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Quote of the day: Retirement is a blank sheet of paper. It is a chance to redesign your life into something new and different.‘ - Patrick Foley

Not only does the boy Arnold still have a repairing herniated disc in his back, but after a significantly ill-advised and stupid evening roustabout, he returned home from the darkness outside with bleeding eyes, covered in sticky willy/goose grass/cleavers/whatever-you-know-it-as. The following morning brought those eyes so firmly gummed together they had to be bathed in warm water to open them. Also still bleeding slightly. Sigh!

A very silly sausage indeed.

Yet another trip to the vet where she diagnosed severe lesions on his corneas. Antibiotic eye drops to be administered 4-6 times a day. That’s in addition to the stomach-calming medicine twice, and steroids once a day, those both for the disc problems. Happily his reflexes are improving so he is clearly regaining sensation in his back right leg. It looks as if there are going to be no major problems long term as a result of the disc injury.

The veterinary practice has just moved premises. A shiny, new, extremely swish affair, positively gleaming with new fittings and fixtures. As my friend Lovely Penny pointed out, one that should be named ‘The Arnold Foxley Wing’ given the chunk we have contributed to their turnover over the last year or so.


He ain’t a happy bunny as the cone of shame has made a reappearance. Resisting medication by shoving his head into his bed facing in the opposite direction too. Sulking like a spoilt child. Not happy at all.

It’s cherry season here in Lot et Garonne. The trees are dripping with them and they need picking in case it rains and they go mouldy.

My lovely neighbour kindly offers us all the cherries we can pick, so today has been all about bottling, jam making and generally gorging ourselves on the plumptious fruit.

Great excitement last week when my new toy arrived. A pottery wheel.

First attempts below that doubtless leave much room for improvement. At least I can centre the clay pretty much now which is a marked gain on my first pathetic effort.

With RHS Chelsea Flower Show well under way this week, I was able to get out and visit a chateau garden we planted up last year, high up on a ridge overlooking the Dordogne countryside.

Immersed back in my very own, real life Chelsea. The one I have lived and breathed for the last thirty years.

The planting is doing pretty well as you can see from the header picture showing the view through into the courtyard, despite the inevitable weeds that have popped up. A bit of TLC will soon lick it into shape although it’s not going to be me that can do it any longer, there or anywhere else.

So that’s a huge change for now and the future.

A much reduced work load as the physical gardening is simply something I cannot now do on a professional basis. Almost retirement, but I’m not really ready to take that road yet. The bank manager may have a strong opinion about that too!

Something will come up. Maybe a total change of direction?

A huge adjustment in my life. One of the things that has defined me for so long has now ebbed away. It feels alarmingly different and has me questioning much about life’s hopes, dreams and aspirations.

Hence the potters wheel.

The chateau is in an exquisite location commanding breathtaking views over vineyards and rolling fields, out over the town of Bergerac, the snaking river Dordogne and well beyond, off into the far distance.

View above is the bed at the centre of the header picture at the top of the page and the view down over the Bergerac countryside.

View above is back towards the entrance of the courtyard. We lost a few things in the heat of the summer despite an irrigation system but all things considered, as it’s only been planted not quite a year, it has all done pretty amazingly, especially the fabulous stipa tenuissima - the grasses below. The climbing roses had been planted several years before, but were pruned within an inch of their lives for the last two years by yours truly.

And the salvias below are doing pretty well too.

So a new life begins for me. A lifetime of manual labour has come to an end. Things that I love now can come to the fore: my family, my dogs, sunshine and outdoors in my little corner of paradise, progression on renovating our house, pottery, singing. Things that make me smile and don’t have me lying awake at night stressing about them.

Funny old feeling.



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I’m Jill, a RHS gold medal winning English professional gardener, garden designer and landscaper living in South West France since 2012. This is a personal account of my gardening life, some of the jolly and occasionally not so jolly japes that ensued while working, that probably caused my subsequent back problems.

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