Walking in a winter wonderland

Last year I seemed to mention the weather, in a very negative way, with monotonous regularity. That was until August when the sun appeared. Weather talk can be so dull, but such was the deluge of rain last year that amongst the grip of covid it took on more importance. Our daily walks, which are always a pleasure, become an even more focal part of everyday life. We knew last year’s endless storms were far from normal, the worst in over twenty years. Thankfully this winter has been the complete opposite. Blue skies and sunshine have been regular walking companions, and rain has been limited to occasional showers. Morning frosts have been a joy to wake up to, with misty vistas making way for perfectly clear skies and a need for hats, gloves and scarves, but no waterproofs.

This time last year we were also starting on Le Garden Rescue, which seemed to end as soon as it had begun. It didn’t actually end; it just took a nine-month sabbatical under a sea of cardboard, which has now decomposed into the soil with the remnants taken to the dechetterie. We had a weed issue; a serious one that needed extreme action. Our lower garden has literally been a cardboard slope since last spring, but as unsightly as it was it has served its purpose as we now have what is currently a far lesser-weeded garden. Le Garden Rescue has recommenced. We’ve prepared for a path, straightened up and secured the ornate concrete dividers and prepared the bottom three sections of the garden for a spread of wildflowers. We have plans for a small decking area, shingle, potted plants and potagers for the top half of the garden and we’re now waiting for a month or so to see if (how many) weeds re-appear before seeding, but we’re very much hoping for a sea of colour, birds and insects instead of a sea of cardboard this summer.

Our businesses continue to tick over very nicely. As expected, gite guests slowed down this winter, but bookings have started to come in quite steadily for spring and summer. Having a guest in for six weeks in until the end of February has been a very pleasant winter bonus. A kitchen upgrade and general refresh is planned for late March before our spring visitors arrive, with interior fresh paint along with flowers for the terrace all part of the preparation for the year ahead. Our Etsy shop goes from strength to strength, with trips to the post office becoming ever more regular. Two days ago saw our one-year anniversary on the site and it also saw our 200th sale: a large, antique copper casserole currently en route to Australia. We’re still discovering the delights of Etsy, or more accurately what does and doesn’t sell, but as always the learning experience is all part of the enjoyment.

Whilst the view from our terrace is gloriously expansive, the space inside is limited to say the least. We live in a beautiful, long, tall, historic corridor and our Etsy stock is largely located on the top floor landing, with the upper bedroom currently a packing room housing a cascade of cardboard, bubble wrap and protective packaging. As we are very much hoping to welcome family and friends here for the first time very soon, the top floor workshop needs to be relocated. We have plans to utilise our outbuildings for this purpose, working with our wonderful neighbours to turn our ‘shed’ into a packing room. All of this work is due to start in March, as we have an overdue trip back to Edinburgh to enjoy first.

Our return back to Scotland for Christmas and New Year was scuppered by covid, as the Omicron variant was at its peak in the UK, and rapidly on its way up in France. So, nine weeks later than expected we’re planning a family festive jolly in Edinburgh. As content as we are here in Rochechouart, knowing that in two weeks from now we’ll be in the bosom of loved ones makes us stupidly happy. Life here is sweet, but nothing tastes as yummy as Christmas dinner with family. Even in March.         

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