April Adventures

We are in full Spring mode here at Les Hirondelles now. The garden is coming to life with a vengeance…in fact Geoff is trying to tame the weeds which have sprouted everywhere in the short time we were away last weekend, as I write. Honestly, you can almost see the plants (& weeds) growing overnight here, so you can imagine what leaving it for almost a week has done! Anyway, the garden does look lovely just now with a very green freshly mown lawn & flowers everywhere. The fruit trees have had so much blossom this year, so we are hopeful for a good fruit crop this year again. Geoff has got his potager all ready now too, and we are just waiting for the Saint Glaces nights to pass & it will be planted up. It is still a bit ambitious to put fragile plants in there yet, but he has put in some potatoes & onions. The birds have been going crazy all month with some wonderful singing & they have taken the nesting material from the holder I hang up for them faster than I can supply it! They are, however, totally ignoring all the nest boxes we have put up…typical! We have a bonkers blackbird this year (it is usually a blue tit) who keeps hurling himself at the side bedroom window. I think it must reflect the light in such a way that the birds get very territorial & attack their reflections. We have solved the problem by closing the shutters to for a while as it is not good being woken up each morning by a kamikaze blackbird!

The weather has been very up & down this month with quite a lot of cold damp days & then suddenly the sun would come on board for a few days & it got quite hot at one stage. We had to get the parasol down for our house terrace, as I burn easily & need to sit in the shade on very sunny days. Now though, we are back to cold & wet & much to our annoyance have had to start lighting the fire in the evenings again. I suppose we should have know better…getting the parasols out always puts the kibosh on the good weather.

April started with guests in the gite who seemed to have a great weekend. There was a grandad, his lady friend, his son & his two daughters, who were enjoying spending the Easter weekend together. I was a bit disappointed by their review, though, after they left, as the score they gave us was not that good. This ability of folk to “do you down” by poor scores really annoys me. I had gone out of my way with these guests to make the weekend a good one, I put flowers in the gite, left a welcome bottle of wine & chocolate eggs for the girls & had lit the fire before they arrived so the gite was cosy. Over the weekend we played with the children, had long conversations with the adults in the garden, I let the girls collect & keep the eggs from the hens & finally agreed to let them stay on until after lunch (our check out time is 10.30 usually) on their departure day…& they left eventually at 4.30pm! And they still gave us poor marks because the guy didnt like seeing the moonlight through the Velux windows in the bedroom & the Wi-Fi was slow! I give up sometimes! I dont usually reply to comments but I did this time. They have been our only guests this month but I have lots of B&Bs coming in May. I hope they are more generous with their remarks!

We are still ploughing our way manfully through The Ham - & whilst it is delicious, we are getting a bit fed up with it now! We have given quite a bit away to friends & neighbours but there is still a lot left! I don`t think we will be making such a good guess again if the opportunity is repeated to win a big lump of piggy!

We have been out & about a couple of times this month. We went to a screening of the film “Three Billboards” in the salle de fetes in Sauxillanges one evening which we really enjoyed. We dont go to these village film nights very often, as usually the films offered are not to our taste, but we did enjoy this one. I remembered to take my cushion this time too as the seats are mighty hard! I hasten to add I was not the only one toting a cushion either! We drove over to visit Lesley (or Tots), our book writing friend, one afternoon, as Geoff wanted to pick her brains about a book he has written about teaching & wanted some tips on how to publish it. It is a long time since wed been over there & it was good to see Tots again. She was also able to give Geoff lots of tips about trying to get his book in print - or more likely on the internet. We also went into Issoire one Friday evening to take up the offer of a celebration apero at one of our favourite cafes. This café & flower shop, where we have our coffee on market days, has now been in business for 10 years & so Virginie was saying thank you to her loyal customers. Fortunately, it was a lovely warm evening & so the festivities were done on the terrace. It was a good “do” & a nice chance to chat to some friends too. Afterwards, we graced another favourite eaterie with our presence for a meal…so a nice evening all round.

One of the other things we have done this month is to have our winter wood delivered. As I have said before, our nice old wood supplier is now very ill, so I think this will be our last lot of wood from him, as his stocks have almost gone now. Geoff goes down to the woodpile with a friend who has a tractor & trailer & they load the wood themselves, as Mr A has no strength left to do it. The wood is then dumped in our car park & Geoff & I stack it. It is hot sweaty work, but there is a great deal of satisfaction when the stack is finished. And we know now that we will be warm again in the winter months to come.

Geoff took Xena, our dog, to the vets last week for her yearly check-up & jabs. She is looking in great condition at the moment, with a beautiful shiny coat, bright eyes & literally bushy tailed! However, as she is sterilised, she has put on yet more weight despite getting at least an hours walk per day & us watching her food intake carefully…so she is on yet another diet! Poor Xena hates this, as you can imagine & it is so hard keeping her away from things she can eat such as the cats food, chicken food, or anything else which looks like grub to her. She is not a happy doggy just now ☹ I was also reminded after this vet visit of the major differences between our animals. Both were given worm tablets as usual by the vet. Xenas was the size of a biscuit & she ate it without blink of the eyelid. Maisie cat`s tablet was tiny & although I tried very hard to hide it in her food, she licked all the food off it & left it in splendid isolation in her dish. Round two consisted of Geoff wrapping the seething, scratching, hissing cat in a towel & holding her whilst I risked life & limb shoving the said tablet down her throat & waiting until she stopped growling & eventually swallowed it! Dogs & cats eh?

Last weekend we flew over to the UK, for our granddaughters christening. We had a lovely weekend, starting with a great BBQ at our sons house on the Saturday afternoon. The naughty Phillips family had a big water pistol fight which our grandson Ethan, loved. Daddy & Papi thoroughly enjoyed it too! The christening on the Sunday all went well too, with little Hadley looking beautiful in her dress – although she did let the church know in no uncertain terms that she was not delighted with the actual baptism process at all! There was a good reception afterwards & it was really great to see & chat to all the family & friends we dont see very often these days. Geoff, who was flying home on Monday, stayed with Matthew & Susie on Sunday night, whilst I went up to Carlisle with our daughter, Hazel & son in law, Phil to spend a few days with them. I had a really great time as I had invited some friends to meet up with me over the days I was there. Linda (our friend who has now left France & is living in the Lakes) came over on the Monday & we had a good time wandering around Carlisle & eating lunch in a great place recommended by my daughter called Cakes & Ales. I showed Linda some of the hidden gems of Carlisle – lots of “hidden” courtyards, alleys & craft shops & then we had tea & cake (of course) at one of my favourite places, Watts, where I also got some of the cheese scones Id been craving for ages! Tuesday, it was the turn of some old friends, Gill & Charles, from our Seaton Sluice days (Gill & I used to babysit for each other) to come over to have lunch with me & again, we had a great time catching up with family photos & gossip. On the Wednesday, I took the train across to Hexham where I met up with my pals from nursing days, Liz, Rose & Cath. We have been friends now for more years than I care to think about & we all shared flats together when we were training to be nurses. Again, it was a lovely day & I enjoyed it very much. In fact, I really enjoyed the whole visit, as for once, I had time to do things, meet up with friends, go to see a play with Hazel one evening & spend some time in the evenings relaxing with Hazel & Phil. I also managed to do a lot of their ironing & washing up too…but they looked after me very well so I didnt mind! Another thing I managed to fit in was a visit to the opticians in Carlisle, as I have not been impressed with the glasses I got last July. The upshot of that was that he now thinks my cataracts are much worse & need to be removed. Bliss, oh joy! It does explain though why I am not able to see clearly with the glasses & so I need to get started on that process now that I am back home again. Im not looking forward to it, but I am so frustrated at not being able to see clearly any more, that I am eager to get it over & done with now.

So, my friends, having got safely home again & having brought some pretty wet & cold weather with me, we go forward into May. Is it my imagination, but does this year seem to be flying by?? It looks like being a pretty busy month as we have lots of holidays here in France in May & we have quite a few B&Bs booked – especially at the weekends. No more lie ins with the crossword for me then, on Sunday mornings. Geoff also will be busier having finally managed to get his teaching contracts signed at last. I`ll be up early on 1st of May to dabble my face in the dew as custom demands…she lied! Hope you will be too :blush:
A bientot, mes amis

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