Archive Article: 2000/04/21

21 April 2000

Can it really be spring? Last week it was very hard to tell, being so cold and wet. Tim couldnt let the cows out for a few days. The tell-tale signs are there now though, primroses and celandines cover the grassy banks at the top of the road winding down to the farm. Spring flowers softening the harshness of what used to be a wooded area opening out on the valley, but which now looks bare after the devastation this Christmas.

The last few warm, sunny days have brought out the bluebells and there is a big bunch of bright yellow freesias on the kitchen table. I rather took a fancy to Judith Morrows New Year resolution of having fresh flowers in the house. Last week it was daffodils.

Weve had our last calf now until the season begins again in August, so its just routine feeding for me in the calf house until these last 20 are weaned and moved out.

The bulk of the lambing is done – lamb is temporarily off the menu at present – and Tim is busy getting as many lambed ewes out of the shed and onto the banks while the weather is fine.

The local ploughing match took place yesterday in brilliant sunshine in one of our fields in front of the chateau. They were pleased with the turnout of 14 competitors. Our contractor came sixth. He knows the fields well although one of his drivers usually does our ploughing, but it was he who organised the event, and he who organised the after match supper, which dragged on for a while. There is something about the French having trouble getting going. We were there for an hour before the aperitif and almost as long between courses, despite it being a prepared, cold supper.

As the meal progressed, the conversation became lively. The agricultural chat (and several recaps of the afternoons performances) turned into a discussion about learning English. One of the men works with his brother producing Camembert cheese, in Camembert and says he needs to learn English because of the summer season and visitors, so I think Ill look into the possibility of doing "English for farmers" when the new season starts in September.

Of course, what sounds like a good idea after cider, wine and Calvados, might look less tempting in the cold light of day after the work is done but well see…

Meanwhile, there are some perils to the language teaching job – I often get to visit factories as part of the course, a lot of companies have English speaking customers and visitors. Ive seen how paracetamol suppositories are made, office furniture, wood veneer and MDF (medium density fibreboard), brass rods and cabling, but the best was last week when the class visited a company which produces perfume and soap for Yves Saint Laurent, Roger Gallet and others. The wonderful smell in the atmosphere took me a long way from my usual Eau de Veaux.

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