Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Down the road, early evening

The cold moist air is refreshing on the skin, the sky is lit in bands of blue-grey and lilac.

A fieldfare flies from the chestnut tree with a whirring trill.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Tredaniel plan d'eau, morning

The heron has been here often lately, it flies off but reluctantly.

The maples have no more leaves now, but abundant clusters of stiff brown keys linger on the twigs.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Hill above Henon, morning

I have secateurs and gloves, and cut some sprigs of well-berried holly.  Molly loses me, but after I've returned to fetch her, she tracks me back to the holly tree.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Tredaniel plan d'eau, morning

Two herring gulls and two black-headed (their heads winter white), float serenely in a group; they are symmetrical in two planes, sometimes like bookends and always reflecting in the water.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Tredaniel plan d'eau, morning.

The leafmould underfoot is thick, brown and slippery, with splitting acorns making specks of pink amongst it.  A few last yellow flickers of birch leaves still light the uppermost twigs.

Tredaniel plan d'eau, morning.

A  flock of long-tailed tits enliven the trees and bushes as they often do here; are they the same ones or is it just somewhere long-tailed tits like to come?

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Up the road, morning

The young bull, foaming-mouthed and bellowing from two fields away, and Ludovic's border collie on the corner, are both excited at the  new heifers being delivered to our field by trailer.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Up the road, afternoon

A swallow in late November, something I've never seen.  It lands on the wire, preens, shits, rests then flies.  I wonder what its story is, and what its chances are.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Up the road, late afternoon

Four larks, then another four, then many more so I give up counting, fly up from the field of young grass.  They  ripple across the sky overhead as I walk.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Down the road, late afternoon

Momentarily a smear of rainbow appears across the massed abundance of cumulus above the hilltop.  Across the sky a lighted window opens in a dark cloud, Cecil B deMille style.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Beach at Béliard, afternoon

Picking up flakes of oyster shells, pearl white and rose pink and iridescent black like oil plumes, we conclude that oysters are altogether magical things; we'll hear nothing against them.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Lamballe plan d'eau, afternoon, with Iso and Princeling

Duck-feeding: one magnificent buff-coloured, orange-billed, hissing goose holding court, mallard ducks and a green-headed drake, numerous feisty coots, and a greedy ballet of gulls over the backs of the others.

Tredaniel plan d'eau, morning

A flatbed lorry pulls into the carpark carrying a Maniscopic earthmoving vehicle.  In vermilion, black and steel, with earth caked in its massive tracks, it looks a proud, heroic workhorse.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Up the road afternoon # 2

A cock pheasant hunkers down when it see us among the grass and late dandelion clocks, then flies up, tail trailing, chestnut brown and bottle green and sealing wax red.

Up the road, afternoon # 1

The crowded, yellowish roots of the feed beet, as thick as small tree trunks, jostle and shoulder their way out of the soil,  still throwing crowns of shiny, spinach-like leaves.

Up the road, late afternoon (Monday)

After a day of wind and wild rain the late low sun appears and seems to splash everything in the sky and on the land with a abundance of light.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Down the road, evening

The recent heat has fried and banished many of the chestnut leaves from the corner tree, though it's chill now, I kick the nuts from their husks in sandalled feet.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Up the road, morning.

Faded ink blue cornflowers and browning tawdry orange French marigolds, walnuts shrugging off their mortal green flesh cases.  Jays and crab apples rose-brown against blue sky. The maize cobs hardening.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Approach to Bogard, afternoon.

A yellow poplar leaf swirls from high on the tree and lands beside me.

An egret stands like a white question mark beside the pool in front of the château.

Up the road, afternoon (Monday)

A walnut has sloughed off its drying fleshy green casing, revealing the woody shell.  I scramble to pick it, crush it underfoot and eat the kernel: small, fresh and delicious.

Up the road, afternoon (Sunday)

A heifer in our field has its head resting on its hind leg, so making a compact trapezium, rather like a netsuke I  remember seeing of a bullock or buffalo.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Tredaniel plan d'eau, morning

Mol inadvertently runs across in front of one of the old boys who is fishing, just as he's pulling in his line.

'Oops, I've caught a dog!' he says cheerfully.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Down the road, evening

The young heifers in our field, their white and black coats crisp and clean, skip up to the fence eagerly, and follow us down the road on dancing cloven hooves.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Up the road, afternoon

We duck under the electric fence to look at the puffballs.  One is enormous, and wondrously deformed, but  I put one the size of my cupped hands into my pocket.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Woods at Catuelan, above Quessoy, morning

We strike off and take a path I don't know, but Mol seems confident of the way.  Yallery-brownery earthball fungi nestle in the moss and leaf mould like odd stones.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Hill above Hénon, morning.

An empty car and horsebox stand in the car park; a smell of horse lingers at the edge of the woods.  Someone is enjoying a fine ride along the hilltops.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Down the road, afternoon

Next door's crab apples are shading into red and weighing down the branches, and their copper sycamore has lost leaves which lie like screws of brown paper on the grass.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Quessoy arboretum, afternoon.

J and I  gather sloes.  It's early for this but everything is early this year.  We throw them into a straw shopping basket. Mol is tied up in the shade

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Down the road, morning

It's hotter than I thought.  We skirt the field edges in search of shade and blackberries, and are followed by some cows, but the grass is still dewy and cool.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Green lane near Henon, afternoon.

Set upright beside an oak and under an bower of elders is a tiny,old, green plastic child's garden chair, with a sprinkling of leaf litter on the seat.  Odd!  

Friday, 12 August 2011

Down the road, afternoon.

Weeds are childhood cyphers: nettles to sting you, docks to rub on after, sorrel tastes of lemon and the plantains' ruffs are Mary Queen of Scots.  Raindrops are our diamonds...

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Approach to Bogard, afternoon

Already the poplars have shed some leaves, which lie on the ground like green and yellow maps, or curl up into brown brandy snaps, and have that smell of leather.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Up the road, afternoon.

Unripe walnuts hang like small green eggs from Marcelle's tree and the one at Le Boissy.

A few blackberries are just ripening. I eat one, but it tastes quite sour.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Up the road, afternoon.

At the old man's house at Le Boissy, the hydrangeas are the blue of some liquorice allsorts, washed out like curtains in the sun, with some odd, welcome plum-coloured ones.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Quessoy arboretum, afternoon.

We meet Rosie and Porridge.  The dogs are hot and panting, but pleased to see each other, and Porridge has a paddle. We go to the café afterwards for Perrier.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

down the road, morning.

The barley fields have thickened into creaminess.  The young swallows, their tail forks still stubby, fill the air, and pass close between the bodies of the grazing cattle, catching flies.

Down the road, evening (Tuesday)

The strawberries Pierre planted in front of the house where the young couple now live have reverted almost to wild ones.  I pick a handful to eat as I go.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Down the road, evening.

Freed from her bucket, Mol skips along joyfully, tail awag  taking in the smells.  Swallows skim over the grassheads in the field alongside us as if giving us an escort.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Down the road, late afternoon.

Rain at last, but Mol's had a haircut, so less to dry later.

With a soft clatter, nine wood pigeons rise up out of the empty pasture over the road.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Water mill, Guettes-es-Lievres

A fish breaks the surface after an insect glancing over the water. It fails, but a robin dips and catches the insect instead,  perching on the branch to eat it.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Tredaniel plan d'eau, morning.

They are stocking the pond with trout; a flatbed truck carries large tanks, from which they scoop netfuls of fish into a plastic dustbin and pour them into the water.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Up the road, afternoon - tell me how does anyone know...

We find a field of mixed oats, barley and wheat, with violet-flowered peas and some other smaller purple-flowered legume.  We munch some  peas, and I fill my pockets.  Risotto tonight!

Down the road, early evening (Sunday)

The parched fence posts stand up like pale ends of bone.  A buzzard sweeps low over the beet field and lifts up onto one, where it watches for a minute.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Down the road, early evening

The neighbourhood partridge couple, whom I disturbed at the bottom of our garden the other day, patter silently off across our neighbours'  flowerbed, the same colour as the dusty earth.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Plage sauvage, near Erquy, out with Princeling

The colours vivid, intense, sea blue-green-brown, rocks pink-blue-green, shells encrusted upon shells, water rushing.  Small boy and dog scramble and paddle and chase. Small boy and I scream like seagulls.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Up the road, afternoon

The Russian woman is perched on her windowsill in the sun, holding a plate with a very few, glossy-dark, early season cherries.  We greet each other for the first time.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

The old railtrack, morning.

Lighting makes woods quietly dramatic places: this spray of leaves here is spotlit for effect, that canopy provides slides, filters and overlays of varying intensities; here is shadow, there clarity.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Up the road, afternoon. I know, it's nature.

Once a cuckoo's call here was rare and exciting.  This one is loud and continuous, morning till night. I fear our lovely new warbler population will be tormented and depleted.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

The old railtrack, afternoon

Molly starts up a grey wagtail, which flutters ahead of us like a piece of whistling paper caught on the breeze.

A patch of tiny deep violet pansies gone wild.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Watermill, Guette-es-Lievres, afternoon

Beechwoods in spring are incomparable, the flakes of luminous green hang from floor to ceiling as if in suspended animation, bluebells and stitchwort flow below, with an occasional red campion.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Down the road, evening.

Despite the drought, everything - grass, leaves, sunlight, birdsong, the smells of blossom, of leaf wax and of bonfire smoke, all seem to be filled to bursting with an intense juice.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Up the road, morning.

One thing I like about the road to La Tantouille is nobody lives there.  With the skylarks, yellowhammers, chaffinches and stonechats, and occasionally some cows, we have it to ourselves.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Old railtrack, Gare de Moncontour, morning.

It's sunny at home, but we descend into mist, which lies in strata at the level of the treetops, so I could climb up and reach my hand into it.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Approach to Bogard, afternoon.

Some people, a couple of boys fishing, a couple of girls doing nothing, sit around the chateau's fishing pond, and two plastic boats are drawn up at the water's edge.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Down the road, early evening

Though the evening air is cooling, Ludovic, his wife, baby and border collie are still outside on the lawn with a blanket, enjoying surely the warmest day of the year.

Up the road, afternoon (Wednesday)

The black umbrella put up when the German shepherd runs out at us works well, both dogs are confused and discouraged from aggression, and we are able to move off.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Tredaniel plan d'eau, morning

The circus is in town, in the car park.  Three colourful performing bantam cockerels, one tethered by his leg with string, have been let out to graze on the grass.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Approach to Bogard, afternoon

I am in a hurry, so we walk just about to the point where an old oak tree has been split and broken down a jagged near-vertical axis, by who-knows what.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Woods outside Henon, lunchtime

I first hear, then catch sight of the woodpecker as it flies across my path; the whir of its wings seem to echo the drumming of its beak on wood.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Down the road, evening

The scent of the berberis hedge and the aromatic balsam of the poplars all down the valley, coming into coppery leaf, with the mounting birdsong thicken the air for spring.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Up the road, afternoon

Though the sun is bright, there are windflowers out, and today I saw the year's first swallow, still I have to pull my fleece sleeves down over my ungloved hands.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Up the road, afternoon

Soundscape: one skylark up from the grass, another further off, blackbirds, a bumblebee passing, distant traffic and a high-flying jet, a dog barking, a donkey's hee-haw near the water tower.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The old railtrack, Gare de Moncontour, afternoon

The day is a homogeneous foggy monochrome, except for the electric green flicker of emerging hawthorn leaves above the path.

Molly comes back to the car smelling of crushed celandines.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Garden, morning

The greater spotted woodpecker comes to the feeder to eat the fat-balls.  It looks enormous so close, and the patterning on its back reminds me of some kind of insect.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Up the road, afternoon

There is the faintest dusting of white on the still leafless mirabelle hedge in the distance.

The skylark Molly started up from the pasture accompanies us, singing, along the road.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Watermill, Guette-es-Lievres, morning

Tight pleated shoots of wood anemone emerge through the leaf litter.  One of last year's beech leaves is pierced and held aloft by the yellow bullet of a daffodil bud.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Tredaniel plan d'eau, morning

The strong welling of water around the sluice is unusual.  Then the coypu surfaces, and seeing me, floats for a time in the guise of a log, before diving again.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Quessoy arboretum, afternoon

Bright bronze alder catkins follow on top of last year's blackened cones.

The tip of an overhanging twig divides the fast running water of the stream into a fluid V.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Old railtrack, Gare de Moncontour

Mol sloshes through the puddles, we hop over and round them, talking happily about The King's Speech, which we have just seen.  Mol was patient and waited in the car.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Up the road, afternoon.

A bright open sky, anvil-clouded, to our right, makes the cloudbank on our left dark.  The soft pale serrations of distant poplars glow against the winter wooded hills behind them

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Up the road, afternoon

A few daffodils at Brochains', always quite early, and the viburnum in flower, yellow crocus, purple primulas, many catkins and glowing leaf buds of the honeysuckle vines in the hedges.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Hill above Henon, afternoon.

In the fallow field, among the shoots of phacelia and leftover rapeseed plants, are large numbers of tiny cream-coloured pansy-like flowers, heartsease, I suppose, and the name itself seems cheering.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Quessoy arboretum, afternoon.

A rugosa rose bush, with acid green shooting leaves and spidery withered hips invites photography, until three rumbustious dogs come pelting around the corner, driving us back to the car.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Up the road, afternoon.

Just lately I am intensely enjoying the gorse flowers.  I know they are there more or less all the time, but their yellow now seems especially full of promising sunshine.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Up the road, afternoon.

We walk to the  end of the la Tantouille lane, and contemplate completing the triangle, but the haul up to Plemy, then still being far from home, turns us back.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Up the road, afternoon

The firs are dark against the cloud-opalescing sun, not quite blue, nor grey, nor green.  One gull whirls on a wingtip, counterchanging, between sky and trees, now dark, now light.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Up the road, afternoon.

Three partridges scuttle away across the bare stalks of the maize field.

The mirabelle hedge has been pruned, the logs with their rose-gold cross sections piled neatly between the trunks.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Hill above Henon, afternoon

Looking out  towards the sea, the upright white marks of water towers suddenly remind me of the old stone cisterns of the villages on the Mani peninsular on the Peloponnese.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Tredaniel plan d'eau, morning.

Some of the short, fat, grey hazel catkins, biding their time since before Christmas, have, with warmer weather, fluffed out into soft yellow dangles, like expanding foam from a can.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Up the road, afternoon

It's one of those January days with an almost unbelievable ghost of a  promise of spring, where the green on the slopes is gold, in credit at last with light.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Down the road, early evening

The unrelenting grey opens momentarily, showing a delicate blue and rose band of light to the north.

A kestrel perches upright in the air, then settles in the chestnut tree.