Not very Christmassy

This mild weather has put the seasons out of kilter. I mean, this is supposed to be the Festive Season though there are very little clues in this area that Christmas is only a few days away.

Where is that coolish Limousin breeze with that nip in the air not to mention the sleety snow or God forbid, actual snow reminding us that it is actually december and not the beginning of spring ? The world's gone crazy.

A nice stroll in Limoges the other evening at 2100hrs in 16°C was unreal. People eating outside and me sorely tempted to go 'shirt-sleeves'. I resisted on principle as I refuse to give in to El Nino or whatever is causing this comparitive and unnatural heatwave.

The locals tell me 'we will pay later' and the usual old wives tales of the first cuckoo or the first snowdrop etc are doing the rounds. The warmest december ever ? Maybe but I refuse to be diverted from enjoying Christmas for what it is in these parts, mulled wine, Christmas pud and huddling around the open fire.

Just to remind me this is december here are two shots of Limoges (I hope !) in all it's festive glory.

I've seen lesser celandines (ficaire in French) and a few cowslips today.

I blame Sepp Blatter, for everything !

Hhheeheehee, we have somebody visiting then who gets the shivers at the mere mention of cold.

Whilst walking today we were looking at springs. One in particular normally fills a basin in which there is cress and lots of frog spawn and salamander tadpoles in about March/April. It is dry, has been since early in the summer and where it normally flows out of the rock there is nothing. A couple of others are the same, little streams too. The drought is still with us. If this is a dry, warm winter then next year is gonna be nasty. We even had a ban on using forage water this year, unless we had livestock (daughters don't count), which I suspect will be continued. Anybody have any kind of theories about it not being global warming? Just weather being weather to quote that top scientist, Farage...

Bet you the skiing will be superb at Easter !

I saw a report about the Dolomites in northern Italy putting down polystyrene nodules as an artificial ski slope because the temperatures would not have allowed the artificial stuff from a snow machine to stay crisp enough. Back to roller blading everybody.

I watched France 3 a couple of evenings ago and there was a report from Foix showing the locals enjoying spring-like conditions like eating out etc. On the other hand the businesses at the ski stations just up the road were not happy !

I think it is a response to camerons cutting of winter fuel allowance to the Brits in France.

We’re at 700m and would expect snow by now. The hydrangeas are budding and the birds are happy, but we have an infestation of rat-taupes. They have no appreciation of the relationship between an Englishman and his lawn.

Sorry I can't reply to any pest problems, I'm enjoying an unseasonabky festive time in New Zealand. 30 degrees, I'm looking forward to cool dark nights of our belovéd France in January.

I was treating hornet nests up until 7 December, I have a meeting with the Pompiers in Cher (18) with regard to wasp and hornet control in 2016, I'll post something about that next month.

Chenilles processionnaire, the professional treatment is with Foray 48b (the 96b is now banned in France) treatment should be done up until about the end of January, when the 4th stage of the caterpillar stops eating. After that, it's the eco piège which costs about 45€ per tree, prices vary.

I could advise more but the wife is already miffed I'm neglecting my cider and fush and chups to write this missive.

Joyeux Noël bru.


All euphorbias have that gunk in them, little ground hugging things 2cm high up to the trees, via the supposed cactus and poinsettia varieties. Go looking on a website about the things. All of them get due respect from me as I chuck them on a bonfire.

Well, I found this warning on a site which gave details of the plant....

Toxicity Warning: Resin euphorbia emits a thick white milky sap known as latex when stems are cut or damaged. This latex (resin) is poisonous containing some of the most potent irritants known. The chief toxic constituents of the latex is resin, and is known to contain wax, calcium malate, euphorbone, euphorbo-resene, euphorbic acid, potassium malate, lignin, bassorin, volatile oil, and water, with no soluble gums.

The latex is particularly dangerous for the eyes, skin and mucous membranes and will produce burning pain in bones and limbs and paralytic weakness in the joints. Also, resin spurge will produce respiratory and skin toxicity symptoms. Handle cultivated plants carefully and use extreme caution to NOT get any laxtex in eyes or mouth. The acrid resin is soluble in alcohol, and will burn brilliantly, becoming very aromatic.

Ouch ! I have managed to rub an eye with chilli on my finger but I think I will steer clear of cacti with spines and sap.

Never had that fortunately Helen but last wednesday I had a scare when I accidently brushed my eye and nose with a hand that had been handling the indoor cactus Euphorbia Resinifera I was trimming the spiky branches and some of the milky white sap must have somehow got on to a finger. The result was a swollen and red eyeball and intense pain. A doctor at my local practice happened to be there at lunchtime and prescribed me some eye drops/antibiotics. The pain was incredible and the panic of maybe losing an eye didn't help ! Fortunately the pain subsided after repeated eye drops about twelve hours later. I still have the burn mark on my nose !

Penstemon flowering here and the chenilles processionnaires poils are pretty itchy. Apparently you don't want to encounter them very often. The sensitivity gets worse...

Saw two poppies, a bit straggly but flowering nonetheless. Plenty of ox eye daisies, field scabious and ragwort as well as bl**dy dandelions, little daisies and clover. I should be cutting the beautiful fresh, green grass as well! What???????? Midwinter tomorrow. I'll be off my annual midwinter walk with the dawn, but a tee shirt rather than the usual several layers.

Daisies growing on the lawn here !

Just been stung by a bloody wasp! Still, it wishes it hadn’t now…definitely not Christmassy.

After 2 years with no nests the blasted pine tree by the pool has 3 of them - and obviously they are miles up, 2 reachable & one probably not. I usually cut them off & burn them instantly, taking my chances with their falling on me, but this year I might see if I can borrow a flame thrower & burn the highest one in situ, with my fingers crossed I don't burn the tree itself down...

We use light aluminium four stage ladders, put double walled paper sacks over the nests, bind it closed then cut the branch. The branch is instantly picked up by people in closed work suits, thick gauntlets and goggles who chuck them straight into the heart of a very fierce bonfire. Most pines will take a ladder against the trunk up until a good 12 metres, although we have relatively few that are that high (actually higher since that is up the trunk to that level) so often simply cut off the crown and lower it down for people to put over the sacks before it touches the ground. This year it should be now, any normal year up until roughly the first week of March!