  Never mind … they may be ok when smothered by plant life).IMG_3754IMG_3750IMG_3758

Half an Hour in the Garden Today

Half an Hour in the Garden Today


A Matter of Bees

Posted in: Blog- May 09, 2013

A busy day which started with breakfast for eight b & b guests, followed by several door sales of wine and tastings to passing customers, Jean-Charles preparing the rooms for more customers tonight,and then helping me muck out our living room in depth, while Paul and Ahmed spent eight hours lopping dead wood out of the plum trees. It was while Ahmed was aloft in the hoist that he came face to face with 2 bee swarms in the trees. Each one had re-formed as a new colony from the original hive. The bee-keepers arrived to take them away and create new hives where needed. They sedated them with smoke and sucked them into a bag. All very interesting apart from the bee stings on my head when I got near the hive where some enraged bees objected to the bee keeper inspecting their honey production, (still not ready). — Juliana Uhart Chateau Lavanau Les Faux 47120 Loubes Bernac France tel: +33 (0) 553948645 mob:+33 (0) 674975704 www.chateaulavanau.com

Ahmed Aloft

Posted in: Blog- Apr 26, 2013

This machine beats a ladder for speed of action, human energy conservation and safety. Propping a ladder against a tree on bumpy terrain and running up and down it all day is a thing of the past, now that we have our own machine. 2 other farmers hired it this Winter so it even paid its way.