Newsletter - February 2001

This was a strange month weatherwise. We had a couple of weeks of sunny springlike weather, then a sudden change to cold wintry weather for a week, and now back to the cloudy stuff that has been such a feature of this winter. The wintry weather was caused by the same system that gave the UK such a cold snap, and it brought heavy snow to parts of the Var and snow generally all over France. The east-west motorway that runs across Provence was closed for two days near St Maximin with 80 cm of snow, and thousands of homes in the Var were without electricity and telephone for several days because of lines brought down by the snow or trees broken by snow. In Plan de la Tour, we were lucky as no snow fell here, but as the picture shows, the precipitation fell as snow on the surrounding hills and mountains. Now it has gone milder again, and buds are shooting all over the place and flowers appearing, so spring shouldn't be far away.

During the mild weather, we got down to work in the garden and have taken out some shrubs from the parking area to be replaced by ones with more colour. Beryl made a paving stone base around the fountain, and started moving plants around. Pruning of various items has continued where possible, including the rosemary hedge, which has been flowering furiously this year. We even mowed the lawn, to even it up!

The major activity during the month has been work on the kitchen. The carpenter delivered and installed five drawer units and three cupboard doors, custom-built of local chestnut, not without some difficulty, as nothing is square, level or vertical, and as concrete is the main material. making adjustments is not easy. Beryl then treated the visible woodwork with the "liming" process called ceruse here, which gives the wood an attractive light finish and brings out the grain. A coat of wax finishes the job off and it all looks very good. We have a new oven and a new American style frig is on order. Our neighbour the electrician installed seven halogen spotlights in the ceiling, so everything in the kitchen is well lit. The goal has been to modernise the kitchen and make it easier to work in, without spoiling the essential Provencal country kitchen aspects.