March 2000 Newsletter

Dear friends:

This has been the month of flowering trees and shrubs, and the start of the delicate greens of spring. Following on the mimosas which blossomed in February, March has seen the fruit trees (including our cherry), the rosemary hedge is still covered in blue flowers,and even some rose blooms have appeared. The bougainvillea is showing its red foliage, and the annuals give splashes of colour. We finished off the pruning and the garden is looking fairly tidy now, with the buying and planting of annuals an ongoing task. The nurseries are a joy to visit, with so many different plants flowering away: the only problem is to avoid buying too much! We completed the placing of white gravel around the front of the house this month, involving the placing of nine tons of gravel on top of the special cloth which prevents weeds growing through. We also put in a stone border to separate the rosebed from the gravel, so everything is looking neat and tidy, and is above all, easy to look after.

An important step was taken when we decided to get a small car for Beryl to whiz around in on the narrow mountain roads. We looked at the Renault Twingo, Toyota Yaris and the Honda Logo, and chose the latter, largely because it was the only one of the three which had a conventional speedometer. It is in British Racing Green, and was delivered on March 28th. It goes very well, and Beryl is pleased with it.

We have discovered that a retired astronomer from Nice Observatory lives close by, just across the stream, and he has an observing dome in his garden with a good collection of telescopes. He has offered to clean the mirror of my telescope for me as it seems to have acquired a film over the last couple of years. On March 13th he held a soiree for the village to see the first quarter moon. Unfortunately, there was a layer of high cloud which spoiled the viewing a bit, but it was still very interesting, not least hearing the questions asked by some of the visitors!

I mentioned Rene, our new musical friend, in the last newsletter. He has given me a lot of help in getting (or trying to get) my computer and musical gadgetry hooked up and working, and I have reciprocated by networking his two computers. He went through the whole process of composing, producing and recording music on a CD for me, which was very instructive. I shall get down to it when I have some more time. He also introduced me to the chairman of the Plan de la Tour computer club: not to laugh, the club has a dozen computers and a web site. I shall get a chance to play with Windows NT this way.

We enjoyed the short visit of Tom and Heather Kovacs (friends from Ottawa) during the month as part of a mammoth tour leaving Paris, via Vienna, Italy, us, Toulouse and back to Paris for the flight home. The weather was good while they were here and we caught up on news and tasted a few bottles. Caroline, Anna and Julia arrived by air at Nice on March 20th, with Francesco following in the car on 26th. Anna is not quite back to her normal self so we are trying to feed her up. Julia is very tranquil, apart from demanding feeds at all hours of the night. We even looked after both of them while Caroline and Francesco went out for dinner one evening, the first time in 2 1/2 years! They have all gone off to Italy for a few days to see friends and will be back again later this week for about ten days, before driving back to Coventry.

The village had a weekend devoted to the olive a couple of weeks ago. The Saturday morning had a talk followed by a demonstration of how to prune an olive tree, so I went along to gather some tips, very useful it was too. The afternoon had a visit to a working olive farm, and the next day was contests for making aioli, recipes for using olives in cooking, and so on. We were invited, with other members of AVF (i.e. newcomers to the village) to a reception attended by the mayor with little speeches of welcome and so on, followed by aperitifs, pizza and snacks and good chat. Pictures were being taken while this was going on, but we were not prepared to find ourselves in the local paper a few days later, front and centre! All good wishes to everyone. Alan and Beryl