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The Secret Cevennes - articles by Samantha David

Bye bye gloves, hello nettle beds...

I can’t believe it’s finally here. Nah, I’m not talking about spring. Everyone’s been announcing the first day of spring since Boxing Day, but I don’t care about the first day of spring. I’m far more interested in the first day of No Stove: the day I can finally fling my coal-hauling gloves into the bin and let the Aga go out.

And it’s here. Evenings might get a trifle chilly for a few weeks and the mornings might be parky, but I don’t care. I’m not even looking at another bundle of kindling until after the summer holidays. Put the cover on the stove, plonk a cloth on top of that. Stove? What stove? Bliss.

This is definitely my favourite time of year. Once the stove goes out there’s no wood or coal to bring up from the cellar every morning, and for a few weeks at least, there’s no water to take down to the garden and no-one is likely to demand a barbecue on the terrace either. I can relax.

Well, sort of. There are flowers to be potted up and the garden needs sorting if it’s going to look like anything at all. I’ll have to get out there with the nasturtium seeds and the bay tree has gone mad so unless I get out there and tie it up, it’ll overshadow everything else.

I suppose I also ought to get all the fly curtains out of storage and fix them over the doors, including the thick white netting curtain which goes over the (constantly open) front door. Otherwise, within weeks, we’ll be invaded by horrible black flies and mosquitoes.

And I guess it is a good idea to wash and store all the blankets. We used a lot of them when we had guests at Christmas and there was that hot chocolate incident. So I’d better get that lot dunked in the wash house. And the winter woollies, I suppose. They’ll need sorting out, mending and putting away.

And I mustn’t forget to bring the white plastic terrace furniture up from the cellar so we can have lunch outside. We aren’t quite into barbie weather yet, but it won’t be long and it’ll be nice to start eating outside asap.

All of which, when I think about it, means that it’s not quite such a good season on the lifting and carrying front after all. What with dragging stuff down to the cellar for storage and heaving stuff up to the house for the summer, I’ll still be doing my daily donkey impersonation.

Ah well. Perhaps I’ll ignore all that for another week or so. I’ll just wander down the garden for a little gentle pruning and tidying. I saw some wretched brambles sticking their heads out of the rockery the other day. I’d better uproot them before they get too comfortable. In which case, I’ll need some sturdy gloves, otherwise my hands will get ripped to shreds.

Oh no... I’ll have to get my coal-hauling mitts out of the bin.

Next column will be uploaded around 1st May.

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