Spring seems to have arrived early in the Gers. It’s as though someone turned on a massive switch on 1st February as from the beginning of the month we have had a virtually unbroken run of warm sunny days, with temperatures often nudging the mid 60s. We’ve still had a few frosts first thing, or the odd bit of mist or fog, but by 10 the sun has burned through and we are all enjoying basking in the warmth.
As a result, the farm is slowly waking up from its winter slumbers
There is a photographic display in the mayor’s office of all the different varieties of orchid that have been recorded in Beaumarches – I think there are about 16 altogether. We have quite a few on the farm, though which variety they are remains to be seen.
I’m hoping the goats will leave them alone – the sheep haven’t touched them throughout the winter, but then I did have a single solitary daffodil I was planning to photograph but one of the sheep ate it!
Even the house is starting to warm up. It’s amazing the difference a few days of warm weather have made. I’ve even reached the stage where I no longer need to keep the electric blanket on all night! I’m hoping that the warmer weather might encourage our winter tenants (field mice) to move out. We’ve learned to live alongside them over the last few months (they moved in in November when it turned cold), but I’ll be glad to see the back of them. Sometimes I can’t believe the things I put up with here!
I'm sure we're not quite out of the woods yet (it snowed in March last year) but I do think the worst of the winter might be behind us and we can look forward to longer and warmer days in the weeks ahead.
Life has been a bit of a social whirl this month. A couple of weekends ago there was a meeting in the village hall attended by a number of minor dignitaries from our region (fonctionnaires – the French equivalent of civil servants, only more so). This was to inaugurate the awarding to the village of its official status as a SOHO Solo village; to officially record the fact that the village has access to ADSL for all; and the official opening of the first stage of the after school club. The mayor gave a very stirring speech about the need for villages like ours to move with the times and ensure that Beaumarches had a healthy future ahead. He’s absolutely right – so many rural villages in France have become virtual ghost towns, populated by the elderly and second home owners. No chance of that happening here I don’t think! The official bits and pieces were followed by aperitifs, and a light lunch. Lots of villagers turned out for the occasion, and we were amazed how many came over to us to say hello – going on the Saturday morning walks has really helped us to get to know a lot of faces – and there was much shaking of hands and kissing of cheeks.
Last Saturday evening was the annual meal for the walkers. The hard core group who turn up every week (which includes us!) turned up at the village hall early to put out and set the tables and prepare the food (the mayor cooked the chips) before everyone else arrived. About 50 people turned up and it was a great evening. I finally now feel confident enough to spend the evening chatting (after a fashion) in French, and I had great fun chatting with one of the walkers, Raymond, a retired chap who loves walking, playing the trumpet, hunting with his dogs, and gardening.
This Saturday is the annual village pig killing. Yes, a real live pig gets brought to the village, is killed, then butchered and eaten in the evening. Not for the faint hearted.