Tuesday 24 April 2012

First the good news

from the top

It was a much nicer day today than the forecast would allow, sunny enough that I managed to wash and dry a load of washing in the afternoon - I wish I'd been more hopeful in the morning, could probably have done two or three loads.

 The first potatoes, not just the Swift but the Red Duke of York are showing. The Duke is a passionate purple tinged shoot, most exotic looking next to the rather sickly Swift. The onion sets, even though planted very late, are also showing life. red duke

Rook has taken another tumble into the pond and survived. He wasn't just sopping wet but layered with thick mud indicating he'd gone in at the deep end and had to struggle to escape. I'm glad he seems to have learnt what to do as I fear a cat that panicked would come to a sorry end in the sucking quagmire of the silted up pool.

He hates to be brushed but he did eventually allow me to remove a substantial quantity of muck from his coat and was soon returned to shiny cleanliness.

rook fell into the pond

However, almost continuous rain and strong winds interspersed with heavy hail storms in the last ten days mean that little useful work has been achieved in the garden and nearly all motivation to get anything at all done has been lost in feeling miserable and trying to keep warm. I'm wearing five layers of clothes topped off with an outdoor fleece jacket every day and don't need to dress up to go outside since the temperature in both places is much the same.

And although today has been a welcome respite the pattern is set to resume tomorrow with 100% chance of rain and high winds forecast, the rain continuing well into next week. It's tremendously depressing and despite starting some of the more tender plants like courgettes and morning glories I doubt it will ever be possible to let them outside.

Almost worse than that - can you hear me Google? - they've finally forced me to use their broken and confused new editing system for blogging. There were very few problems with the old one but the new one isn't WYSIWYG nor is the HTML pane much better. Laying things out is almost impossible in either mode and it's making me very cross indeed.

Friday 13 April 2012

Slowly, very slowly

skies over Normandy

The skies over Normandy are cold and grey at least half of the time so far this April. It's not making it any easier to settle back into the routine of managing alone. I feel jumbled and lost, not sure what I should be doing or why, but life is beginning to assume some sort of pattern that will help hold things together although I'm having to use this blog as an aide-memoire to direct my actions - it's April I should be digging, that sort of thing.

lost egg

This egg was on the ground below the big pear tree. Almost undamaged apart from one small puncture where yolk was leaking out I think it must have fallen after the nest was attacked by magpies this morning. I saw the wretched birds flying away when I first went out. I don't have my Girls Book of Egg Identifications handy so I can't tell you what sort of bird it might have become but it's a very pretty egg and I'm sorry it's dead.

By the way, all the photos today were taken with the Ixus330, my brilliant little point and shoot digital camera which is nearing 10 years old. I wish all cameras were as sturdy and long lasting.


Despite feeling abandoned and lost I've plenty of contact with people and need to think about planning ahead for our summer party here, which we've been promising without really thinking much further than that about it. It will be a handfasting and summer ball as well as a chance to view the new tractor. Applications on a postcard if you've not had your invitation already!

bumblybee on dead nettle

The bumble bees were out today, they have no existential doubts, they were gathering nectar from the dead nettles as fast as they possibly could and it was difficult to find one stopped for long enough to take a picture.

pear blossom

I'm hoping the cold nights we're still having won't prevent the pears and plums setting a good crop. The apples flower a couple of weeks later and are usually o.k.

a new season

Today I dug some onion patch, weeded the strawberries and did most of the cleaning in the greenhouse ready for the new season. It's so wonderfully warm in there I'm tempted to set up a desk and chair so I can sit with my laptop without my fingers freezing off.

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Spud U like

through a blur

Even photography is rusty after the winter break, that and forgetting to bring the charger with me which means I'm rationing use of the camera. It's almost like the old days with film and all that.

Anyway, between the April showers today I got the rest of the potatoes settled in their rows. The line up is as follows:

Swift - our favourite super first early
Red Duke of York - everybody's favourite first early but not one we usually do
Stroma - a lesser known potato that always does well for us
Shetland Black - can be very good in a good year and great in stew
Ambo - two rows, our favourite big general purpose early maincrop
British Queen - two rows, best for chips
Salad Blue - I like a row of these once in a while
Sarpo Mira - They're good, not great but good.
Pink Fir Apple - two rows, brilliantly flavoured potato and can be mashed or chipped
Arran Victory - lovely purple skin, good keeper

I'm going to have to read back to see what I was doing at this time in previous years. It just seems too cold and wintry to be starting any seeds but we're half way through April already.

Tuesday 10 April 2012

So, what happened next?

Herald moth

So what really happened? The car broke down and the trip was cancelled. Plans for the wedding took over and we did nothing but clean, tidy and cook until the end of March.

I'm now a married woman again. It feels only slightly different - after 15 years of togetherness there's not much that's startlingly new to learn about each other but there is a little whisper of change. It'll be interesting to see where it leads.

overwintered veg

And after the wedding, and fixing the car, we all came to France, husband, wife and three cats. It was a mini-heatwave when we arrived, more like summer than spring but that quickly reverted to chilly April weather.

We were pleased to find the leeks had survived the attentions of the deer this time, depressed by the complete destruction of the main bed of purple sprouting and kale (the spare plants in the back garden show it would have been a bumper crop) and unsurprised to find that most, if not all, of the oca had returned to a state of nature.

There are also some healthy parsnips and salsify to harvest and the onions and garlic planted last autumn are looking o.k.

The man has now returned to the UK to continue his work as a world famous scientist and I'm left here alone to get on with it. Potato planting is started, a very late attempt at getting onion sets in continues but my head is in a different place and plans are not forming quickly or at all. Expect to see a good deal of hand waving and confusion in the next few posts.