Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Summer in Normandy

Perhaps this is what we have been waiting for all year: the opportunity to enjoy our French pied a terre in good weather. In fact I love this landscape in all seasons, and it's often winter when we can relax by the fire because the garden is dormant and the weather keeps us indoors. Now there is much outside work to do. There is some colour in the garden: roses, phlox, crocosmia, hydrangeas; but a lot of rampant growth to tame as well. This is also the time of year when we are most likely to have visitors, which is always a pleasure.

One of the joys of rural living in any season is the appearance of wildlife we wouldn't normally see. Over the years we've seen deer and hares, buzzards and slow-worms, and even on one occasion a solitary wild boar! On our arrival here last week I found something in our water meter pit I've never seen before - a fire salamander. I discover that they are found all over Europe, but but not in the UK.
Here's our striped visitor:
Then this morning, a further beautiful sight.At about 8 o'clock I had taken a bag of recycling to the top of the garden for collection, accompanied by Rosie my dog, and when we came back down there was a swoop and a flurry and a barn owl flew from behind the house and perched on the edge of what was once a window into our ruined bakehouse. It had its back to me, but as I watched it turned and looked at me full-face before disappearing inside the building. At this point Rosie cottoned on and raced over. She didn't bark, but clearly the owl was alarmed. It flew out, dived low across the garden, circled the roof and vanished behind the chimney. A couple of summers ago we had a new chimney lining put in, but it couldn't be properly sealed because there was an owl's nest inside. The same owl, I wonder? 
All our visitors were asleep at the time, so maybe seeing the owl was my reward for getting up!

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