April Antics

30/04/2105 April Antics

Ah...the end of April & the start of our season for real now...I hope! Considering the ups & downs we have had with the weather this month we have been very busy little bees...even if we haven`t had many guests. Easter was its usual damp squib...I have more or less given up on ever having a busy Easter really. The French don`t really do Easter...its very much a family day & that is it. This year none of the French school zones were on holiday at all (our zone here was in the first band & they didn`t start their holidays until the 10th) so any chance of getting French folk here is negligible. Often we go out for the day over the Easter weekend but this year we decided not to bother as there is never much open yet round here so we stayed at home & did some decorating instead. What boring people we are becoming!

The redecorating was long overdue really. To say that we are not that keen on decorating would be an understatement, but needs must, as they say. We now have a very fresh looking hall, landing & stairs in the house at last! We have decided to try & get away from the dark green which dominates most of our doors here (very traditional French farmhouse decor) & so bit by bit the doors are changing colour! The pretty striking blue we chose to go with the cream walls is a lovely change...& it looks good. We (or rather Geoff) has also begun to repaint the outside windows too...but they will remain green I`m afraid! That job is still to be finished as we have guests here now, so it will have to wait until the next lull in reservations.

We have also had some minor plumbing repairs done...yet again. I really don`t know what it is with French plumbing equipment, but it never seems to last long. If ever I was to give anyone advice before starting to do gite or B&B activities in France, it would be to take a plumbing course! We are lucky in having a nice friend (Francois)who works as a handyman & who is willing to come & do all the little jobs we have no expertise in (most of them really!) & he has fixed the little leaks we had in the house & the gite, thank goodness. Once we got the water back on in the gite, I got to work & gave it its big spring clean, ready for our first visitors who arrive this next weekend. All the bedclothes, duvets, crockery etc, etc have been washed & all the overwintering spiders evicted! So it is all spic & span now & ready for the off! We have a very busy weekend coming up as it is a bank holiday weekend (1er May on Friday) & we have the big Trail de l`Amethyst on Sunday. The long cross country run comes past the house & we have both B&B rooms & the gite full this weekend with runners & their families, who come each year to support. Talk about going from the sublime - no guests for ages to the ridiculous - full house! I`m not complaining mind you!

We have had some other B&B guests earlier in the month – a lovely couple who were back for their 3rd visit. They take a night`s break on their way home after staying with their daughter each year. They were so sweet as usual & having failed to find the little gifts they had bought for us in their very well packed car, they sent them on to us afterwards in the mail. It is really heart warming when we get returners like that...it makes all the hard work worthwhile.

We haven`t really been out & about much this month but I did manage to get to the new IKEA at Clermont Ferrand at long last. I can`t say I am so keen to visit IKEA very often but it was nice to have a mooch around with my friends Linda & Muta, one afternoon. I was a good girl & didn`t spend much (Geoff had a pain in his wallet just seeing me drive off!)& I certainly drew the line at buying silk flowers like the other two! I have a pet hate of artificial flowers of all kind! Geoff & I also went into Cleremont Ferrand one afternoon, as he wanted to go to an art (I use the word loosely here) exhibition in a gallery there. I was not impressed with the expo (very odd, nature videos) but it was nice to have a little walk around the quarter which is trying to set itself up as an arty area. I like CF...its a nice little city with a lot going for it. Our only other outings this month were to the annual brocante event at Sauxillanges – where once again we bought nothing, & to have lunch with friends Judith & Edward at the lovely auberge in Vernet la Varenne. Geoff returned there the next Saturday afternoon, to take part in a bread making workshop alongside the chef, Cyrille, & made some delicious bread buns. I`m hoping he will put those new skills to use, making some bread for our guests this summer.

As we have had some very hot weather this month followed by rain, the garden has come on leaps & bounds...mostly in the grass & weed growing departments! It has looked lovely though, with the best displays of daffodils & primroses that we have had here for a long time. The fruit trees have also had lots of blossom so I`m hoping for good crops this year. Geoff has managed to get his compost deposited on the potager & has dug it over just this last week, ready for planting up when the cold nights have finished. The birds are nesting in several places in the garden & the first cuckoo call was heard on the 2nd April as predicted! It has been lovely to be able to get out in the garden again & we have managed to eat outside - & had our 1st BBQ of the year - which again is great.

Our garden seems to have become a magnet for all the critters in Chabanol recently,with regular visits from our neighbours young collie dog who comes to play with Bounty ...who does not really understand the word “play”!The pair of them spend lots of time racing around the garden & running across my flower beds! Then the not so pleasant boxer dog arrived on holiday & Bounty went into “this is my territory” mode which wasn`t quite so good. And then, to cap it all, another neighbour`s hens seem to have taken to visiting mine all the time! My two are quite tame now & come to me when I call them, so putting them away at night is easy...not so these new ones. We have been spending quite a bit of time recently trying to catch one of these visitors, to return her to her own house at night time...sometimes without success. I fear she won`t last long though...there are too many foxes round here for her not to be shut up at night.

I often find myself saying in this blog that I don`t know where the time has gone. It was Ethan`s 1st birthday last Monday & I honestly can`t believe he has been in our lives for a whole year. We missed being with him on his birthday very much, but had a lovely SKYPE call where we were able to see him playing with all his new toys. He is just beginning to walk now & is such a happy, giggly little soul. We are looking forward to seeing him next month when we go to the UK for THE wedding! Preparations for the wedding are now almost done...the last input from me (I hope!)is the Order of Service, which is being printed as I type. Having made over 100 labels for the wedding favours this month too, I have to say that my love of sunflowers is decreasing rapidly now! We are both really looking forward to the wedding now though, & I`m sure I will have lots to write about it in next month`s blog post, which incidentally might be a little later than usual due to our being away. Watch this space my friends :)