We're a bit behind with things. Not to be outdone by everyone else in the western world, Ali and I got the rotten colds the second Christmas was over. Dammit. This put paid to serious vine-pruning, gardening, sorting out general chaos - indeed anything that involved standing upright. But we're back, and on splendid form.
Today we have a heap of friends coming to lunch. We'll be two Swiss, one Catalonian, two French, four English and Ali, who is Irish/Scottish/Malaysian. So, of course, we'll speak French - the first language of just two of us. I'm trying a recipe for sanglier, only I haven't got any wild boar, so I'm substituting pork. I'll let you know how it goes - and the recipe if it works. It uses heaps of red wine in honour of the five wine-makers who'll be eating with us. I'm daring to ask them to taste our new wine from last year's fated harvest. Yesterday our pal Rosemary George, Master of Wine and expert on Languedoc wine , tasted it and, very kindly, didn't choke. She was even rather kind and encouraging about it. Thank you
No doubt you'll have seen that France, like the UK, has been covered in a blanket of snow for days now. We, here in the south, have had more of a thin veil for just one day. The rest of the time it's just been absolutely freeeezing. Despite our colds, we've spent a fair amount of time chainsawing dead peach trees for firewood. When we bought our vineyard we inherited a once-upon-a-time orchard. After three years of complete abandonment many of the trees had withered and died. I've rescued quite a number, but those past it are now filling Le Couvent with the delicious scent of peach-wood.
Our recycling scheme is going well. As fast as new stuff appears on the website someone claims it. Recent good giveaways have a been a brand new skinny Mac keyboard, a swimming pool roller and cover, 22 bottles of white wine, a pair of designer shoes, two pairs of leather trousers, two sunbeds, champagne glasses and lots more. If you're reading this locally do take a look at C'est Gratuit . There are loads of things being given away - free - for nothing. At the moment there are some great Ikea wardrobes and an Ercol dining table up for grabs. Do take a look.
The new hens have settled in famously and are fast gaining on the big girls. Anyone who's been to Le Couvent will know that our hens are absolutely enormous, living on a summer diet of croissant, pain au chocolat, pain au raisin and anything else left from breakfast. This time of year sees bags of leftovers hanging on the gates of Le Couvent from our neighbours. From time to time their kindness is rewarded with some fresh, orange yolked eggs. The perfect exchange.