A feathery interlude between Bristol-based blogs.

Ten days ago our first home-incubated chick hatched. I got a super incubator for Mother’s Day this year which I promptly began to fill with eggs. I read up about incubating eggs and a lot of the articles were rather doom-laden. It seemed it was a very complicated procedure. And there’s a lot of contradictory advice out there. Some sources say you should keep humidity at around 45% for the first 18 days, and then up it to 65% for the final three days, which are called the ‘lockdown time’ when you’re not meant to open the incubator at all. I’d been merrily stuffing eggs in whenever I found a likely candidate so I potentially had embryos at various stages of development. Not good, and now I know better, I shan’t do it again. And other sources say that you don’t need to worry about humidity in the first couple of weeks as there’s plenty of moisture in the egg.

So I was delighted and surprised when one bedtime Rors heard cheeping coming from the incubator and we noticed that one egg was pipping i.e. starting to be chipped open by its occupant. It was a slow process and I got up a couple of times in the night to check on progress. Nothing much had happened for about four hours, but by five next morning, there was our first little chick, floppy and damp, out of her egg. She’d neatly chopped it in two. We moved her (I don’t know if the chick is male or female but we’ll go with the latter for now) into the old incubator where she spent the next few hours drying and recovering from her major exertion.

growing tt

Twenty-four hours later she was full of beans and eating and drinking, so we relocated her to a box warmed by the incubator. But it seemed a shame to keep her in the gloom so we moved her into Caiti’s turtle tank. She seemed very happy with this arrangement, and took up residence on the incubator to keep her toes nicely toasted. Ruadhri gave her the name TweetleToes, TT for short.

She’s been a lot of fun and we let her out a few times of day – after clearing the cats out of the way, naturally – and she charges around, investigating everything by pecking it. You can practically see her growing so we’ve renamed her Chickzilla.

TT exploring

I’d resigned myself to just having the one chick out of this first experimental batch of eggs, but yesterday I spotted another egg was pipping. And this morning our second chick, looking very like TT, had hatched.


Chickzilla Junior is in the tank with his big sister, occasionally being trodden on, but generally they seem happy with each other’s company. I’d been worrying that TT was lonely and spending too long playing Clash of Clans, so it’s good there’s the pair of them.

TT clash of clans

Chris has now built a hygrometer for my incubator so from now on I’ll be able to be more scientific in my chick rearing. There are a few eggs still left in the incubator so perhaps there’ll be another new arrival later this week. If not, then all the eggs will be past their hatch-by date, so I’ll clean it out and start again, properly this time!

incubator hygrom


A week ago Benj and I made a brief visit to Bristol to go to the marriage of my nephew (and Benj’s cousin) James to Greta. I last went to Bristol 29 years ago, and only overnight, so I couldn’t remember it at all. It was wonderful to rediscover this beautiful city, and discover new things, like the wonderful dome in Millennium Square.

bristol dome

French air traffic controllers had been on strike for two days on the Wednesday and Thursday, and our flight was booked for early Friday morning, so we weren’t even sure if we’d get to Bristol at all. I certainly foresaw delays, probably lengthy. However, we left on time from Limoges and so were in the UK by midday. Back in a country where I can talk to anyone in my native tongue and not sound like a moron! I made the most by exchanging pleasantries with everyone I could in readiness for when I was back in France and limited to communicating with simple words and lots of hand gestures again.

The first fun thing of the weekend was meeting with author Marcia Turner. I’ve worked with Marcia for a couple of years now on her detective mysteries so it was great to meet face to face over a lovely cup of tea and bun at the Crazy Fox café.

Marcia with the Montlucon bag I brought over for her

Marcia with the Montlucon bag I brought over for her

After we said goodbye, I browsed contentedly in Marks and Spencers, Primark and Poundland, where I stocked up on teabags! Benj, meanwhile, was exploring on his own in another part of the city.

After that, the serious eating began! That night there was a family gathering at Krishnan’s Kitchen in Clifton Village for a very spicy meal. It was delicious but I’m not the best with hot food and did a lot of sniffling! It was lovely to see my brother-in-law’s brother and wife again (last seen 32 years ago at my sister Hilary’s wedding!) and to meet Jade, the girlfriend of nephew Ali, for the first time. You do get a bit out of touch being an expat, it has to be said.

Benj and I had walked to and from the restaurant, and we continued to walk everywhere during our break so we could pig out in compensation. Benj enjoyed tucking into a full English breakfast on the Saturday morning, while I went more multinational with a croissant, jam and a sausage.

bristol benj brekky

The wedding was at 11.30 am at the registry office so that gave us time to do a spot of sightseeing first. We’d hoped to have a quick look at the S.S. Great Britain, built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, but it wasn’t open so we settled for going onboard the Matthew, the tiny wooden ship on which John Cabot set sail in 1497 and discovered Newfoundland. This boat is a replica that made the trip to America to mark the 500th anniversary in 1997. It goes out to sea still as well as does harbour trips.

bristol matthew There were other interesting boats to see, including the Balmoral, as well as the harbour’s old electric cranes.

bristol electric cranes

The wedding was a lovely ceremony, the first I’d been to for a long while. I wish James and Greta a long, long life of happiness together.

bristol sign reg

Here’s Benj with his cousins and Jade.

Left to right: Jade, Ali, Benj, JJ and Sophie

Left to right: Jade, Ali, Benj, JJ and Sophie

And here are James’ proud parents with the bride and groom.

Left to right: Charlie, James, Greta, Hilary

Left to right: Charlie, James, Greta, Hilary

The Registry Office was nearly opposite The Exchange, outside which are the four famous nails. These are where deals were struck and paid for, hence the expression ‘to pay on the nail’.

bristol pay on the nail

There was some time to fill before lunch – or wedding breakfast, I think it’s called – and as James, Greta and her side of the family had disappeared, the rest of us headed briefly to Brew Dog, a bar selling speciality craft beers. These seem to be very popular in Bristol.

Lunch/breakfast was at, would you believe, a French restaurant, and Benj and I were sitting opposite a man from Togo so we spoke a lot of French. Just like being at home!

After eating, Benj and I strolled off to the Clifton Suspension Bridge, which was right on the doorstep. We crossed it and then set off back to our hotel for a quick battery recharge and to watch the Boat Race.

bristol clifton sb 2Saturday finished with a long, long walk up Whiteladies Road to The King’s Arms for an evening buffet and reception. And, of course, wedding cake!

bristol rec cut cake

It was an enjoyable, exhausting day, but wonderful fun. And holiday wasn’t quite finished yet. Bristol Part Deux coming soon, all about the amazing S.S. Great Britain.