Thursday, 31 December 2009

Trédaniel plan d'eau, morning.

We slither and slide through wet leaf mould, and I struggle to find solace and grace in the peat-brown waters and sodden grass and paths.

I succeed, in some measure.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

The distant hills are sharply defined, a dark, bruised blue.  Jays, raucous as scrapping cats, call from the firs, and a tiny olive warbler emerges momentarily in the willow hedge.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Up the road, late afternoon.

Black trees loom up out of a black road.  Car headlights look warm and pale golden against the bluish monochrome of the fading snow.  It'll be good to get home.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

We manage by walking along the thawed out crown of the road, though Mol, with four-wheel drive, potters along quite happily on the packed down ice of the car tracks.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Up the road, early evening.

Why is it that the aged, faded rose and lavender in the sky, and the shadows in the hills that contain all colours and none, seem to promise something wonderful?

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

After flurries of grey snow this morning, my nameday is hard and clear as a draught of water now, the wind thin and cutting as we turn back into it.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Hill above Hénon, afternoon.

We walk along the tramlines between the small green blades of wheat, around the perimeter of two fields, first with our backs to the sun then into it.  Deeply happy.

Quessoy arboretum, afternoon ( Thursday ).

This place is peaceful, set-aside, but the smell and sounds from the nearby pig farm taint the air.  I admonish myself for wishing I didn't have to think about them.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Trédaniel plan d'eau, afternoon.

The small stream rumbles like a mighty cataract, and, though autumn seemed over, there is a last scattering of gold from oaks and hazels, even as the first catkins appear.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

I can't resist wading into the deep puddle on the corner, its water a cloudy pale terracotta.  That is when I discover there is a hole in my wellington boot.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

Jackdaws, I count thirteen, in a ragged broken letter, uttering their friendly, plosive 'peouw-peouws'.  Unusual to see them over the fields; they live around Moncontour's church tower and walls.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Trédaniel plan d'eau, morning.

The mosaic of fallen leaves darkens and evens to a mummified brown, patterned by line more than colour.

Two plastic bottles bob among the broken reedmace in the shivering water.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Down the road, morning (Saturday)

Fetching the car from the garage in Moncontour, walking with a purpose is different.  We go more briskly and cheerfully, and the bleakness of weather and scenery makes less impression.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Down the road, early evening.

The just more than half-moon is the same colour as the vent in the sky opposite where the last of the sunlight glows.  The last yellow marigolds shine more warmly.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

A batch of good brown mushrooms in the bank, so late in the year. I reach to pick them, but I have neither receptacle nor time.  I'll be back tomorrow.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

On the beach, Morieux.

We walk from the little chapel on the headland, crunching on pearly shell fragments, until forced back by green seaweed. The wind and sunlight shock us as we turn around.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Above Arondel, walking Moos with Mol.

The largest parasol is ten inches across.  They snake across the field, actually in a wide arc, only the visible emergence of the mighty web of mycelium under the ground.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

An initially unidentifiable smell of cider, then I see the small crooked wilding apple tree on the bank has dropped its yield in the ditch, where it is gently fermenting.

Down the road, late afternoon (Saturday).

Dark brooding green swirls in the wind in the heart of Marcelle's spruce tree, while the last marigolds glow like dying embers below.  We'll be happy to be home tonight.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

We swallow gulps of wind with appreciation.  The crowds of starlings gust about the field like blown leaves, while blown leaves dashing across the road look themselves like living things.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Trédaniel plan d'eau, morning.

A green woodpecker, all olive, lime and crimson, with a head like a power tool, starts up from the grass.  Supposedly a starling-sized bird, close up it seems much bigger.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Down the road, early evening.

Crackling maize stems, scattered cobs, chickweed and stalks of cabbages the cows ate straight from the field, all is grist by the ploughs and turned to an even chocolate tilth.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

Earth and air are moist and cold, but flooded with light.  Woodsmoke and the smell of fresh-turned earth, as  tractors with great bladed ploughs dance ponderously.

 A flock of lapwings.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Town ramparts, Dinan, afternoon.

Pollarded limes raise black fists into the air, and the giant leaves of  plane trees lie around like piles of papers, or fly suddenly away, 'like ghosts from an enchanter...'

Monday, 2 November 2009

Quessoy arboretum, morning.

A jogger passes, red-faced and straining.  I salute her effort, but am privately glad I am strolling with dog and camera, gazing at the yellow treasure of the gingko trees.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Up the road, early evening.

A flock of long-tailed tits, easily a couple of dozen, accompany us from hedgerow to hedgerow for some way as it grows dark, tsee-ing noisily and looking like flying lollipops.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Down the road, evening.

The blond Limousin bull is maturing, his neck and shoulders so big and curly he looks like a great red-tawny bison, even more like something from the walls of Lascaux caves.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Down the road, early evening.

A breather from cooking.  The warm lavender evening more like August than late October.  A whoosh of starlings fly over the yellow trees.  Across the field jays cackle after acorns.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

'How's Anne?' I ask Marcel.

'She's resting in the car. In the sun.'

Indeed, the small car is on their forecourt, the old lady reposing in the sunny front seat.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

By Marcel's, one dainty toadstool looks spray-painted gold. Later, I pick two good brown flatcaps, pushing through the chopped bracken in the verge, and take them back for tonight's soup.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

How do we live untroubled beneath the tyranny of clouds,
which, mocking our earth-bound coloured forms,
promise us the slant-lit kingdoms of Elysium,
then waste them with a darkened blast?

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

Out of the mudded maize stalks rise flocks of birds, voices rippling and chuckling: thrushes, larks, finches, but so mixed up and quick and winter-brown I can't tell them apart.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Down the road, afternoon.

Now the maize is finally cut, things once lost are visible again. Squashed yellow cobs lie about the fields, and a passing car stirs thick dust up from the road.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

The copper coloured cockerel and with his gold and black hens, stroll rather listlessly in the orchard. The red of their combs is the same as the apples above them.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Down the road, early morning.

To say the low mist's blue enough to stain you hands with, and every deadhead weed and cow-chewed cabbage stalk a sun-charged burning fuse, is not to be there.

Up the road, afternoon (Tuesday)

A sharp cry really sounding like 'peewit', a solitary lapwing flying over hard and fast, an early herald of the flocks which will chequer the fields later in the winter.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Trédaniel plan d'eau, afternoon.

Shaggy ink caps push their quaint tall domes up through wet grassy weeds. I leave them to it, they are watery and tasteless, and I don't feel like mushrooms anyway.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Down the road, afternoon.

A grey warm dull day, and I resent the jaunty Provencal colours of the maize. But Marcelle's and Victor's flowers are mad magenta and marigold, though battered by the wind.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Recycling bins, Moncontour.

The shouts of a football game drift over. A few young women (WAGs) stand in the rain alongside, their postures betraying a chilled boredom surely even great love can't offset?

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Up the road, afternoon (Friday).

We meet the terrier pup alone in the road. I carry him home (receiving kisses) where he gets a smack. I wonder if that will persuade him to stay around.

Lamballe, round the lake, along the river, up the high street and over the square (Thursday).

After a long walk, eclairs and tarte aux cassis, hot chocolate for the bigger people. Iso uses Ilan's spoon, he his fingers. Molly has water in a white china bowl.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

Stretching from a day's work putting the garden to bed, I don't mind too much the thought of winter, when the fire is lit, and books are better than travel.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

The Limousin bull, who is often in the field below our house, has been moved near the top of the hill. He lies in the grass like a fallen megalith.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Collegiale de Notre Dame, Lamballe, morning. The wind in their tails...

A tiny curly-haired girl with an excited smile, collecting conkers with her father, wants to talk to Molly, who is too busy running among the whirling yellow lime and chestnut leaves.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Trédaniel plan d'eau, afternoon

A cormorant is standing on the island formed by debris collected at the overflow to the pool. It lifts off reluctantly, wheels round wide, and heads off over the treetops.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

A seemingly exhausted but still fresh-looking peacock butterfly languishes on the road, fluttering and looking helpless. I think of taking it in my cupped hands, relaunching it, but I don't.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

Marcelle gives me shocking pink asters and hazelnuts. Pierre stops the tractor and promises me firewood for winter.

The dead cow is still in the field, still dead.

Country matters.

Down the road, morning.

A pearly spiders' web morning. They hang on branches and bushes, posts and postboxes. Some, intriguingly, are suspended from electric wires, pegged to the ground. Don't the spiders risk electrocution?

Friday, 11 September 2009

Up the road, evening.

I try to tick boxes in my head, then my nose observes they have cut the verges, and I can't decide how I feel about the smell of cut bracken.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Down the road, evening.

The evening is flushed and agitated, a jay is buffeted too fast over the hedges.

A sky blue hydrangea and bonbon pink rose, their colours slightly feverish, in Pierre's garden.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

Marcel's and Anne's empty garden chairs look forlorn under a grey sky. Then I spy the butcher's van, and see them through the window, having a chinwag with Mme Craff.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Water mill, Guettes-es-Lievres, afternoon.

Pond skaters dapple the olive green sheen of the water with endlessly changing concentric circles.

The stony weir that thundered through the winter merely mumbles in the season's low water.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Approach to Bogard, morning.

The poplar leaves are dropping, veined, fluttering, curled, September's golden hearts.

And who would know it, but the woods smell like good soft leather.

A woodpecker stifles a laugh.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

A pewter coloured sky, and even more swallows facing south along the wires. It's good to be wearing a jacket and chunky shoes again, as we cut across the harrowed wheatfield.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

On the road by home, some fox poo, full of mirabelle stones. The mirabelle trees are some way away, so the fox's range must be quite as large as ours.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Down the road, evening.

A huge green and gold cloisonné dragonfly with transparent wings darts back and forth along the verge, then settles, cruciform, on the crumpled brown paper leaf of a maize plant.

Up the road, morning (Sunday)

We take a stick and a straw shopping basket for foraging, and I come back with scratched and purple hands. Mirabelles, wilding and crab apples, blackberries. The sloes can wait.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Down the road, evening.

Sun still lighting the maize tops, but it's cold. Where are the swallows? The last garage brood only fledged today; one typically hit the window, but bounced off, seemingly unharmed.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

Still some mirabelles on the trees, and those that have fallen, deep yellow among the barley stubble and ungleaned hormed heads, are being plundered, not by wasps but honey bees.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Down the road, evening.

The young Limousin bull is in a nearby field, with his girlfriends. He is red-gold, solid and quiet as the landscape, and raises his head to watch us go past.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

I know that Marcelle is sad with loss and waning, yet her garden is filled with wine-rich red and pink as joy dahlias, overhung by branches heavy with apples.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

The blackberries are so sweet, Molly is quite happy to share them. I must buy sugar and make a special trip to collect some for jelly, along with some apples.

Wooded path, next to the main approach to the Chateau de Bogard, morning.

Molly insisted we stop, I'm glad she did. The chateau appears across its reedy fishing pool, small in the landscape, in low-contrast light, symmetrical and graceful, beautiful but unassuming.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

White butterflies over and around the field of feed-cabbages, and white gulls over and around the tractor harrowing the stubble of the wheatfield, look like torn scraps of white paper.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Notre Dame du Hault chapel, Trédaniel.

We walk down the avenue of sycamores, carefully past the sand and rocks where adders live, and into the woods to the holy well, in search of Words of Power.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

Hot, and the whine of Tom's tile-cutter follows me.

"Bloke in the paper" warns Marcel sagely " cut two fingers off."

We return, come out again in the cool, green-gold evening.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Up the road, right at the T, afternoon.

We visit the four sleek donkeys, the peeling brown gate and mauve hydrangeas, the nasturtia trailing through the hacked cypress hedge, and take the dusty track up to the watertower.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Down the road, morning.

Hurry the breakfast washing up, we want to catch the early light on the wheat harvest that we heard in the night, and the grassheads and spiderwebs are silver crisp.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Trédaniel plan d'eau, afternoon.

A tiny black damselfly with bright blue trim perches on a tiny five-petalled yellow flower. I observe quite happily that I don't know the precise name of either insect or plant.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

The black patches on the road surfaces are beginning to melt; cracked blisters appear on the surface with a glossy glint below, and pawprints and treadmarks appear where we've walked.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Hill above Hénon, afternoon.

Honeysuckle swathes ripening blackberries, the distant sea is a blue band, from which the wind blows thin through the purple cotton of my shirt. Down the hill, a donkey brays.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Trédaniel plan d'eau, afternoon

The man directs a compact camera as his teenage daughter handles her rod awkwardly. On a bench, an older boy sits, the scent of his cigarette drifting across the water.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

The village seem to be sinking beneath a tide of high summer growth, bobbing like a ship as green waves of maize, trees, hedges, lap at the doors and windowsills.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Hill above Hénon, afternoon.

I pick up a large pine cone and throw it aimlessly. Molly uncharacterisitically retrieves it, and brings it home in the car, where she tidily puts it under her chair.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Down the road, evening.

The heifer's throat pulses as she gulps from the round trough. She looks up, water running from her mouth in shining rods, passes a mauve tongue over soft lips.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

The farmer's wife is riding in the back shovel of the red Massey-Ferguson tractor, with an axe-hammer. Returning, she is perched up front, and the shovel is full of logs.

Down the road, evening.

Picking an ear of wheat, I thresh it between the palms of my hands, let the wind winnow it, and chew the mealy grains. I haven't done this for ages!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

The old railtrack, Gare de Moncontour, afternoon.

In a fallow field beside the track, yellow ragwort, russet docks, mauve thistles with silvery seedheads, unwelcome weeds, still make a bright stitchery against the brownish canvas of the grasses.

Down the road, early evening (Wednesday).

The dropped chestnut flowers make a browning mat around the gate and verges. I hesitate - are they like caterpillars, or pipecleaners? - then remember the French word, chenille, serves for both.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Woods near the water mill, Guettes-es-Lievres, morning.

There are tiny forests in the emerald clumps of moss, and a chapel in the wood, not three feet high, formed by the arches of a dead tree's exposed roots .

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Down the road, afternoon. A guest post by Rilke, who, in deference to his status, is allowed three extra words.

Landscape stopped halfway
between the earth and sky,
with voices of bronze and water,
ancient and new, tough and tender,

like an offering lifted
towards accepting hands:
lovely completed land,
warm, like bread!
(From the Valaisian Quatrains, French Poems, trans. Poulin.)

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Down the road, afternoon.

Outside Pierre's old house, an oak sapling in a crack in the tarmac, perhaps from an acorn dropped by a jay or secreted by a vole, appears to be bonsai-ing itself.

Down the road, afternoon (Friday).

Returning to our corner, Molly insists on continuing up the road as far as the open space in front of Victor's barn, where, it seems, there are some unmissable smells.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

Victor's dahlias, scarlet with nearly black leaves, are flowering now along the gable end of his barn, a structure of concrete breeze and rust-patterned corrugated iron, with dusty, cracked windows.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

Privet and buddleia smell cloyingly sweet, the trees are boiled-cabbage green, everything seems overcooked.

Truth to tell, I don't care for high summer, but hate to be wishing it away.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Up the road, afternoon (Sunday)

Purples and blues of knapweed, scabious, thistle, against the browning wheat and grasses.

A dozen swallows perform a flickering ballet round the telegraph wires. The young ones have stubbier tails.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Down the road, evening

We appreciate the coolth, although I shiver.

I pinch a handful of untended, naturalised strawberries from Pierre's old front flowerbed; they are small, crunchy and intense as real wild ones.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

Outside feels like a centrally-heated room with the doors and windows closed.

At Le Boissy, a trough of bright purple and white striped petunias which look like miniature circus pavilions.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Down the road, early evening.

Back and shoulders ache from gardening and window cleaning, but it's nice to stroll. A soft buzz of invisible insects rises from the maize field, though there are no flowers.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Trédaniel plan d'eau, morning.

A middle-aged couple fishing, a Duralex tumbler holds down the pages of a magazine the man is reading. Further off, in the shade, a bright yellow plastic coolbox promises lunch.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Down the road, evening.

The sky from horizon to zenith is a muted rainbow, filled with the first young swallows learning to fly. A light haze gives the landscape a flattened, cut-out look.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Hill above Hénon, afternoon.

I have been out of sorts, distanced. The light through the chestnut leaves and the smell of pine and elder brings me back, that and the normal settling of things.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Down the road, early evening.

At the corner, we meet old Hélène, and walk back together, at a snail's pace. Molly is unimpressed, but I'm brought up to date on several matters of local gossip.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Up the road, afternoon. (Thursday)

Molly plunges into the rib-high barley, is lost in moments. I call and call, imagining her among the stems like a seal beneath the waves. We meet up with relief.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Up the road, evening (Wednesday).

Despite the heavy warmth of the day, it is remarkably clear; in the light lively breeze, I can see just three out of the six windturbines at Plestan are turning.

Water mill, Guettes-es-Lievres, morning (Tuesday).

The decaying waterwheel has been replaced, along with the bridge over the weir.

In nearby Plouguenast, a holidaying group, who are looking for a football pitch for the donkey's lunch.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Hill above Hénon, afternoon.

From the paths cut into the woods, through the trees and hedgerows, windows open out onto the long wealden stretch, beyond Hénon's tall church, towards the sea and its headlands.

Down the road, evening (Saturday).

The strandlike sprays of chestnut flowers that cover the trees like a fleece look improbably exotic, as if they should be in a Rousseau jungle, with parrots and leaping tigers.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

Less than half-way round we resort to the school bus shelter. I watch the circles of rain on a large grey puddle for a while, then reluctantly turn for home.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

Bunches of noisy, stubby-tailed fledgeling blue tits seem to accompany me most of the way, bobbing from tree to tree, demanding food from their anxious and tired parents

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

At the bottom of the field, far off, a vixen with a cub playing around her. She hunkers and glowers at me, but does not run. The cub is oblivious.

Friday, 5 June 2009

The old railtrack, Gare de Moncontour, midday.

Already the greens are monochrome dark, only the pale spires of stone pennywort, the mauve of foxgloves and the frothy, fruity perfume of elderflowers give some lift to the scene.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Down the road, evening.

A big brown dog fox lopes hesitantly across the striped maizefield; we keep still, and he joins the road ahead, leaping fluidly across the opposite ditch when he sees us.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Down the road, evening.

Problems can mean wishing your life away. ' I wish tomorrow were over, I wish X were resolved' means wishing away this beautiful green-fused evening, and the peace it could bring.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Down the road, evening.

The swallows' alarm as they chase the hobby is urgent, unlike their over-dramatising chiding of a magpie or each other. Earlier, I saw the falcon as it swung, Horus-headed, into the sun.

Trédaniel plan d'eau, morning (Saturday)

On fine Saturday mornings, the place takes on a lively, clubbish, human ambiance, as fishermen and boys, their bikes, mopeds, radios and tinned sweetcorn, punctuate the banks of the pool.

Up the road, afternoon (Friday) - The horses are back.

Guy, cycling lycra-clad, whirrs past :' 'Y a des chevaux!'

But I take no photos, as, once there, I am engaged in distracting conversation with a horse-mad little girl called Marine.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Down the road, afternoon.

The bank where Pierre, when alive, tried to write the name of the house, and his and Marie's initials, in houseleeks, is a riot of seeding forget-me-nots and feasting greenfinches.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Down the road, afternoon.

The narrow damp field, patched with buttercups, the red streaks of sorrel, an odd mauve-pink corner of ragged robin, now if I could paint that... an opaque medium, pastels perhaps.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Down the road, evening

The sandy Limousin bull is canoodling gently with one of his thirteen black and white wives. Despite his size, he has a softness, seeming milder and dozier than the cows.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Down the road, early evening.

The small blades of maize, the sun behind them, draw luminous limegreen lines over the fields, which break up as one's viewpoint changes, disappearing altogether with the sun in front.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Up the road, afternoon, Ascension Day, and three oranges.

A sprig of Marcel's mock orange blossom to sniff at.

Young smiling Annabelle wears a sleeveless dress, richly striped orange.

Orange painted lady butterflies seem to be everywhere in abundance.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Trédaniel plan d'eau, afternoon

The starry raft of water crowsfoot breaks the pattern of ripples the wind makes on the surface of the water, creating a still, smooth patch the small fish swim in.

Down the road, evening.

I count the trees around in our woodland: ninety goat and one weeping willow, two ash, numerous hazel and chestnut, ten wizened oak round the edges. And alot of brambles.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

May blossom, hawthorn flowers, like all the flowering trees and shrubs, seems particularly luxuriant this year. Its perfume is something like a pungent almond essence, or tinned cherry pie filling.

Trédaniel plan d'eau, afternoon (Friday).

Willow fluff floats on the surface around the edges of the pool. From one angle it forms a fairylike sheen; the light the other way renders it a dusty scum.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Quessoy arboretum, afternoon.

The air is full of willow fluff, extraordinarily like snow. A cuckoo calls persistently, almost tiresomely, except it is such a special thing, I am unable to consider it annoying.

Monday, 4 May 2009

At home.

Tom goes Out with Mol this evening, while I sort clothes, and touch up the tiny ragged edges of new wallpaper with a fine brush and a matching Inktense pencil.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Up the road, afternoon, Quengo.

In the orchard where poultry wander sedately under pink and white blossom, the group of guinea fowl bask in the dust, like tiny grey chiffon dinosaurs with blue heads.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Trédaniel plan d'eau, morning.

By the water, the first pink stars of ragged robin, and at the roadsides, dark purple wild orchids, drifts of them, growing in the long grass as carefree as bluebells.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

I meet Guy and his wife walking, who tell me about the Breton mares.

'A colt and a filly!'

But they won't be in the paddock until next month now.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Trédaniel plan d'eau, afternoon.

I scramble up the bank to look better, but the whitethroat singing in the cotoneasters eludes my attempt to establish that it isn't just a melodious dunnock, and remains hidden.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Trédaniel plan d'eau, morning (Wednesday).

Water crowsfoot lines the pool edges like swathes of ragged lace, the birdsong in the bowl of trees is immense. I sit on the bench and close my eyes.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

I am wobbling somewhat with hunger as I draw near to home, and through her open door comes the aroma of coffee Marcelle is drinking. It is almost unbearably delicious!

Monday, 20 April 2009

The old railtrack, Gare de Moncontour, afternoon

Alkanet, herb robert, broom, stitchwort, celandine still, dog violets, bluebells emerging, lilac above the workshop garden, with its neat rows of pansies and violas. An illuminated manuscript, the season is timeless.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

The blue tit's beakful of moss is so large it can barely fly. It disappears behind the bole of a tree, and re-emerges, beak empty. It doesn't like me watching.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

Mol runs in the green wheat, finds a way homeward, through fence and ditch and hedgerow, I don't see. But she comes back for me, shows me where to go.

Binic, afternoon (Thursday).

Over the pink and orange sea-wall
dark clouds fracture, so
rain and sun argue, then unexpectedly
make up, come out together smiling,
warm and wet on the skin at once.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Down the road, evening.

A head of dandelions, big as a cabbage, forty flowers easily, all perpendicular on bright green, wine red stems, closed upwards, geometric, heraldic, ruffed with floss white and yellow tips.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Down the road, afternoon.

After looking for signs of the spring for so long, suddenly it is racing faster than one can follow, as fast as the swallow flying a metre above the pasture.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

The poplars are turning at last a rusty apricot over the lime green hazels and sallows. There is more colour in spring than there ever is in autumn.

Down the road, evening (Thursday)

I largely forget to observe anything, but my mind goes gack and forth over the days events in a relaxed way, as Molly does, pausing and sniffing by the roadside.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Trédaniel plan d'eau, afternoon

Damply mild, and fish push their heads out of the water. I wonder if it is like us, plunging our faces into water, holding our breath, but probably it's not.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Down the road, early evening.

More and more swallows wheel and dip and pirouette quarrelsomely and amorously. I feel as though they are visitors I am pleased to see but not quite up to receiving.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Up the road, afternoon

We go to see if the horses are in their paddock, but no. It is warm and beautiful, so we head down the sunken lane, walk too far, come back tired.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Trédaniel plan d'eau, morning.

The girl picks up the trout her father has caught in a thin plastic bag, cautiously touches it with an outstretched finger, then quickly withdraws with a sense of relief.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Up the road, afternoon

Despite the cold, a thickening certainty in the birdsong, like reaching a setting point.

A honeybee gathers propolis from Marcel's Chinese privet hedge.

Slightly whitening dog violets in the bank.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Up the road, afternoon (Sunday)

A hard winter, a late spring and flowering, perhaps a good summer, and the mirabelliers may set fruit this year. I imagine of the crunch of sugar and the pastry.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Down the road, evening

Sunset uplights gilded clouds, renders distant grain silos and windturbines chalky pink.

A flock of high-flying curlews, I count in threes, thirty at least before they are out of sight.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Water mill, Guettes-es-Lievres, afternoon.

How much calmer it is here now than a month ago; the roar of the waters has subsided to a placid chatter, and primroses and wood anemones illuminate the ground.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

There is the faintest green haze over the willows, but it is wintry still, and the pool with the poplars where the starlings are roosting shines coldly through the trees.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

To walk the green and harrowed lines
of nearly empty earth and sky
straight and undelighted, grasping
at nothing, might be an answer.

Till the lark rises,
and I grasp.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Plan d'eau, Lamballe.

A black-headed gull, swimming duck fashion, makes a quick darting lunge in the shallow water by the old mill, and comes up with a wriggling fish. It seems quite surprised.

Woods behind Arondel, walking Moos with Mol (Sunday).

The crisp brown beech litter comes up to the dogs' elbows and seems full of interesting smells.

Emilie's sloping wooded garden is full of the small pale wild daffodils and celandine.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Port du Légué, Plerin.

We are unaccustomed to all being out together in a towny place. There is some fidgetting, pulling and whining , but we settle down, and it's warm enough to eat outside

Friday, 20 March 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

A small green metal plaque on an old outbuilding containing only an old tractor tyre at Boissy proclaims the third prize winner of the Breton horse brood mare categorie, 1993.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

'Called Paris today' said Marcel, 'it's my sister-in-law's hundredth birthday. Widowed in 1938.'

'Didn't she ever want to remarry?'

'Might have had a boyfriend or two, I dunno.'

Hill above Henon, afternoon (Wednesday).

There is a gentle languor about afternoons like this in March. The larkspur haze over everything, nothing visible beyond the next range of hills, the birds singing rather desultorily.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Plan d'eau, Plessala.

The small black dogrushes madly around in the shallow water of the lake, than stands at the edge, barking indignantly at the lapping waves which he has himself created.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Above the distant chatter of the invisible starlings down in the poplars, a thinner, harsher squeal comes out of the grass. Some small life, I suspect, is being violently extinguished.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Down the road, afternoon.

The Dutchman calls a greeting from the ordered stripes of yellow and purple, crocus and iris, where he kneels in the field, and tells me spring is started at last.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Trédaniel plan d'eau, afternoon

I don't bother to zip up my jacket, but hug it round me, arms folded tight over my chest, slouch along. Bad posture can be so comforting, like old clothes!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

After a big Sunday lunch, we need the exercise. It begins to rain just after we start, and we shelter under the ridiculous Doric columned portico of the factory office.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Up the road, afternoon

Thrushes' songs, purple-striped crocus pushing up out of the ground like fungus, primrose leaves pleated with life. I take the longer circuit, finally shake off self-pity back at my door.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Trédaniel plan d'eau, morning.

Robins sing in fluent concerto, pussy willow tentatively beads its twigs, and a clump of dotted frogspawn gel floats in the shallows.

Yet winter is loath to loosen its grip.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Trédaniel plan d'eau, afternoon.

Black-headed gulls, only one of which actually has a black head, paddle on the water like ducks, trailing wide v-shaped wakes behind them. They take flight indignantly when I sneeze.

Down the road, afternoon.

A wet Sunday, and we hadn't much cared to come out, but the rain has stopped, and it is mild and silvery, the road gleaming. Still, we don't stay long.

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Up the road, afternoon

In her ninety-fifth spring, eyes smeared with cataracts, Anne Pincemin leans back in her deckchair by the woodpile and turns her face upwards to the goodness of the February sun.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

Victor and his son have been splitting and stacking logs. His cockerel, red, green and gold and strutting, climbs to the summit of the pile and crows his heart out.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Quessoy arboretum, afternoon.

An elderly couple sit affectionately close together on a bench. They look neither happy nor unhappy, and yet I imagine they have the look of people who have come through.

Up the road, afternoon ( Tuesday )

Marie's clan are clearing out her house for rental. There is an air of relief in their actions. We conclude that wear-and-tear of use is preferable to wear-and-tear of disuse.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Up the road, afternoon

The black cat watching us from the field has eyes exactly the colour of the grass. It looks like a sheet metal cutout, with holes punched out revealing the world behind.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Quessoy arboretum, lunchtime.

Broken spirals of thrush-hammered snailshells lie among the woodchip mulch.

Scaley green rhododendron buds fatten up through winter, waiting still.

Bunches of dead leaves hang on twigs over the river.

The old railtrack, Gare de Moncontour, afternoon (Saturday)

Last year's frayed and rotted leaves, iodine and chocolate brown, form a glazed mosaic in the watery ditches; stone pennywort, ferns and mosses art nouveau curlicues over the wetted rocks.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Water mill, Guettes-es-Lievres, lunchtime, Friday.

A celandine to which a bee comes; a brimstone butterfly; fox pawprints in the silt of the receded river; tree roots washed clean.

Am I allowed a sigh of relief?

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Trédaniel plan d'eau, morning.

The surface is partly still, reflecting smoothly trees, grass, buildings, and partly broken by the breeze into corruscating shards which make no sense, and yet this roughness balances the other.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Down the road, late afternoon.

A single gull wheels, drops, glides, colourless as the sky. On one side there is the wavering thread of a robin's song, further off on the other a jay's cackle.

Water mill, Guettes-es-Lievres, lunchtime, Saturday.

It is worth making the detour here just to see the river shining through the trees as the road winds downward, and to stand, empty-headed, within the noise of the water.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Road- and riverside, Plouguenast.

From a cage outside a house, a foreign bird squawks. I recognise the logs from the felled beech stacked nearby. In flooded ground by the river, a few submerged daffodils.

Water mill, Guettes-es-Lievres, lunchtime, Thursday.

The river is brimming and running fast with rain and meltwater, with patches of bubbles. The weirs are roaring like tiny Niagaras, things seem ready to break up, wash away.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Plouguenast, children's playgound.

Slush and grit, a mossy path, a striped fish and motorbike on springs, a green plastic slide, all streaked with algae and scattered with leaf litter. A vivid vermillion dogwood.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Water mill, Guettes-es-Lievres, lunchtime.

The snow is just beginning; in the looking-glass river world, where the trees hang downwards, the flakes rise slowly toward the surface, meshing hypnotically with those falling in this world.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Woods above Moncontour, afternoon, walking with E. and Moos.

The peacock who lives in the house where the path starts gives us a full rattling display, or rather it's for his peahen, who is more concerned with the dogs.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Water mill, Guettes-es-Lievres, afternoon.

Three cheery men are busy with cutting up the mossy old beech tree, destroyed by fungus. The logs pile up in fresh creamy chunks in a red metal tractor trailer.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Trédaniel plan d'eau, morning.

The water is dense and mild and soothing. We hop about on the path to avoid the waterlogging.

I turn on engine and heater, and sit and write three haiku.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Water mill, Guettes-es-Lievres, afternoon.

High wild water, and the millwheel broken and giving in. Purple alder catkins hang from the black cones of last year; what a tree that has both cones and catkins!

Friday, 23 January 2009

D1 out of St Brieuc, afternoon.

An enormous flock of seagulls whirl over a wide sloping field. They give the impression of being both black and white, as they turn to and fro in the light.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Down the road, afternoon.

Head bandaged up like a casualty of war, Mol swings along cheerfully nevertheless.

A lone brambling, or perhaps chaffinch, calling indignantly, flies out of the chestnut tree on the corner.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Trédaniel plan d'eau, afternoon ( Tuesday )

Two black-headed gulls float on the dark still water like ducks, seeming to be motionless, though they have reached the other side in the space of a minute or two.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

The same kestrel, in a flat and disconsolate grey sky. Two crows encroach into its orbit, and it wheels across the road, stooping to the ground in the further field.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

The kestrel hangs in the ripped, quicksilver-bleeding, smoking sky, pushing into the wind.

Have they yet dissected, replicated that tiny skull and falcon eye, to find out how it sees?

Friday, 16 January 2009

Retail park, Langueux

Plastic shreds, cigarette butts, mangled chainlink, soiled,sullen human waste, rabbit- and dogshit, bright red plastic fire hydrant, leafbuds on flowering cherries, finch and gull flocks from fields and sea.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Plémy, afternoon.

We drive to the village to offload the overflowing quantities of recyclables. The top of the church spire is touching the clouds, becoming faint and misty, like a Welsh hilltop.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Down the road, afternoon.

I thought Mol might be indisposed for a walk, but she launches into it brightly.

The heaps and mounds of candy-floss cumulus clouds are back, the sky is itself again.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Up the road, afternoon.

The hilltop pine trees have been heavily trimmed, piles of branches and an inviting crop of pine cones lie on the ground. Molly puts up five partridges from the field.

Langueux les Greves, Saturday afternoon.

Older couples walking, some heavily equipped photographers, a sparrowhawk raking a field of wintering finches, ice and salt patterns on the beachs, egrets in the frozen marsh drains, nine goldfinches.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Water mill, Guettes-es-Lievres, late afternoon.

The big old beech tree with the mossy hide and thinning leaves, which sprung an alarming crop of fungus all around its roots earlier this year, has now been felled.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

The old railtrack, Gare de Moncontour, morning.

The springs which run down over the rocks of the old rail cutting from the fields above have formed the most extraordinary array of icicles, some even building upwards like stalagmites.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Trédaniel plan d'eau, afternoon (Monday)

The pool has deep ice on it , covered with a skim of fluid water, with objects embedded in it. It seems surreal, like I am walking through a still photograph.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Up the road, afternoon (Sunday)

A slightly milder air, and softer going underfoot. Silvery sky rather than rosy gold, this still, peaceful, frozen time is coming to an end. Doubtless the birds are glad of it.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Up the road, afternoon (Saturday)

A field away, a man in bleu de travail overalls attends to his woodpile. The simple clarity of the blue in the rosy light and against the green fields is appealing.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Down the road, afternoon.

The pieces of windblown ice the frost covered the trees with in the morning have dropped during the day, but not melted. They lie on the ground like transparent woodshavings.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Returning from Henon

The chatter of starlings in the frost whitened apple trees next door. Clothes pegs slippery and prickled with ice in my hands. A tune in my head I've never heard.