Thé feuille de figue

So this is my take on how to make your own fig leaf tea.

Stage 1. You need to find the ideal tea pot. I found mine at the local vide grenier today. Usually I’m not a tea pot person, favouring the quick bish bash bosh of the tea bag in the mug, but I felt that for fig leaf tea it had to be a tea pot. And not just any tea pot, I wanted a delicate small one, something perhaps a little Oriental. So this little tea pot found me on an animal charity stall. 2. You need to find a fig tree. If you don’t have one, then I would recommend growing your own. There are many varieties and the fruit is delicious. I have planted 8 in our French garden. There are 4 Brown Turkey, an Israeli variety, a Rouge de Bordeau, Panache and an unknown one which has grown from a cutting that I plucked from the local road side and it has really tasty bright green figs.3. Gently pull away several leaves.

4. Give them a rinse in cold water.

5. Hang them on the washing line to dry.

6. Very gently dry them out, either in a very low oven or in the sun.

7. Chop them up ready for infusion.

8. Pop them in the tea pot and pour on the boiling water, leave to infuse.

9. Pour into a tea cup. 

10. Sip and enjoy the flavour and all the health benefits of fig leaf tea. See my previous re: blog, Fig Leaf Tea. 

Enjoy😄

Cinquième Pâques

So here we are and it’s our fifth Easter in France. It’s four years ago that we acquired Le Petit Coquelicot and we’ve spent every Easter here in France since 2012. There is a part of me that misses being at home at Easter.  The last Easter egg hunt we had when the weather was gorgeous and all our friends were round for a barbecue and the children racing around the garden looking for the eggs. But most of the children are now in their teens and struggle to get out of bed before midday; and I’m sure an Easter egg hunt would no longer inspire them.

So after Breakfast Club at St Peter’s we set off at 11am on Good Friday morning and drove for 18 hours to get here to France. I’m still recovering from an awful virus that I’ve had for the past 4 weeks now. So it was great to get to the French house where I can really relax. Even though the building work is still way off being finished. We do have two sides of a tiled roof😀image
So what have we been up to, well the weather has been up and down. Yesterday it just rained and rained. We were in the garden on Saturday and Sunday and the weather was lovely then. There was much investigation into the roof space of the extension and the boys mowed the grass. I took some more fig cuttings from the fig tree on our boundary and decided to try putting them straight into the ground as every other set of cuttings that I’ve taken have failed and gone mouldy. Fig trees are apparently very easy to propagate but not this variety.
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I also purchased three little Bay trees and planted them to break up the grassed area and to hopefully provide a bit of a wind break eventually, as the wind just whips across and tends to blow plants over.
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Monday we went to a vide grenier at St Sernin just down the road. I was initially disappointed as I saw someone walking away with a bottle dryer which is just what I am looking for, so I immediately thought I should have been up and out earlier. But then I purchased a lovely set of Bakelite bangles for a euro each and was actually given the maroon one on top by a stall holder.  When I asked how much it was he said je vous donne. How nice is that?
I also bought a lovely little old green glass bottle but it was not to be, as my son accidentally smashed it before the end of the day.
We also met my friend Barbara at the vide grenier and then went over to hers after for coffee and a chat. I ended up helping her put a gîte that she has on Airbnb. This seems to be the go to place if you are looking for accommodation theses days.  And then later on we all went through to Bordeaux to the cinema.
Well today it’s Vendredi and the sun is beginning to shine, hopefully the sign of a good day to come😯

Our 4th summer

Breath taking

Breath taking

We’re now back at our home in the UK.  Our 4th summer at Le Petit Coquelicot is just a balmy summery (very hot) memory.  Due to poor internet access this year it was a real struggle to blog and now that I’m back home I am so busy with all the demands of work, work and more work that I just don’t have the space in my head to write so this a picture blog of our 4th summer.

I have to start with the Atlantic.  It’s spectacular, it’s breath-taking.  A picture could never do it justice.

The Atlantic Coast

The Atlantic Coast

We invested in a beach tent.  Well it had to be done.  Grandma loved it and in its shade we could really enjoy the beach.  I love the sun but I am definitely not a sun worshiper.  I fry.

IMG_4540There was a trip to Mimizan to meet up with the Mais.  I really like Mimizan we’d been there before when our friends had stayed there 3 years ago.

IMG_4460 IMG_4461The boys hired skate boards for about 5 Euros for the afternoon.

The Mais

The Mais

IMG_4505The grape vines were looking fit to bust when we left.  I always imagine I would love to be in France for the vendange (grape harvest).

IMG_4450There were walks with Bella.  This one was when Cal and I were on our own as Paul had returned to the UK to work.  Arrrrrgh!  It was by the side of the Dordogne.  Bella also had lots of attention.

Cal and Bella

Cal and Bella

She also found time to roll in a dead fish.

IMG_4472Then needed to have several baths.

IMG_4480We had a weekend of very heavy rain and didn’t know what to do with ourselves.

IMG_4468We enjoyed another trip to Bordeaux.  Parking in our fav car park where the old Jag hangs out over the road.

I couldn't park the Jag

I couldn’t park the Jag

I didn’t get to visit as many vide greniers as I would have liked to because the weekends were when we had the wet weather😢 found these lovely scarves at one though😊

IMG_4574 (2)All washing dried in no time.  Love the smell of fresh clean sheets.

IMG_4537Had a trip to the far Dordogne/Lot to visit Julia, John and the boys who were holidaying there.  Cal and Van enjoying the pool.

imageThis years wild life, found just as we were leaving.

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imageWe just managed to eat the first of the figs.

imageI managed some yoga.  Here is dog, downward dog and dad😆

imageSo we’re back, having left good friends and neighbours behind.  Jeff will now be back on site to finish our extension.  We plan to fly back at half term to see how things are progressing.  I miss France.  We all miss France.  It is well and truly under our skin.

Bonjour jardin français – Marie Marie tout à fait contraire

So how does your garden grow? It always seems such a wait until we are back in France and can take stock of our jardin français en cours.  And even though Callum was reluctant to travel surrounded by plants, I brought these little babies with us.  At the front of the picture are three little cat mint cuttings (Nepeta).  These cuttings were taken at home about three weeks ago but seem to have rooted nicely.  Then to the left and right of these are two small Jerusalem fig trees that I purchased from Holland via the internet.  These are very young and look very delicate.  To the left and at the back is a Brown Turkey fig cutting from a colleague at work who has this tree in her garden in Knaresborough.  When we took this out of the pot it had lots of roots and looked very healthy.  Finally to the right at the back of the shot is a Rouge de Bordeaux fig tree, purchased from Primrose online garden shop.primrose_co_uk_logo

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And as for the French garden!  Although it is a work in progress, it certainly has been growing.  Lots of wet weather in May, June and July has helped.  Gorgeous prunes that are so sweet.  I’ll certainly be making a plum crumble this holiday.

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And the self seeded prune trees that we transplanted from underneath the conifers are doing really well.  No fruit yet though.

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In fact all the plants we have put in are beginning to show promise.  The Viburnum hedging.

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The Brown Turkey fig tree.IMG_3669IMG_3670The Phormium that I originally got from Grandmas neighbour, Joan.IMG_3671The Buddleia.IMG_3672This is the new Rouge de Bordeaux, that we’ve planted at the edge of the pebbled seating area.IMG_3673These are the tiny fig cuttings from Zena.IMG_3675This is a Brown Turkey fig tree from Morrison’s.  Only a twig when I bought it last year.IMG_3676And, oh look!, my Buddha has found a new home.

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 The Cypress tree in front of the house is now so big it is starting to lean over and we have had to stake it.IMG_3667The pebble garden was full of weeds but Paul spent three hours weeding it.IMG_3668Some beautiful plants were already established like this stunning Trumpet Vine.IMG_3674View across our vines.IMG_3678Sad to say that this tall Cypress has been a casuality.IMG_3677And I found this lovely image on Pinterest of all the tools needed to create the perfect garden.

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les mauvaises herbes

Set off at 8am from home and well 26 hours later and we’re back en France.

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Callum’s happy, he’s playing with Matthew and Nathan, the neighbours children. I’m happy, Callum’s happy AND my little fig tree survived the winter.

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Grandmas happy the internet is working. The only one down in the dumps is Bella.

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She’s been off it all week. Took her to the vets on Thursday tea time and he couldn’t find anything obvious so gave her antibiotics. But she’s still not eating properly and was sick in the hotel room during the stopover in Tours. If she’s no better I’m going to have to take her to the vet here in Duras. The vets assistant at home is bilingual, so she wrote out Bella’s symptoms for me to give to the vet here. Just boiled some rice to see if she’ll eat.

A little bit of French “mauvaise herbe” – WEED, and we have a few.  I love the translation “bad grass”.  Here’s a beauty!

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Have some not so bad grass too.

IMG_3267Grandma thinks these gorgeous little purple flowers are Common Vetch.

IMG_3268But also lots of Daisies and Dandelions.

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Bella now snoozing and seems a little better:)

 

Cailloux de la Garonne

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We started our French garden back in April of this year (2013).  To the right of the house, looking from the back, we began to create a seating area from the remnants of a small above ground pool base. the-pool

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So fast forward and Stephensons Landscaping and Gardening Inc begins with delivery of ten tonnes of cailloux de la Garonne.

Cailloux de la Garonne

Cailloux de la Garonne

Yes I know, it seemed a small pile for 10 tonnes.  But that’s what 10 tonnes of small and large unwashed Garonne river pebbles looks like. 

Cailloux

Cailloux

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We laid some weed suppressant membrane which we brought from the UK (much cheaper), then the pebbles and Ta dah! after many trips with our wheelbarrow we now have a seating area with pebble surround.  This is still a work in progress as we want a small wall to be built around it to retain the pebbles and define the area.Pergola

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We have planted 2 Cypress trees at the entrance to the seating area either side of the path that leads from the house.  These we purchased from Lerclerc. Then I planted a young fig tree that I purchased from Morrisons in the UK (£2.99).  A Buddleia, a Feijoa Sellowiana (pineapple guava) and Rosemary were planted earlier in April.  The rest of the stones we are going to use at the left of the house to create an informal pebble garden.