Hello backache my old friend…

By this time last year, I had leeks popping up, petunias and begonias every where, peas sprouting, potatoes chitting. I’d buried my beloved Basil, got two lovely ginger cats, then our spaniel died. It was a hard time. I don’t think last February gave me much to be glad about.

This year, I’ve done very little. I put in some broad beans before the snows came, and some peas. The ones in pots in the lean-to are doing well, just waiting for a little time to go outside and set deep roots. Today and tomorrow, I’m going to have a planting day. Although it has been a mild winter, bar those three extremely cold weeks in January and at the beginning of February, when it felt like it would never be warm again and the snow would never go, it must have been a little colder. The plum outside the house was flowering this time last year. At the moment, it shows little sign of doing so. The Japanese quince put out a handful of flowers, then the snows came and now the buds are dead on the branches.

Mind you, it is G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S today. I thought about resurrecting the shorts. I’ve put on a few winter pounds, so I’m going to be aiming to sweat them off over the next couple of weeks, but until then, it’s a little too temperamental for shorts, though I feel like getting them out just to scare the French, who don’t do shorts at the best of times, and maybe only between July 1st and August 31st. I just want to have worn shorts in February. I retired them in October but we had a burst of beautiful weather in November, so I got them out for one last day.

Today, Steve has re-potted the herb planter, and finished painting the lean-to shutters a bright pink. Pictures to follow, of course. The lean-to shutters…. LOOOOOVVE! I can’t wait until next Monday to say that. I keep standing and looking at them. I know it’s only a colour. But oh, what a colour. I can’t believe everyone in France doesn’t have shutters that colour.

Today, I’ve planted lots of leeks – the leeks from last year are still in, though a little worse for wear. And they are delicious. I did leek, sausage, chorizo and lardons in a white wine sauce with pasta a couple of days ago, and they were so good. It’s a cheap-as-chips meal with leftover bits of meat from other things and it was amazing. We finally ended up with about 20 leeks, so this year, I want at least triple. They were literally nothing like shop-bought ones. I may never eat a shop-bought one again. I want to do the leek tart I ate a few weeks ago in a restaurant – delicious!

I’ve also planted a few tropical seeds and put them under polythene and glass. Hopefully it’ll be warm enough. The propagator is already in use with tomatoes – if they’re not coming on when the tomatoes come out, the propagator will be back in use!

Other than that, it’s just cauliflowers.

Tomorrow, I’m going to plant out more peas and beans, as well as a few rows of beetroot (also didn’t plant enough last year, but they too were gorgeous) and radish, lettuces and so on. The cheap 29c lettuces from Lidl were perfect. I plan on planting lots of Lidl seeds – their soucis (I forgot their name in English, but it means ‘worries!’) and zinnias for 29c a packet – and hundreds of seeds – were wonderful and beautiful.

Oh, how I love the spring. I’m still wearing thermal socks to bed, but wow, that 17° weather today – it’s what I’m here for. Yesterday, I was driving over to Cellefrouin for a meeting with a new client and saw a fox running through a deserted field between two woods – it’s this I love. The sky was blazing blue, it was hot enough to have the windows down. I’ll take poor and happy any time over rich and miserable. No amount of shopping and retail therapy can cut the mustard compared to what there is around me right now.

I had forgotten, though, how much my back aches and my feet ache, what it is to have dirty fingernails and sore legs. But each ache is worth it.

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