Blossom

Detail of a cherry blossom

Our long established cherry trees have burst into flower this week. The warmer weather has arrived and the garden is returning to life.

Cherry blossom
Cherry blossom
Detail of a cherry blossom
Detail of a cherry blossom
Detail of a cherry blossom
Detail of a cherry blossom

My work is keeping me trapped inside for the bulk of the day but, when I can in the late evening, I am outside.

Detail of plum blossom
Detail of plum blossom

Snake in the Grass

Snake in the grass
Snake in the grass

The texture of the snake gave it away. The light reflecting off the skin seemed out of place, somehow unnatural and unnerving. It took a moment to figure out what had caught me off guard. Once found, my only thought was getting the camera.

Easter Baking and Brambles

Hot cross bun split apart.

After too many years without, this is our first Easter with a proper oven. What better time than to bake some hot cross buns?

Ring of hot cross buns cooling on a rack.
Ring of hot cross buns cooling on a rack.
Hot cross buns cooling.
Hot cross buns cooling.
Hot cross bun split apart.
Hot cross bun split apart.

Spring and Brambles

Spring has officially arrived but the weather has yet to take note. I have never been so keen to see the greenery return to the landscape. The freezing cold has mostly finished, and now wind and rain is easing us into better weather. But not soon enough.

When time allows, I have been busy in the garden. We have decades of overgrowth to tame. The brambles are being particularly challenging. I have cut back the bulk and we have a compost pile four metres long by one and half metres tall. Sadly, this compost is unusable and will have to be removed or destroyed. The brambles will not be wiped out through the composting process and could return if I used the compost later.

A section cleared of brambles
A section cleared of brambles

The garden will take many years to resemble anything approaching our ambitions. The task of getting to that point will be more than half the fun.

Charroux

Looking out from a central square in the village

We visited Charroux with visiting family. The small hilltop village had been recommended to us. Certainly pretty but maybe better in the summer months, than the winter. The small village was quiet with the few other tourists rugged up.

Charroux shield carved in stone
Charroux shield carved in stone
Gatehouse in Charroux
Gatehouse in Charroux
Church tower in Charroux
Church tower in Charroux
Wall mounted sundial in Charroux
Wall mounted sundial in Charroux
Autumnal leaves.
Autumnal leaves.
Hearts carved into window shutters.
Hearts carved into window shutters.

We will no doubt return in the future, when the weather is better.

Medieval Moulins

Above the shops in Moulins

Moulins is the administrative centre of our region. The city is home to the Préfecture de l’Allier and thus a city we have had to visit a few times.

It is a pretty city, with plenty of history on show. An easy place to take beautiful photographs.

Moulins Cathedral
Moulins Cathedral
Rooftops in Moulins
Rooftops in Moulins
Colourful enduit in Moulins
Colourful enduit in Moulins
Medieval street in Moulins
Medieval street in Moulins

Snow and Warmth

Snow laying across the valley. Allier, France.

For the first time in years, we watched snow falling while feeling warm.

Snow laying across the valley. Allier, France.
Snow in the valley. Allier, France.

The snow arrived a few days ago. A welcome flurry of flakes just in time before our guests had to head home. When our guests arrived, Autumnal leaves were still on the trees; as they left, we drove through a stunning snow covered landscape.

Inside looking out on snow.
Inside looking out on snow.

Being able to stand inside and look out across a snowy landscape is a treat. Being warm while doing so, is a delight and a relief.

Welcoming Our First Guests

Rooftops of Moulins

We enjoyed having our first visitors to stay. It was an opportunity to see if the house design worked with guests, it did, and to take numerous photos, I did.

Our house is not luxurious but it is warm and designed to make use of every square metre. We do not have a dedicated guest room. When guests come to stay, we transform what has become Megan’s office into the guest room. The transformation gives our guests their own bathroom, privacy, and a little space to themselves at night.

We experienced how well this arrangement worked when we visited friends in London. This was something more than a simple en-suite. Having your own bathroom and space as a guest is wonderful. We later saw this approach reappear in house plans suggested by various builders. In those plans, the separated area was marketed as being for the parents or master bedroom.

We took that experience on board. In our design we adapted the idea and instead ensured guests would benefit, rather than the master bedroom. At this stage of our lives, we like the idea of a family section of the house and a shared family bathroom.

Our house design confused the builders. They assumed uses of the spaces that were never intended. At times that caused quizzical exchanges.

What we have built is particularly attuned to our needs. This then was our chance to see if the design worked for guests. I think it did.

Photo Opportunity

With guests in tow, I have been out and about taking more photos than usual. Below are a few photos that particularly stand out.

Saint-Germain-des-Fossés train station
Saint-Germain-des-Fossés train station
House in Charroux
House in Charroux
Rooftops of Moulins
Rooftops of Moulins
Vichy Opera House
Vichy Opera House
Inside Vichy Cathedral
Inside Vichy Cathedral