Archive for July, 2015

Johnny has a mad moment

July 14, 2015

goodside                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is my hypericum hedge which was planted over five years ago and was a pleasure to look at until Johnny decided to trim it.  Not only did he trim it while it was in flower he completely devastated a large part of it before I realised what he was doing.

He razed several plants to the ground. leaving just a thin ‘hedge’ of the plants which had propagated themselves from the parent plants!!!


What on earth possessed him to do a thing like that? When I saw what had happened I was visibly shocked but contained my anger and just said I was terribly disappointed that he had ruined a hedge which had taken five years to grow.

He didn’t seem to see what a daft thing he had done but I made it clear he was to ask me before cutting anything down in future. In fact, if i see him bringing in a chainsaw again I may be tempted to confiscate it!

He is such a good worker  – usually –  that I wouldn’t want to frighted him away by telling him off  but tomorrow his first job will be to plant the hypericum I bought plants

Finding a Gardener

July 9, 2015
Not pretty but tidy!

Not pretty but tidy!


When I first retired to France my dream was to grow my own vegetables – to have a potager. However, it was nowhere near as straightforward as I’d imagined.

There was limited success but it was a continual battle with insects, plant diseases and small animals who ate carrots, beetroot and parsnips before I was able to pull them up. Some little beasties even chewed the roots of most of the fruit trees in the ‘orchard’ and they keeled over. All that’s left from twenty-five trees are two plum trees, a mirabelle and a pear tree that’s leaning over dangerously but which still produces a few  mangy pears.

Cauliflowers were full of caterpillars that remained despite soaking in salt and vinegar water and careful washing but I have to say we did get some good peas, green beans and pumpkins. One year there were some excellent cucumbers but the last few attempts with tomatoes were disastrous. One year there were loads of tomatoes in the greenhouse but they just wouldn’t turn red.

So, I gave up. The orchard became a chicken run and the rest of the garden was neglected and overgrown. There was hardly time to cut the grass.

In the end, it seemed we would have to pay someone to help.

The first chap came and looked and gave us an impressive estimate with a long list of things he would do at a cost of 280 euros. He turned up with his son and an enormous strimmer thingy and devastated the whole garden in less than three hours. The only jobs well done were that they took the rubbish away and his son cleaned the greenhouse thoroughly.

Then, in desperation i asked a neighbour’s son if he could  help out. He said he would but he left jobs half done and didn’t really know anything about gardening.

Then I came across the chap who used to look after the gardens in the village. He had retired but wanted a few jobs to supplement his pension. He arranged to come but after agreeing to take it on he never turned up when he said he would and didn’t even have the courtesy to let me know. His  worst ‘crime’ however, was to spray everywhere with Roundup after I’d told him I didn’t want to use chemicals ESPECIALLY that particular make!

I told him his services were no longer required.

Then I saw some cards in the local shops advertising a qualified gardener living quite close to us. I phoned him and he came to see the garden.

I explained how I needed someone reliable as I hoped the garden would look respectable by this summer when we were expecting several  visitors.

At first he seemed perfect but as more and more people contacted him with work he had less time to spend here. In fairness, he had offered me a cheaper rate to make up for the fact that, as we pay tax in the UK, we wouldn’t be able to claim the rebate which French people can obtain, so I can see how he would prefer to work for more money.

My dreams of a tidy garden in time for my sister’s visit in June faded fast.

Then, a couple of weeks ago my friend Elisabeth said she knew  a young chap who could solve the problem. His name is Johnny and he is a worker if not a gardener.  He has spent six mornings so far – even during the heatwave – and the transformation is amazing. There’s still work to do but he has cleared the ‘near’ half of the garden, weeded the terrace and banks  and taken ALL the rubbish away, carrying it through the house in bags and emptying it into big containers in the back of his car.

No longer weeds but room to plant things.

No longer weeds but room to plant things.

The downside is that he dug up some plants and left a few weeds but he is reliable and hardworking.

He is a little bit ‘strange’ and I can’t always understand what he says but it was highly amusing when Elisabeth told me that he said he couldn’t always understand me because I sometimes spoke to him in English. Oh dear, my French obviously needs to improve. . . . . . . .


A  touch of colour

A touch of colour


Hardly a lawn (especially after the heatwave) but now there's room to move.

Hardly a lawn (especially after the heatwave) but now there’s room to move.

A neat and tidy hedge by the terrace.

A neat and tidy hedge by the terrace.

The top of the bank

The top of the bank


July 8, 2015

This may be cheating but I felt this email from a friend was worth sharing.

Not sure I agree that the ‘winner’ was the best. Can anyone come up with more examples?

Lexophile” is a word used to describe those that have a love for words, such as “you can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna fish”, or “to write with a broken pencil is pointless.” A competition to see who can come up with the best lexophiles is held every year in an undisclosed location. This year’s winning submission is posted at the very end.
When fish are in schools, they sometimes take debate.

A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.

When the smog lifts in Los Angeles U.C.L.A.
The batteries were given out free of charge.

A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and
A will is a dead giveaway.

With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.

A boiled egg is hard to beat.

When you’ve seen one shopping center you’ve seen a mall.
Police were summoned to a daycare center where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.
Did you hear about the fellow whose entire left side was cut off? He’s all right now.
A bicycle can’t stand alone; it’s just two tired.
When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.

The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine is now fully
He had a photographic memory which was never developed.
When she saw her first strands of grey hair she thought she’d dye.

Acupuncture is a jab well done. That’s the point of it.

And the cream of the twisted crop:
Those who get too big for their pants will be totally exposed in the end.