En vacances

Ooh good. It’s cloudy out there. And that might mean a threat of rain. The perfect excuse to change my routine.

Actually the threat of rain often just spells our electricity switching itself off as the moisture in the air seems to connect with the rogue live wire somewhere in the walls of this farmhouse.

But I will persist with the electronics and not do what normally happens here in the spring morning.

I still start each day with my walk around the mountain. It takes an hour and is marvellous exercise. And as it is only 5kms, not my preferred (don’t ask me why) tally of 6kms, I tend to add on a trip up to the top potager on the way back.

It is asparagus season now. And I can usually cut half a dozen spears each morning to add to the pot that sits in the fridge.

Even the most ardent asparagus fan won’t eat them every day. We tend to collect a good bunch and then have a blow out feast. I grill them on a very hot cast iron grill pan and add just olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Eaten with fingers, still hot and steamy.

And next to the asparagus patch at the top of the mountain are my two lawnmowers. Working hard to crop all the grass on that top part of the farm which is impossible for my mower to reach.

After a week they tend to have done their work and are just starting to get mischievous and cropping the easier to reach branches of the fruit trees up there.

That’s the sign it’s time to move them on. And Ulysse will have escaped at least once by then anyway so he knows I haven’t used an electric fence to contain them.

The other creature on the mountain will have noticed my return and then that spells another glorious half hour away from the blog post.

She is thriving. Well, she is now that I have been forced to buy her the more expensive brand of dry cat food in the supermarket.

What a princess! Sometimes I have to remind her that she was actually born in the grass catcher of my lawnmower in the stables; spent her formative month of life squished between floor joists (hence the broken front leg) with her siblings and then hauled about by her wild cat mother and then abandoned.

A few years of scavenging out the compost bins, stealing food from kitchens when the doors were left open, and hunting anything that moves. And now the little madame doesn’t like the cheap croquettes. Or leftovers.

She is a one. What she has taken to apart from demanding the top shelf food, is following us on our walks.

This is not good. Well, it’s hilarious the first few times when you go all the way down to the letterbox to check for mail (five months on, still waiting for my healthcare card) and find a little companion behind you. Tail up, cheerily leaping about.

It’s more alarming when you go down the road on the other side of the mountain for a good long walk and discover she is still behind you.

This is her on her latest outing that took her almost a kilometre from home. If I could trust her to return on her own I’d find it most diverting. Alas, Creature is not blessed with such smarts. I had to walk her all the way back to the potting shed and bribe her with best that money can buy before sneaking away. We have hunting dogs about, and I don’t like her chances of escaping unharmed.

So now, I have to leave early while she is still snoozing on her cashmere rug in the box. Or else change my plans if I get up and find her on the doormat yowling for food and love.

So once Cat and horses and asparagus are sorted, it’s a mere step down to the potting shed to check on the burgeoning crops. Trays get taken out for their daytime hardening off, other plants get watered and fussed over. The tomatoes might be moved up a size, the padron peppers inspected, the dill fronds munched….

And ooh look it’s mid morning and time for a cup of tea.

And in between there have been outings.

We are limited to our 10kms from home pandemic restrictions. But having studied the maps and drawn our As the Crow Flies radius, we have discovered there is plenty left to explore.

So here is one of those outings. To the Orsanne valley and up high on the crest at St Etienne de Serre to drink in the views.

Because of course, views of mountains are something we don’t have at home. I jest. Busman’s holiday.

Actually I get more of a thrill when we walk near a hamlet or a farm. I ogle and inspect. Studying the pointing and the state of the roofs, the windows, the landscape surrounding these distant homes.

And if I am really, really lucky, we might even see a human.

I miss humans.