Summer Storms and Teeny Tiny Toads

 In which we consider the return of Noah’s flood to the Charente and tackle a hoard of teeny tiny toads in the wine press……….
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The Wine Press – temporary home for the Teeny Tiny Toad colony

The weather has achieved Biblical proportions today here in sunny France. After an impressive build up over the last few weeks and months, with a few minor monsoons here, a mini tornado there, we finally arrive at the first weekend of the official French summer – it’s August ; the whole world is on holiday – only to have a succession of storms and downpours that would have given Monsieur Noah himself a bit of a nervous turn.   The heavens have crashed and rolled their drums with enough volume to satisfy the wildest heavy-rocker and finally opened in Hollywood blockbuster fashion to empty their contents on the hillside, in the fabric showroom and the courtyard, managing in passing to strip a few more of the last remaining and admirably tenacious plums and figs from the fruit trees and remove another swathe of gravel from the driveway.  Mightily impressive stuff from the comfort of our almost waterproof dwelling – I shudder to think how this sort of thing,  magnified a hundred times, must appear to people in those areas of the world where it is a regular occurrence and a house is a thing you only see in your dreams. One of the fascinating side effects of our current extraordinary weather patterns, is the arrival on the scene of an army of teeny, tiny toads. These little fellows have congregated in the shelter of the old wine press, in the little courtyard adjacent to the house where we sit to eat in the evenings.  Our teeny toads are no more than an inch long and are perfectly formed jumping beans, with long frog legs and a rather interesting copper coloured skin.  Delightful little chaps indeed when seen individually from a safe distance, but when viewed at close quarters as you’re about to give the dogs their evening bowl of food, appear numerous enough to classify as a small and worryingly agile plague.

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Freddie the Labrador waiting for his evening bowl of food

Desperate times call for desperate measures and Mr H boldly decided that they needed to move on; the wine press was no place to set up a teeny toad colony, what would they eat for one thing?  Never mind about that, I retorted as calmly as possible in the circumstances, how high can the little devils jump and will they end up in my trouser turn-ups hitching a lift to the boutique or the bathroom?  Action was called for and with due ingenuity Mr H placed a roofing tile in the recess of the wine press to act as an escape ramp for the teeny toads.  We watched in amazement as we chewed our pizzas – another desperate measure we indulge in on rare occasions – as the teeny toads hopped and jumped about until one of them at last discovered the ramp and made his way up to chance his luck in the big wide world beyond. No sooner had one made his bid for freedom than another followed and several more after that until only a few of the teeny toad elders were left sitting at the bottom of the ramp shaking their heads and bemoaning the impetuosity of the young hotheads who had gone before them.

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The cognac barrel en route to Teeny Toad freedom

How did they do that? What instinct led them to follow each other out, how did they know?  I have absolutely no idea but despite the Biblical weather or perhaps because of it, I do know that nature is a most remarkable thing……. PS At last check-in they appear to have all disappeared in search of pastures new…….. the Teeny Toads have moved on! PPSWe apologise for the lack of Teeny Toad photos, they hopped away at top speed whenever I appeared with the camera! ALL PHOTOS © JANE MORLEY

24 Comments Add yours

  1. west517 says:

    “Teeny Toad Colony” LOL ~ I can’t say I envy you – I’m terribly frightened of them! 🙂

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    1. It’s funny how different they seem when there’s just one of them to when you see them as a flash mob!!! Hope you’re feeling back on form west517? 🙂

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  2. I think I’ve finally figured out who you remind me of–in writing style, Jane. James Herriot! All Creatures Great and Small and all Jane’s warm-hearted adventures in bucolic France. There’s such a gentleness of observation and translation into words. It really doesn’t feel like one is reading at all. It feels like one is engrossed in a bedtime tale told by a well-schooled storyteller. And that, my friend, is a talent.
    Cheers to you!

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    1. I really appreciate your lovely comments Shelley – I must read some James Herriot straight away! Thanks again – has the extra terrestrial phoned home yet? I do hope so, I love your wonderful ongoing and everchanging saga!

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      1. His books are best, but I’m fairly sure it was the BBC who made a series out of his stories as well. Wonderful stuff.
        And good heavens, how I would love to spill the beans on my little balloon buff, but it’ll have to wait. I’m finally getting used to all the hate mail.
        “Hoppy” August to you!

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      2. Yes it was the BBC and I must be one of the few people who didn’t watch it! I’ll try and find one of the books though. Will tune into to your latest news next weekend – hope the hate mail eases off betweentimes – may the force be with you!

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  3. Really Jane…
    Did you not consider improving those pizzas with a bit of deep fried toad?
    I know I would have.
    Too much time spent in the East to pass up that kind of opportunity.
    🙂

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    1. Having just had my stomach turn over watching my young nephew gleefully sellotaping a squashed one into his holiday scrapbook I’m afraid the idea rather escaped me!! I have never quite come to terms with the idea of frog’s legs either – no doubt my loss but certainly their gain! 🙂

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      1. Now he sounds my kind of child…..
        Artistic AND practical…Should he ever find himself peckish he’ll have the finest crunchy toad immediately available…..Superb!

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      2. I suspect, Mr Hyde, that you are a VERY bad influence!! There am I trying to encourage him to take up watercolours…..?!

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      3. Watercolours…They’d taste ruddy awful !
        Stick to the crunchy toads kid!

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      4. Now come on there Mr Hyde! a tasty scraping of Windsor & Newton spread thick on a bit of parkin never went amiss..??!!

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      5. I knew you were weird………..
        A dollop of burnt umber in preference to crispy amphibian?
        Sheer lunacy.
        The parkin, yes……But paint?
        No wonder you were ejected from the North.

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      6. ‘Tis a foul slander sir!! Have you checked out my nice new post yet? Lots of lovely old books and documents and not a teeny toad in sight!! 🙂

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      7. I simply felt it my responsibility to protect that poor child from your paint butties…However, apologies for all slanders…Live and let live, that’s my motto….Kid’s are pretty resilient, he’ll probably live through it.
        Books’n’documents eh?
        I’ll seek out my spectacles and pop in for a gander.

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      8. Whoops…Meant to say summat else….
        We spent a few hours in a place called Ubeda the day before yesterday, marvelling at it’s Cathedral façade….Subsequently I spent three hours trawling through my hard drive trying to find a photo I had taken of St Pierre d’Angouleme to compare the two…
        Ii was only after I found it that I remembered Angouleme is in your bailiwick….
        I probably could have saved myself some time and consulted an expert.
        🙂

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      9. It most certainly is – just up t’road like! What were you comparing I wonder – had the extravagant Monseiur Abadie been around those parts too?

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      10. I believe ’twas a chappie of Spanish descent who was responsible…I will know more post research.
        I’ll post a piccie soonish.
        🙂
        (I’m rather fond of Angouleme…I have collapsed in an inebriated heap there on more than one occasion).
        S

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      11. Disgusting – I think I’ve heard about you from the locals. Have you been to the ‘Circuit des Ramparts’ ? That’s usually a fairly drunken occasion – hopefully not for the drivers 🙂 😦

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      12. 🙂
        I talk a good dissolution but I’m actually fairly well behaved…..I did get a little squiffy in the Square by the cathedral but I stayed upright.

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      13. I’m relieved and reassured, the citizens of Angoulême can sleep easy in their beds…….:)

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      14. ’til next time…….
        🙂

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