top of page


Quote of the day: ‘That’s a lot of poo needed to fill those babies.’ - recently, my youngest son, Tom.

It’s been a bit busy recently.

Simon‘s truck would have failed its CT, the equivalent of the UK MOT because there were more holes in the old tipper truck body than metal. Not to be daunted, Simon has set about getting a new body for it.

Now, any normal person would have gone to a place that makes them and obtained a price for said truck body. Perhaps then even buying one and having it fitted?

Not my husband. He decides he will teach himself to weld and build a new one.

This is a not inconsiderable feat when perusing the complications of not only wielding large pieces of metal about, ensuring each of the welds is strong and safe, but also using a technique that was hitherto not a part of your particular skill set.

Also, there is the requirement for a space large enough to construct an entire new truck body. It’s lucky I have a new kitchen area under construction, as this was apparently the obvious and perfect place for the enormous venture to get underway. 😳. What can one say?

Despite it taking a while, the truck is a necessity to our everyday life so it was imperative it was done.

And a very fine job he has done too, even with a deadline looming that could not be delayed. Partly completed, with the help of pulleys and scaffolding, the half made body was hoisted and temporarily fixed back onto the truck to accept our very exciting delivery.

Last week, an enormous truck arrived for us at a neighbour’s farm. With the kind help of the neighbour’s telescopic lifting machine, we offloaded our new septic tank system onto the sparkly new truck body and brought it back here. Simon then offloaded it with the tractor.

Our excitement knew no bounds and with plenty of shuffling, strategically placed straps and a keen use of physics, Simon has arranged them ready, next to where and sizeable hole will be dug to accommodate them.

Never before have I been so animated about large plastic tanks. Possibly never will be again either.

My life is slowly but surely getting back not to normal. It’s better than normal, as it had been so utterly frustrating, painful and debilitating pre-op.

The electric bike is a great success. It is a joy to arrive somewhere without being grumpy, exhausted and wringing in sweat. Also, well ahead of Simon for a change. It’s a markedly different feeling being up front as opposed to constantly trailing behind with a sweaty scowl on your face.

I highly recommend it.

Especially now I can do so many more things.

Apart from pick blackcurrants. That particular innocuous task set me back about five days and caused a massive dip in physical capability and plentiful emotional distress.

I still do not know I cannot do something until I have done it. The ‘damage’, albeit hopefully temporary, then having already been done. Frustrating and annoying.

I have though, been rehearsing for a total of seven performances. Five concerts, (three contemporary stuff and two classical) and two rehearsed readings. The first concert went ok, as did the third. The second was a couple of days post-blackcurrant episode so I reluctantly had to duck out of it.

For two evenings last week, a small group of us enjoyed entertaining the locals with a reading of Pygmalion. Much jollity and plenty of hamming things up was had by all. We even got laughs in the right places too.

The second Pygmalion performance was staged after a full day’s rehearsals for the classical concerts happening next week.

Parking up and preparing for a bit of a hike up to the extraordinary Basilique de Peyragude, cicadas were strumming their socks off, on the trunks of the tall pines as we meandered up to the top of the hill in blistering sunshine. Canal-tiled rooftops of the medieval houses spread out below us, some punctuated with partial views of small but vibrant gardens, packed with pots planted with olives, oleanders, hydrangeas and bright red pelargoniums. A beautiful little village.

It was the first time I had been to the Basilique at Penne d’Agenais, in fact the first time I had been to the village itself. Stunning! A pretty smart place to rehearse and well worth a visit. The silver top of the Basilique‘s dome is visible for miles around, standing as it does on top of a spectacular hill. The acoustics inside are simply amazing. You can literally hear a pin drop. The echo is several seconds long and quite spectacular but it does present a very challenging sing for us all.

We were all exhausted at the end of the rehearsal.

So, to other news…

Yesterday evening, Ruby started shaking and panting. It is always a sign that a significant storm is on its way. She hears and/or senses them way before we know they are heading towards us. ‘I think it may miss us,’ opines Simon as we hear the first rumblings in the distance.

Arnold remains calm but starts to look faintly odd. One ear is down, the other is upright.

Ruby never used to be scared of anything but at nearly 13 years of age, apparently it can be a very common thing.

Early evening, as the skies darken dramatically and lightning begins flashing around us. Thunder rolls around the vast heavens in every direction, growing ever closer. Birdsong diminishes and the cicadas stop their deafening scratching. Their socks are definitely back on; possibly their shoes too.

You can feel the electricity in the air. Ruby is now glued to whoever‘s ankles she can get closest to as the power flicks on and off continually, as the storm advances quickly nearer.

With an almighty flash and crackling roar, we are plunged into almost complete darkness inside and out at only 20h00 in the evening.

Simon waits for the raging torrents raining down to subside before venturing down into the cave (cellar) to reset the electrics.

Ruby is apoplectic but ten minutes later begins to calm down. We know then the worst has passed us by.

It’s then that we receive news from our neighbours that their and their immediate neighbour’s house has been struck by lightning. My neighbour tells me their outside light was blown off the wall, the cooker is buggered and electric sockets have been blown out of the walls.

The other neighbour? Not so ‘lucky’.

Lightning has struck their house through the television aerial and has set cables on fire. The pompiers (fire brigade) arrive to find the fire has also actually travelled inside the walls of the house via the electric cables and has set the insulation on fire. Had this happened while they were in bed or out, things could have been an awful lot worse.

Despite the damage, they are very lucky indeed that it was not even more serious.

Under the circumstances, we escaped very lightly indeed. Thankfully no one was hurt.

As the storm subsides at about 21h00, the sun breaks through casting a curious tobacco stained hue from the western horizon. There’s just time to capture a picture of the eerie light as the sun slinks down below the tree line.

In other news, the sunflowers are at their retina burning best. View above is from the only proper window that exists in the house, the shower room. It greets me every morning and I love it. It is almost identical view to the higher picture ‘after the great storm’ but taken from above, not at ground level.

And also…Not a sight I thought I would ever see, as Ruby usually has no patience whatsoever with the feline invader.

For the first time since Titi’s arrival nearly three years ago, all three of the animals have found their preferred communal snoozing location: in Simon’s truck together.

Think a new seat is required somehow now, Simon. Will you be adding needlework to your growing list of skills?

And finally, another visitor to the truck recently…

1 Comment

Jul 08, 2023

Wow what a time you’ve had!

I think you could move in to those tanks! we’re have to come and help you fill them. Happy to hear you escaped the wrath of the storm.

mel xxx


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.

Let the posts
come to you.

Thanks for submitting!

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
bottom of page