21 Jul 2010

Summer events in Bize

So while I’d been keeping a low profile and not doing a lot, Bize was at the height of its summer events season. One thing after another really – starting off with the annual freestyle motorbike event, held on the dry river bed and using the purpose-built dirt mound.

This year, there were quite a few temporary bars and stands set up at the edges of the river - this event is becoming quite a drawcard for the town.

Then the following day – Bastille Day / 14th July celebrations, followed by fireworks at the river.  

And then on the 18th, the BIG event of the year – the Olive Festival. Again, thousands turned up and it was a beaut day. 

All the usual stalls, ethnic dancers and singers, and lots of food and drink, followed by a long night of bands / very loud music.
The annual aioli-making competition

The judging table
 Yawns / long day!
And now the village has returned to normal (for this time of year) – lots of holiday makers here for the school / summer holidays, enjoying the hot weather and making good use of the pool at the river.

Garden Life

My courtyard garden continues to give me great pleasure – a little oasis of green on these hot summer days. The fish pond is going great guns – albeit a little green again, but hopefully will strike the right biological balance again soon and clear itself.

Now, because it’s been so hot recently, I’ve been sleeping with the doors upstairs wide open. Until a noise kept me awake and I’ve had to stop that. It sounded like it was directly outside the door and I wasn’t sure what sort of animal it was – I figured it was one of the geckos that live in the garden. I didn’t know they made a noise, but Google said some of them do! And it was an odd noise.

But as it turned out, it wasn’t a gecko. It was a little frog with a very big voice who’s taken up residence in the pond. I couldn’t think how he’d got there – the tadpoles the kids put in a couple of years ago didn’t make it. And the two little frogs they put in last year immediately disappeared, never to be seen again (or so I thought). But this little guy is a bigger version of one of last year’s frogs, so I’m guessing he’s been hibernating and has resurfaced. In fine voice, I must say – day and night!
And today ….. another unexpected visitor – the feathered variety. Although I’m not sure this one has taken up residence – a temporary resident, I suspect.

He crashed into my glass doors this morning, and made his way – a little dazed – to the edge of the fish pond.

I grabbed my camera and got him having an undignified dip in the pond, while trying to have a drink.  

Anyway, as I type, he’s still here, and has made himself at home. I’ve identified (Googled) him as a Lutino Lovebird (!) so it seems he’s not a European bird, and I’m assuming he’s escaped from someone’s cage.

He apears to be quite young, and not overly afraid, though I can’t get to more than within a metre of him, or he flies away. Though he never goes too far – he knows when he’s onto a good thing. He’s hardly stopped eating, so perhaps he’s been out of the cage for a while and is a little hungry. When he’s not eating, he dozes off.

Anyway, I’m not sure what to do with him. He’d be great to stay in my yard, but I absolutely hate birds kept in cages and wouldn’t really want to keep him under those circumstances. But if he flies away – which I think he inevitably will – I don’t suppose his chances in the wild are very good. So a bit of a dilemma at the moment…….

And here he is, cute as a button, having a little snooze on my bird sculpture  .....


Tall wall story

I’ve been remiss of late when it comes to posting here. My excuse is that I’ve been sick for a couple of months (hardly bedridden, but poorly) and while I hardly came close to losing the will to live (!), I certainly lost enthusiasm for most things, including writing up the blog. But I’m pretty well ok again now and nearly back into the swing of things.

In fact, I’ve commenced a new project in the garden. “Biting off more than you can chew” comes to mind.

The old stone walls in the courtyard are in bad shape, and obviously have been for years as there’s been quite a bit of cement render applied over time. Right over the stones themselves, not just in the joints.  And some other parts of the wall have been crumbling for a long time. I’ve been dreading parts of the wall giving way and me finding a giant pile of stones in the courtyard.

And since the big renovation, large parts of the wall are now exposed to the weather, whereas before they were under cover of the old barn, and therefore dry and protected. So, they’re continuing to deteriorate, and also the cement render is an eyesore. And having seen many beautifully re-pointed stone walls in this village – indeed in the whole region – I figured I could improve things here too.

So, in consultation with friends Bonnie and Terry who are in the middle of their own cave (basement) renovation, and who have just finished pointing a few interior walls, I’ve decided to give it a go. And give it a go myself, I must. Someone told me the other day that to get it professionally done costs in the region of €40 per square metre. So that’s definitely not an option.

Anyway, over the last week, I’d made a start chipping off the cement and digging out the old mortar using hand tools - slow and laborious and hard on the hands. And then Terry and Bonnie offered me a loan of their compressor which they’re not using at the moment. So that turned up today – what a difference that makes. Almost a pleasure to work with!

And Nic has been helping me these last couple of days – however, it’s so hot here at the moment, that we can only do an hour or so in the morning. And then it gets too hot and the sun has also moved and shining on the wall.

So this is certainly going to be a long term project. I figured maybe a year. There’s upstairs at both ends of the verandah, and down at ground level, the height of the wall on both sides of the courtyard is about 4 or 5 metres. So there will be need to be scaffolding eventually.

But having mixed up a batch of mortar and done a bit of the wall last week, to see how the finished product will look, I have to say it’s a huge improvement! But I’m not going to post ‘after’ pictures just yet – I’ll wait until a bigger section of the wall is complete.

I’m using lime mortar, the type that was originally used for these walls – a whole new learning process for me. I’m not sure how skilful I’ll be when this is all over, but so far (early days!) it’s been quite rewarding, even if the results are more than a little rough.

Before and during photos:

Moving sideways

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