Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Animal Tales - 21


Welcome to Animal Tales, the blog linky that brings together all sorts of animal blog posts from all over the world.  It runs from Tuesday morning thought to Friday night and showcases a wide range of animal related posts. 

Animal Tales on Pinterest


I have decided to change the way I promote #AnimalTales on Pinterest and rather than me pinning a photo from each linked post I am throwing the job over to you!  I have made Animal Tales a group board which you can join thus (although it is not compulsory!):
Please follow my account at https://www.pinterest.com/ecogiteslenault/ and then email me asking to join the group board - Click here to email me.  Please include a link to your pinterest account too so I can follow you back.
Once joined please pin one picture from each blog post you link and then repin at least one other pin from the board onto one of your boards.
Anyone not adhering to the rules will be deleted!


Pinterest works best if you can do the following:


  • Ideally pin vertical posts as these are better displayed and shared.
  • Pinterest loves pins with added text such as this one:
 
  • If all your blog photos are horizontal you can always create a specific vertical picture for your post that is not on the blog, upload that and then link back to the blog post.
  • For maximum exposure pins need to be repinned and liked
  • Use of hashtags such as #AnimalTales is not advised in your text
Please do ask away if you have any questions - I am only just getting my head round Pinterest but if used properly it can be a very useful tool to drive traffic back to your blog.

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A big thank you to everyone who joined in to Animal Tales 2 weeks ago.  I have to admit to welling up when Tracey from Tantrums and Tiaras wrote about losing her cat Charlie but in contrast I loved the spring feel that Ashley from When the Dust Settles wrote about with his Spring Butterfly Hunt

So over to you now.  Feel free to come and add your animal related posts to the linky below.  The posts can be old or new and as varied as the animals who we share our world with. If you tweet with the hashtag #AnimalTales I'll retweet you.  Just give me a nudge if I appear to have forgotten you.

Full details of the linky can be found here but can I remind people of a couple of the "rules":


  • Please can you comment on at least 2 other blogs linked up - that is, after all the whole purpose of joining a linky to find and comment on more blogs and hopefully drive traffic back to your blog.
  • Please can you include my badge (preferably) or a link back to this blog.
  • Can I remind people not to add sponsored posts or paid-for reviews.  Eco-Gites of Lenault has no advertising on it and I am not comfortable promoting products or companies I know nothing about.










Monday, 27 April 2015

Bluebells Galore


I only spent 8 days away in England yet the difference in the Normandy countryside over that time was amazing.  I came back to such greenness and so many wild flowers.  Dominant amongst these at the moment is the bluebells (jacinthes des bois) carpeting the verges and woodland floors with the nodding blue beauty.  They really are stunning.




However did you know there are 2 different types of bluebell, on that is native to the UK and northern France and one to Spain?  For ease of tying I will refer to the former as English bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) and the latter as Spanish (Hyacinthoides hispanica).

The native English bluebell has all the "bells" on one side if the stem causing the head to dip over and nod in the breeze - the pictures above are all, without doubt, English bluebells.  With Spanish bluebells they are bigger anyway and the bells are on all sides resulting in a taller and very upright flower:

Spanish Bluebell - Image with consent from Schnobby at Wikipedia

In many parts of the UK the Spanish Bluebell, (introduced as a garden plant) has taken over and whilst in itself this may not cause huge problems it is a more invasive species and gradually take over from the more delicate and, in my view, much prettier English bluebell. This is made worse by the fact that the two can hybridise giving a cross between the 2 plants - a semi upright bluebell which was what we saw in parts when we visited Knightshayes Gardens last week.  Overall the risk is the English Bluebell will be last and we will be left with just the Spanish bluebells and the hybirds.  That would be a sad loss.

Are your local bluebells in flower yet ... and are they English, Spanish or a hybrid?

Saturday, 25 April 2015

The Cake Holiday - the evidence!

For reasons that are pretty obvious from the pictures below, the recent holiday the boys and I took to England was nicknamed "The Cake Holiday".  It all started with pain au raisins on the ferry and progressed from there.  

Pain au raisin on the ferry

Well you cannot visit a National Trust property and NOT eat cake, it would (as my friend and fellow cake eater, Nicky, pointed out) be quite rude ... although maybe eating TWO each on a visit to Knightshayes near Tiverton was a touch greedy. 
 
Lunchtime cakes at Knightshayes

Afternoon cakes at Knightshayes

On Saturday we visited friends and Ellie baked us a cinnamon and raisin jumble cake.  Her father is head gardener at Sidbury manor which just happened to have an National Garden Scheme Open Day - with cake - we felt it would, again, have been rude to have declined to eat the cakes they were selling.

Ellie's cinnamon and raisin jumble cake

Afternoon tea at Sidbury Manor

On Sunday we chilled at Mum's and whilst we didn't eat any cake per se we did do a nice walk down the valley and clocked the tea shop in the village ... (and had rhubarb crumble for pudding which sort of counts in my book!).

On Monday I really needed a day shopping in Taunton so enlisted the help of 2 friends - and cake - to get both me and the boys through the ordeal.  I detest shopping, although in fairness did do very well and the boys detest shopping even more than I do. So friend, Andrea, came to give me moral support and guidance whilst friend, Jo, came to take the boys off my hands.  And we felt morally obliged to bolster ourselves for the day ahead with cake!  M&S cake no less.

M&S carrot cake

M&S lemon drizzle Cake

M&S ultimate chocolate cake

Tuesday we met up with more friends and as I felt the 3 of us invading was a bit of a cheek, we took lunch.  Quiche and, yes, you guessed it - cake!  Eaten in the garden with an insanely loud wren singing in my ear from a nearby tree and swallows swooping overhead.  It was a very English of lunches with my banana and raisin cake for pudding.

Banana and raisin cake to share with friends

We spent our final day on Wednesday at Mum's and planned a longer walk than Sunday ensuring, though, that it included the tea shop we had clocked on Sunday.  However, I hadn't taken my proper walking boots and the boots I was walking in were really hurting my toes.  We therefore spent rather too long lounging by the river and none of us really fancied the extra 2 hills to get to the tea shop that could, by that time, have been shut anyway. So we headed back to Mum's house (I limped and the boys showed off by running up the hill) and once home we tucked into some sultana cookies Mum had bought.  Very nice sultana cookies actually.

On Thursday we took the ferry home, our bellies well and truly filled with cake.  Strangely for the boys, when we ate dinner, Ben (and I) decided not to have a cake for pudding and Tom only ate half of his. I really do think we were totally caked out.

Are you a cake lover?  Are you drooling at the selection above and if so which would you chose?  I think my favourite was the lemon drizzle but as I am not 100% sure we may have to do a re-taste when we next return to England!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Spring in an Exmoor Garden

My last visit to Exmoor and my Mum’s was back in October as her garden was starting to close down for the end of the year.  Now, 6 months on, there are plenty of signs that spring is here and summer is on her way.

The daffodils under the beech trees are still in bloom but beginning to look a little tired and will soon be little more that a memory.  However the vibrant Forsythia continues to throw yellow into the garden.



Other spring flowers are still flowering well including these muscari and primulas next to a low wall. 



And what about these plants just awakening from their winter hibernation – something I don’ recognise and some ferns.  I just love the way the ferns unfurl.


There is also loads of this little succulent (a sedum I think) growing out of this same wall.  I love its colour.


And for something completely different this grass gives some wonderful height and structure to this part of the garden.


However with the boys it is the space they love so much at Mum’s.  We may have more space at Eco-Gites of Lenault but most if it is also filled with pigs, a goat or sheep that do not make good Frisbee throwing companions.  So free from animals (including Harry our Labrador who likes to “kill” frisbees) in their spare time this week frisbee throwing has taken priority.  It’s not a bad view either is it?


Linking in with Annie’s How Does Your Garden Grow and planning to comment on other blogs when I get back to France and a better internet connection.


Mammasaurus How Does Your Garden Grow

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Animal Tales is on holiday!



There is no Animal Tales this week as I am on holiday in the UK with the boys.

Normal #AnimalTales service will resume on Tuesday April 28th.


Friday, 17 April 2015

Knightshayes House and Gardens


I wrote yesterday that I wasn't going to write a garden blog this week and then I realised it was Annie's 100th How Does Your Garden Grow link up and I felt gutted to have missed it.  Fast forward a 24 hours and myself and the boys find ourselves at Knightshayes NT House and Gardens near Tiverton ... how could I not blog about these wonderful gardens?

I only have limited internet so you will have to enjoy more pictures than words but with beauty such as this to admire I am sure you won't mind:

Japanese Quince - Chaenomeles japonica


Part of the formal gardens with unusual gnarled Wisteria trees


Close-up of the Wisteria buds



A new plant on me that I think is Fraxinella, Dictamnus alba var. purpurea, unless anyone can tell me otherwise.



The Woodland Garden



Woodland ground flora



Orange is not just for Autumn - an Acer of some type


The fabulous walled garden.  When I win the lottery I am getting myself my very own walled garden ... and an army of workers to keep it looking how it should!

 

Finally I need your help - this plant is a mystery to me and I have not been able to find out what it is. It has thick leaves not dissimilar to Mimosa but much bigger and thicker and this weird almost cone like flower.  The leaves themselves were slightly scented but did not close up when stroked.  Has anyone got any ideas.  I may also contact Knightshayes and see if they can let me know as I really don't like not knowing what a plant is?



It was lovely to catch up with my friend Nicky who has also blogged about our day our here.  And there was also cake eaten.  Perhaps rather too much cake but this is The Cake Holiday ....

Joining in a bit late with Annie's 100th #HDYGG - do pop over and see where other gardeners have been or what is happening in their own gardens.



How Does Your Garden Grow

Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Cake Holiday


This feels rather weird.  For the first time in over a year I am not sitting here on a Wednesday evening writing a gardening post to link up to How Does Your Garden Grow. Not that I have abandoned the garden this week, quite the opposite in fact and I have been working in there like a complete maniac. The reason is the boys and I are off the the UK on Thursday with a week. So over the last few days I have been trying to get ahead with things and it was only as night fell that I realised I still had loads to do and writing a gardening blog post wasn't going to be one of them ... oh and I hadn't taken any photos anyway.  So you will just have to believe me when I say how many spuds I planted, seedlings I planted out, seeds I sowed and weeds I pulled. LOTS!!

So why the Cake Holiday you may well be asking?

Bribery mostly.

I do have a few things planned that I know the boys will not be over keen on doing, namely shopping and visiting at least one national Trust property.  However the promise of cake has made these appear slightly less unappealing. We are also catching up with friends who will be manning the cake stall at an Open Garden Day and going to a Boot Fair where there is a fabulous café next door.  Oh and catching up with another friend where I have said I will take lunch and I have promised her ... yes, you guessed it - CAKE.   We will also be starting the cake holiday as we mean to go on and buying pain au raisins at the bakery for our breakfast on the ferry.

Just as well I have been back on the 5:2 diet before this holiday then, as with all this cake eating planned I may well put back on every pound I have lost!  Who cares - roll on tomorrow and those pain au raisins!

As for further blogs this week I have one almost finished and I will do my best to finish at least one other.  I wonder if it will involve pictures of cake?!  Normal (ish) service will be resumed from Friday 24th April.

Let the cake eating begin!



Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Animal Tales - 20


Welcome to Animal Tales, the blog linky that brings together all sorts of animal blog posts from all over the world.  It runs from Tuesday morning thought to Friday night and showcases a wide range of animal related posts. 

First please note that there will be no Animal Tales next week as I will be leaving Normandy for a week and heading to the UK with limited Internet access. I will do my best to get round reading all the linked posts this week but please do bear with me if I take a while.  The next link up will therefore be April 28th.

Duck Update at Eco-Gites of Lenault


Regular followers of the blog will remember that I have a duck, Hilda, sat firmly on 8 eggs due to hatch in early May.  She was not happy sharing her pen with the other ducks so I put Harold, Hettie and Harriet in with the chickens.  So far so good.  Soon afterwards, Hettie started laying eggs, closely followed by Harriet.  I had no idea if either would sit (they are rather useless at this important act) but I decided to wait and see.  What I didn't expect to happen, though, was to find a chicken sitting on the eggs.  Actually it was a bantam cross chicken called Bianca and so she is large enough to cover 10 eggs.  I put the rest of the eggs in another next box and both ducks continued to lay.

Fast forward a few days.  There are about 14 eggs in the second box when I find my other bantam cross, Baptista, sitting on them.  Oh well - let's go with this ... although I did hive off a few of the newer eggs as 14 really is too many for a bantam to brood.

Fast forward again a few days and I find this: 


Hettie and Baptista "sharing" one clutch of eggs

I knew both chickens and the ducks had been squeezing in to lay extra eggs but I did not expect Hettie to try and sit AS WELL!  So I hived off half the eggs, plonked them in the next door nest box with her and left the three of them to get on with it.

Now I have 2 bantams and a duck sitting on a total of 20 eggs. They all regularly swap which eggs they are sitting on and I have absolutely no idea of any ducklings will appear at the end of this.  Watch this space!

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A big thank you to everyone who joined in to Animal Tales last week.  There was such a range of animals this week including dogs, cats, frogs, lambs, squirrels, birds, ponies and guinea pigs as well as a baby animal boom and a trip to the zoo.  Thank you.  A special mention this week goes to Fern Slightly Crazy and her wonderful tale of squirrel rescue. Do go and read if you have not already done so, it's a lovely story.

So over to you now.  Feel free to come and add your animal related posts to the linky below.  The posts can be old or new and as varied as the animals who we share our world with.  There's a Pinterest Board with pictures from all the linked blogs which you can see here and if you tweet with the hashtag #AnimalTales I'll retweet you.  Just give me a nudge if I appear to have forgotten you.

Full details of the linky can be found here but can I remind people of a couple of the "rules":


  • Please can you comment on at least 2 other blogs linked up - that is, after all the whole purpose of joining a linky to find and comment on more blogs and hopefully drive traffic back to your blog.
  • Please can you include my badge (preferably) or a link back to this blog.
  • Can I remind people not to add sponsored posts or paid-for reviews.  Eco-Gites of Lenault has no advertising on it and I am not comfortable promoting products or companies I know nothing about.










Monday, 13 April 2015

Come and join our new Facebook Group



Not so much a blog post today as a call to get you to come and join our new Facebook Group.

Book your Holidays Direct with the Owner is a new group created by a group of like minded holiday home owners in the UK and France who know that many people like to deal direct with the owner when booking their holidays.  All the holidays featured on the group will be excellent quality and run by owners who are passionate about providing you with the great holiday you deserve.

So if you like to book direct with the owner then come and join us - you can search through albums of holidays that suit what you are looking for (location, type) and put call-outs on the wall for the holiday you want. 

We are also looking for more holiday home owners to come and join us.  What have you got to lose?  There's no fee, you won't lose any money in commission and you'll get to deal direct with your guests.  If you have a quality cottage/gite or B&B in the UK or France and want to spread the word, come and join us today.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/330425836972747/1075822379099752/