Sunday, 29 May 2016

Simple Pleasures

So I've been living here in rural Brittany for just over seven weeks, bar a quick four day visit back to the UK, and it feels like a good time to send a postcard. Without pictures. I certainly can't do a "what life's like in the French countryside piece", as I've made no effort whatever to try to live a normal working, socialising life. My bad; I know this is just for a short time, till I have to go back to work.

What I have done, however, is spend a lot of time outside, riding (not enough yet), walking the dog (about right), and sorting the garden (more than I expected). I've not really sought Nature, but it seems to have found me anyway. The things I'm about to describe make it sound like sort of bucolic heaven here. It's not - we live adjacent to two working farms, with all their attendant doings (pig smells when the wind's in the wrong direction, tractors past the front window, and an arrogant French farmer [the other one's very nice]).

However, that hasn't hindered....

...this part of central Brittany feeling like the deepest jungle the last couple of nights; as dusk has approached (which is about 10.30 here at the moment), thick banks of cloud and mist have rolled in, keeping the night time temperature high and the humidity higher. Combine that with the crickets that have already fired up their nocturnal chirruping, and well, it just doesn't feel like here...

...bumping into a black mink this morning on my and muttley's morning meanderings. Daft thing ran down the road to greet us like long lost pals, not realising that I was risking a dislocated shoulder saving the damn thing's life (yes, the dog went mental on his lead). I've seen white mink round here before, but never a black one, which is Quite Interesting (to me, if no-one else)...

...watching a pied wagtail hop to within 30 centimetres of the nose of a very asleep dog on a warm and sunny Friday afternoon. It was on its own, with its mates still in the trees. It was like they'd said "go on, dare you, see how close you can get before he wakes up and chases you". Which he did of course, but didn't come within a mile of laying a glove on his feathered friend

...being treated to a fine display avian acrobatics the other night as the sun set. Now this was special; as the sun was disappearing over the horizon a squadron of swifts seemed to be practising their low level flying manoeuvres in the field at the end of the garden. The barley in the field is still green, but it's got its distinctive ears, and the swifts were just grazing them with their wingtips, before they swooped up and back down, ad nauseum. Brilliant.

Hares, kestrels and, a bit more prosaically, cows all feature regularly on our outings, and Mrs M claims to have seen a red squirrel too. But then she has been drinking quite a lot of Prosecco. If you think, however, I'm turning into some bumpkin who'll be forecasting the weather next based on which way the vetch is lying, think again - I was in Manchester a week ago yesterday, and thoroughly enjoyed it. There was quite a lot of wildlife there too, and not all of it aboard the England football team coach that we saluted as we sat drinking Belgian beer in the Northern Quarter. But all that's a different story...

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