Thursday, 20 February 2014

Maisie - the latest

'Maisie' went into hospital last Monday to have her second knee operated on. You may recall that she said, 'If I don't make it I'll have had a good innings.' She did make it, thankfully, and according to her son was sitting up in bed after the operation enjoying all the attention she was getting. She is now back at home, looking forward to the day her revamped knees allow her a bit more mobility - even, dare I say it, a dance!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Winter in Normandy (part 2)

Today we took Rosie for a walk round the lake on the outskirts of our nearest small town, a lake fed by the normally diminutive river See which is nevertheless noted for salmon fishing and which, with the river Selune to the south, winds through orchards, forests and farms until it drains into the bay of Mont Saint Michel. The walk was by way of consolation for the routine trip to the vet prior to taking the ferry home. The river is narrow, shallow and fast-flowing, but now after all the rain it is grossly swollen and has begun to spread beyond its banks. The resident mallards were cowering in the fields along the river's edge, joined today by a stray goose. On the way home I noted more signs of spring: tiny clumps of primroses showing beside the road,

 and more evidence of normal February activity, with wayside trees being cut for next year's firewood, logs and brushwood tidily stacked awaiting storage. Everything is very seasonal here, betraying the lingering influence of the rural rhythms of life. If you want to buy a plum tree, don't go to market in April - you'll be too late.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Winter in Normandy

'What, off on holiday again?'
Some people say this, perhaps a little incredulously, when we say we are going to France. Admittedly we do come here nine or ten times a year, but it isn't what I would call a holiday, and certainly not in winter.
Here in Normandy the weather has been, and still is, very like what people in UK have been suffering for weeks: strong winds and interminable rain. Thankfully we ourselves have avoided flooding, as many have not, but here in France too we can see the evidence in swollen rivers and submerged fields where, in drier times, horses and cattle graze.
In February I aim to prune trees and shrubs, and we have a fallen tree that needs logging - but not in torrential rain. There are tiles missing from the garage roof that need to be replaced - but not if it's blowing a gale. So perhaps it is a bit of a holiday after all, as we huddle by the fire, or go shopping for friends' commissions.
Even at this bleakest time of year the valley is beautiful with its muted shades of brown, grey and green. The signs of spring are there in catkins waving on bare hazel twigs, crocuses pushing up through the sodden grass, primroses studding the banks, and the first daffodils opening their sunny petals in sheltered spots. Great tits and chaffinches are visiting our bird table now that I have supplied fresh food, and buzzards perch on the telephone poles scouring the verges for prey, even as the wind ruffles their feathers.The last photo is of a pile of manure in the field next to our garden - farmers find plenty to do whatever the time of year.