Dr Livingstone I Presume …


Well not exactly, nor did I run into Lord Lucan or any other missing individuals.

Of course not. After all, I’ve just spent the last few hours delving into the upper reaches of my garden, in sunny Hampshire.

To my knowledge, neither  Livingston or Lucan have ever ventured into my garden. Livingstone spent many years in Africa and Lucan could be anywhere having supposedly been seen everywhere.

After hacking back the brambles and Jasmine vines, and numerous other invasive plants I can state categorically that neither of the aforementioned gentlemen are to be found.

The Lost Gardens of ???

Unfortunately, this end of the garden has been neglected somewhat. Not helped by our seven month sojourn in Australia. The picture above was taken after I had made a valiant foray, boldly forging a path through the brambles and Jasmine with my electric hedge trimmer.

What’s triggered this sudden exertion ?

Well, the fence, that you can just catch glimpses of, is in a very dilapidated state. In fact I believe the plant life, that I have been cutting back, is all that is keeping it up.

The plan, much like a game of dominoes, is in several parts.

Step one, is to replace the fence. This I am going to do with the help of my daughters boyfriend. Actually, he is the expert, I will just be his bitch. So approximately twelve metres of featherboards mounted on arris rails.

Ancient Shed

Step two, is to replace this sorry broken shed. The plan is to replace it with a new one, approximately twice the size. This shed has performed admirably until late last year, when some guys I had hired to do some hedge work, chose to fall through the roof. Removing the shed will be a bit of a voyage of discovery as there are signs of subterranean habitation. That is to say there looks to be a tunnel going under the shed. You can just see the entrance to the right of the door. Potential inhabitants range from hedgehogs thru foxes to rats. Hopefully not the latter although, I believe, we would have seen more signs if there were any living that close to the house.

Greenhouse

Step three, replace the cheap n cheerful greenhouse with a more robust version. Over the last couple of years this structure has suffered damage due to strong winds. So it’s time to get rid.

The latest storm blew off the door, breaking the plastic glazing. Blew off the skylight (now placed back on the roof). And, I have since discovered, the wind also dislodged some glazing at the back. So, no longer weatherproof. The greenhouse was used last year, to grow a bumper crop of tomatoes. Not this year though.

And finally, step four, build a new deck area to provide a base for a swing chair. Our current swing chair has suffered under the same rough weather that has damaged the greenhouse, bending and snapping the canopy frame.

So in preparation for Step One I have been clearing out the jungle. This has been more like an archaeological dig, rediscovering long lost areas. Who knew that the space behind the shed was the hiding place for our first ever patio table and chairs. Originally white, but now turned green by nature.

What is that, a snake ? Nope just a long section of garden hose, bright yellow.

Birds Skull ?

Then there are the bones. I’m guessing, judging by the size of the skull, that they are the remains of a pigeon. Question is, who did it ? Did the luckless bird fall prey to one of several neighbourhood cats, or perhaps one the kites or kestrels often seen soaring overhead.

Dinosaurus Plasticus

And what was that I spied, hiding under the coniferous canopy ? A baby dinosaur ? No, just a toy abandoned by one of our grandchildren. One brave enough to venture into our mini jungle.

The bulk of my discoveries, from behind the shed, have now found their way to the municipal tip. I didn’t have room for the old wheelbarrow or the old fridge, so another trip has to be planned. Perhaps some of the junk in the garage will find it’s way into that next load too.

As I post this, I have received notification that the fencing materials will be delivered on the 15th April. So I’d better start limbering up and get ready for some hard physical labour.

Limousin, France – Day 4


It’s Monday morning and I’ve made the run to Massaret for fresh bread.

Masseret, Limousin, France - Hilltop Tower
Masseret, Limousin, France – Hilltop Tower

French bread is wonderful but it doesn’t stay fresh for long. But that’s OK because I get to meet all these friendly people. Everyone says “Bonjour” when they meet you in the street or inside the boulangerie. Then “Au Revoir” when either they or you leave the shop. It is such a refreshing change from the sullen brits who just stand there avoiding eye contact.

Masseret, Limousin, France - The 12c. Church of St. Catherine.
Masseret, Limousin, France – The 12c. Church of St. Catherine.

So this morning I request a baguette, and a boule, in my rather fractured franglais and make it known that I would like the boule sliced. Madame returns with the loaf in a bag and promptly drops it on the floor with the individual slices all trying to make a run for the space under the counter. With many typically gallic shrugs and embarrassed smiles a second boule makes its way through the slicer, into a bag and safely into my arms and back to the gite.

Today we have decided to go into Limoges for a bit of a reconnaissance. Surprisingly we make into the centre, park up and find the tourist information office all in one smooth move. We discover that there is one of those “tourist train” things due to leave from just outside the tourist office in a short while. The consensus was that this would be a quick way to orientate ourselves to the Limoges sights. Then we can cherry pick those that we want to do in detail. So into a cafe we go for a quick coffee and cake and not long after we are sat aboard in anticipation.

Limoges, France - Hotel de Ville
Limoges, France – Hotel de Ville

To describe the journey as  the ride from hell would be extreme but it was anything but pleasant. The coaches shuddered back and forth like the folds of an accordion and the cobble streets jarred our spines through the virtually non existent suspension and thin padding on the seats. I should also point out that there is an audio commentary available with translations. We were all issued with earphones but the translated commentary was fragmented possibly breaking up in harmony with the reverberations radiating through the chassis of the coaches. The translated commentary was pretty much drowned out by the volume of the native commentary blasting out over the speakers. Thankfully, after an hour it was over.

Limoges, France - Chapelle du College des Jesuites - Built 1629
Limoges, France – Chapelle du College des Jesuites – Built 1629

After the trauma of the train ride we decided that what we all needed was a quiet walk by the river. This turned out to be a good decision.

Limoges, France - Pavillion du Verdurier
Limoges, France – Pavillion du Verdurier

The walk by the river led us to the saint-Etienne Bridge ….

Limoges, France - Saint Martial Bridge -  dating from the Roman era
Limoges, France – Saint Etienne Bridge – dating from 13c.

The following description I have plagiarized from one of the many info plaques ….

The St Etienne bridge was built in the 13th C to divert some of the traffic away from St Martial bridge, aboy 1km downstream. It was on the “via Lemovicensis”, a main route to Santiago de Compostella and is  used by pilgrims to this day. It linked the right bank quarter of washerwomen, who until the middle of the 20th C washed the towns bourgeoisie’s linen in the river, to the “Clos Ste Marie”, nowadays a village in the city centre, on the left bank.

The bridge also marked the end of the stretch of river used to float lumber from the mountain to the construction sites and industries of Limoges.

 

It was very peaceful here, away from the noise of the city traffic. So much so that there was a bit of billing and cooing going on ….

Time for amour
Time for amour

 

Another, more modern, bridge …….

 

Limoges, France - Pont Neuf. Built 1838
Limoges, France – Pont Neuf. Built 1838

Limoges, France - Wonky buildings en route to the cathedral.
Limoges, France – Wonky buildings en route to the cathedral.

 

Limoges, France - Rue du Pont Saint-Etienne 1907
Limoges, France – Rue du Pont Saint-Etienne 1907

Limoges, France - Rue du Pont Saint-Etienne 2014
Limoges, France – Rue du Pont Saint-Etienne 2014