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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Too Hot and full of cold

Looking around the farm at the moment we are wondering what on earth the alpacas are eating.  It's been at least 8 weeks since we saw anything more that an overnight shower and the fields are quite frankly dust baths. Everyone likes to see a little sunshine during the summer months but for us now all we want is a week of rain.  The garden plants around the gites are looking rather sad.
Collecting our second roll of this year's hay this week , our local farmer was seriously worried there wouldn't  be a second cut ,  whereas normally he expects to get three.  Looking in the hanger I could see only 10 rolls ,  - well that's us sorted  what is everyone else going to do !!
Here they come - this games is called ' see if anyone can find a blade of green grass '
Working out in the field in the dry, intense heat is one thing but when you are handicapped by illness it is even more uncomfortable.  Yes, both Steve and I have fallen ill to a deadly virus.  Hardly ground breaking news I hear you say, but for us it is.  Neither of us have had as much as a sniffle in over 5 years. Our medical cupboard consists of plasters, a tub of paracetamol  and an old bandage, everything else was thrown out when  the expiry date had long since passed. Living here, in the middle of a wood,  isolates us from the usual cold, flu viruses that most people succumb to.   Now we don't have children of school age coming and going,  that any passing virus can hitch a ride on, it's like we are  living in a little bubble, protected from the outside world.   However, last week our little bubble  burst when one of our guests took ill a couple of days after arriving.   Being the good Samaritan I promptly made an appointment at the local doctors surgery and offered to join her to help with translation.  The French national health service, has on many occasions been worthy of great praise but when it comes to our local medical centre, well, I think it must have been left off the ' needs improvement and development'  list.  Stepping through the door is like being transported back to the sixties (yes I can just remember them), after announcing your  arrival you're  directed to a dark, pokey, 10ft square waiting room with no outside windows where at least twenty seats are all squashed together, occupied by sick people, all coughing and sneezing in your direction.  The average waiting time in the 'Germ Pit' as my son calls it, is between one and three hours, and in fact,  on one occasion we were there four hours breathing in everyone else's germs.  We were lucky this time just half an hour after arrival the doctor called poor Sarah through and said she spoke perfect English so my services were not needed  - great thanks !!  so here we are  a week later - cough, cough splutter, splutter, sneeze, sneeze  -   I have even lost my voice today, not necessarily a bad thing where Steve is concerned.
It's been an extremely busy week, with both the gites and the alpacas.  It's that time of year again when after the births, comes the remating and spit offs.  This year after his initial success last year, the stud of the moment is Soloman.  Since posting pictures of his first cria he has become a very popular little stud. 
Quelvehin Keiser
 This year  he understands the game and females are keen to sit for him (and who wouldn't be)but he still seems to have directional problems as he  shuffles about and then slips off.  I don't know who becomes the most frustrated, him, the female or Steve !! 

I think the only sure way of getting these genetics is to buy a female pregnant to him.  Hopefully, later on this year we will have a couple of good quality ones for sale.  We will keep you posted.
Oh and special note to our friend Angie - 'you can follow us on facebook now'  when I work out how to link from the site I will do.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Fanny and her Prince

First thing this morning saw the second royal birth of the year.  Princess Fanny Ann, her who only eats out of her own personalized bucket away from the rest of the riff raff, gave birth to her little Prince, Prince Khan. Another Columbus boy.  This is the second female who gave birth exactly on the due date although I have to admit she has been having  us on for the last fortnight - but that's Fanny for you. 

We have quite a little gang now so thought I would take a few pictures.
Kushti, turning into quite a stunning little suri.
Kane, our little Daniel boy, Jury is still out as to whether he is Bay Black or Brown, he will probably change when he gets to 6 years old , like his Dad.
Beautiful Kylie, spot the spots !
and my favourite this year - Keiser, our Soloman boy.  On further inspection he has turned out to be mid Brown very surprising considering his mother is white and Soloman is mid fawn.
Kirikou, Kushti and Keiser
One more female left on the maternity wing,  due in September, bit short on girls this year so fingers crossed we finish the year off with a female.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Party night in Lorient

Saturday saw us once again taking a night off to head off to Lorient for the music festival.  Although the festival doesn't really kick off until it gets dark you have to go early as parking is murder.  Thankfully there aren't  that many restrictions so basically if you can find a space your car will fit in, just put it there.  Its amazing how they park tail to bumper, how  they get out I don't know.  And I bet you've never seen people park on roundabouts before !

There is little in the way of historical monuments in Lorient as the city was flattened by the allies when they dropped 4000 tons of bombs during the war to prevent supplies from reaching German submarines based there.  But  between the first Saturday and second Sunday in August Lorient comes alive and plays host to the Interceltique Music Festival with representatives from many other Celtic countries.

It's difficult to get over the magnitude of this festival with a few pictures.  There are around 4500 artists and musicians who entertain around 300,000 visitors each year.  Young and old there is something for everyone, from the traditional Breton music and dancing, to heavy rock .


And food name it  they've got it.   The large food hall  looks like a refugee feeding centre, with  long trestle tables  full of people eating everything from Fish and chips, moules, Indian, chinese, crepes, jacket potatoes and cornish pasties.  Just outside the hall there was also the biggest BBQ that Steve and I had ever seen.

By twelve thirty we felt we'd spent, ate and walked as much as we were able and headed back to the car, pushing our way through groups of teenagers just arriving and preparing to do some heavy partying.  No doubt our son was somewhere within  the huge mass of people.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Kylie - she should be so spotty ;;;

Yesterday the cria we have been patiently waiting for arrived.  Two years go we bought a lovely fawn female called Tia who was sired by Popham camouflage, an appaloosa, and although we knew there was only a slight chance that she herself would produce an appaloosa, well, one can but hope.  When I first saw the dark fawn head and feet sticking out ,  I thought, oh well never mind, maybe next time, Tia took quite a while to deliver the rest, as a leg was twisted and I had to manipulate it free.  A little girl, great, and a lovely deep dark fawn. She had loads of energy and was soon up and running around the field ..... drying out !

As she started drying out I could see patches of a darker colour.  At first I thought it was my imagination but by the time Steve arrived home, it was obvious she had some spots and not just that she had a whiplash across her back.
Here she is, meet Kylie.

I have been looking on the net and I see there are all sorts of spotted patterns and colours that fall under the appaloosa umbrella.  So I really don't know. I have to say that if she is an appaloosa I feel somewhat cheated.  Lovely as she is, I sort of expected something like this ......
or this .......
but instead we got this .....
Is she an appaloosa - I've no idea ! but she is still cute


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Moules and Frites Lignol

We are often asked why we came to france and what are the positiives and negatives and I can tell you there are many.  For those that are thinking that the grass is greener on the other side,  beware it is just different grass.
However, this time of year reminds us of the real benefits, as one thing we love is the summer fetes and festivals, they are numerous and really is it what summer is all about here is Brittany.

This weekend we took an evening off from watching the maternity ward and headed off to the annual Moules and Frites Festival at Lignol, (mussels and chips) held every year  on the first Saturday of August.   Moules and Frites in Brittany are a bit like Fish and Chips in England , you can get them anywhere and at anytime. They are delicious and are certainly one of the things I would miss if I ever left France.

Although, throughout the day there are various activities and the occasional game of boules, the main event is in the evening where  the entire village get  together with anyone else that happens to arrive, and enjoys a total of 250 kilos of moules (sorry mussels !)  cooked in a delicious bacon, leek and cream sauce, accompanied by - yes you've guessed it - chips !  It never fails to amaze me how well organized these do's are, given the scale of them.  Everybody just mucks in, young and old a like, it is really what community spirit is all about.

As well as the meal there is always entertainment,  a local band performing a melody of English classics, great for us expats to sing along to, but to the french its just music to perform their Breton stomp to,  this involves the  whole village shuffling around in a circle, with their arms swaying up and down;  It doesn't really matter what's playing, they do the same dance.  It is really funny when performed to  Meat Loafs,  Bat Out of Hell !.
As I look around I see why so many expats enjoy these evenings,
Do you think Health and Safety would be OK with  two deep fat fryers in a public place with children ?
Secondly ....
Ditto ..... but do you not think it would be better with two hunky fireman stood either side with hoses at the ready ?
Lastly ....
Do you think these people have hygene certificates ? !!!**

Three girls still left in the maternity ward, I wish they would get on with it.  Its the Intercultique Music Festival in lorient next week and Puppy needs a day on the beach.