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Spring 2017

It's been a long time since my last update, for many reasons, mostly health related, but no boring details to follow.

The grass is growing, the daffodils and snowdrops are up and everything is bursting with life! We love this time of the year, it signals warmer weather, long awaited after the freezing temperatures we had in January and February. Down to minus 15C at one point! The pond froze over and even the waterfall froze with the water trickling under it, truly amazing and something we have never had before.

We are well ahead in the garden at the moment, vegetable patch already to be planted up, grass already cut - twice, and the seedlings up and strong in the poly tunnel. The dahlia tubers are on the bench and we are waiting for the first shoots to appear. Always an exciting time to see these tiny shoots become magnificent blooms in the summer.

We had a short time away in Provence in February, helping a friend move into her home. It was nice to have such a temperate climate, 18-20C. However, good to be back in the wonderful verdant Normandy. I know that goes with an large amount of rain, but well worth it to have such a lush environment.

The pond has been cleaned, the filters changed and our growing number of fishes are being fed again. We started off with 8 and now have an estimated 40! can't be exact as the little devils don't stand still enough to count accurately. Their environment obviously suits them and they are just increasing in number exponentially! We are told that they will only increase in numbers up to the size of the pond. We'll see what happens this year!

We already have several bookings and even have guests at this time of the year, which is unusual, so if you would like to spend time at La Ferme, book early.

Wishing everyone a wonderful 2017. Hope to see you soon.

After the mild winter

We've all been lucky with one of the mildest winters for years and it has certainly encouraged people to travel in the Spring. Where we had a very slow start last year because of the constant rain, the mild weather I'm sure has helped with our bookings which started back in Feb/March.

Our winter was spent taking a break for ourselves for 6 weeks travelling around Spain visiting friends, and also my brother and his wife who live there, while the house was ably looked after by Rene, our lovely German friend who came as a Workawayer for 2 weeks, on his bike! and just stayed on! Freddie came with us and a good time was had by all.

On our return we have managed to finish the bedroom, shower room and linen cupboard which was started last year and have only now to paint the wordwork and move the furniture in. This bedroom will also be able to be used as an extra room for the B and B as it links direcly with one of the apartments perfect for a family who want 2 rooms, but can share its kitchen and dining room. We can also use it as a dedicated Workawayer bedroom and bathroom.

Geoff has propagated his dahlia tubers and has more than a thousand cuttings now, but not enough room to plant them all, so the extras will be given away to anyone who wants them. This winter, despite the mild weather, he heated the benches in our large polytunnel where he puts the tubers to save them from any possible frost, but the combination of the warmth and his sand and soil compost has just made everything grow so strong and healthy and also very quickly.

We're now planting up the vegetable garden and bringing on the seedlings in the polytunnel ready to go out after the threat of frost, about mid May here.

We've decided too this year that we will let the apartments, as well as B&B, on a Gite basis, ie self catering, as a lot of guests last year stayed for a few days or a week or more and found this much more convenient to themselves. It's cheaper of course as we don't have to supply breakfast and serve it and It also means we don't have to get up early to get the bread! 

This year marks the big Six OHHH! for Geoff and we are planning a party for him with lots of friends making the journey from the UK. Having had his serious health problems 4 years ago we at one time thought he might never see 60, so a real reason to celebrate (as if we need one!) Historically, it rains on the weekend of his birthday (1 June), so we are hoping that this year the sun will shine, but have in anyway organised a marquee, just in case.

To all our potential guests, please read our Guest book page for comments, and to all our past guests and those who have already returned to us, thank you for your vists and the lovely times we have had with you. 

We're looking forward to another sunny summer and meeting all those people who bring so much into our lives.


What a fantastic summer!

Although the spring was wet and bookings a bit slow to begin with this year we have enjoyed the fabulous hot summer with the flow of even more delightful guests from all over the world, and bookings are still coming.

The launch of the second apartment last year has been a huge success into this year and often is the preferred choice, possibly because of its larger kitchen and more suitability to larger families.

We are still in building mode and started yet another room last winter specifically for our volunteer workers, (explained further on) with an extra shower room and also a large walk in airing cupboard for all the linen and towels etc. This area still has to be finished which we will complete in the next few weeks now the summer seems to be over.

We then have just one more area to develop and that will be it.

We couldn't manage all this work without the help of a constant stream of Workawayers. These are volunteer workers who come to give work in exchange for board and lodging. We use a site called Workaway.info where we can search for volunteers and they can search for us. We all post a profile so it's easy to make choices. A big thank you to all of them over the last 3 years we have been part of the programme.

We now also have a cascading water fall right next to the picnic area which is lit up in the evening. The large oak dining table which we have had in storage since being in France has been brought out and dusted off and put in the picnic area which can now easily seat 14! With the chiminea and the pergola roof which is now on, we can even sit out there in the evenings when it's a bit chilly or even raining. This area has become an extension of the house and this year we have spent almost every evening al fresco! Geoff also has built a very pretty seating area by the pond, which we had dug out last winter. This part of the garden gets the last rays of sun in the evening and is a perfect spot for a G&T, or our favourite, Voddy limes! (thank you Jeannie for the recipe).

Cut into small pieces, one lime per person and put into a heavy based glass, like a whiskey glass. Add two teaspoons of sugar and use a pestle to grind the lime and sugar together to extract as much juice and zest as possible. Fill the glass with ice. Pour over the vodka, stir and enjoy! The size of the whiskey glass, to one lime to the quantity of ice and vodka are perfect proportions. (It's very important to fill the glass with ice BEFORE pouring in the vodka. You will only make that mistake once!)

Just one bit of sad news...we lost our adorable Westie, Henri at the end of June to a stroke. I had to make that dreadful decision and it broke my heart, but at almost 17 years old he had had his day and it was his time. Until the stroke he had been perfectly healthy and even lively. He is sadly missed by every one who knew him. But Freddie continues to delight us and all the guests and is proving to be a loyal, intelligent and gentle dog.

I will be updating the pictures on the site any day now, just waiting for the sun the come out again, hope I haven't missed the opportunity. Want to take the pictures while the Creeping Virginia is still on the house and the dahlias are still in bloom.

Happy New Year!!!

And another year has slipped by! It's unbelievable how time just flies and we are already into updating the site and starting off yet another year at La Ferme. We will be happy if this year goes as well as last and look forward to meeting even more wonderful guests and sharing their experiences over a glass or two. Henri the Westie (now 16 and half!!!) is still going strong and despite his deafness and age seems to enjoy life here at La Ferme. All the guests just love him and I'm sure with such a  large turnover of people through the place it helps keep him on his toes. It certainly works that way for me! Freddiepup is no longer the pup he was and has matured into a magnificent Border Collie with the nicest personality we could wish for. A real complement to Henri and a huge asset to the household.

With all our ailments behind us we are looking forward to a good year, especially now with the second apartment up and running. It has been as well received as the first.

We are, however, hoping for a dryer year this year, I even had geraniums drown in their pots as they never had a chance to drain. The garden was not so good last year but I'm hoping with better health and more time this year it will be restored to its former glory.

Freezing February!

Well, the mild winter weather lasted well, but we are in the midst of well below freezing at night, -8 degrees expected tonight, and sub zero during the days too, just like the rest of you out there. There's plenty of sunshine but it doesn't make any difference to the ambient temperature. Reminds me of many wonderful ski holidays, lunching on sun drenched verandas and decks, wrapped in blankets over the ski gear! Sadly, I can't go this year.

I did have to have that operation to my elbow. It was almost a month ago and I get out of the plaster cast next Monday (6th). The problem being the right arm has rendered me pretty useless over these few weeks and I can't wait to have the thing removed...neither can Geoff! He has bee remarkable coping with all the extra things he has had to do. I can't do so much as peel a carrot! Then I have to have 3 weeks physio and the consultant has recommended that I don't ski this year. I'm OK with that as I really don't want to undo all the good work he has done.

Geoff and our Workawayer Lee, are cracking on with B&B 2 and we will have it up and running by April, mid to end. Once I get back to work I will be able to do the best bits, decorating and furnishing! I love that.  I already have the curtain fabric and lots of things still in storage will be unpacked and dusted off. B&B 2 will be to the same standard as B&B 1 so it's very exciting for me to be able to do the planning for it.

Freddiepup continues to be a joy and at five and half months now is developing his shiny coat and long feathers to his tail. He hasn't quite worked out the 'we throw the stick, you bring it back' game. He runs after it, lies on the grass and chews it! He also has a penchant for ripping up paper, any paper. It was the cheque book yesterday, 3 toilet rolls the day before and make-up tissues from my waste basket on a regular basis. However, his mischievous antics have given Henri a new lease of life and at 15 and a half he has regained a little skip in his step and loves to tell Freddie off when he gets too annoying.

We already have several bookings for this year so that is a very good sign for us and even as far ahead as September. We had a wonderful time last year meeting such an array of interesting and lovely people. We're looking forward to the same this year. Perhaps we might even meet you!

Keep warm! 


December already!

How can it be nearly Christmas again!!!! This year has flown by.
And it doesn't even seem like winter as the weather has been so mild all through the autumn until now. We had our first real rain over the past couple of days and the garden needed it! 

I'm pleased to say Geoff's back has settled down and surgery isn't on the menu ...yet... but may be a possibility in the future. In the meantime he continues to create B&B2 with gusto and is enjoying every minute of it.

My tendonitis however, is no better and an MRI later this month will determine whether surgery is necessary, as the consultant believes I have torn the tendon to the elbow and it won't mend on its own! (two weeks in a cast if that's the case, which will mean changing beds and cleaning will be even more difficult than now). But as it's the low season we don't have many guests right now so I am able to cope perfectly well, with Geoff's help of course, and a restraint to the elbow and wrist to minimise the use of the tendon.

Freddie continues to grow at an amazing rate and at four and half months is all legs now, We are hoping he'll grow into them as, if he keeps on at this rate, he'll be taller than me by Spring! He and Henri are great mates now and Freddie has a good respect for the old sage. 

We are trying something new in the garden this year - Lasagna gardening - Google it! It's fascinating! (Thank you Albert and Doris who put us onto this). It's just layers and layers of paper, cardboard, mulch, kitchen compost, horse manure, garden clippings, grass cuttings, leaf mould all layered on top of each other on a patch you wish to cultivate next spring. It doesn't have to be good soil to begin with as the process creates the good soil underneath. There's no ground prep, no digging, and we are assured - next to no weeds next year. Once the 2ft deep heap has composted down over winter it's ready to plant straight into in the spring! I'll keep you informed.

In the meantime Geoff and I wish you everything we would wish for ourselves, a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.

September/October/November

The clocks went back last night, the definitive marker for Autumn and Winter. However we have the most amazingly warm and sunny weather during the day time although the nights are very cold which is perpetuating the confusion in the garden!  The frost we had 3 nights ago put paid to the dahlias, begonias and geranium flowers, but the brussels are coming on a treat! Spicy parsnip soup was on the menu last week and also a wonderful new recipe for 'Borscht'!
Now, we think that Borscht is a Russian beetroot soup, generally served cold, don't we! (Rhetorical!) It is in fact a sort of beef stew WITH beetroot. The recipe came direct from the Urals! No, not sent with the Meerkats! (in joke) but from the wife of our wonderful Russian Workawayer Artie, who stayed with us for 10 days. It's a rich, beefy, spicy soup with onions and garlic and cabbage and potatoes AND beetroot all cooked together over a few hours. Delicious! It's on the menu!
The last couple of months have brought more wonderful characters passing through our doors and we have had even more engaging evenings with our guests from America, Canada, Italy, Germany, Holland and of course the UK.
That's all the good news, but we have an enforced delay on BnB2 as Geoff's herniated disc decided to misbehave again 3 days ago. He ended up in hospital on a pain/anti-inflammatory drip for 12 hrs and now we have to pursue an end to this ongoing 12 year itch with a consultancy with a surgeon to hopefully find a solution to this re-occurring problem (not to mention my tennis elbow, nothing to do with tennis) which I have been suffering from for weeks now. Consequently we will probably have to take a few weeks off to recuperate before we can go further with the building works and it means we will be unable to take Christmas bookings for BnB2. However, BnB1 is up for grabs!
The addition to our family of a puppy Border Collie Freddie, couldn't have been worse timed given the ailments right now, but I have to say Freddie is a delight and well worth the effort (despite the pain!). He is learning quickly and is becoming a real friend to Henri. Henri might not agree with me but that's the advantage of being able to impose human thoughts onto animals! Pictures next time as Freddie is growing by the minute!

July/August

Where did the last two months go!!!!!
 
After the early summer spell during April/May, June and July heralded some much need rain. The garden seems confused as does everything in the polytunnel, but we are still getting good crops from the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, and also onions, radish and beetroot. The winter crops are also doing well. Geoff's chillies are prolific and his Indian meals are a real favourite. The rhubarb has gone berserk and rhubarb crumble, pie or flan regularly gets served for dessert for the guests. And with my newly aquired kitchen blow torch Crème Brulée is another big favourite.
 
With a constant flow of even more delightful people through the B&B we have decided to renovate the rest of the property and include within that another B&B apartment to the same standard as the already well received one. The added attraction for this apartment will be the stunning views down the meadow land at that end of the building. The construction work is already well under way and we plan to be ready for Christmas bookings.
 
Once the building work is completed and he leaves me to do the decorating and finishing, Geoff plans to grow more of his special breed dahlias and create a small learning and educational centre which will be open to the public, to view and buy cut flowers or tubers and plants for the next year. This will complement our neighbours' Lavender Farm allowing guests and visitors a relaxing and informative time in naturally, beautiful surroundings.
 
We couldn't have done all this so far without the help and enthusiasm from our 'Workawayers' (volunteer manual workers who give their time in return for full board and lodging with us and who live in as family). It'a win/win situation as most of the Workawayers are travelling the world stopping off at various places to enjoy each location and then move on. We get to meet people from all over the world, enjoy their company/cultures, and benefit from their help.

Early June

It's June and what a wonderful start to the summer we have had already. Not only with the glorious weather we have all been enjoying, but for us, super guests as well, from all parts of the world. Each set of guests add a little more richness to our lives with their differing cultures and languages, even accents and our Table d'Hôte dinners have been widely appreciated and enjoyed, particularly the salmon parcels and lemon meringue pie and Geoff's Indian cuisine which he makes from scratch mixing all his own spices in a traditional pestle and mortar!
 
The vegetable garden is full and the flowers and pots and hanging baskets are becoming more and more colourful.
 
Henri loves all the attention he is getting, that's when he's not basking in the sun.
 
We're planning a chicken coup this summer, so I'm hoping I'll soon be able to put fresh eggs on the breakfast menu.

April/May

How time flies! April is just about over and we have the May bank holiday here. The garden is blossoming and the grass needs cutting on a regular basis now. We have had wonderful summer weather this month (April) and look forward to more of it through May.