First Day of Spring

So today is the first day of Spring. It’s 9 o’clock in the morning and outside the sky is blue. There’s not a cloud in the sky. Still a bit chilly but the temperature will rise through the day. Long may it last. Some of the cranes have flown over en route to Scandinavia for the summer but we haven’t noticed as many as in previous years. Perhaps we’ve missed them. Perhaps they’re staying down south for a bit longer.

It’s been a mild winter. February was almost as hot as summer. But we’ve had a fair bit of rain so it’s a bit muddy underfoot through the vines and woods. I had a long walk yesterday round the various plots of vines and through the woods – I had to take my jumper off half way round.

This winter we’ve had a six-month winter let. They’ve been so lucky with the weather and have enjoyed many walks in the winter sunshine. It’s been good to have somebody living next door throughout the winter.

But it’s still a bit too early to start the preparation for summer. We’re starting to think about it, however. What’s to be done? What do we need to buy? For sure we’ll need some more sun brolleys – they break with amazing regularity through the summer months mainly as they are left up and the wind blows them over. The patios will need to be jet washed, but before that the walled courtyard tiles need some repair. The water got underneath them and some of them have lifted. The winter cover will have to come off the pool; the pool will have to be cleaned several times. It’s mainly leaves that have caused the dirt during the winter – despite the winter cover they still seem to get underneath. Will we need to paint the walls round the pool? And then all the garden furniture will be placed – probably where it was last year as that always seems to work.

And then when our winter let couple leave us at the beginning of May we move inside and do whatever is needed in there to ensure that it is perfect for our first summer guests. Spring clean – paint – renew one or two items. It’s all go!

Then we can truly stand back, look round and say ‘Summer’s here’. We’re ready for our first summer guest – this year a couple who have visited us many times. In fact this coming summer we have three returning families. One family from Ireland who have been staying with us since 2008 – we’ve seen their family grow and now they’re like family. We look forward to welcoming them again this year.

January 2017

I haven’t added any news for far too long probably because nothing much changes. Our wonderful guests keep on coming. The reviews posted on the Owners Direct website continue to be good. And the bookings keep coming in.

But for now it’s quiet. January is here but with high pressure meaning vivid blue skies and warm sunshine in the afternoon. Yesterday we sat outside with our tea – in the sun it was lovely. But today started with a very heavy frost and freezing fog which coated the trees and bushes with a fine covering of white – very pretty. I took advantage of the sunshine yesterday and cleared out all the pots. With the mild weather up to and over Christmas, the geraniums continued to flower and the roses just kept on producing buds. But now the plants have finally realized that it’s winter so they’re all cut down and covered in the hope that they might reshoot next spring. The lemon and mandarin bushes are covered but if the sun shines I take the cover off during the day. The mandarin has over a dozen fruits which are not quite ready for picking so I’m hoping that the winter sunshine will help them on their way.

The cranes went over very late again in 2016. It was well into November and some flew over in December. The mild autumn and early winter must confuse them.

I’m having trouble with the availability calendar on the website. Although I update it with new bookings on Google Calendars, the bookings don’t show on the calendar on the website. I’ve done everything I can think of. So if you want to know about a specific date, you will have to contact me via the enquiry form.

autumn and winter

Almost the end of November and it continues to be mild – 21 degrees forecast for tomorrow. The cranes must have realised that it’s still mild enough to stay in Northern Europe as they are still making their trek to the south, much later than normal. The pictures show just a handful on one morning this week – many thousands have flown over at different times.

A bit earlier, at the beginning of October, the grapes were harvested – I’ve put some pictures of that taken from our patio.

And finally some pictures of our mandarin tree which is in the half barrel at the front of the barn. How exciting – our own mandarins this Christmas. That’s is they last that long!

Happy Christmas to all who read this before the big day arrives.

end of summer

Well – here we are 2nd October. And summer just goes on and on. The temperature early afternoon on our patio was 40 degrees. And the forecast suggests the sunshine and blue skies are not over yet. The pool is open and the temperature, although lower than mid summer, is still comfortable. Shorts and t-shirts are still the order of the day.

They have started the vendange. The white grapes were harvested a couple of weeks ago. But yesterday and today they have been harvesting the red, merlot, grapes in the vineyard that is next to our property. I have taken a photo of the huge machine that straddles the vines and removes the grapes, leaving the stalks still attached to the vines. They say it is going to be a good vintage this year. There was a lot of wet weather earlier in the year when the vines needed it most. And then when the grapes were well formed and big there has been the hot sunshine to ripen them. Perfect, apparently!

Our letting season is finished. Our last guests left last weekend. We have had a great summer season with wonderful people taking their holidays next door to us. And already we have 5 weeks booked for next year, two weeks of which have been booked by returning guests.

I’ve put in my winter flowering pansies so should have some good colour in the pots right through until next spring. And I’ve been putting in bulbs, daffodils and crocuses, although that is hard work as the ground is so hard. The geraniums and fuschias are still in flower and looking good. And the roses just keep on coming!

Long may it last!

Thoughts of summer

Spring is truly here now. The cranes have flown by in their thousands heading to the cooler shores of Scandinavia. We’ve enjoyed some very sunny and warm days although now we are experiencing April showers, albeit a few days early.

Our thoughts turn to all the preparation for summer. This is a very busy time. Patios have to be cleaned. Garden furniture has to be checked and cleaned and, where necessary, new items purchased. Pools have to be opened up and the lengthy cleaning process, after being under the winter cover for the past six months, started. And the grass, weeds, plants all start to grow in front of your eyes. The grass has already been cut twice but, again this morning, I see that the daisies are reappearing. It’s a busy time.

But all the hard work is worth it – summer is just round the corner. And this weekend the clocks change to British summer time – so the evenings start to draw out. Happy times.

Summer is over

Sadly, summer is finally over. The warm weather and sunny days have disappeared to leave us with grey skies, high winds and heavy rain. And the forecast is for more to come.

We had a lovely September and October with warm days and some much needed showers. Perfect conditions to make the grass grow. The earth is still warm so with this rain the grass is still growing but can’t be cut because it’s just too wet. The geraniums, begonias, and other plants are still in flower and look so much happier for some rain.

The pool couldn’t be put to bed for the winter until the water had dropped to 15 degrees. It’s just dropped that low so David has removed the summer cover, put in the winter chemicals, and secured the winter cover. The garden and pool furniture has been put away and covered. All very sad. Roll on next summer!

Bookings for next summer have come in earlier than ever this year. We already have 8 weeks booked for next year and only 2 weeks left in the high season, both in July. But we’re available for bookings during May, early June and September onwards. We’ve held our prices for next year but are offering a supply of those consumables which guests don’t want to buy loads of, e.g. dishwasher tablets, toilet rolls, bin liners, etc.

Next thing is Christmas!

Montazeau party

This week we had the annual Montazeau village party. As every year it was a wonderful evening with a fantastic band, good food and wine, and excellent company. There were about 300 people there and we danced until well gone 1 am. It is held every year on 14th August as 15th is a bank holiday and everybody has a day off to get over it.

Thunder storm

Last night we had the storm we’ve been waiting for for days. Preceded, as ever, by a violently strong wind.  There was then thunder, exceedingly loud at times, and a lightening show to rival the London fireworks on New Year’s Eve.

We woke this morning to find things where they shouldn’t have been – pots blown off walls, umbrellas missing, the top blown off the cushion box – but the garden looking a touch less dry. But has the storm alleviated the intense heat? Not a chance. This afternoon it is, yet again, well into the 40s and impossible to stay outside unless you have the pool to cool off in.