Winter dragged on as usual, then morphed into a lot of unpleasant foggy-dampness and rain. Frankly there was nothing of interest to report until mid-April.
As we all know in mid-April the combined forces of the USA, UK, and France, attacked chemical warfare facilities in Syria. Tempers flared, insults were thrown, and WW3 very nearly started. For a while we all feared Putin, but he eventually turned out to be just 'mouth'. No doubt he feared the superior might of the combined US and UK thunder, which is not to be messed with.
From mid-May to mid-June, it rained. OK, there were Girolles to be found, but everywhere was so wet that doing essential outdoor work ground to a halt. Trump and the Fat Boy shook hands.
Summer began in earnest on June 19th, and continued to be long, hot, and unrelenting. Temperatures above 30 C lasted for weeks from June, through July, and beyond. Every year they confirm that 'it's been the hottest/driest summer since records began', and this year was no exception. Phew what a scorcher!
Other than Trump's bizarre language and behaviour, the main subject matter through the summer months, and beyond, was that of 'Brexit'. Negotiations became a mess, there were cabinet resignations, and back-stabbing became the favourite parliamentary sport. The only relief from the 'Silly Season' was that Geraint Thomas (a Welshman) won the Tour de France. Da iawn Geraint.
Our traditional mid-August storms and downpours failed to materialise, so yet again we had no Summer mushrooms. This area, and specifically this village, is renowned for its Cèpes, and the annual nearby mushroom and chestnut festivals were once again without their treasured mushrooms.
At Haddock's there were successes and failures. For the second year running, my Tomato crop came to a very early end; disease won the day. It would surprise me if I produced more than 20 Kilos. Our fruit trees were also a bit hit-n-miss. No Plums, Cherries, or Pears, but we were blessed with a small crop of eating Apples, plenty of Peaches, Figs, and Quinces. Beans were plentiful (thanks to successive sowing), as were Courgettes, Aubergines, and Peppers. We didn't have a single Butternut Squash; normally I have a barrow-full. However, our Winter greens are still doing very well.
In store we have plenty of Apricot and Tayberry jams, paté, pickled Walnuts, bottled Figs and Peaches, and about 18 Kilos of Tomato based preserves. It wasn't all bad; above is only a tiny part of it.
On August 14th, the Shipping Containers arrived for our neighbour's new 'holiday village'. I am now wondering how exactly he will advertise his 'Gulag Style' huts to prospective tourists. Would you want to spend your Summer holiday in one?
We were originally told that the containers (there are about twice the amount as shown in the picture) came fully fitted; ready to connect to the facilities. But no, they were just plain old empty 'end-of-life' containers. The work to make them 'habitable' is HUGE, but nothing can disguise their bleak unfriendly look. We shall see!
Between October 25th and November 5th we had a sudden, and unexpected, copious crop of Cèpes. Full advantage was taken with omelets and preserves a'plenty. We had feared another year of famine; but we were wrong. Several tonnes were sold at the nearby afternoon Cèpe market; and for a while everything was 'as it should be'.
Christmas seemed to leap upon us so quickly this year; no doubt a sign of age. I loved the festive season as a child, then failed to appreciate it for most of my middle years, now I really love it again. It's the season of hope and nostalgia, and as I sit by the evening fire with just a few candles burning, and Bok's head on my lap, I think back to all those wonderful Christmases past, and look forward with anticipation.
Luckily it's been yet another really good year for us, and another perfect ending (other than poor Freddie leaving us on Nov'18th). Still healthy, still fit, and still managing to do all we wish. What more could one ask. Our only true concerns for 2019 are Brexit, and the possible rise of Jeremy Corbyn; two subjects that make my blood boil.
So, may I wish you all a very happy new year, and let's welcome 2019 with optimism.
Very best wishes, Cro, Lady M, and Bok. xx
RIP Freddie: I really do miss him mooching around the place. Here he is in the Quince tree; where I'll remember him. He was a goodun. Goodbye, old chap.