A first Vide Grenier

Over the weekend before we returned to Dorset I experienced my first French ‘car boot sale’.  I have heard such off-putting tales of voracity, from friends and family, that I have never opened up my car boot for business in England.  In France such sales/markets are called Vide Greniers (literally, Attic-Clearances) which certainly sounds more enticing, with the implied promise of latent treasures that may be unveiled on one’s stall.

My table was sandwiched between my friend Anne and her sister-in-law Sylvie who served as a human comfort blanket.  In reality my wares consist of odd bits of china, knick-knacks, some children’s things, surplus fishing tackle donated by Nick.  Most items fetched a Euro or two and somehow I managed to shift 100 Euros-worth of goods, and ended up repacking almost as much stuff as I had brought to my stall at the outset.  There is a nucleus of goods for the next one.  I also know what I will not be able to sell.

I bought a couple of items from Anne’s stall and later, two of the Thonet bentwood cane-seated chairs which came from her grandmother’s house.  Excluding the chairs, which don’t really count, there was certainly a net outflow of possessions!

We ate with the Poulets three evenings running, the final evening reaching gastronomic heights with Anne’s marinaded mackerel fillets (caught by Nick and Francois on Vide Grenier day), lobster à la mayonnaise (thanks to Daniel) and a strip of chunky lamb ribs roasted on the BBQ  in their kitchen, followed by a massive bowl of salad leaves and cheeses.

It is risky to say much about the state of play regarding our dry rot works, but we leave on Tuesday with the sense that our builder has grasped the nettle; he is very much on the case in getting the remedial treatment finished in July so the house can dry out in August.  The stage should then be set for reinstatement of our home to begin come September.

As usual we have put time in on the garden.  Some of the bee orchids are still flowering and looking more robust than the first ‘floraison’.  I’m rather taken with the way the corner by the rear gates has turned out.  It is graced with EchiumCichorium intybus, the tall pale pink Salvia , Crocosmia Bressingham Blaze and the yet-to-flower pale creamy yellow Dietes bicolor. There are rather more zones in the garden where I think I must rearrange the plants.  I heard on Gardeners’ Question Time, with much relief, that a good gardener should expect to move plants around.

In the course of general weeding I find a small self-set plantlet which I conclude is Daphne.  The carnations which were mere sprigs from a bouquet and which my mother rooted in water are all now flowering well.  Carnations have been considered to be rather démodé until recently, but it seems to me that they are making a come-back.  I find articles on the internet which back this up.

The two small borders by the pergola are now richly vegetated and lush.  One bed is tackled, with a serious cut-back of the magenta Centaurea, pruning of the Forsythia and the Cistus and staking of some of the plants.  The climbers planted along the pergola (vine, Akebia, Jasmine, climbing rose ‘Janet’, Clematis tangutica, evergreen Lonicera and Wisteria – too many?) are now growing really well and working their way over the upper struts.  Eventually they will clad the uprights rising from the terrace wall.

All in all there are pleasing things happening in our garden, and we always run out of gardening time; too soon the tools must be cleaned and laid out on the table in the potting shed.  Nick does this.  He also clears up all the plant material I cast behind me onto the lawn as I work, and turns it into compost.  He now generates it rapidly.  It is amazing how quickly the contents of the compost bins heat up under their offcuts of carpet, laid on top of each load under the wooden lids.  There is more than enough for French needs, so we take some back to Dorset at the end of our stay.

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