Sunday 8th

I think I kind of zapped April this year!

So much going on, the good, the bad and the ugly – a little bit of pay-back for the wall to wall sunshine that has flooded my life since I arrived in the P-O. It’s only fair I suppose. Life has to be a roller coaster ride – if you don’t have the downs, the ups wont have you squealing with glee – and most of my life here is one gigantic squeal.

Nothing can keep you down for long in this land of blossom and sunshine. Spring is here in all its golden glory, although the warm sunshine is tempered by a brisk breeze which keeps sweeping away the occasional ominous looking clouds which seem to descend from nowhere and disappear just as quickly. The supermarkets are filling with artichokes, asparagus, exotic unknown fruit and vegetables, and brightly coloured bedding and basket plants. If you’re thinking of planting, beware the ’Saints de Glace’, frosty trio of saints, St Mamert, St Pancrace, and St Servais, whose Saint days are respectively May 10th, 11th, and 12th, traditionally the coldest of the month and most likely to bring a late frost, and catch us all unawares, just when we think that summer is on its way!

It’s a period of time apparently much feared by gardeners, farmers and vignerons, particularly north of the Loire, but even in the south of France, until mid-May, the locals will shake their heads, and click their tongues if they see you planting your hanging baskets and bedding plants before these dates.

Of course, I am completely safe on the plant beds and basket front, as we don’t have any!!

And it’s May isn’t it? The swallows will soon be beating a poo tattoo on our front door. The problem is that I am too soft to stop them or destroy the nest which they build chez nous every year, because I worry that I am making a birdie family homeless. Imagine arriving home after your winter break to find a short plump woman waving a broom at you, and refusing to let you get your unborn children to safety. If that was me, I think I’d save all my missiles for one big splat! If only they could just follow a few basic hygiene rules and only aim the unwelcome contents of their bottoms at the deserving few, such as the postman bearing bills, or Lulu’s friends.

The are amazing little chaps though. They only weigh around 20 grams, their brains are no bigger than a pea, and yet they accomplish the most amazing feats of navigation, flying thousands of miles using the sun, stars and familiar landscapes as landmarks to find their way. Incredible. I wish I has an iota of their sense of direction. I still get lost going to the airport!

The first couple of weeks in May are always a bit slow in France. There are so many bank holidays – May 1st, (Fete du travail) May 8th, (Victoire) then ’Pentecote’, another reigious holiday (Pentecost maybe suggests this old heathen?) which usully falls in May but this year in in June….. (and all of which I loved when I was teaching here of course). Many offices and small businesses ’font le pont’, linking a Thursday holiday with a long weekend, so if you’ve been waiting for workmen or goods to be delivered, forget it until the end of the month – by which time you’ll be heading towards summer break, when everything stops for a month or two!! But hey, this is the south of France. We wouldn’t be here if every day was a frenzied zooming around, we’d have stayed in England and carried on with our ’proper jobs’ And I am grossly exaggerating about everybody closing down, but I’m allowed to cos its my blog!!

Back later in the week to tell you about Lulu who had his teeth knocked out last month in our tiny, peaceful village, and the past few weeks of trying in vain to entertain an elderly papa who has more energy that Olivier and I put together, but insists that he is not hyperactive, just fit for his age.

Monday 9th

I don’t really seem to have much luck with birdies.

You may remember the time I looked up wonderingly at the sky to remark on the beauty of the snow-covered Canigou and a bird pooed in my eye. I thought that it had started raining and wiped my hand across my eye, causing my eye to sting and Birdsmy hand to smell ’orrible! That same month I was lying outside on a sun lounger reading my book on a brief break from my computer when a white and yellow splat missed my gob by a centimetre, landing on my first chin and sliding smoothly down to rest on the second! I had been doing ’gite and breakfast’ for swallows for the past three years in our porch – and that is how they repaid me – by decorating our front door and porch in every shade of poo and dive-bombing me from the heights of my own garden.

There are absolutely no advantages to accommodating these uninvited guests – they have no manners, are prickly and unapproachable and have no intention of paying any rental, offering us choccies or taking us out for a nice meal at the end of their stay!! They sit on the edge of the nest, bottoms at the ready, to plop on unsuspecting visitors and have scored a bulls eye several times, cackling gleefully as they poop on the plumber, defecate on the decorator and expel on the electrician.

Olivier NetAnd it looks like the projectile plopping is to continue! Spot the birdie on top of the telly. No sooner did I mention them, then there they were! They swooped in this morning chucking mud and spittle everywhere, and to add insult to injury, one of the blighters swung straight into the house through the open door, headed as the swallow flies into our bedroom, and Olivier spent half an hour trying to coax it out through the French windows. The more it panicked, the more it pooed! Walls, bed, floor and television were covered by the time he netted it and send it flying home. It must have been a bit bruised and battered from hitting the wall, but here they are again, outside the front door as I type, building that bloody nest again! Grrrrrrrrrrrr.

Last year, once the babies were born, one little chap kept getting stuck in the nest with his bottom facing the wrong way (see photo). Very useful I suppose if you need the loo but a bit of a conversation stopper with the rest of the family!

It’s time to shave those legs ladies. Summer’s on its way!

Wednesday 25th

Wow! Summer has arrived, and with it the kaleidoscope colours of the wild flowers have exploded into a frenzy of flaming scarlet, sunshine yellow, Dulux white and Deep Purple. A little sad to know that they will quickly fade in the relentless sun that has dominated our skies over the past few days, (although I did hear that there is some rain on the horizon for the weekend) but nice to know that they will not go away forever but simply retire for summer, ready to toss their lovely heads and flaunt themselves shamelessly again next year. Got loads of photos to post as soon as I get time to upload them from my camera…. and still haven’t told you about Lulu getting his teeth knocked out last month at the village bal. Have rather a busy few days ahead of me, but once the weekend is over, I will sit down and catch up with all the gossip.

Still haven’t shaved my legs.

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