February blues..in more ways than one

29/02/12 February blues..in more ways than one.

Apart from being a colour, the word blue can have several other meanings. It can mean to be depressed & down, (as in having a touch of the blues) or to be very cold (as in blue with cold). February has certainly delivered lots of blueness to us, here at Chabanol, this year!

Firstly, the “blue with cold” bit. We spent most of February being told by a smiling weather lady on TV that we were in one of the regions designated as being on orange alert (there is only one higher alert, red, for weather phenomena) for the “grand froid”. That, frankly, was not exactly news to us as we shivered under 30 cms of snow, then ice, with temperatures as low as -18 on several occasions. I have never been so cold for so long in my life really. It became the norm here to be wearing 5-6 layers of clothing both inside & outside the house. Our heating & wood burner in the living room coped...but only just…& we spent most of the month is virtual darkness in the house as we found it preferable not to open too many shutters during the day in order to try & keep out icy draughts. We were still able to get out & about as the snow ploughs kept the roads drivable – so long as you had snow tyres on the car. Geoff cried off work only once & that was because he had an early appointment, the snow plough hadn’t been, he had an hour or so of digging the car out of the car park to do & so would not have been able to get there in time. At first the snow was fun. As usual the countryside looked beautiful & the trees in particular were fantastic with their snowy coverings. My camera was working overtime as I took lots of great photos. We also went sledging down one of the hills here in the village. But after a couple of weeks of this unrelenting cold it all started to get us down a bit. Geoff was not so bad as he was able to get out to work & see folk. I on the other hand, was not so keen to drive unless I really needed to & so spent a lot of time cooped up in the chilly house with very little to do! Hence the first reason for the attack of the “blues” as I began to get a bit “stir crazy” or “hill crazy” as we call it here, when you don’t see anyone for days on end. I have to say that four weeks of this weather was almost as much as I could take. Then I got the worst chilblain I’ve ever had( & believe me I’ve suffered with chilblains all my life)on the bottom of one of my toes. It was not a complete surprise as I had spent most of the month in my walking boots, this being the only way to safely negotiate the snowy & then icy paths round here & my circulation is always suspect in these conditions. But this chilblain caused me much pain & misery I can tell you..none of which improved my mood!

The third reason for the “blues” was again cold related. Having finally got all the redecorating finished in the upstairs guest bedroom, which was not without problems including having to thaw out a completely frozen tin of paint one day, we then had problems with the plumbing. We had been thinking that we had been lucky not to have suffered any frozen pipes – a lot of our neighbours had been having problems including our farmer friends who were having to thaw out pipes on a daily basis before being able to do the milking. And then, you guessed it, the pipes to the washing machine, the downstairs guest bedroom & the fated upstairs guest bedroom froze. We spent 2 anxious days trying to blow hot air into the pipe spaces but this was difficult, as when we had the plumbing done for the bathrooms, all the pipes were put behind false plaster walls & so we didn’t really know just where the problem actually was. Thankfully the pipes thawed out & water gradually returned to the bathrooms. For some strange reason the mixer tap in the upstairs bathroom then refused to turn off & so needed to be replaced, but we were really lucky that that was the only damage done. When Geoff went to buy a new tap he was told there had been a run on them, so obviously it is a common problem!

The snow finally melted just a few days ago & since then we have been able to get both the guest rooms back to their pretty selves! We did all the bed moving stuff again in reverse this time & now the rooms are ready once more to welcome guests. For once in my life I am actually pleased we have had no visitors this month. It would have been an absolute nightmare keeping visitors happy with the weather, the cold & all the problems arising from it!

As you can imagine we have not been out & about much this month. We did get out on Valentines Day when my Prince Charming came & collected me & took me out for lunch when I was reluctant to drive as it had snowed again. He’s still an old romantic at heart! And of course we had to go out to celebrate the said romantic’s “big” birthday a few days later. He chose to celebrate the big 60 on the ski slopes at Super Besse & we (or more accurately, he) spent a fun day going up & down the baby slopes as only he can! I, on the other hand, nearly froze to death watching him! The highlight of the day for me was the fantastic truffade we ate at lunch time to thaw out!

We have also had a couple of nice lunches out with some friends in the last few days. It seems that everyone is glad to be able to be moving about & seeing people again after the big freeze! Yesterday, Geoff & I made a trip up to Clermont Ferrand & went to the cinema to see the Oscar winning film “The Artist”. It was very good & for once we didn’t have to wait for the VO version to come out!

So I think the February blues have at last been banished! As I write this, on the leap year last day of February, the sun is shining & everything seems all at once spring like, thank goodness. I have been doing a bit of pottering in my somewhat bedraggled garden this morning. As you can imagine, all the snow & low temperatures have caused havoc with the plants, some of which look as though they might not recover. However amazingly, there are some primroses & crocus in bloom & the daffodils which had stupidly started to bud up before the arrival of the snow, are beginning to perk up again. We had our coffee outside at lunchtime in the sunshine & it was just great to be able to listen to all the birds singing away.

Blues,begone..its almost Spring J

Essence of Jan and Feb and not very nice.

At least we have our computors.

And massive heating bills.