Thursday, 29 March 2012

Warm weather for March


Preparing for the Tour de Normandie

It is hard to believe that it is still March.  We have been enjoying the same warm weather as the rest of western Europe.  Although it feels like summer the landscape has a very strange look to it. The trees are still bare and the majority of plants are only just beginning to show signs of life.

A week ago the sloes were just coming into flower, now they are full of flowers and the leaf buds are starting to burst open. The plum tree is also coming into leaf.

The cuttings from the fruit bushes that I planted along the boundary fence are looking healthy, they have good leaf growth.  Last year we had a good soft fruit crop but more fruit is always nice and would mean I could use it to make jams as well as just as a treat to eat.  Rather than expanding the fruit bed I decided to try and plant a soft fruit hedge. I realize it could mean that passers by will help themselves, but as we live on a very quiet road I don't see that it will be a big problem.

Start Gate in Domfront

Awaiting the start of the Tour de Normandie
Last Friday we went as usual to the market in Domfront.  Whilst there we noticed several motorbikes parking up outside one of the cafes, then along came several large camper vans and cars with bikes on their roofs.  It was then we realised that there was some sort of cycle event on. Up on the large square at the top of the town we found the race 'caravan'.  It was reminiscent of last years 'Tour of Britain' in Bury St Edmunds. There were teams of cyclists warming up and technicians doing last minute checks on the bikes.  The next stage of the Tour of Normandie was due to start in Domfront.  The previous days stage winner was a British rider, sorry I can't remember his name.  We didn't recognise any of the names when the team were presented at the sign in. Most appeared very young.  This tour is the first of the racing season, and all were enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. 

Sunday was Rob's birthday and to celebrate the occasion we went out for lunch.  We decided it was a suitable opportunity to try a restaurant which had been recommended to us.  The 'Auberge de la Mine ' is in the village of Gué Plat a  village built to house the workers of the local iron ore mine.  The restaurant is in what was the Cantine where single miners lived and ate.

As  anticipated we enjoyed a beautiful meal, scallops with asparagus for starter, pigeon for our main course, and a apple baked for 7 hours as dessert.

Yesterday we drove to the coast and enjoyed lunch on the harbour at Granville. Again amazingly warm, usually on the coast there is a breeze it was really quiet weather. Granville old town is built on a rock promontory were there are several old military buildings, a light house and the remains of WWII fortifications as well as many beautiful town houses.   Should anyone be interested there is a 1960's house next to the lighthouse which belongs to the military and is now up for sale. The position is ideal for lovers of the sea, views out over the coast line on three sides.  There is a garden, although we aren't sure what would actually grow on such an exposed spot, garage and light house in the grounds. When we were there it was idyllic but we can only assume that for the majority of the year it is a very wind swept spot.
We had a lovely day walking around the old town, it was beautiful and peaceful and with the warm sun it really had the feel of a summer holiday.

Each year in November, there is an art 'Salon' in the nearby town of Flers. Artists from the Bocage area of Normandy  exhibit their work at this show. Last year Rob asked about taking part and was told to send photographs of his most recent work for consideration.  When we arrived here last week there was a letter waiting for him to say that he was invited to show some of his work to the committee. Unfortunately the date had passed and even though Rob explained that they had only given three weeks notice and therefore he wasn't here, they have said he has to reapply next year - their loss I am afraid.  Hopefully we will arrange an exhibition ourselves - possibly in England.

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