The water table here is still so high that my vines are still under 20 cm of water. Everything looks like it’s floating – and even though the rain has stopped, the water table is still rising. The water seems to have a bit of direction – it’s moving, very slowly. I thought that the stream bed in the garden was from south-east to west, but it seems to flow the other way. I’d always assumed it was an overflow from the Tardoire, but it seems in actual fact, to be the other way altogether, going off my primitive methods of determining direction and flow speed… I used a buttercup and counted how long it took to go about five feet… a minute. That’s not fast at all, but it’s fast enough. No wonder the garden is filling up rather than emptying. And there are definite points where the water is going under the troll bridge fast enough to constitute clear movement.
It’s also funny that the fences are all virtually marking off the flood-plain. I guess 40 years of living in a place will help you know that. The top vegetable garden, despite the fact it contains the puits, is not wet at all. The orchardy bit is also more dry. Everything else, it seems, is waterlogged.
It’s fascinating to walk around my waterlogged garden and see it as it is now – though I saw two poor little drowned crickets which was sad. Mind you, a cricket is part of the staple diet of the chicken ladies, so they don’t last long unless they’re good at hiding. I heard the first crickets in the last couple of days – it’s definitely been cooler for them not to chirp. It’s so fascinating out there that I burned my tea. I can see I’m going to have to set all sorts of alerts and alarms when I’m on my own. I even locked the gate last night. Anyone could wander in and just roam about whilst I’m off down the bottom of the garden measuring how fast water is flowing by measuring buttercup pace.
It’s great to see everything so green and healthy – although it’s been colder than it was last year, I guess we’re going to have a real growth spurt. Already the grass (that isn’t under water) is knee-high and I think I might have to leave it til Steve and Jake are back anyway – more rain’s on the way and I can’t see that the water table will have dropped back down again. More seems to be flowing in than flowing out.
It’s quite strange to see our puits full of water, but encouraging. It’s about 4 metres deep, I’d guess, and always been bone dry. There’s a kind of scummy layer on the top, but I’d be quite interested to see the water underneath. The water in the garden is very clear indeed.
I can’t believe, though, the difference between last year and this, in terms of how far behind everything is. Last year, our cherries were beginning to ripen. This year, they’re still forming! The potatoes were further on; this year, they’re just peaking out. I already had sweetcorn in and courgettes – tomatoes and melons – everything is still weeks behind in comparison. It’s funny – with it being our first summer, I wasn’t aware how lucky we were and how rare it was for everything to be so mammoth so quickly. On May 9th last year, I picked 3kg of cherries. It seems almost unbelievable. My turnips are still at the four leaf stage. Last year, I’d had a bumper crop. I guess I’m going to have to wait until mid-June! I can’t quite believe it.
This year, however, I do have some feathery fronds of carrots and the beetroot have put out loads of leaves. I suspect that though it might have been a slow start, it’ll actually be a better year. All this early moisture and slow starting might not mean things run away, but bulk up. Last year, I’d planted everything out already. This year, it’s queuing up to go outside! I planted out some rather sad-looking cabbages – I’m going to plant leeks alongside them – run out of onions and garlic, but I’m guessing the same principles about alliums apply here, too.
It’s funny how early it seems in the gardening year, and yet in fact, how late it is. I’m still walking around in Steve’s wellies. His are bigger than mine and easier to get on and off. When you’ve worked up a bit of a sweat, wellies don’t half grab on to your skin. I feel like they’re forming a vacuum as I pull them off. In fact, they probably are. I could quite get used to Steve’s wellies, though they make my feet look massive. I’ve realised as long as they’re jammed in with jeans, it doesn’t matter that my feet are floating around in them.
I’ve even done the painting and housework in wellies. I might as well have farm girl stamped on my forehead. When you put wellies on at seven in the morning and you’re still wearing them at ten at night, you’re a farm girl or you’re at Glastonbury.
I thought I’d just add a recipe from the Hairy Bikers. A couple of my friends were talking about it and whilst I don’t watch much television, I’d watched it on iplayer. It’s the episode in France – they go to Lyon and then wander around the south a bit. I like the nougat and the pralines, but it was the flan that caught my eye. I love the Hairy Bikers – their recipes are usually perfect as well. Some celebrity chefs you need to tinker with their ingredients and cooking time. Not these two (and never James Martin or Simon Rimmer, either… but always Delia)
I’d bought some lavender honey, but having tasted it, I’m at a loss to tell the difference. I just don’t have that sensitive tastebuds. I’m sure ordinary honey would be fine. I was surprised it didn’t taste more honey-ish, honestly, since it has quite a lot in. I just bought a cheap dessert wine, because I’m stingy like that – and the chance of getting anything so specialised beyond the region is fairly unlikely in France. You don’t have to go far before you don’t see pineau in the shops, for example.
Anyway, it was delicious. I’d say I’d probably use cream next time, in a half-and-half with the milk, because it was a little too light – you could almost inhale it.
However, it used up nine eggs, which is a feat – and you don’t have to split them either, which is always a bonus. I know lots of recipes with lots of egg yolk, but then feel obliged to make a meringue. Not that I dislike that, but it’s always more effort than intended! At the moment, we’re getting 28 eggs a week – and when the boys aren’t here , that’s a lot of eggs. Luckily, I have plenty of people who’ll take some, but some weeks, I feel hard-pushed to use up half a dozen! Having said that, I wouldn’t be without the chickens. They’re not pets, but it was a very empty courtyard when I had none. It’s all the noises they make – there’s nothing like a cluck-cluck-cluck to make you feel in company!