The first of May – now the workers’ festival, celebrated with a national holiday here in France, in England you have to wait till the first Monday in May for a Bank Holiday.

In the supermarket today we bought a “brin de muguet” as a gift for this festival. Links to a more ancient tradition celebrating fertility and the start of a new growing season, nowadays seen as “une fleur porte-bonheur” – “le muguet annoncerait le retour de la joie, du soleil at d’amour”.

Of course, in England there is a similar festival that for 30 years whilst still living there, I took part in. Dawn on the first of May is the start of the Morris dancing season. Wickham Morris will be greeting the dawn in Wickham Square yet again, and finishing the day’s celebration with mass morris for all who would like to take part. Yet again a celebration of the flowering of the crops, of new life and fertility for this year. Sorry we can’t be with you this year!!

Yes, in this picture they are dancing in France – in Les Pieux – just two years ago March when they were here for the Festival of English and Irish Cinema in Cherbourg.

Best wishes to all Morris teams for tomorrow and for the coming season. And best wishes to all for the !st May, Workers’ Festival, Festival of Spring, Day of Fertility (and also Ascension Day).

Bob and Marjory

Buffy goes to France (eventually) – part 2

 (Buffy at eleven weeks – food is being held out to her, just out of shot, otherwise she’d never have posed nicely like this)

Buffy is now a little over thirteen weeks old. Since she’s had the second of her set of  standard injections it’s now safe for her to go out and see some of the great wide world (up until now she’s been pretty much confined to the house and garden). She took to walking on the harness and lead very well (it’s the sitting still while the harness is put on that causes difficulty). Bull terriers are very distinctive dogs, and she is very attractively marked ( OK – we’re biased), as well as being a lively puppy, all of which means that she attracts a lot of attention from other people when she is out. She is a complete tart and responds to this ecstatically. She is also very friendly towards other dogs, which comes as something of a relief.

Her trip to the vet’s for her anti-rabies injection went very smoothly. She’s no particular fear of the vet (though Sue believes that this will change the first time she has her temperature taken rectally!) so it’s not difficult getting her into the consulting room. (It’s becoming a bit of an effort to lift her onto the examination table though). After scanning her to make sure that the microchip implanted last time was still in place (it was), and that she was who we said she was, the vet swiftly administered the injection and as usual Buffy didn’t seem to feel a thing. (I however winced with pain when the cost of the injection was equally swiftly removed from my bank account!)

If we were going to be taking Buffy to France for good, a pet passport could now be issued, the conditions (micro-chipping and vaccinations) having been met. (The passport doesn’t become valid for travel until 21 days after the date of the rabies vaccination). However as we are not yet ready to make our permanent move, we want her to be able to travel with us, and (naturally) to be able to bring her back with us when we return to the uk. So she has to have a blood test to establish that the vaccination has taken – then there’s a six month wait. Her blood test is scheduled for the first week in May and has to be conducted by a person licensed to do so.

More when this happens

Peter and Sue 


How will you celebrate St. George?


How will you celebrate St. George’s day? Yes, that’s George, patron saint of England; whose festival falls on the 23rd April, as also does Shakespeare’s birthday. So quite a bit for English people to celebrate.

In Les Pieux this wekend is given over to a celebration of St. George; with a dinner dance on Saturday evening, dancing to the music of the 70s and 80s. And then, wait for it –

The French National Pedal Car meeting.                                                    

“Championnat de France de Voiture a Pedale”, organised by La Federation Francaise des Clubs de Voitures a Pedales.

What this has to do with St. George, slayer of the dragon, saviour of the damsel in distress; and hence image of all that is good about the English – brave, fearless, and with a care for those in need – I am at a loss to imagine.

There was a slight revival some years ago of the mummer’s plays in which St. George features. But what will you do to celebrate St. George? It would be good to have something both traditional and modern to celebrate our patron saint, in the same way as Patrick is celebrated for the Irish.

Bob and Marjory

“One Swallow doesn’t make a summer”

          It was just before breakfast this morning             

– a familiar shape passed over the house,  the first swallow of the summer.

But as “one swallow doesn’t make a summer”, we had to wait till a little later to be sure that summer is here; but there it was as we set off – a pair of swallows passed over the road. And then a little later, one perched on the wire at Surtainville. So there we have it – Summer is here.

Interesting that the French phrase appears to be “a swallow makes the spring”. Does this have the same sense as the English?  Not sure about that. But French guests arriving at the gite today noticed the link between our surname and our company name, and when we mentioned that we’d seen un hirondelle a  Surtainville aujourd’hui, responded ‘that’s good, but aren’t you here all the time?!’

So summer, or is it spring, is finally here. And with it all those early-summer chores in the garden – cutting the grass, trimming the hedges, weeding the borders, and on and on. But time also to look forward to those lazy days of summer holidays.

Enjoy the weather, and the onset of summer.

Bob and Marjory

Early Summer special offer


The sun’s shining, the birds are singing; the flowers blooming and the trees blossoming.

Forget the storms of a few weeks ago; now’s the time to think about that early summer holiday we mentioned  at Easter.  Gite, plus ferry crossing from Poole or Portsmouth for just £445. Bookable now for May or June.

 Just quote WP1 when you contact Hirondelle Holidays.

Bob and Marjory

Buffy goes to France (eventually)

                                              Buffy  This is Buffy.


She’s a bull terrier pup and we are just beginning the EU pet passport process for her, so that we can take her over to our holiday home in Surtainville. After all, we love it over there so why shouldn’t she have the chance to enjoy the place as well?









DEFRA regulations allow dogs (and cats) to be issued with a pet passport once they have been microchipped for identification purposes and vaccinated against rabies.  The passport allows them to enter most EU countries – so if you’re moving to France with your pet for good, you can travel 21 days after the date of the vaccination. However to re-enter the UK the animal will require a veterinary certificate which shows that the vaccine has done what it ought to do and the rabies-neutralising antibodies are present in your pet’s bloodstream. 







This certificate won’t be valid until six calendar months have passed from the date on which the blood sample which gave a satisfactory test result was taken. So if you want to take your pet with you when you go on holiday then you have to plan ahead – essentially, so you can bring them back to UK with you, you’ll have to have arranged for them to be microchipped, inoculated against rabies, tested  and waited the six months.







The first step in the process for Buffy started when she was eleven weeks old, when we took her to the vets to have her second instalment of inoculations – the standard ones against distemper, infectious canine hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza etc. The first injection had been given two weeks previously  These were administered without difficulty – a quick injection in the loose skin of her back – and caused her no distress. (She did give the vet a little nip on the arm, but that was only because he didn’t move quickly enough and was a token of love, really). 


We also took the opportunity to have her microchipped, which was done by the veterinary nurse and who Buffy didn’t try to bite, probably because she (the dog, not the nurse) had been bribed with a dog biscuit beforehand.  The needle used to inject the microchip into the back of Buffy’s neck was quite thick and the nurse warned that some dogs found it painful – bull terriers though are clearly made of sterner stuff and Buffy didn’t react at all. We also took the opportunity to weigh Buffy – two weeks previously she’d weighed 7kg but was now up to 9.4kg, a rate of growth which we found rather unnerving!  Full-grown adult bullies can tip the scales at 30kg or more so she’s some way to go yet.




The nurse scanned the microchip to check that it had been implanted correctly and was working as it should.  Of course pet owners will often choose to have their animals microchipped even if they’re not intending to take them out of the UK as it’s an invaluable means of identification if the pet is lost or stolen. 

The next step in the passport process will be the rabies vaccination itself. This can’t be done before Buffy is twelve weeks old so we’ve made an appointment for two weeks hence. 

Peter and Sue