Frozen mornings, thick fog, and cold so cold that our fires and heating barely register, the heat seeping away as fast as we try to trap it. But then glorious sunshine today, birds singing in the trees, crocus and snowdrops basking in the light, washing on the line for the first time in months and the vibrant smell of Spring in the air.
It has been something of an emotional roller coaster too. A good friend said goodbye to her husband at the best kind of funeral service: no church to soften the strangeness, but lovely, brave words from his daughters which gave a more complete picture of the man we had only known for the last 18 years, complemented by fun-loving images from happier times on the service sheets (far better at conveying the spirit of the man than a sober, single portrait of him in his final days).
Martin and I took a long-overdue trip to Normandy, where we found the house all perfect (thanks to Ron and Grace) except for conclusive evidence of a mouse-party in the study. We had unwisely stored teabags, toiletries, mousetraps, cleaning materials and other items potentially irritating to guests in a wire rack which clearly posed an inviting challenge to our furry friends.
Gnawed and completely emptiedBy the time I had finished it was clear we needed somewhere more robust to store our wares. So whilst Martin set about chopping up more firewood (we kept both fires burning, as the newly-fitted boiler was failing to provide more than a sneer of warmth) I pootled up to the Troc, eventually finding a wooden cabinet for 20e that might just fit.
Well, it did fit once Martin had planed off a few millimetres. And he had to replace the back or the mice would not have been fooled for long. Oh, and fit a catch.
But by the time we left we were able to bundle everything into what we hope is a rodent-proof cache, and left a pile of chopped wood drying out in the pig shed. And fresh curtains at the study door (though they need hemming), and a much tidier study all round.
The fields were a dreadful mess, however, to our uneducated eyes looking completely over-used. There was discarded twine everywhere, and some very feeble-looking sheep and cows. Some had even escaped into the paddock, which at present has no fencing on the house side, so there was a risk they could get into the garden and wreak havoc. Luckily I saw the farmer and was able to ask him to get the cattle back pronto, but given that everywhere looked such a mess (and we saw another dead sheep on our walk) it was not the rural idyll we anticipated.
Rivers of Mud
But we had a lovely weekend in spite of it all. Plentiful food, including oysters, croissants and delicious pastries; wine and warmth; the chance to catch up with Martin's parents and to enjoy the relaxed peace of Normandy.
St Sauveur main square
Something so lovely about these old doors...Well we returned just before midnight Monday night and were back at work Tuesday, so it has taken all week to get straight. Today's sunshine meant that I was able to stick the washing outside, get started on tidying twigs and dead leaves, and let the two remaining hens out to enjoy the garden.
Martin went down to sort out some more bits on Drifter, so I spent a relaxed afternoon chatting to the hens as they accompanied me about the garden. We agreed it was high time they started laying, and that I would ask Max to refresh the hen house by way of barter.
We caught one dog and could find neither the other nor the hen. Our neighbour told us the dogs were 'upstairs' and seemed surprised we had one, and told her the other was in our garden. She was appropriately apologetic, later coming round with flowers and an offer to help buy new hens, but clearly had not made an effort to sort out her fencing after her dog had got through and pestered the hens a month or so ago.
So sadly after getting the hens through the whole winter, and just as we were within cracking distance of a proper free-range egg, death has once again reared its head.
Ironic that the garden birds are singing happily of a fresh start as we bid adieu. To everything its season.