This has been the wettest dullest start to a new year that I have seen since we came to France. The sort of weather we came from Britain to leave behind! We haven’t had flooding here, even at Puy l’Evêque the Lot river has been high and over the quay, but nothing extreme as in parts of france and the UK. The ground is waterlogged and the fields squelch as you walk, with standing water in places. Worst of all has been the lack of the sunshine and clear frosty days we’ve come to expect here.
But enough of teh doom and gloom; spring is around the corner and with the mild temperatures the spring flowers are out, daffs and primroses and snowdrops all at once, and for several weeks even, the violets around teh courtyard have been in flower and strongly scented. Now the blossom is out on the wild plums trees and blackthorn. The week-end was fine and the forecast ahead is for sunshine; I expect that soon we will be complaining it is too hot for the time of year. The weather can change so rapidly here.
September rain and warm weather brought on a good crop of mushrooms!
Pommes de terre au cèpes
Some visitors are attracted by the figs – and it’s the first time I’ve witnessed a deer feeding its young!
September brought us Arlene and Doug Warner from the US, for a 2 month stay in the Barn, to enjoy the French experience. Dan bought himself a new guitar and took up playing again. Our neighbour Tony is also a singer songwriter and many happy gatherings were held in the courtyard during the warm September evenings.
Doug Warner (www.dougwarnerblues.com) and Tony Hillsmith playing at the Bar à Trucs at Lherm 31 October 2013.
It’s been a beautiful autumn; in November and December, frosty mornings turned to sunny days and clear blue skies, ending in glorious sunsets and brilliant starry nights. Venus has been particularly bright and in my photo can be seen top left, with a new moon.
The heatwave settles in and a delightful French/Belgian family arrive for 2 weeks stay.
The new gazebo offers a shady spot for reading alongside the pool after a cooling swim.
After the departure of a delightful eclectic group of guests in the gîtes for 4 weeks , including walkers, cyclists and a dog, who braved a mixture of weather including quite a lot of rain, during which some leaks in the Barn roof became more insistent – the workmen move in… and the Barn gets a new roof!
The lizard orchids on the lawn which I’ve been protecting from the mowing man all year finally come into bloom.
Some beautiful days but still a lot of rain! Everywhere is very green and lush. Our guests in the gîtes are braving the elements to cycle and walk.
On 1 May the annual Mayday run organised by Montcabrier village took place – in sunshine. The route came past the buildings and along the GR.
April – showers! Lots of scented blossom on fruit trees. The grass is growing and leaves are breaking on the trees; gradually the landscape is turning green. In the fields, the early purple orchids appear in hundreds.
Spring is in the air. The first blossom always appears on the semi-wild plum trees behind the house. Sometimes they flower the last week in February but this year it was mid March when they broke out in a cloud of fragrant blossom, buzzing with bees in the spring sunshine. Blackthorn in the woods and fields dot the landscape with clouds of white blossom. The other fruit trees are close behind with flower buds breaking on peach and pear next, and the first green leaves follow quickly. In town, magnolia trees and pink cherry are in flower and the market is colourful with primulas, tulips and daffs, and a few stalls are optimistically offering tomato plants already. From February on, migratory flocks of storks can be heard and seen passing overhead; you hear them coming, honking noisily as they fly, at night as well as in daylight. The redstarts are back, they disappear for a couple of months mid winter. They are already inspecting possible nest sites in the garage under the terrace. We’ve heard barn owls going in and out of the nest box but we don’t know if they are nesting yet. The days are noticeably lengthening and warming up; I returned from a trip to the UK where it was around 4°C, stepping off the plane in Bergerac to a pleasant 18°C. It has been very wet however, and I am still waiting to plant potatoes and onions in the potager; but everything is greening up nicely and I picked wild mâche for salad. Many of our Brit friends who over-winter in the UK have reappeared for Easter this week-end.
First blossom and green fields
Flocks of returning storks
Seraphina and Lucie waiting to go out (Fina is normally this colour; Lucie would be white but she’s been rolling in the mud).
The snow has gone but it has continued generally cold and wet; there have been some windy days and heavy showers of rain, sleet and hail, and occasional bursts of sunshine.
If January came in with snow, it went out with sunshine and milder weather; the last two days of the month gave us a southerly wind and temperatures of 15-18°C. On Wednesday afternoon I played tennis at Puy l’Evêque in a T-shirt, it was so warm in the sun.
On Tuesday we had a new arrival at Fraysse Haut. Seraphina is a Fjord mare belonging to a friend in the Dordogne, and I have ridden her there several times. My friend has other horses to bring on, and her daughter has outgrown the pony, so we are having her on loan. Lucie has been on her own here for long enough and she was very excited to meet Seraphina.
The fine days this week provided some beautiful effects and colours in the sky at sunrise and sunset.
A heavy snow fall this week.
It snowed without stopping all day on the Wednesday 16 January, then the skies cleared and the temperatures dropped below freezing.
Thursday dawned bright and clear, and cold. Very beautiful; and an eerie silence. No traffic moving.
The snow lasted until the week-end, when it rained; most of the snow was washed away by Saturday – then the temperatures dropped a little, and we awoke on Sunday morning to another coating of white! This time it was much lighter, and had largely gone by afternoon.
Lucie enjoying her hay.
More images from the winter wonderland.