Letter from Vimer

THE FRENCH look for flurries of snow and take to the mountains in February, as the two-week school holidays begin.

Only this year, it wasn”t necessary to take to the hills because the snow found the French in such unlikely places as Nice and Marseilles, even Monaco was affected, quite a rarity. We too had our share, and Vimer looked lovely under a soft, white canopy, 4in deep.

 Looking through the window at night, with apple wood burning sweetly in the fireplace, it all looks ethereal outside – but there is another side of the story. In the very cold light of day, we find that the milk tanker can”t climb the kilometre sloping out of the farm, and after three attempts it gets stuck half way and has to be pulled.

 Coming down in the opposite direction, but not at the same time, the tractor, pulling the feeder wagon jacknifes, sliding off the road, and also needs pulling out of the ditch.

For the rest of the week, the maize silage has to be ferried down in the bucket, adding more work to an already overloaded schedule. We have had the coldest March at -9C since 1945.

Despite the cold, it was very nice to get away for while, if only for a very brief visit to the SIMA Show at Paris. It takes much longer than we had to get around the Show, especially when we bump into FW readers, who are always ready for a chat. We noticed that there was a strong contingent who had ventured down from north of the border this year. I was just sorry we went on the wrong day to bump into Brian Aldridge and Siobhan from The Archers who were recording there.

 I took the opportunity of having to give fewer English lessons to go and stay with my daughter Cherry and my baby grandson, Eliott, fresh out of hospital. That, too, was a flying visit, just three days cocooned in their cosy flat in Rennes, with the sun shining through their tall, gothic windows. Lovely windows, we thought, looking out on the secluded courtyard, of what used to be cloisters.

 Not so lovely when, shortly before Eliott was due to come home, (he was two months premature and had to stay in a prem unit for a few weeks), someone broke into the flat, while Cherry and her husband Frederic, late back from the hospital and exhausted, slept upstairs.

 Various things were stolen, including a new digital camera and Fred”s coat with all his keys, (flat, car and garage), cheque books and ID cards, (passport, driving licence, carte de sejour), and some videos, in English.

The thief has been found, by his fingerprints – a regular offender apparently, but so far they haven”t had anything returned so now they have the hassle of getting new documents issued.

We found we didn”t think about this too much, Cherry and I, as we sat – Mum and daughter – watching baby Eliott sleeping in Cherry”s arms while the snow fell softly outside.

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