Yes, we are still in winter: yesterday it was -1 degrees when I went to the baker in Bréau (though by the afternoon we are often sitting outside).

But February is a strange month; nature is never really dormant. The hazelnut trees have had catkins for several weeks now and suddenly crocuses and other small flowers have sprung open. The tits are suddenly tweeting away and last week I even heard a nightingale – just briefly.

Jacques, the local onion farmer, is busy ploughing in preparation his ever expanding number of fields (he has been quietly being buying up parcels over the last ten years).

We have had very little rain since November (when we had a lot) and – a reminder that summers seem to be drier too – Jacques’ brother Eric has been installing what seems a huge pipe system to irrigate the lower fields.

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