Another lockdown kilometre in Normandy

Limousin bull keeps his ladies calm.

In fact it’s the same kilometre, Covid19 oblige, one month on from the last post.  Trying to make the most of it, hope this cheers people up who are stuck in a small apartment in a city.

The broom has now burst into a brilliant yellow.

Broom/Genista. in French ‘Genêt’. Henry II of England adopted the Planta genista (medieval name for Broom) when claiming Anjou, and thus became the the first ‘Plantagenet’ King of England.


Further up our path into a little track gorse bushes too are blooming near our water station.

Gorse is often confused with broom, to which it is closely related, but is very thorny and grows in thick bushes where birds like to nest. It particularly attracts warblers.  It is used in Bach Flower remedies.


Hawthorn bush in full flower on the edge of a field – also known as the May Tree:

A couple of elderly men living in the neighbourhood cottages play Boules down this little track here by this hawthorn.

To be compared with David Hockney’s topiary hawthorn, inspired by the less unruly English countryside where he once lived.  He now lives here in Normandy.

David Hockney’s Hawthorn


The cows are out in the fields.

A herd of Limousins return each year to this field, accompanied by a bull which keeps the ladies feeling safe; he sorts out their little frolicking quarrels in the field and ensures a peaceful atmosphere for the calves to grow up in…
Limousin bull keeps his ladies calm.

Walking the other way, our village farm breeds the Normandy cow – ‘la Normande’ which gives very rich milk and butter.

La Normande, with calves.

Their coat has brown and white patches.  They are a less nervous breed than the black and white Holstein who are also renowned for their milk. Farmers in Normandy who own other breeds are encouraged to include at least one Normande into their herd, and receive a financial bonus for each one.

Flax field: three weeks ago the seeds were bedded; the field up the road was like this

Flax field on the ready, guarded by the trees.

And today:

Growing up – strips of  light green like the plaits of a young girl, linen grows quickly under the bright sun.  And soon that sky blue dress – the pale blue flowers to colour the landscape. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization France is the highest producer of flax fibre and tow in the world, producing 660107 tonnes in 2018 – see chart.


Top 20 countries Production of Flax fibre and tow 2018. Source: Food and Agriculture Organization/FAO.


We have e a lot of butterflies fluttering around. A Peacock butterfly.

Peacock butterly


Bluebells are out.


The four stages of life of the wonderful Dandelion which is lighting up our fields.


In the woods behind our track, the birds sing very loudly – perhaps the wood’s echo helps. Chiff-chaffs, chaffinches,tits, jays and the occasional mew of a buzzard.  And then another weird sound which sounded like my grandfather’s old bones pinging.  Non-plussed, I looked up and realized it was the branches of two young oaks rubbing together in the breeze – very eerie; it echoed through the wood.

Young oak trees trub together in the breeze giving off an eerie sound.


The Walking Tree. Trees – here, two beeches – fuse together and form one entity. Looks as if he’s walking through the holly: two legs, one body…


Wild Lady’s Lace, or Queen Anne’s Lace.  Normally this flowers in May or June, but we’ve had a lot of sun and warmth. Doesn’t smell as delicate as it looks if you break its stem. Also known as Anthriscus sylvestris, or Wild Carrot/Daucus carota.  I t attracts insects.  The origin of the name Queen Ann’s Lace: it’s unsure which Queen Anne it refers to – Queen Anne born in 1574 or Queen Anne born in 1665. Whichever Queen she was, the story goes that she was sewing her lace and pricked her finger; the blood fell on the lace – hence the dark centre of the plant where the flowers emerge from.

Here’s some young Wild Solomon’s Seal – you can see the flowers dangling here from the stalk, not quite out yet.

Wild Solomon’s Seal –a florist once told me the dangling white flowers look like false teeth.


Little baby fists of fern opening look  like a little seahorses.  Whereas fern has just one stalk, bracken has several branches.


Baby bracken too starts off with these little fists.

Meanwhile the woodpeckers are screaming around , many more this year, and swallows wheeling around in and out of the barn where they’ve been nesting for over 20 years.


We have to sign an official paper each time we go out saying why, when and where, giving all the details.  Police checks, even up here in the country, are regular; they drive round the country lanes but are pleasant in manner when controlling.  This is not a new idea President Macron has imposed.  Take a look at this ‘attestation’ which people had to fill in, dating back to 1720 during the outbreak of  the Plague, la Peste, in Marseilles.


And today’s: