31 July 2015

It wouldn't be summer without sunflowers.

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25 years ago today we arrived in France to live.

 With my two Labrador dogs in the back of the car
with loads of boxes & bags pushed in to make them safe.
I can still remember driving through northern France
 seeing fields of yellow for miles & miles.

Sunflowers.


It was such a feeling of what summers were going to be like. 
I hoped they would be growing in the fields near where we were going to be living.


and they were.


This is what I see whilst driving to our nearest Boulangerie
or on my way to the hairdressers.


Certainly a joy to see.


I still smile & pinch myself seeing such beauty.


To see so many flowers turning their heads in the same direction facing the sun,
 makes me think of a crowd of sunbathers lying on the beach getting a tan.

Soon they will be harvested and sent to make Sunflower oil. 


In the meantime I'll savour the sunny days.

Enjoy your summer whether you are at home or away on holiday.


à bientôt
Barbara Lilian

25 July 2015

Hot Sunny Days

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Not very much is happening here at home in rural France
 It is really, but it's time to enjoy the family with our grandchildren,
and sit on the terrace catch up on life together. 

 I've taken some more photos of my Lavender.as next week I'll be cutting it. 
I've already hung some in bunches to dry in a dark warm cupboard
hoping I can try to keep that wonderful blue, 
like it is when you buy it in Provence.
I've taken some cuttings, 
hoping they will take
then I can extend the new row I planted this year.


Having had such hot days and nights for so long now
 my Lavender is the best it's ever been.
 also the Geraniums from last year
are flowering profusely.

Unfortunately the grass is no longer green, it's now scorched and dry.




This is the view from the bedroom for our guests.

This corner of the guest cottage is in the shade
till the afternoon, so it's able to have a varied mixture of plants'
Look what I saw whilst checking my rose arbour,
this huge green grass hopper basking in the hot sun.

At the moment the Pierre de Mansard rose 
only has a few clusters  of blooms, but it has been beautiful
for the first year.


This little Robin came to visit while I was checking on the hanging baskets.
We don't see them very often during the summer months.



I hope you are all enjoying time in your gardens 
during the holiday season.

Join me again soon.
I'll be showing the sunflowers growing near where I live.

à bientôt
Barbara Lilian

11 July 2015

Market day

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I haven't been to Piegut- Pluvier market for a long time.
It's rated as being the best market in our area and stall holders come
 from far and wide, it's always very busy especially during the summer season;
so we like to arrive early. It's about a 25 min. drive from where we live.

 Most times I go to the market with our visitors or a friend.
It's not very often Mr France comes with me, but as we were up early
 he came with me. Here he is with my straw market basket.

We started off buying lots of fruit.
The Apricots were almost as big as the peaches.


I needed to stock up on fresh garlic so searched out my favourite stall.
It's always much cheaper to buy them loose.
I only buy the platted strung garlic as gifts.
Next I wanted summer fresh vegetables.
I'll be making summer salads with the Haricot vert beans.

This is how I make a quick simple bean salad.
Top & tail the beans. bring a large pan of salted water to the boil
cook the beans just enough to still have a crunch, about 7 to 10 mins.
drain in a colander, then plunge them straight away into iced water,
this will keep them green.
Put the beans into a serving dish, and drizzle some good quality olive oil over them,
  add some thinly sliced spring onions, toss tog. season with ground black pepper.
If you make a large amount, they will keep for a few days stored
in a sealed plastic container, in the fridge.


I noticed a lot of the stalls I used to visit were not there anymore,
so I decided to look around to find a new source for good fresh veg.
I saw a queue, at a  stall I'd never seen before, this is always a good sign.
 It was all Bio vegetables, which is usually more expensive, but their prices 
were very competitive. I had a peep first and all their produce looked top quality 
so I tagged on at the end of the queue. I noticed most of the people had
crumpled brown paper bags in their hands, which I assumed were from
their last visit and they must be regular customers. 
So not only were the producers Eco friendly all their regular clients were too.
So I'll certainly be buying my vegetables from there again.

 I bought a kilo of plum tomatoes with the intention of slow roasting them,
but I made a tomato salad drizzled with olive oil & sprinkled 
with fresh basil with a crunchy baguette for lunch,
I wish I'd bought more. I'll have to buy more next week .

My last purchase were olives to have with our evening aperitif.


So many types so I left that purchase for Mr France to choose.


He chose Greek and Moroccan, black olives


 There were lots of wine stalls, we only looked this time.
maybe next week we'll try wine from another region.



 Vin Rosé seemed to be the most popular.

I was pleased with the fresh fruit & vegetables I bought.
 Here's my straw market basket full of all things fresh.


I hope you enjoyed joining me along with Mr France at our favourite market.


à bientôt
Barbara Lilian

08 July 2015

Cutting my Lavender

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Very soon after I'd been living in France and several weekly visits
 to the local markets, bringing back home the wonderful selection
 of fresh fruit and vegetables in plastic carrier bags.
I realized I needed the right shopping bag, so I bought my French
 style market basket, which as you can see is well worn
as it's been to many markets.

But early this morning before the sun had come up I used it 
along with my well used flat basket 
to carry the freshly cut Lavender from my garden.


I gathered it by the hand-full and tied each bunch with string, to hang
and leave to dry in a dark room hoping it will keep it's lovely blue colour.


 During the day I moved the bunches around the terrace
so that I could enjoy the beautiful aroma.
Each time I touched the flower heads, they release their oil so the scent
 began to float around the terrace, reminding me of my visit to the Provence.


I left a bouquet on the day bed.



Tomorrow I'll be cutting some more
and making some Lavender and ribbon posies.


I'll also be replacing this lavender from last year 
and using it to fill some small cotton bags I've made
 to hang in the guest bedrooms.


I love this time of the year the days are long,
 and the garden is full of
 wonderful perfume from the many different plants.

I'd love to know what you do with your Lavender.
I have a good crop this year so I need lots of new ideas, let me know.

Look forward to your ideas.
à bientôt
Barbara Lilian


27 June 2015

Flowers from my garden.

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This past week we have had very hot days.
The garden is looking colourful 
so I thought I'd cut some flowers .


A vintage pitcher full of poppy seed head stems from last summer.

A selection of flowers put in a jam jar then placed in a hessian bag.
I added some wild flowers picked from the edge of the lane 
along with a few blooms from my new climbing rose  'Pierre de Ronsard'




A corner of the terrace which I'm always changing.

I very rarely buy flowers,
However I couldn't resist these Rose buds found at a supermarket.
I bought some awhile ago and hung then in a walk in cupboard
and they've dried a lovely faded pink and kept their beautiful scent.


So I plan to do the same again.

are you picking flowers from your garden ?
if you are I'd love to see what how you display them.



à bientôt

Barbara Lilian