Monday, 25 March 2013

a morning in the market

This winter has certainly held Northern Europe tightly in it's grip and been reluctant to make way for Spring, with blizzards even now in the North of England. We are feeling very lucky that we made a visit to family a week earlier than we had originally planned - there was a glimpse of Spring sunshine and I went out without a coat- but just a week later and winter has returned there with a vengeance, we would have had huge problems traveling around the country  on our tour of family and friends in the North.

winter too much for this palm even under its protective fleece

Even here winter has been long, cold and wet with more snow than is usual but at long last I have been able to discard  layers some layers of clothing ( great for instant slimming!) and I've even washed my winter coat before putting it away. There have been a few opportunities for al fresco breakfasts and lunches, the daffodils are out and the blossom is beginning to open on the cherry trees. I think we can say that Spring has finally come to Ségala.

On Thursday our weekly trip to the market in Villefranche de Rouergue was a real treat for the spirits. It was a beautiful day, blue skies and sunshine, the market was buzzing and we were able to sit outside beside the square with our morning coffees. Before we moved here, or "autre fois" as we refer to those times, our idea of a perfect holiday moment would have been just such a morning in the market. We reflected, not for the first time, how lucky we are to have a lifestyle in retirement which basically matches our idea of a great holiday. Of course it wouldn't work quite the same if your perfect holiday is sitting by the pool/beach sipping pina coladas - that way leads to alcoholism I should think! After struggling to beat the winter blues, chest infections and dodgy joints for months that morning in the market was just what I needed.

 Mind you its not all play - the arrival of Spring brings lots of work in the garden and we have plenty of projects planned.
potatoes in
dead trees to fell
start of the pond


 watch this space!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Not over til it's over!

Winter that is.

We've had some really warm days and had started to think Spring was on its way. After all we had been promised by that nice French lady we met on our walk that the "grand hiver" was over. OK there would still be frost at night but we could get started in the garden, I could start sowing some seeds - even the grass looked like it needed its first cut

first sighting of cornellian cherry in bloom

then what ..........we turned our backs for just a few days and went on a birthday jolly for TC in Rome ( the plan was to enjoy some nice early Italian sunshine). In Rome it was wetter and cooler than we had hoped but there was worse at home. Le Grand Hiver paid another visit and there was more snow.

When we got home the house was freezing - these stone houses are great in the summer months because they stay cool but its a different story in the winter. The stones act a a heat sink and it has taken a couple of days with every heater we possess on full blast to make it feel habitable again. The cats' food was frozen in the dish - it was lucky they also had biscuits especially as the lady who comes to feed them had broken down on the last day and never arrived.

We also arrived to find we have another problem. I went to let the hens out, including our two recently acquired arrivals, only to find one of them indulging in some very "unhen" type behaviour with one of our older girls. Further investigation plus some exuberant  morning crowing convinced us we did indeed have a cockerel in the henhouse. He will no doubt be a very handsome bird but I keep hens for the eggs alone so he will have to go! Luckily for us the lady who sold him to us is willing to have him back.

The weather is not the only thing that can't make it's mind up. I seem to have been fighting off a chesty cough for months and thought it had really gone before we went away and now it seems to have sneaked back and most unwelcome it is too. My dodgy knee, which had settled down a lot, has also flared up again so much so that I was seriously limping around Rome - maybe because we had enjoyed three nights of dancing in the week before we went but I'm not going to admit to that! Maybe I'll go the doctor when something gets better - can't go about two ailments at once.

In the meantime - that's quite enough of winter. They do say its not over 'til the fat lady sings - you have been warned - today I am going to sing A LOT!!!