When Winter followed Spring

Back in St Vaast and pleased to be just we two, chez nous.  The daffodils continue to bloom sequentially with the earliest variety now in need of dead-heading.  Nick spends time in the garden tracking down the bee orchid rosettes and staking them.  I need to find a good time to lift a few plants which we will give to Bas and Rosemary.  I plan to delay this until a day or two before our return to Dorset.  Whilst the weather is kind Nick manages two fishing trips.  Now is the time for the large pollack that frequent the offshore wrecks and he is not disappointed.  On his first trip, solo, he lands ten very fine fish.   We give six away and freeze 8 fillets.  Two days later Georgy and Francois join Nick and they again catch ten fish between them.

I go shopping with Brigitte one day, and join her and Anne at the gym for a couple of sessions on other days.  I try a Pilates for the first time.   As the first week draws to a close there are rumours of snow on the way.  On Saturday I decide to lift some of the bee orchids for transfer to England and I translocate other plants to add to the two major drifts of plants.  The ground is so wet that this task is achieved much more easily and speedily than this time last year.  In the long term this should make mowing more easy, in addition to lending more coherence to the orchid flower spikes when they bloom.  It is as well that I get the job done with a bit of time to spare.  On Sunday night it snows heavily and a blizzard continues into Monday.  We have at least 30 cms of snow around our house.

As the day wears on it is clear that we will not be crossing the Channel on Tuesday.  We lose electricity in the middle of the day on Monday and this does not return until 48 hours later.  Worse, we then have to contend with 36 hours with no water supply.  Fortunately clean snow can be collected and melted for most purposes, leaving bottled water for drinking and cooking.  We negotiate our way through these privations with minimal discomfort.  Our wood-burning stove throws heat out, our two-ring gas hob enables us to cook, and my stock of candles sees excellent service.  We have an ear to the outside world courtesy of our small transistor radio.  One afternoon we cosy down on our sofas and play a four-handed, four-pack game of Spite and Malice with Ty and Claire.

The northeasterly gale blows onshore, a very unusual occurrence on our coast.  It hits the oyster park and very large numbers of oyster sacks are swept off their trestles and cast up at high tide.  Some are ripped open and the oysters spill out.  On consecutive afternoons we harvest two modest servings from these serendipitous strandings.  We take our second cache of these desirable comestibles over the road to share with Ty and Claire on the evening before we catch our return ferry.  Claire is cooking a guinea fowl stuffed with dried fruit and pate which has partially defrosted and should be used.  It is delicious.