This is a european fire salamander. Sadly the one i saw a few weeks ago was squashed near the car but it was easily 5" long.
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Saturday, 14 November 2009
Over the last few months I've seen all sorts of wild and wonderful creatures in Brittany.
One late evening in spring while outside the front of the cottage I heard rustling coming from some old leaves by the front wall of the house.
Thinking it was probably the lovely fat resident toad I shone a torch at the leaves and was amazed, and not a little disturbed, to see about 15 huge beetles with massive front antlers; some on back legs locking horns with each other.
As soon as the light shone on the visitors they started to climb straight up the wall of the cottage heading for the (open) eaves.
After a fairly uneasy night they had all disappeared by the next morning and some internet searches revealed them to be rare and harmless stag beetles.
Posted by pip at Saturday, November 14, 2009
Sunday, 10 May 2009
I've been trying to get some of the earlier photos of the cottage but they seem to be lost in the virtual world for the moment so here is a photo of the floor we laid, with the help of kind friends, over Easter.
It's sandstone and different slabs have different colours in them. Once the floor is all laid we'll brush in some pointing and then seal and wax it. The finished colour will be different; darker with more contrast.
We also managed to go for a few local walks. Here's a pic from a walk in the Bois de Gouarec... this is the viewpoint over the canal. From here we went in the direction of Bon Repos, crossed over a river and onto the canal towpath to complete the loop back to the cottage. There are various routes on a board at the beginning of the wood so we picked a fairly easy one. Saw lots of spring woodland flowers; wood anemones, primroses and lesser celandine that I could recognise.
Posted by pip at Sunday, May 10, 2009
Sunday, 8 March 2009
Came across this at the bottom of the garden. Water trickles out of the rock and is caught in this stone basin. At first it just looked like mud and moss but on further investigation and after a few hours of desludging the well appeared. It has obviously been carefully constructed by someone at some time as there are stone steps underneath. The water trickles out from a hole a few inches below the rim and flows into a fairly deep pool. From here it is directed to a much wider, shallow pool where a huge flat slab of stone is placed perfectly for animals to drink.
The water is ice cold and crystal clear and I like to think of the forest creatures drinking here. The builder said he recently spotted 2 deer in the wood, while i have noticed a large toad up by the house and mum found a snake while clearing ivy from a wall on her last visit.
Monday, 2 March 2009
Once we had managed to get all the undergrowth, and overgrowth, removed we could at last see the home we had bought. And what a sight! I had loved this place when blindly feeling around damp walls before the shutters had been removed; although removing them didn't actually make alot of difference to light levels.
The place had been on the market for quite a long time before we discovered it, a fact i put down to the immoblier's photo consisting of a large bush with a chimney. Although i may be biased.
Finally we can see our purchase in it's full glory. I'm sure it will be possible to live in while renovating without too much discomfort. We'll be renovating while working full time in the UK so finding local tradespeople we can get along with will be pretty important. So far we employed a local septic tank installer who not only installed said tank but managed to clear all the undergrowth at the same time.
This is the Nantes-Brest canal. It flows past the lane our place is on and is separated from the bottom of the sloped, wooded, overgrown garden by an area of marshland.
The canal at this point is flanked by what i think are canadian maple trees. You can see these on the left of the photo. Their bark is like army camoflage in shape and colour and looks like it flakes off in bits. Their branches sweep down from far above towards the canal where they are perfectly reflected. Walking or cycling along this towpath i feel the sophistication of France. Juxtaposed with the neglected stone cottage this really does feel civilised.