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20th March

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Istanbul is such a wonderful city, even in the rain and snow we managed to have a thoroughly enjoyable week, though we ate far too much, being able to fit into my slightly too small wedding outfit is looking even less likely. Our cats were all here to greet us when we arrived home in the early hours on Saturday and padded joyfully across our bed all night. We didn’t have the heart to shut them outside after a week away. We were thrilled to find the main house was several degrees warmer than when we left, after a week of sunshine all the rooms next to the conservatory have heated up, so we have moved back in. There is a layer of dust on everything from the building works, the spring sunshine shows up all the cobwebs and dirt. I realise the reason there is so much housework is because a two hundred year old house in France has far more surfaces than a modern house. There are hundreds of wooden beams, which hold up the ceilings/ floor above in every room. Every window has a pair of white shutters which are currently looking rather grey. In the summer bats spend the day behind the open shutters, giving visitors a fright if they try and close them. Just living in the country next to farmland means we get birds nesting wherever they see fit, even on the beams inside the bedrooms and then there is the problem of small mammals, though less so now we have the cats. We used to hear beech martens frolicking noisily in the loft every night, they have all moved on now, but only after removing swathes of insulation.

The garden has to take priority over everything this week, including OU modules, the polytunnel is up, and I have filled 300 poly pots with soil and now have planted vegetable seeds in all of them which hopefully will germinate over the next few weeks. I’ve discovered potato grow bags and I’m now using them rather than plant rows of seed potatoes. It’ll be easier to pick off the Colorado beetles. I love the idea of a flap that can be raised to harvest a few potatoes at a time, rather than dig up the whole plant. I’ve ordered more poly pots for the flower seeds, which I’ll pot a bit later hoping to delay the flowers until the wedding day when they can all be cut and arranged in the church/ marquee. I was rather depressed by a visit to the caterer yesterday who told us of a producer not far from us who does cut flowers at trade prices, I’ve bought all the seeds now and set aside sixty square metres, currently covered in black plastic to kill off the vegetation so I can dig it, or even rotivate it if I can persuade Philip to get me a rotivator as an early birthday present.

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