Friday, 25 March 2011

Bugs (caution picture of a sexual nature)

The weather is warming up, 22 degrees yesterday and I am reminded of the flies of last summer!!
We have only moved 400 miles south but the Fauna is different. We see plenty of lizards, red squirrels, hear stories of sanglier (wild boar) whilst we hardly ever see rabbits and have yet to see a fox.
What we do have however is BUGS. So far this year there are three worth mentioning.
Gendarme bugs, red and black bugs that scuttle about. Apparently they are named after the gendarme uniform from the end of the 17th Century. The colouring is to dissuade birds from eating them
As can be seen in the picture below they mate by one dragging the other around!!

Shield Bugs
Green bugs about 1.5cms long these bugs fly about and buzz as they fly. They are also known as stink bugs as they smell when squashed.

The third and perhaps the strangest "bug" is the processional caterpillar. A number of pine trees in the area have what look like nest

The nests are the home of the processional caterpillars who live in these nests, destroying the tree as they go, until such time as the food run outs. They then drop from the tree and move en masse to a new location. When they move they link together end to end and look from a distance like a long twig. We recently had a procession from the tree opposite the bar and it looked like three twigs about a metre or so long moving across the road. That was until cars came and squashed the lot!!. These caterpillars are a pest in that they spoil the trees they live in. Each caterpillar is covered with up to 60,000 hairs that are urticating ( they come off easily if attacked) which can cause skin rashes, and eye and mouth irritation.

Saturday, 19 March 2011


I realise that I haven't added to the blog for a good few weeks but rest assured we are still here. Spring has arrived in the Vienne in a big way. The hedgerows and trees are beginning to green up, there are masses of trees full of pink and white blossom, the magnolia trees are in bloom and of course the sun has been shining. We have also seen the returning V formation of geese, a local sign that winter is past, as well as red squirrels and lizards both of which hibernate. Another sign for us is the return of the Brits with maison secondaires or those that have been away for the winter. The "velos" made a welcome return albeit metro powered rather than pedalling.
We have new neighbours Erl and Anne from Glasgow who have purchased the house opposite and intend to be here half of the year. We welcome them to Champniers and thank them for the €10 that Erl bet on the England Scotland rugby match!! National pride is one thing but betting on the rugby team seemed a little excessive. No matter Erl, I will try and find an Italian for you to recoup your money from next year.

Life in the bar has been busy. We have just started breakfasts, added free wifi to our services and increased our draught beer offer by introducing Stella. We are tinkering with our offer rather than wholesale changes, the darts and quiz machines have gone and this gave us the space to introduce 2 sofas with a coffee table into the bar.
We have also offered space on a Wednesday to a group that teach English kids English. There are lots of children here who speak English at home but are taught in French so need extra tuition on writing English, grammar, spelling etc.

The bar has two more ornaments as can be seen in the picture, a Christmas present from Laurie. They are very different, the red one is indecisive, and keeps moving sideways, hides when spanish is spoken but looks very pretty. The blue one in contrast is more workmanlike, has come through a difficult spell but now is heading for his goal