11 Jan 2010
One of the things we love about living in Normandy is the natural beauty on our doorstep. And when it snows, it just gets better.
Not that we get that much snow, normalement. The last time the ground was covered in December was in 1999, following the Grand Tempête (aka Storm Lothar). Since then, a week or two of snow is about all we get, and rarely all at once.
This year has been exceptional. Several times we've found it impossible to leave our courtyard. The slight incline to our gate and the lane beyond has been enough to defeat our car.
And just when you think things are letting up, it snows again. Twice we cancelled a party because we knew people wouldn't be able to make it to our house - and if they did, they wouldn't make it back again. (We had the party on the third attempt.)
On Christmas Eve we were due to go to a friend's house for dinner. Two hours before we were due to set off, a blizzard started. We set out, but about two kilometres later, while passing through our village, we tried to make a left turn. It spite of judicious use of handbrake and throttle, the car just continued straight ahead until we hit the curb. We turned back for home, just making it up the slopes. An hour later, the snow had turned to slush and we made it to the dinner party (for which I'm glad - the food was fabulous). But since then, we've been trapped several times.
No matter, if we can't drive, we'll walk. These photographs were taken on just a short walk around the fields neighbouring our house. Here are two images of the apple orchard that our neighbour, Patrick, planted next to us about 10 years ago.
At the end of our lane is the road to the village. The small wood you can see from the road is one of my favourite subjects. Some people describe Normandy in Winter as bleak, but I think it has a beautiful, pared-down simplicity.
And I couldn't resist this picture of our dog, Zola. He has 'feathers' of fur on his legs that gather small snowballs. Actually, they're more like ice, and after he's been dashing about in the snow for more than a few minutes, they start to clank and rattle. We find it funny. He doesn't seem to notice.
For more adventures in the snow see the blog at Mansfield-Devine.com.