Happy Families

It’s been a busy week or so in the Domaine, starting with European Neighbours’ Day. We generally have a get together down at the club house. Drinks are provided and attendees have to bring the food. I always pride myself on taking something homemade though I’ve noted more and more of my neighbours opt for something they’ve bought. Consequently, I find that whatever I take disappears in nano seconds.

Vegan banana cake
Vegan brownies with fresh raspberries and pistachios

Our 50 metre pool also opened last week-end, so my beloved has been powering up and down either first thing in the morning or late in the evening. Although it’s only for the use of residents who are club members, you can buy tickets for family and friends to use the pool too. I half-suspect that pool was the main reason my beloved was so keen on buying the apartment, that and the view.

With temperatures picking up we’ve starting eating out on the terrace. It’s still too chilly at breakfast but we’ve enjoyed lunch, pre-dinner cocktails and dinner enjoying the view. In addition,  we’ve been royally entertained by a pair of magpies who’ve been building a nest in the evergreen closest to our kitchen. We’d thought the rooks/crows/big blackbirds had consigned the magpies to another part of the Domaine. But evidently not this pair, who’ve established and have been enforcing a four tree exclusion zone around their newly constructed nest.

Nest on high in apex of tree

Magpies usually lay eggs in early April, it’s now six weeks later. Although they’ve made a smashing job of the nest, we only see them on it in the early morning, the rest of the time it’s unoccupied. So it’s clearly not being used for the purpose for which it was intended. Hatching their young.

This week we’ve seen them chase off the squirrel – we wondered what had happened to him – and one of the large blackbirds, but we’re at a loss to understand why. It’s at times like these I wish my Mum were still around, she was a fount of knowledge about flora and fauna.

My beloved believes it’s a decoy and the real nest is somewhere else. Frankly, I’m not so sure that both Mum and Dad would leave the real nest completely unoccupied in the morning. However, the presence of the magpies means I’ve had no large birds landing on and, more importantly, pooping on my terrace.

My beloved enjoying the garden

Like us the wildlife but have become a bit discombobulated by the weather. We’ve had a very wet spring and typically June sees warm temperatures with sunshine every day, and no rain. It’s not that it’s chilly, far from it. Overnight temperatures are remaining high. I’ve stored the Hungarian goose-down duvet until next winter and we’re using our summer weight one with linen bedclothes. Even so, my beloved has been overheating. Could this be the problem with our lovebirds? Have they opted to live apart?

I think they’ve built the nest for one of their offspring who’s refusing to move out. Probably enjoys having his food delivered to him too much and doesn’t keep his room tidy – you know the sort of thing. His parents have had enough and have made him alternative lodgings.

Over the week-end the magpies have been conspicuous by their absence. I suspect they’ve been checking out the tat at our annual “Vide Grenier” – French equivalent of a car boot sale. Please don’t for one moment imagine that this is the place to pick up a second-hand Hermès bag or scarf or maybe some delightful bric à brac or shabby chic furniture. No, this is stuff that rightly belongs down at the tip but people are far too lazy to take it there.

Bizarrely, these are hugely popular affairs and there’s any number which are held weekly. I have this theory about everyone’s rubbish continuously just doing the rounds at these events before, finally, ending up at the dump or in a recycling bin!

The hills are alive with the sound of…………………

I’d like to be able to tell you that the hills are alive with the sound of music, or at least birdsong, but I can’t. Instead they’re primarily alive with the sound of chain saws and mowers. Several of our trees toppled over in the recent bad weather, plus the plot immediately to the rear of the Domaine is being cleared. Whether this is ahead of further construction or just a tidy up, I know not.

In addition to which, today the men from SNADEC have been clearing the building’s drains. I suppose they do this on a regular basis to prevent the build up of fatbergs. I suspect the contents of our smaller bergs are far less interesting and certainly not, like those in London, worthy of their own television programme.

large blackbirds

This hive of activity from 08:00 in the morning is tending to drown out the lovely birdsong at this time of year when the birds are building nests and laying eggs. A few years back, a large number of rooks/ravens/crows aka very large blackbirds, sinister enough for a starring role in Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” made their home in the Domaine. They make the most awful racket and generally boss all the other birds about. They like to sit on our terrace railings and, if you encourage them to move off, tend to regard you quite belligerently.

One landed on the railings yesterday with a branch in his mouth. It was far too large to call a twig. I was surprised he or she could fly with it, but it swooped off no trouble. The rooks/ravens/crows whatever have tended to colonise the woods to the rear of the Domaine leaving the trees in the more formal and informal gardens to the front for the smaller birds who wisely steer well clear of the larger ones.

Let’s not forget the ducks from our lake who are often given to wandering around the gardens at this time of year, evidently up to no good. They generally don’t stray too far away and particularly not after the unfortunate duck crushing incident  a few years back. However, you do have to keep an eye out for them as they’re given to waddling, or worse stopping, on the access road and regarding you with their heads to one side.

The Domaine sits above the A8 motorway and main railway line, neither of which are audible unless you strain your ears. Of course, the trains are only running for three days out of every five at the moment in protest at changes proposed by M Macron for new railway employees. Those currently employed have jobs for life and the ability to retire at a ridiculously low age. My money’s on M Macron as the railway workers have little or no support from the general public.

The recent mix of sunshine and showers means the grass has grown alarmingly quickly and the gardeners are out on their ride around mower. It looks great fun and I’d love to have a go. The bits the mower can’t reach are tackled with a mighty big strimmer. As if that wasn’t enough noise, loads of my neighbours are availing themselves of tax breaks and upgrading their windows to double-glazing. Such are the sounds of spring!