I love April. The weather may be feckless and let you down.  But it is Spring, the rebirth of everything.

This year we have had it all: snow, wind, cold, relentless rain (one person told me we had more in two days than all last year) and – since the family left – glorious sunshine and temperatures nudging up to 30.  Now it is May which is looking a little unreliable.

Yesterday in market, Jacky told me that everything is two weeks late because of the weather (but then that was maybe to reassure me it was not too late for him to finish pruning the olive trees in May…).  It is true that my oleanders are looking very sad indeed. Jacky said they did not like all the prolonged cold. And maybe the chestnut trees on the surrounding hillsides are taking a long time to turn green.

Otherwise everything seems wonderfully normal. The sound of the cuckoos is giving way to the nightingales. I have one which sings behind the house and another which replies from the trees towards my gite. I have seen herons and buzzards (I can never tell when these might be eagles).  Yesterday I watched a woodpecker in a tree beside the house, the closest I have ever been to one. I did not realise what a magnificent splash of red they have under their tail.

Almost daily I watch the trees unfurl their leaves. The hazelnut copse round the children’s ‘shack’ is now green. And the leaves on the  lime tree and ash below the pool have become green almost overnight.

The annual challenge of keeping the grass under control on the terraces has started.  This is tough work, requiring à débroussailler (strimmer). Philippe who usually does this has a bad back.  Dan, a very nice Englishman, has come to the rescue and is also weeding and next month will be planting more flowers. Jacky will also be replanting round the pool , as well as pruning back some overenthuastic olive trees

I am lucky to be able – for now – to pay these guys. Otherwise I would be out there, frantically weeding, cutting and digging, like so many people round here, catching up on the late start to Spring.

As it is, I think I will go down now and do some genteel removing of ivy from the walls.

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