We have just spent a week at our house in France, and with all that's going on and all our commitments as we approach Christmas that will be the last visit of this year. There's little to do in the garden now, but I did plant another tree: a white poplar, so that when the trees are in leaf we will have a range of colours, from shades of green (apple, catalpa, willow, oak, hazel) through deep reds (plum, redbud, flowering crab) to almost black (physocarpus) and now silvery white (birch, poplar.)
We took down with us a massively heavy log-splitter, in an attempt to save my husband's back as we chop up chunks of tree for our wood burner. In a very short time he amassed four barrowloads of usable logs from huge trunks which had been lying around for years, too big to go on the fire. This impressive machine works with a resounding crack as the log splits apart.
This was our second visit with no landline and no internet. In our experience getting things fixed in France is not a speedy business, and so it proved this time, despite my attempts to get someone out to repair the fault in the line. I realise just how much time I spend (one might say, waste) on the internet! However, it has had a fruitful effect, because without its distractions I have made good progress with the first draft of novel number 5. The finishing post is in sight, and this is the part of the whole process I find most exciting as all the plot-strands, so carefully laid down, start to come together and draw tight. It is also often one of the points where characters start to behave in unexpected ways and the story takes a turn I hadn't envisaged. A good story is a living thing - maybe that's why (for me, and I'm sure for many others) it's so engaging and engrossing. I'll report on progress here from time to time.
Our next visit to France will probably be in late January or early February. As plants grow from bushes into trees they need to be shaped and pruned, and I'll do it before the sap starts to rise in the spring. One day we'll have to give up our house and garden across the Channel, because it'll involve too much work for two creaky old-timers, but I hope to leave behind a park, however rough, dotted with beautiful trees.