It’s starting to smell a lot like springtime

March 2015

There’s been quite a bit of activity on our hamlet this week with tractors passing by the house nearly every day, busy preparing the fields for the growing season…much to Alexander’s delight. Like any other two year old boy, he adores anything that moves, but tractors have to be his favourite. The fresh country air is very potent as the muck-spreading gets under way, but is a good sign…Spring is in the air!

IMG_2603The moles have been busy too, making a huge mess of the land out the front. There was a dead one on the path this morning, I was so intrigued, I took a photo of it. It is the first and probably only time I will see a mole, still it is one less mole to worry about!
The cats will enjoy it. There are quite a few cats on our hamlet, in fact they must surely outnumber the inhabitants, but they do a good job of keeping the mice under control. Any dead birds, mice or moles will not last long where we live. Even our puppy, Gypsy, has started eating them…it makes me gag watching her diving about with feathers sticking out of her mouth. The vet told me Golden Retrievers love their food…he didn’t tell me they often mistake themselves for cats!

In the village, preparations are taking place for the arrival of spring. Last night was the annual ‘Repas de Printemps’ in Compolibat, an event run by the PTA to raise money for the local school. As I am on the committee, we were obviously obliged to go, but it gave us another chance to get to know people a bit better in a relaxed, jovial atmosphere. There was a disco, which pleased the kids…and a few ‘Happy Feet’ mothers for that matter! There was even a bit of line dancing and Status Quo, my mum will be in her element when she comes to live here. Oh, and the food was pretty good too. After much discussion at the last PTA meeting, it was decided that the menu would be exactly the same as the year before…and the year before that! No, I tell a lie, this year we had green lentils instead of the usual flageolet beans. As you can tell, our village is very set in its traditional ways, and it would seem that not many people are open to change. I may just have my work cut out here for the future. I have so many fundraising ideas for the school, but getting my voice heard is no mean feat. I’m currently trying to sell raffle tickets to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis (not easy when you don’t know anyone!) and I will be doing face painting at a local charity event in May. As the new girl in the village, I must be an easy target. I just can’t seem to say no.

Last month, I went to a meeting in the village with regards to the after-school activities proposed by the commune. Since last September, the school must propose three after-school activities a week. They are not compulsory, but the majority of kids take part. I would love to do some English workshops during this after-school time, but with the program already established for the school year, the meeting ended with me having volunteered my services to do cookery classes, a far cry from what I intended. However, it might yet work in my favour, as it turns out the parents also want me to do English classes rather than cookery, so if all goes to plan, I will be doing English workshops after the Easter holidays…although still à titre gracieux!

I am hoping to start doing paid English workshops during the summer holidays, and during term time starting September. There is a lot of talk and interest in the commune and I may, at last, have found my niche. I’m still finishing off my website but I will give you the details, once it’s published. Besides working on my website, I still found time to take Gypsy on a beautiful walk in the village, known as Les Igues.
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We have also been quite busy lately Chez TêteBlanche…
Pete has tiled the floor in the composting bathroom and built a secure cover for the septic tank, so we can relax in the garden knowing that the children are safe. He even put up his hammock, although the children think it’s more of a play swing and enjoy nothing better than climbing in it while Pete is trying to read.

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After three muddy months and a week without any rain, we could finally order some gravel for our driveway. I spent an entire afternoon laying it, as a surprise for Pete when he came home from work. It was the most physical work I’ve done in ages, but the sun was shining, the mud was disappearing and I enjoyed every minute of it.

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We celebrated Pete’s 40th birthday with a box of wine and a night of StarWars.

IMG_2593I had tried and failed to make a gingerbread house and my second attempt at a simple sponge cake left a lot to be desired, so in a panic bake just an hour before Pete came home from work, I threw together what I could, using the gingerbread roof and sweets bought as decoration. It might not be my best cake ever, but it tasted yummy all the same.
To mark the occasion, we planted a peach and pear tree. We have this week added to our collection with a plum tree, and we recently discovered we already have a quince tree on our land, besides the various nut trees.

But our biggest and proudest permaculture task to date is… our Hügelkultur!

This week I saw the eclipse, but to be honest, I was more impressed by the moon the other night. It’s nice to be able to walk out the door and be on nature’s doorstep. There’s no pollution, no noise, no stress…just us, the moon, and a few pesky moles.
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