Archive for month: April, 2013

Bird watching in the Aude

The region around our holiday cottage and B&B in the south of France is fabulous for birdwatchers. The Aude has a wide range of habitats, home to around 200 nesting species. From our terrace buzzards are a common sight, soaring high on the warm thermals. Watch the delightful “bobbing” habit of the black redstarts and at dusk, see the barn owl heading off on its nightly patrol. In summer watch the amazing spectacle of swifts racing round the square hurling themselves into the eaves, often colliding with the zinc guttering with a resounding clunk whilst the house martins look on bemused. Surrounded by such goings-on, it’s easy to feel close to nature.


Keeping chickens in the south of France

We have been preparing our potager behind our holiday home in the south of France to receive its first residents, les pondeuses, laying hens. From the market in Mirepoix, six Les Noires (Black Rock we think) prête à pondre, at point of lay, are now scratching around in the warm Languedoc sunshine. The hens are 18–20 weeks, and as promised, have already begun laying.  Apparently they had until Friday and then they were for the pot, Chef has already named them, Chasseur, Au Vin – you get the picture, he’s hilarious, Chef will be for the pot first.

Zero food miles for your fluffy breakfast omelette

Zero food miles for your fluffy breakfast omelette

I have already spent hours with them and my camera, getting to know them. They are timid, as am I, does their peck hurt? My son Sean said I would be scared of them! They have to be persuaded to leave their corner of the coop, perhaps unused to so much space. Already their characters are becoming apparent, one is bolder than the rest and is therefore easily distinguished, one has a darker coat that shimmers emerald green in the spring sunshine.

We are interested in eco tourism and the provenance of food and already source much of the produce locally that we serve at our bed and breakfast in Languedoc. It will be marvellous to collect the eggs each day, I am certain guests will share the delight and be assured that their fluffy lavender omelette has travelled zero food miles.

Sailing in the south of France

Sailing on Lake Montbel near Chalabre in the south of France

A marvellous way to spend a warm, spring Languedoc day, sailing on the emerald green waters of Lake Montbel, 5km from our holiday home in the south of France. Kayaks, catamarans and sailing boats for hire by the hour, half day or full day. Boat hire is very reasonable, a double kayak is 25 euros for half a day, 40 euros for a sailing boat. More details from the Leran sailing club (en français) though we can arrange hire for you.

Catastrophe at the B&B

The black redstarts unceremoniously evicted by Nasty Nick from the porch have been setting up residence on one of the huge beams that criss-cross the terrace at our bed and breakfast in the south of France. Guests had to move from the porch in order that the redstarts could enter with food for their young but even so… Their nest that was perching precariously on the beam is now lying on the ground. Poor little birds, all that effort, however, Nasty Nick has promised to redeem himself and first thing will fix a ledge to the beam so the width is extended. If we put the nest back then perhaps the redstarts, that have the sweetest “bobbing habit”, will return. They are more timid than the bold Great Tits that build their nests in the stone walls of the porch and simply swoop over your head while you are enjoying your coffee and croissants.

Quite rare in the UK, the black redstart thrives in the warmer climes of the south of France