The middle ground

The last evening and the water meadows of the River Tude are lit by bright shafts of sunlight against the backdrop of a gathering storm. The poplars lean to the east in the freshening wind; too slender to be bowed. The great storm clouds drift slowly closer but instead of enveloping us, steer to the…

The earth

Morning light mellows, cold mist flattens the hilltops. Fields of sunflowers the colours of the earth; a farmhouse built of white stone with rufous clay tiles and sea green shutters that are shut. Late evening light picks out a silver tractor harrowing a fallow field. The day closes on a closing day and the land…

Agrimony, fleabane, purple loosestrife and water mint

The South Charente bakes then drowns in August. The hay meadows have been cut and collected and the Parthenais cattle have small calves. The flowers are restricted to wet ditches and damp corners except for the road and railsides. Many butterflies seek the water mint and the loosestrife; the coppers are often on the fleabane….

August at Boisjarzeau

The view across the Tude valley is dry and parched. The wheat is cut and fields disced and harrowed; the sunflowers are burnt brown and heavy; and the maize is still green with irrigation deployed to combat the long drought. A great banded grayling sets up territory on the lime tree and chases off all…

South Charente in August

The sunflower and maize fields clothe the hills in a pale yellow and dull green patchwork; the cereals have been harvested and the stubbled earth disced and left full of weeds. Fine Charente cattle with newborn calves and attendant bulls are in green pastures; the calves are only present for a few days before being…

Summer days at Boisjarzeau

The heat of the past few days brings dark thunderstorms that travel up from the south over the wooded hills to the west, then switch direction, run up the Vallée de la Tude, and deluge the ground. The humidity immediately drops and the cool, clear air is cleaned of pollen and dust. The fields of cereals and young…

Moulin de Perdrigeau

April 5th and 6th 2016 The old windmill with no sails sits on the hilltop in the centre of the forest like an upturned flower pot; the top is now a watch tower wth 360 degree views over the pines and farmland, with distant wooded hills, villages and La Vallée de la Tude that runs north to south away to…

South Charente Spring

The fine chateau at Villebois-Lavalette sits on a low hill, the medieval fortifications speak of a long and combustible history: an Iron Age fortification; a Roman castrum; an  English stronghold during the Hundred Years War; the seat of Dukes in the age of aristocracy; a prison after the Revolution; and today a battleground for summer tourists. The land hereabouts is…

Boisjarzeau Encore

The land of the south Charente is a changing; old fashioned, low intensive mixed farming is on the wane and new intensive agriculture is spreading. The old is untidy and intricate, fascinating but inefficient; and the new, uniform and sharp-lined, mundane but productive and profitable. Young Limousine bull in an ancient pasture land; herds of these fine…