After Rollo and Terry returned to Dorset we spent our remaining time in St Vaast packing up decorations and readying the house for our absence. I spent a little time in the garden cutting back dead foliage in the small circular bed, and the top borders beneath the pergola. A number of our early daffodils were in flower, as were the Daphne odora and Sarcococca hookeriana. The latter plant is known as the Sweet Box or Christmas Box, for obvious reasons, and it’s heavenly perfume wafted my way as I knelt on the pathway clearing the Iris and Centaurea leaves from the plant crowns. But the seasonal prize must go to the dwarf Iris unguicularis. This my birthday flower; its short stemmed buds emerge from the dense clump of spear-shaped leaves early in the year, and its bright amethyst mauve colour reflects February’s gemstone.
We spent three more enjoyable occasions with our friends: a trip to Cherbourg to eat dinner with the Roux and Poulets after which we went Bowling, a farewell supper with the Lerminez and Poulets at Le Debarcadere on the final evening. On Sunday morning at 10.30 a.m. we offered a typical English cooked breakfast to some of our friends. This was a new departure for us in our entertainment repertoire and a bit of a culture shock to some of our guests, but it seemed to be very successful and was a stress-free means of offering a meal at our house. You don’t spend half the afternoon in the kitchen conjuring an exciting three or four course meal for the evening. A cooked breakfast requires concerted effort over a very short period of time and is served straight from the pans. To be repeated.