It's Now March 2009
On several afternoons of this month I have been able to spend a couple or so hours relaxing in the sun in the back garden alongside a number of little lizards that had the same idea
It's been a lovely March. I have done quite a bit of gardening - tidying up the winter mess of leaves and dead stalks, pulling weeds and nettles and those sneaky brambles and planting a few hardy pansies etc - but to sit and enjoy the sunshine in the afternoons was the reward I gave myself.
The snowdrops have been exhibiting a lovely display since January and the daffs showed their faces very early followed by the crocuses. All the other bulbs are looking strong and those that haven't yet, are ready to burst out any day. The geese started laying a couple of weeks ago so everything is ready to roll. I feel it in my bones that we're going to have a good summer this year. (I am ignoring the fact that was blinking cold yesterday and today - with just a week to go before the start of April. This is just a blip.)
Terry spent about three weeks (on and off) pointing the front of our old barns as the lovely weather we‘d had was a big bonus to him during this task.. We've had some frosty mornings but the sun shows its face each morning at the front of our house and barns, so once it warmed up a bit he was out there again - up a ladder getting covered in his special "cement" mix as he gazed upwards - and carried on digging out the old then filling in with the new..
The result of this latest job meant that Terry had aching shoulders and neck for several days but I massaged him with arnica gel to keep him moving and at last it was finished and looks so much better. Our neighbours (all French) stood fascinated, watching him as he worked and congratulated him on the improvement.
He has now moved on to thoughts of building another decorative garden wall at the top of our goose compound as we have a huge pile of stones from when he pulled down some internal walls in our barns. We have given loads of stones to a couple of neighbours but the pile doesn’t seem to reduce at all. I happen to like the pile of stones but it is awkward to tug the brambles out from between the stones without risking squashed toes. Terry gave the grass its first ride-on cut at the start of this week and the garden now looks really lovely - and much bigger again. It IS big.
It hasn't been a bad winter at all. We had some snow a lot earlier than usual - in November - but that soon disappeared. We wondered if that was an indication of a very snowy winter to come - but it hasn’t really happened. We had a few snow-falls and many, many white frosty and icy mornings, but as most of those days developed into wonderfully sunny and bright afternoons, we really enjoyed ourselves. Afternoons of dog-walks where the grass was still white and crunchy was a lovely change from wet and muddy trudges - (ending with a wet and muddy dog) which is what we normally expect of our winter walks.
In December we took the decision to have ten-years-old Willie castrated (our Breton spaniel). For several months previously he had become a real escape artist, grasping the very slimmest of opportunities to hurtle off to any of three neighbouring hamlets after a selection of bitches on heat.
A couple of times he had covered over 7kms to reach a particularly fanciable female so we were worried that he might cause a road accident - either by hurtling out from a hedge and under the wheels of an unsuspecting car after his having investigated whatever interesting scent he’d sniffed out whilst en route - or simply by causing a car to swerve to avoid him, resulting in injury or damage to people, himself or a car. He would even take off when out on a walk with us - we would see him racing over field after field, ears flapping and looking like a demented greyhound in a race - totally heedless to our calls. We have certainly wondered if anyone's unspayed bitch has been delivered of some half Breton pups (head down and creep away from that thought!) The time had definitely arrived!
We’d been a bit reluctant to take him for this operation as he is a bit of an oldie now and he has an irregular heart-beat but we decided that his lack of road-sense could kill him if the operation didn’t and the op was the safer bet. The vet gave him an examination before doing the operation, so all that could be done to keep him safe, was done. All went well and he is a better behaved dog now except for when he picks up the scent of an animal when out with us. Nothing can stop his ex-chasse habits.
There has been an unfortunate side-effect, however, that we weren’t warned about and which we are now trying to cure (or cope with). He seemed to gradually become a little incontinent at night whilst asleep plus we noticed a few odd little drips during the day as well. At first we thought he might have caught an infection but the vet examined him and could find nothing wrong and was seemingly very puzzled. He later phoned us at home and said that he’d been researching the problem and it appears that male dogs when castrated later in life can become incontinent due to an imbalance of hormones and the vet thought that this could be remedied by Willie having monthly testosterone injections (for the rest of his life). So - we started him on these a week ago and they should begin to take effect within two weeks of starting. We are keeping our fingers crossed that they really will work. Meanwhile, we bought several new covers that wash and dry quickly and are coping this way. I have to report that he was bone dry a couple of mornings ago and again this morning (25th March) so we are very hopeful. Poor old boy. We love him so much and he’d appeared quite distressed because he seemed to realise what was happening but had no control over it.
Terry has just made me a raised vegetable plot so that I can once more grow a few veggies. During our first three years here we had a fairly large plot right down the bottom of the garden but as we have both developed "bad backs" - probably due to all the lugging, heaving, dragging and everything-else that we’ve done since we "retired" to France, we hadn’t felt up to coping with vegetable care and growing for the last couple or so years - so this is my chance to give it a go again but on a smaller scale.
One change this year was that Terry’s sister and her husband (who bought a house about an hour’s journey from us three years ago) have upped furniture and gone back to England. They decided last year that perhaps they weren’t cut out for life in France after all and having failed to sell their house by January, they decided to move now and hope to sell their French house at a greatly reduced price. Fingers crossed for their sakes. We aren’t all alike and we all need different things in life to keep us going.
The car club has drawn an outline calendar of some events planned for 2009 so we shall look forward getting together again with our French friends - many of whom we see only during club events in the summer. Our neighbour, Monsieur C has retired from being the club President after six years of devoted and very active and busy service on his part.
So - Spring has arrived and summer is just around the corner and so I’ll stop writing my everyday story of Creuse folk for the moment and get ready for it! Can't wait!