Can you believe it’s springtime already?
Blue bells and cowslips are also making an appearance under the trees, there has been signs of deer and the resident hedgehogs are out on the field at night. Many of our lovingly planted trees are showing signs life, fresh new leaves and catkins are glowing bright against the blue sky whilst flowers in pinks, white and lime green are parading in the air. Just outside the retreat the fields are dotted with baby cows and lambs and the villages have an array of Easter decorations in shop windows. Spring has finally sprung.
Our vegetable and fruit garden has been treated to several trailers’ worth of the best well rotten horse manure and from what the rhubarb is telling me it’s just what was needed. Now, if someone told me 10 years ago, I would have been so happy just to get a few trailers of manure for my plants I would have looked at them like they were mad. But part of the reason we moved here was to have the time and space to grow our own food as much as we can.
I love that growing fruit and veg is a huge part of people’s lives here in this part of France. It’s a real learning curve I can tell you, but tomatoes, carrots, melons, cucumbers, onions, strawberries and potatoes taste so much better when you have grown them yourself. And no French country house would be complete without some grape vines so that’s next on my planting list!
It’s all coming together ready for a great summer, despite the odd hiccup: Like waking up to our small marquee being blown into the forest during the night. It was like a scene out of the Wizard of Oz. That north wind took us by surprise before the security pegs went on. No one was hurt and the marquee survived pretty much unscathed.
We are busy preparing for opening in May, and our first open day event is happening on the 17th of May. We have invited health, body and mind experts to showcase their services, and offer advice. We also have Hot Tubs in France bringing one of their beautiful tubs!
Work on new water tank stands has been completed in the last few weeks (thanks to Tony and Keith for helping us out with them) ready for our gravity fed water systems; and a few modifications to the bathrooms have taken place.
I have been busy with my paint brush up-cycling furniture to create a chill out space for guest to relax and socialise, which will be under our giant sunshades when we put them up soon.
Yet again I have fallen into the rabbit hole of Pinterest many times over the last few months, but it has been an inspiration as always so at the moment I am creating rope hoop games with painted pots, rope and bamboo and giant dice games for the meadow from the off cuts of the wooden posts we used to make the tank stands along with parking signs for the car park.
John has been pruning out some of the overgrown trees so we can hang hammocks under the acacia and moving large logs ready to make them into rustic benches and decorative flower/candle stands that will be placed within the silver birch circle around the fire pit.
Our picnic shade frames are up, and the curtains have been made ready to go on just before we open. And the lovely Karen has lent me a much-needed hand sewing metres and metres of bunting that has been made from repurposing some very kindly donated cotton clothing.
There has been lots of activity around us that could easily go un-noticed if we didn’t make a point of just standing quietly every day to listen and look at what’s around us. I’ve been thrilled to see a red squirrel running up and down the tree line of the forest over the last week collecting sweet chestnuts that have fallen to the ground. You can hear the humming sound of hundreds of bees dancing around the carpet of daisies, dandelions, and wild violas whilst butterflies have begun chasing each other around.
This is why we made the move to France, and why we look forward to sharing our little slice of heaven with you all this summer.