Monday 11th May

Spring is here and except for the deluges of rain we have had over the past few days I think we have finally seen an end to the winter.
Along with Spring there is also Spring cleaning. Or the “Great Urge” we get when the sun shines,de-cluttering and throwing away all the items that you thought you couldn’t live without when you moved down here. The thousands of pounds we all spent in removal fees because we can’t get rid of books,and photo albums and things that just generally lurk because they may just come in useful. Well, I have got rid of loads.
Not all. I’m haven’t gone that mad up here in the mountains,I mean how could I survive without my four rolling pins and fourteen tablecloths.
Over the past few weeks we have moved the kitchen to the other side of the room and have rather weirdly found that we have loads more space.I do believe that when you are about to do a renovation, don’t think twice but actually think for a long time as living in an idea does not always work.
When we first started with the house we asked an architect to do the plans for the outside as we are a “listed” type building and we had to be careful not to contravene any local rules etc.If we had stuck to the plans that were done we would have had the loo in the middle of the front room. We never did find out the reason for that but it was something we were against from the start. Now I have my kitchen where I have beautiful views of the Cambre D’Aze can cook with my windows wide open. Wonderful.
The magic of Spring has also touched the countryside and the flowers are starting to bloom.Yesterday we drove up to Bouillouses and saw Spring Gentians with their vibrant blue heads just peeping out of the grass,Wood Anemones carpeting the woodlands with their dainty bobbing heads.
Slowly the landscape will change and the beauty that has hidden under the snow for the past six months of the year will blossom forth and cover the fields in gentle waves of colour and scent
OK, so I like a drop of wine along with thousands of others but a couple of nights ago I was sitting in the lounge and when I looked up and saw a man walking back from the village and slowly plodding along behind him was a sheep. Had I had one glass to many or was this really a sheep?
This sheep apparently goes everywhere with this man but this was the first time I had seen it. We also have a donkey that goes for walks on the end of a bit of string but he is a regular sight.
Everyday up here is different and we wouldn’t change it for the world even if it is all a little odd.

Friday 22nd May
I will whisper this only once.
Spring is definitely here. The allotment has been turned over, the seeds and plants are in and everything is covered in fleece or plastic. This year we are really hedging our bets and putting everything we can under cover. Last year all our hard work was beaten to a green slime by the enormous hail stones that hit us in July. Plants just didn’t stand a chance.Then we had an early frost and the beans turned black.
So last Saturday a rotorvator was hired and half the village turned out to dig, hoe and burrow into the ground, It was quite an event. Little tents and cloches were made and everything you could imagine was used to protect the precious little seedlings.
Everyone goes and spies on everyone else to see what has been done. How was that cloche made, how can that huge frame be lifted? Chelsea Flower Show eat your heart out.
For the wild flower lovers, the wild and high ones are out and looking wonderful. Mike was walking up over the back of Lac Bouillouses and was swept away by the plethora of plants and flowers. Once upon a time he didn’t give them a second look and it was me who stopped and used an unusual flower as an excuse to get my breath back. But the time came during his years of training that flora became an important part of his life. I had only gone on the old fashioned names that were taught to me by my Mother on country walks in Northumberland. Things like “Grandma’s Dancing Fairy” and “Mother Die” Of course, Mike needed Latin names and has now left me in the dark and knows far more than Mum and I ever knew.
But I still keep my memories of country walks and who know Mum probably made up half the names to keep me interested.
The forests are slowly being cleared of the huge mass of devastation following the horrendous winds in the winter. Only certain parts of the forests are accessible to the public because of the amount of fallen trees. Information can be picked up at the Tourist Office advising on which are the footpaths are safe.The Forest at Matamale was the worst hit with probably a third of the trees down. The roots are being cut first and hauled out by horse power and then the trees are being pulled out separately. It is an enormous task.
Must go now and do some more work in the garden. Now doesn’t that sound nice?

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