View From The Conservatory

I was both astounded and disappointed to discover that my last “View” was posted just over a year ago. I know that we have been busy and there have been other more recent posts.

Admittedly, the conservatory has been rebuilt and we did take off to Australia for three months followed by a month in France and a fortnight in Antigua. There have been several lesser UK based jaunts. However, we have also spent time at home and I have had my camera to hand. So, feeling suitably ashamed, here is a compilation of pictures taken over the last few weeks. We are now into the UK summer season and the garden plants are growing like crazy.

First up then is a regular subject, squirrels. Once again we are being visited by the albino variety.

Albino Squirrel

As you can see they do have the requisite pink eyes.

Albino Squirrel

Here in the UK squirrels are sometimes referred to as tree rats. The example above is the most rat-like squirrel I have ever seen.

Of course we do have an abundance of the grey variety. Just a few days ago there were four greys in the garden. Of course my camera was out of reach and since these guys were raiding the bird feeders, any movement on my part just scared them away.

I thought that the pure grey squirrels would have attacked the albino, but apparently not. Judging by the shenanigans going on, high up in the trees, I believe the albino may have found a partner. Maybe we’ll see some piebald babes around this year.

As I mentioned earlier, there are many flowers on show already. So, just a few snaps ….


This Iris was discovered in a shady overgrown area of the garden. It was not planted by us and, as we are the only owners of this property since it was built, we have no idea how the Iris arrived. Pretty though.

We have a few rose bushes, which we did plant….

…… and a few other plants that we bought as plugs for potting on ….

And finally, for now ….


We don’t know what this is. The plant is a climber and for the moment it is in a pot on our deck and is entwining itself around the handrail.

Albino Squirrel

We don’t get them every year, but we do seem to get them fairly frequently….

Sometimes we have a pair but more often than not it’s just a singleton. Compared to the usual greys these little chaps stick out like a sore thumb.

View From The Conservatory

So, I hear this commotion going on over my head. Thinking it’s a couple of fat pigeons I look up and what do I see.

Yep, my neighbour’s cat, Daisy, about eight feet up. Presumably, stalking the birds, hence all the noise.

Apple Blossom

I’ve also included this archive shot of some Apple Blossom. Since I have culled the branches of our tree the only blossom is way out of reach for me, photographically speaking. So, as the saying goes, here’s one I prepared earlier.

And to close, a couple of squirrel shots. We had been wondering what was trimming the tops from our plant leaves. Thinking it was probably beetles, but really surprised to find it is the squirrels. All that leaf cutting obviously makes them thirsty but that’s a long stretch.

View From The Conservatory

My recent angling experiences are limited to salt water,  mainly here in the UK and, to a lesser extent, in Western Australia.

Here in the UK, especially when fishing from a boat, if a fish is caught or perhaps old bait is thrown overboard seagulls will materialise out of thin air. Where none could be seen on a mirror flat surface or in the sky, suddenly they will appear to take ownership of the fishy scraps.


I have witnessed a wee, brightly coloured, bird land on a rod tip to watch as a string of feathers were dropped to the sea bed. Then, in a bright flash of colour, it has plunged into the sea to follow the feathers as they dropped to the sea floor. After a few seconds, when the bird didn’t pop back to the surface. the feathers were retrieved with the bird well and truly hooked. Thankfully it survived.

When fishing in Oz I have observed and experienced the fact that each and every shore based angler will have their own personal pelican. Usually sitting on a higher vantage point, but also just a few feet behind the angler at sand level where they are so brazen that they will sneak up behind the angler and steal bait from his hand.


Close up, that beak can be quite intimidating.

My own personal experience was when fishing from a breakwater, I was luck enough to catch a small silvery fish. Looked a bit like a British garfish. Anyway, as I triumphantly reeled my catch into shore, my personal pelican launched and tried to steal my catch from the water. He failed.

However, when all said and done, I have never experienced this …..

Fishing Buddies

Fishing buddies, or a fish thief in waiting ?

View From The Conservatory

Some more boring squirrel shots.


Entertaining animal acrobatics while I was having my brekky of tea and toast ….. lol

A split second before he plummeted the six feet to the ground. Slippery that stainless steel.
I Love You !!!
Now, If I can just get this lid off !!!
Don’t I Look Cute ?
Second cute pose with sunlit tail.
Hiding ?

Limousin, France – Day 7

Yet another misty morning and we were treated to a visit from a Red Squirrel. We had been throwing out the stale bread for the birds, using the wooden barrow as an impromptu bird table. Tufty seemed to like stale bread too. He certainly had the teeth for it which is more than could be said for us old codgers in the gite.


Red Squirrel - La Porcherie, Limousin, France
Red Squirrel – La Porcherie, Limousin, France

Our itinerary for today, Thursday, was to take us to Oradour-sur-Glane a few miles north and west of Limoges.  Chosen by me because, a couple of years ago, I had read an excerpt from a book that had just been published. The excerpt, published in one of our national papers, told of the tragedy that befell the residents of this French village.

So to set the scene …

On 10th June, 1944, 642 of its inhabitants, almost the entire population of Oradour, including women and children, were massacred.

From Wikipedia: A massacre is a specific incident which involves the violent killing of many people and the perpetrating party is perceived as in total control of force while the victimized party is perceived as helpless or innocent.

Although the true reason for this atrocity is not known, one explanation is that  members of an SS Panzer Division entered the village to avenge a German officer, kidnapped by the French Resistance.

The SS ordered all the townspeople to assemble in the village square. To keep everyone calm, this was done under the pretense of having  their papers checked. Some 400 women and children, separated from the men, were herded into  the church where the SS placed an incendiary device.  After it was ignited, women and children tried to escape through the doors and windows of the church, but they were met with machine-gun fire. Only one woman, 47-year-old Marguerite Rouffanche, managed to escape from the church. She was shot and wounded as she escaped but managed to hide until she was rescued the next day.

The men of the village, more than 200 were herded into a barn where machine gunners opened fire, shooting at their legs so they could not move then dousing them with petrol and setting them alight. The SS then looted the village and set fire to the buildings before leaving.

A few months later, after Liberation, de Gaulle visited Oradour-sur-Glane and it was decided that the ruins were to remain, untouched, as a monument to the martyr village.

Oradour-sur-Glane now has a visitor centre, the “Village Martyr, Centre de la Memoire” which leads you through world history and the events that lead to the war and ultimately to the events that occurred in Oradour itself.

Centre de la Memoire, Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France
Centre de la Memoire, Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France

The centre sets out to put Oradour into its proper context in the war. The village was quite prosperous and, with several cafe’s and restaurants, was a popular destination for people from Limoges and the surrounding areas. All this came to a dramatic end on that fateful day.

This then, is the Oradour-sur-Glane left behind by the SS on that summer’s day.

Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France

As you walk through the village you become increasingly aware of how quiet it is. It isn’t just that you are requested, on entry, to remain quiet. Having been through the visitor centre you are well aware of the tragedy that occurred here and the enormity of the crime seems to be underlined.

Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France
Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France

Deserted streets which were once busy with the footsteps of the local residents.  No more greetings as friends and neighbours meet, going about their daily business. Visiting the boucherie, charcuterie, boulangerie or even ladies chatting about their appointment at the salon de coiffure. Silent.

Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France
Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France

The tram lines and wires which once carried many visitors now lead nowhere and, like the streets, are silent. The quiet settles about you like a mantle. It’s not oppressive here although you might expect it to be.

Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France
Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France

The plaque on the wall of the ruined church reminds us that some women and children were massacred by the Nazis and asks that you make a prayer  for the victims and their families.

Plaque on the church - Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France
Plaque on the church – Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France

The heat of the fire was so intense that the bell dropped from the church tower. Just a molten blob remains, with only the clapper giving a clue as to its original purpose.

Molten remains of the church bell - Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France
Molten remains of the church bell – Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France

Another symbol of the heart that was ripped out of Oradour is the infants school. This being a weekday, there should have been the sounds of the classroom and the playground. Silent

Infants School - Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France
Infants School – Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France

A memorial to a family, victims of the massacre, their ages ranging from 5 to 67.

Family Memorial - Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France
Family Memorial – Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France

There are, in the ruins, many symbols of normal, daily life. Perhaps the one that I became most aware of is the sewing machine. It seems that almost every house had one and the body of such machines is the lasting reminder of the fact that these were indeed, people’s homes.

Sewing Machine - Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France
Sewing Machine – Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France

Other reminders are scattered around the ruins. The ornate metal frames of beds, perambulators, bicycles and cooking pots all serving as a memorial to the lost people of this village.

Bicycle - Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France
Bicycle – Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France

I found myself getting angry as I walked around the ruins of this once prosperous village. Angry, not just at the men that had perpetrated this act of barbarism, but also, at the fact that despite the many years that have passed, human kind still hasn’t learned the lesson.

In the last seventy years, since Oradour, there have been many, many events that can be classified as massacres. Some, initiated by disturbed individuals, but many carried out by armed military against unarmed and non military people. There have been too many such incidents.

The sad thing is that they are still happening, perpetrated in the name of religion, race or “I was just following orders”.