Spend, spend, spend!

Welcome to the first blog of February, and a picture of celandines turning their faces skyward along our track.

Celandine sunshine

I would like to say Spring has arrived but instead our weather just gets wilder and wetter. The river in the valley has burst its banks and closed the road, the culverts and drains along the lanes have become blocked with silt and leaves so all the water is flowing down the road instead of beside it and we are sitting in one big, sodden muddy puddle. We have dug out four little channels at strategic places to take the water away from the cabin which has done the trick for now.

One of our drainage channels. After the flood we have a little sunshine and the water has reduced considerably but it gives you an idea. Small channel but it works surprisingly well.

It has not only been wet, it has been windy too, with gusts up to 95km/hour. It got so bad on Tuesday that by midnight we gave up all efforts of trying to sleep through it. Michael got dressed and went to check that the greenhouse was still there and to see how many bits of tree were newly arrived on our roof. Amazingly the greenhouse survived the onslaught. Our roof was covered with debris but more interestingly Michael found a big, fat fluffed-up pigeon perched in the ash tree. It had picked a spot right on the end of a spindly twig that could hardly bear its weight and was sitting there, swaying up and down in the most exposed position it could have found. Given that any creature with any sense was hunkering down out of the wind, we couldn’t understand what it was doing there. While Michael braved the elements, I made a cup of tea and took solace in a chocolate biscuit, and then had a second one for extra solace.

Thankfully it has calmed down again now, with the odd glimmer of sunshine before the next spate of wet weather comes in, but we are still besieged by mud and all our walks are squelchy, dismal affairs. As a result I am going slightly stir-crazy, pacing round the cabin like some caged tiger, or realistically perhaps more like a bedraggled pussy cat. The good news is that I have found the remedy. The answer is to buy things.

I can see you wondering what I might be spending my money on. A designer handbag perhaps, some expensive perfume, a new pair of walking boots? No, nothing so mundane. Here is the list of my purchases.

Two apple trees, one blackcurrant bush, three rose bushes, three lavenders, and a selection of seeds; basil, chives, melons, peppers, aubergines, courgettes, tomatoes, cucumbers, chard and a squash that goes by the magnificent name of Turks Turban and looks just like one.

My seed collection
The greenhouse – waiting for seedlings

The promise of green shoots is going to keep me sane through the rest of winter and a spring that is still uncertain. We should have been going back to Olivia Rose in March, heading off into Belgium and the Netherlands. Given the way things are going, it seems increasingly unlikely that we shall manage it so we have had a re-think about our cruising plans for this year. We are still hopeful that we will get back out on the water, but perhaps not until late spring, even early summer, and for much shorter distances. It makes sense to bring Olivia Rose closer to us, where we can keep an eye on her, so we shall try to get her further south. We haven’t given up on the Netherlands, just delayed it for a year or two. All this means that we shall be spending more time here, which has the benefit of allowing us to grow some vegetables. Every cloud has a silver lining if you look hard enough.

I feel better after having made the decision about our cruising plans. It feels as if we had taken back some control over our lives, making a firm decision to commit to Plan B rather than hankering after Plan A when all the signs were that it was doomed.

And growing things, or the mere thought of growing things, always cheers my spirits and God knows we all have days when we could do with a bit of cheer!

I bought my seeds on-line from a small English firm based in France and they send their seeds out with such beautifully presented growing instructions that I have included a photo below. You’ll have to wait a while until I can send you a picture of the real thing.

Unwins eat your heart out

I’ll finish with a picture of an atmospheric sunset from last week and another of M’s drawings.

A dramatic end to the day

This is a praying mantis, based on a photograph of one that we found in our overgrown vegetable bed in Autumn.

Wouldn’t want to be that wasp.

Take care of yourselves.


8 thoughts on “Spend, spend, spend!

  1. MJ,

    Not sure if you saw the news clip on fb but a rather large pontoon with 12-21 or more Le Boat hire boats rafted up three deep was floating down the Lot with the flood. Would have been an expensive loss.

    Dangerous out there at the moment.

    Warm regards

    Lloyd Davies

    +61 (0) 412 256 199


  2. The squelch underfoot here is the same, but perhaps not to the same degree as yours. Lots more varied weather before Spring really gets here, but after all it is February, and the bottom of Winter. The double whammy of Winter and Covid does seem to bear down on all of us. You seem to be keeping above it all, and at the same time putting cheer into our squelchy footfall! – thank you.


  3. The little ditches seem to have done the job, let’s hope that everything dries up soon. I love the idea of you up in the night eating chocolate biscuits and Michael out stalking in the wind to find the greenhouse still there! The picture of the sunset is great and I love the Praying Mantis anticipating its next meal, the wild boar last week was excellent too.


  4. Oh gosh, you have had it wet there, although after living in Wales you should be used to that ….. It has been rather wet here over the last while, but apparently we are due “the beast from the east” this weekend, just like 2018, although they aren’t sure as yet how far across from the east it will come….
    Gareth had his Covid vaccination on the 3 Feb and I had an invitation letter for mine on the 11 Feb (weather permitting, as you know how high we live here in Wales)!! But it will be good to have had it, albeit Part 1, but it will make us feel better for it…
    You look as though you have a fab bunch of seeds there, and very well presented, as you say. Can just imagine you planting them up in your lovely little greenhouse. We are looking forward to seeing your seedlings popping up now. Your sunset picture was beautiful, and just what we like to see, and Michael’s Praying Mantis was very good. His drawings are coming on extremely well. Keep it up Michael. Love to you both. Stay warm and dry. Hoping Maddie isn’t getting to mucky!! Ann and Gareth


    1. Hi both. Maddie is getting mucky, muddy and wet and bringing it indoors! Glad to hear about your jabs. We might get ours by 2022 the way things are going. Heyho. Take care and don’t let the wee beastie from the eastie get you! MJ


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