I’m not going to kid anyone, winter here in Normandy is long. OK, probably not nearly as long as in say, Norway or Alaska, but longer than our homeland Australia.
A few hardy souls have come to stay to experience the D-Day beaches in their serene and rugged beauty without the crowds here. If you’re prepared to rug up you’ll be rewarded with pristine photos without another soul blocking your shot, an open fire here to come home to, and the ability to get a same-day dinner booking at the fabulous La Rapier in Bayeux (impossible in summer).
We’ve only had one light cover of snow one morning and a week of hard frosts (bye-bye daisy bush and agapanthus), but its the lack of day light that I find the hardest. Its the price we have to pay for those 10pm twilight walks on the beach after dinner we have all summer.
But we’re nearly there. Its less than two weeks until spring and Arromanches is coming alive again. The sound of lawnmowers is leading the buzz, and the restaurants that have been closed for a well-earned winter break are opening again. We’re off to La Marine for a much missed sole-meunier tomorrow night. We’ve already had our first crepes of the season from lovely Thomas at Recto Verso. It’s just going to be a little while yet before we get tempted by the ice cream treats at Companie du Glaces down by the waterside.
On the home front we’ve had a list of jobs that we’ve been working through over winter to keep the house in tip-top condition. Paint touch ups, changing over bits that we weren’t really happy with (exciting stuff like too dim lamp bulbs) and those ‘drive you crazy in the cuckoos’ jobs like cleaning chandeliers. Next job is to paint the shutters now its warming up a bit.
Every day I’ve been looking out over the garden planning and scheming. The kitchen is now the nursery for two mini glass houses full of seedlings and as they germinate they head up to the attic to grow on in cooler temperatures and new seeds are planted in the warm kitchen. My first lot of 40 seeds only has 5 survivors now – so I’m really hoping my success rate grows. The billion or so tulips, alliums and grape hyacinths I planted last year are all peaking through the soil and I’m being patient to wait to put the dahlia and lily tubers in next month. There’s been some moving and shaking around the garden with things making way for new additions – including a four ball conifer topiary I’m pretty stoked about. Arne Maynard has a lot to answer for.
The garden has also been Terminal 6 at Heathrow over winter as my compassion for our two resident turtle doves who guard the mirabelle tree year round to keep their nest there led to about 40 other hanger-on birds taking up residence. Blue tits, gold finches, robins, and other randoms show up at daybreak each day and check the feeder every 3 seconds until its filled with nuts and seeds for them. Its kept a bit of life in the garden each day and I’ve now entered bird-nerd territory with my own bird watching book kept in the draw of the breakfast table in our kitchen. Gone is Vogue as my bible.
Its bizarre to think back that this time last year we were still renovating and not yet even taking bookings. We’ve come a long way and its been a cracker of a trip…. and there’s more to come with summer ahead!