Thursday, 31 January 2013

Farewell snow - time for the snowdrops!

Yesterday was just  glorious - one of those sunny winter days to lift the spirits, the sort of day to let you know the end of winter is not too far away! As we drove out of Puylagarde we had a fabulous view of the snow covered Pyrennees in the distance, the clearest we have ever seen them.

It was a perfect day for a walk and we chose one which involved quite a bit of road walking ( normally we avoid them if we can) as we were concerned about just how muddy everywhere would be because of the recent weather. The "roads" were small and quiet - many hardly more than tracks - and the weather wonderful - temperatures well into double figures, clear skies and no wind.

The highlight of the walk was a small diversion to the abbey at Beaulieu to see the annual snowdrop spectacular. Snowdrops grow in great profusion here, especially along the roadsides in the river valleys and I had heard that Beaulieu was a good place to see more and sure enough the woods behind the Abbey were carpeted. They were certainly a sight to behold especially if you like a bit of photography - we saw one keen lady lying prostrate with some very impressive equipment! My "apparatus" is a little more basic but I got some nice pictures anyway! Here are just a few:

I have always loved the the English country name for snowdrops "fair maids of February". They grew well in my cold wet Stoke on Trent garden but often waited for the beginning of March to appear. Here they are called "perce - neige" ( literally pierce snow) and are a happy and timely reminder to me that the winters are shorter here - even if this year it  has seemed to drag on!

 Towards the end of our walk we passed  a French lady who was single handedly clearing leaves from  the drainage ditch on the hill above her house  to make sure that the water would stay in check. She cheerfully assured us the "grand hiver" was over though there was plenty more frost to come. Lets hope she was right - we keep reminding ourselves that the really cold snap here was in February last year - we 're really hoping we don't get a repeat of that.

one more for luck!

Friday, 18 January 2013

bonne annee bonne sante - not yet it aint!

I don't like January - never have done , only one worse month and that's February (but that's not so bad living here as Spring arrives earlier). Yep - looks like I'm having a bumper attack of the January blues.

When we moved here we avoided houses in the river valleys as we had seen during visits to the area the Autumn fogs so it was frustrating to find ourselves this winter shrouded in hill fog day after day for the  first two weeks of the year doing no good at all for the nagging chesty cough which I have been unable to shake off properly. That coupled with the usual post Christmas " down time" plus family worries (as parts of my family take dysfunctionality to a level which would rival an Eastenders Christmas special) I've been feeling a touch sorrier for myself than I have any right to be. Trevor is having a tough time with the current DIY project ( it involves plumbing - say no more) but at least he has his music and as he himself says has "never felt so respected as a musician".

All in all then it was a change for the better when the snows fell. It snowed all night last Tuesday and all day Wednesday leaving us under a blanket of 8 inches of the white stuff. Thursday dawned a beautiful sparkling morning - clear blue skies over a black and white world- great day for a walk and some photos With hindsight ( forever a wonderful thing) perhaps 13 kms was a bit much in the prevailing conditions underfoot - either glassy and slippery or deep snow to wade through. The scenery was beautiful though and it was great to be out and "enjoying" ourselves.

 By the time we got home my back was seriously suffering - a result of walking clinging on to my walking poles - and I felt at least a hundred years old! It was necessary to cite the "cold weather " "I've just done a long walk" ""I even made a fish pie when we got back" and "sod it who cares if its a weekday I need a drink" amendments !!!

OK so enough's enough  - very pretty and all that but I should have been dancing tonight except the roads are impassable and everything is annullé. Want to get on with looking forward to the Spring - I need my garden!

Oh and seriously - bonne annee everyone!