Yes, this has become a weekend blog …

Time to catch up on the happenings in small town France.

Well, today it has been a scorcher. Temperatures as high as 30°c – about 8°c above the average for this time of year and everything in the garden is … well it should be lovely, but, thanks to the unseasonally hot weather, and the lask of rain over the last few months , my corner of France has officially been declared as a drought area.

For those (such as me) ignorant on the technical aspects of most things precipitous, the question is – how in God’s name can there be a drought after all that snow we had ?

My local paper comes to the rescue with a simple answer. Snow doesn’t melt its way down into the ground – it doesn’t seep through to augment underground water sources, and so, the local water table, despite the snow, is at an all time low for this time of year.

In this part of the world, We have just had the driest winter on record since 1913. Just 93 millilitres of rainfall where there is normally 244 ml. Hence, earlier this week, the local « water crisis cell » met and discussed hose pipe bans and such like. I am not aware that they have enforecd a hose pipe ban or not. For all the years that I have lived in France, I have never heard of any authority introducing a hosepipe ban, however, local gardeners have been asked to water their plants before 8 in the morning or after 8 at night, and where possible to avoid using hoses.

The hardest hit are local farmers – the deep water reserves they normally tap into are at an all time low – the defecit in the local water table is as much as 65% in the worst hit areas, with an average county-wide defeicit of 45%.

Farmers have seen their water quotas cut – a 20% réduction in what they are allowed to pump up to water their crops. May is a heavy watering season for local farmers, and the way they irrigate their crops often annoys many « townies » … for example, you are driving through the countryside, in the pouring rain, fields on either side of you as far as the eye can see, and in the middle of the fields – huge water cannons, chugging out thousands of litres of water over maize and colza fields. I can’t see the logic, but crops such as maize require vast amounts of water and the farmers would argue that it ain’t just a few late April showers that are going to make their crops grow.

As for things that grow – there will be a plentiful soft fruit harvest in the garden this year – the strawbery patch isin full bloom – fifty buds, I’ve lost count of the amount of raspberry canes and there are cherries formingon the trees. Should be a good crop. In a few weeks I’ll be hauling the ladder out the garage, propping it up against a cherry tree, and most of late June will be spent running up and down the lader to get the cherries in – which reminds me, this weekend, I’ll have to get up in the cherry trees to string up old Cds and foil – réflective devices to keep the birds off the cherries.

So, this weekend is going to be a scorcher, and just as weel, of rit marks the official opening of the car bot sale season, that will run until mid-October. A French car boot sale is called a « brocante ». The average brocante is held in a far flung country village and monoplolises the entire village for the day. I’ll be off to a few. Items to look for … paraphenalia from bars – glasses, ashtrays, water jugs, old adverts and old black and white postcards.

Up and coming in small town France .. The weekend of the 21st and 22nd of May – the national meet of the French Harley Davidson club – 3000 bikes expected.

And now of to cook the dinner and then water the garden – woth a watering can.