Author Archives: datz

About datz

Mainly photography and life in Northumberland

August calendar 2016

We are just emerging from another minor canicule with temperatures in the mid 30’s centigrade. So not much work has been done in the garden except for early mornings before it gets too hot. But the weather has definitely suited the Morning Glory flowers and the pattypan squash!

And its good weather for drying off the onion crop.



coping with august

sunflowers in the Allier Valley sunflowers in the Allier Valley

Although it has not been as consistently hot and dry as last summer, we have had several spells of very high temperatures this year. We’re just coming to the end of what will hopefully be the final week of temperatures in the mid to high 30s centigrade. I know I shouldn’t complain about fine weather, but that sort of heat really does make it very difficult to do anything, especially if it involves working with a hot blow torch!

We have developed a number of strategies to deal with the hot weather, the first of which is to visit a church, cathedral or abbey. They are always cool and dark inside, and many contain interesting and/or creepy artefacts. As a bonus, some also have shady cloisters. Bliss.

We’ve been confining our walks to early morning and evening, when it’s cooler, although we sometimes have to wait…

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three churches of the haute allier

A tour around some of the many local churches.

a lens in the landscape

We recently visited three of the small, usually 12th century churches in the scattered villages that lie in the side valleys of the Allier. These were the L’église Saint-Roch at Aubazat, Église Saint-Cirgues at Saint-Cirgues, and L’église Saint-Austremoine.

L’église Saint-Roch (Aubazat)

A feature of this church was the 15th century polychrome tableau.

Église Saint-Cirgues

This church has some parts dating back to the 11th century. However the highlights are the 15th century frescoes that cover the walls and ceiling.


L’église Saint-Austremoine

Unfortunately this church was locked so we couldn’t visit the interior. It’s setting though is superb, high in a valley, overlooking the surrounding countryside.

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developing your eye ii: triumph

a lens in the landscape

Todays prompt for the “Developing Your Eye” WordPress photo course was “Triumph”.

The apple is the sole fruit on the tree that has developed from very little blossom. However this was the first blossom we have had in three years and the first fruit from this ancient variety “Court Pendu”.

Our garden is in the Auvergne in France at 750 metres (2460′) of altitude, which gives us very cold winters and hot summers. The fruit trees were bought from a specialist local supplier at 1000 metres (3280′) so as to be accustomed to the harsh conditions!

20160803-160850Auvergne garden, August 2016

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July Calendar 2016


We have had a very hot and mainly dry July, excepting a couple of dramatic thunderstorms. So everything has galloped ahead, especially the courgettes and pattipan squash. We should be having our first squash risotto this week, in fact.

We have dug and eaten our first new potatoes and have finished the peas which were again very disappointing this year. The herbs and flowers are also know looking fantastic, especially the hyssop and fennel and the jerusalem artichoke’s are as usual, reaching for the sky.


June calendar


Sophie among the rocombales

The first couple of weeks of June were very wet here and slowed down our progress in the garden but not our plants or the weeds!  We are now experiencing a dry warm period and it’s good to see all the plants progressing.

Red and blackcurrants are ripening and since moving the rhubarb it’s been the best year for it. The onions suffered some hail damage but are now – in the last few days of heat and sunshine – fighting back.

At the moment we are into a strawberry glut and are picking a bowl a day.

The wild flowers in the garden continue to impress and the new border is beginning to settle in well.

St Julien des Chazes: Chapelle Sainte-Marie-des-Chazes

A trip down the Gorge d’Allier.

a lens in the landscape

The Chapelle is situated in the Allier valley in the Gorge d’Allier, Haute – Loire, roughly 45 minutes from where we live, though it’s taken us four years to get around to visiting it.

You get an initial glimpse through the trees from St Julien des Chazes.


It’s built into the hillside of local volcanic rock.

It’s 13th century in age and holds a 12th century polychrome madonna.


On the day we visited we were lucky enough to spy a Crag Martin nest in the porch with the parents feeding their young.

The gaps in the old wood door gave interesting glimpses of the interior and a beautiful iron gate led of one side of the porch.

All set in the beautiful surroundings of the Gorge d’Allier.

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Wildflowers of Grahy

For a few weeks in May and early June the roadside verges leading down to the village are ablaze with wildflowers before the first cut of the summer. I’ve tried to identify them all but some may be wrong, so if you have any ideas please let me know!