Crikey, is it that long since I last found a moment to write? With less than a month to go before we re-open for the season we have a ton of things to do. I love the improving weather and so I enjoy working on the garden here at Le Couvent. With all the rain of this past winter everything has grown like triffids, so big chopping is involved. I and my full trailer are a regular sight at the local tip. But the garden is coming on a treat and we'll be taking the winter cover off the pool in the next fortnight. Frankly getting in the water is unthinkable at the moment, but it will soon warm up as the sun gets to work.
Meanwhile Ali is repainting large swathes of the house and generally making sure everything is in tip-top working order. She fastidiously checks every light, tap, flush, hairdryer, shower and bed-leg to make sure they're up to scratch. The boiler has been serviced ready to supply oceans of hot water for the showers. Every sheet, duvet, pillow, curtain and towel has been to the laundry and each sits wrapped in cellophane waiting for its debut.
Yesterday we made dozens of pots of strawberry jam ready for the breakfast table. It was also the day of the Roujan Foire. Traditionally it rains, but yesterday was dry and so there were squillions of people wandering up and down the eighty or so stalls selling everything from cheap watches to goats. I already have a great watch so I wasn't tempted, but the goats almost won me over until I remembered one we had the misfortune to live with when i was six. It ate everything including the washing from the line. And it was hideously aggressive. So no goats.
Tomorrow we set about bottling and labelling our last vintage. We have two different wines this year - Cuvée Solèsio, a straight peppery Syrah and Cuvée Chocolat, an assemblage of Carignan and Cinsault which tastes like those maraschino cherries, dipped in kirsch and wrapped in chocolate. Our lovely wine writing pal and Master of Wine, Rosemary George, has declared them delicious so I'm choosing to believe her, since I can't be objective. We lost one of our wines to a leaky chapeau flottante that let the air in when the tube deflated. I had hoped I'd caught it before the air did any damage, but I hadn't so our meagre harvest has been further reduced. Lesson for next year - check the cuves every day - even in winter.
A thousand thanks to the illustrious and delightful Henry Steadman for designing our wine labels for us.
The vines are looking fantastically strong and healthy and are just beginning to throw out their first leaves. It's lovely to see those first signs of the next year's fruit on its way, but I do dread the constant round of fortnightly spraying. It's a very long walk with a back pack sprayer full of organic treatment against mildew. I find it exhausting. Just thinking about it. Anybody up for lending a hand?
Our vegetable garden is groaning with cauliflowers so, as our joint imaginations haven't come up with anything more interesting, we've had a cholesterol-rich diet of nightly cauliflower cheese for over a week and I'm not sure I can face it again for a while. Roll on the salads, cherries and asparagus.
Oh, and thank you to nice Anthony Peregrine, whom we've never met, for giving us a kind mention in the Sunday Times. Just in case he reads this blog.
Happy Easter everyone.