So, the Autumn has now slid away and we are in mid-Winter. At the moment it looks like we will be having a comparatively mild Winter, but the main thing to report is that the Autumn brought some 'serious rain' - that, as we have been saying, was badly needed. We could have done without some of the rougher weather that accompanied this - very strong winds, causing fairly significant damage in the garden and lighter impact on roofs and vulnerable parts of the house …. but nothing that is not fairly easily repaired and fixed. And the positive is that the water levels of the pond, the well and the waterways and water-storage around the neighbouring countryside has been returned to 'normal levels' for this time of year, after two dry Winters - or so it appears.
Well, for us the very best Christmas present was the arrival of our grandson, Finn - born on December 14th, missing Friday 13th by a whisker! And had it not been for the strikes in France, cancelling our flight back on December 12th, we would not have been in London to welcome Finn's arrival - so, out of adversity etc etc!
The extra time in London enabled us to join in some pre-Christmas mince-pie production-line work, with our grand-daughter, Sophia … very impressive and no grand-parent was hurt in the process:
So, in addition to that very happy event it was a lively Christmas - quiet on 'the day' but then we had a Yule-time version of our 'pot-luck' lunches …. so people bringing a dish(es) and bottles, some silly games, and generally just good fun.
Meanwhile we wonder how the remainder of the Winter will play out - we've a feeling that there will not be much snow or low temperatures and that we will move fairly seamlessly into early Spring and the warm weather that March sometimes brings (usually followed by unpredictable and often wet weather in April and early May). We have been noticing that the birds are already preparing their Spring nests - one particularly hard-working blackbird has been out in the early mornings pecking at and gathering up the plentiful moss by the pond:
We have been supplying all our bird feeding tables regularly with food, and making sure that the bird boxes are prepared in good time for nesting. It has been noticeable that the birds have still been feeding on the flower heads left in the garden, as it has not really been that cold.
Developments for 2020
Well, some now-established activities will continue: we have been particularly pleased with the Film Club - it has been well attended and we have French, English, Dutch, Spanish and American attendees and it has been sociable and friendly. This will continue until May and then start up again in the Autumn - but we may have a Summer BBQ, with a film(s) screened outdoors as a 'one-off'.
We have been really pleased to receive bookings for 2020 from guests who have been visiting in previous years - we really welcome this, and we have found that these guests have become good friends. In addition to this we have received bookings from outside Europe - from the USA and Canada - it is interesting that the attraction seems to be 'peace and tranquillity'.
In our last Blog Post we briefly mentioned that our contact and visit linked to the Children's Hospice was very positive and we are very pleased to report that, after discussions with the Hospice, we will be continuing this development over 2020.
We have some small projects in the garden - trying to further the shaping of distinct areas overall. And we are currently discussing having some beehives at the far end of the garden - having made contact with a trainee beekeeper, now in the final year of their training and needing to locate some hives for this final year of their training: this is a really interesting development and we will report on it in our next Post. Finally, we have been thinking what we can do in the face of environmental health: and we feel that we could plant more trees, and perhaps plant some coppices, one for each of our 'latest' grandchildren - Orson, Sophia and Finn …. so, we will be considering on how best to do this.
By the time we publish our next Post the UK will have officially left the European Union. The position of UK residents in France remains unclear - and of course there is no 'single position', as most people's cases are entirely individual and not simply governed by legal and political positions but by emotional, family and personal circumstances. It has been striking that, after the endless 'noise' about BREXIT over the past three years, the last two months have been comparatively silent. As ever, the noise attached itself to the 'simple act of leaving' and now the complexity of 'how to leave' will be demanding for the media and our attention spans to attune to. At least this may have the virtue of recalibrating our national egotism in the face of the realities of wider and deeper events and futures.