So we fetch up in Dorset for a time which will be full, diverse and densely populated with loved ones.
First there is a Conch Soc AGM to negotiate with supper after, Winterborne K Book Group, a trip to a Furniture Bazaar at Crewkerne with Maddy where I buy a lovely Tulip aArt Deco chair, an appointment at Specsavers to choose some new frames, a film evening with Celia C to see Wes Andersson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel (a cinematic disappointment) and a trip to Dorchester to see our niece Elisabeth in the Community Play Drummer Hodge.
The week builds up to a crescendo of family arrivals on Friday and a visit from Jenny and Maddy prior to the grand picnic event on the 12th. Happily for Lis, and for us all, the weather holds fair if a bit windy but we are able to have our picnic en plein air at John’s Stones by Hardy’s Monument. After our cream tea at Manor Hotel, West Bexington the Light/Perryman contingent repair to The Old Workshop where a tent is erected in the garden to accommodate the throng.
During the ensuing week various activities fill our days. Barney and Dan do some climbing with the older children on Portland at Church Ope Cove. We take Cream Tea to Maiden Newton to visit Bertie. Claire comes down overnight to take Joel back to Cholsey for some school tests and Lukie returns him the following day. There is an excursion to Monkey World and Christina and Cerys come for an Easter Egg Hunt, Cream Tea and film afternoon over Easter. Come Easter Monday Nick and I are familied out and ready for a pace change before our French friends arrive the following weekend!
During the last days of March and tipping into April Nick and I enjoy a highly sociable time at 104. Thanks to yoga I have met an English woman whose husband has a boat and likes to fish and it seems sensible to introduce these men in hopes they may get on well and fish together. Before we leave for England we lunch a quatre with Lorraine and Stephen in La Marina.
Francois and Fefe who have just returned from Cape Verde issue an invitation to lunch chez eux, a delightful occasion when we meet their neighbours and Francois cooks us a fab meal. At the end of most afternoons Anne and Nick get together to practice their bodhrans.
We spend quite a bit of time with Bri and Georgy and the Poulets. With the latter we combine a cinema trip to see Les Garcons et Guillaume, a table with supper afterwards at L’Armoire a Delices, and at home we spend an evening playing cards with Bri and Geo. Best of all we get together on our last evening before departure to eat supper chez Poulet with them all.
Our month in March saw ongoing gardening efforts on our part. Nick put in many hours on the potager and we left it looking well cared-for and cultivated. Our leeks have been a wonderful crop but we should have started pulling them sooner than we did.
As for the borders I tidied up the one that runs along the wall that adjoins the road and pulled nearly all the Geranium madarense. This clearance yielded quite a lot of ground to house moved and new plants. I replaced the scallop shells along the narrow border by the gravel area near the shed. I cut the Acanthus back sharply and potted up four offspring to give away. Also potted for transport across the Channel were Echium, Agapanthus and a young G. madarense.
Our successional show of daffodils has been superb this year, they just go from strength to strength and the only care they receive is that I dead-head promptly. All the small bulbs I chucked into assorted pots have flowered well and given me splashes of colour to dot around the place.
By the time we leave the garden is looking fairly well but it will be ready for a fresh onslaught when we return in May!
We are enjoying some really good low tides at the moment. Not only are the co-efficients good, but the weather is calm and bright so there is very little water movement to make visibility difficult. Daniel invited Nick to go fishing for razor clams. There are healthy beds of Ensis arcuatus on the sand flats either side of the jetty at St Vaast La Hougue.
You never know how you will fare. It partly depends on the extent of the ebb on a particular day but also the razor clam population seems to shift position in relation to the littoral and sublittoral. On this occasion pickings were a bit lean and Daniel is a master of this craft so he always fishes more clams but Nick did come back with a nice mixed bag of molluscs with which I was able to present a platter of grilled razors and a risotto dressed with a motley assortment of molluscs.