Two BBQs in two days – not bad for early April

Open for business

Not an April fool, either. The first two days of April were glorious, with temperatures well over 20ºC. We made a good start on all those outdoor tasks that hung over us last year because the weather was so bad. Things like cutting the lawns, strimming, opening the pool, dusting off the garden chairs, planting out some shrubs that have been waiting patiently in their pots over the winter, etc. We have nearly two acres and, while much of it is field or woodland, it still takes some maintenance.

Yesterday, we struggled to get the incredibly heavy winter cover off the pool. We almost have heart attacks putting it on each autumn, since it has to be secured with very strong elastic cables that are stretched over iron hooks secured in the paving. Then we almost have heart attacks when we do the process in reverse in the early spring.

Our efforts were rewarded by very clear water and just a bit of green gunk (and a few silently rotting frogs – how do they get in?) at the bottom. There were also half a dozen small green frogs occupying the skimmers. We knew they were there since they had been serenading for several weeks – it’s amazing how these small creatures can make such a row. They had to be scooped out (no easy task) and deposited in the damp greenery in the shade. No doubt they’ll be back in today.

After this, we felt we deserved a treat. Our barbecue on Friday evening was just saucisses-frîtes, so we planned something a little more special last night. We started with new season’s asparagus so fresh that it needed only the lightest of cooking; then came barbecued rare steak with potatoes roasted in olive oil and scattered with thyme and rosemary; salad and goat’s cheese; finally, local Gariguette strawberries, which are so sweet that they need no sugar. All washed down with a bottle of Château de la Rivière 2004 from the cave. Bliss.

Stone table and barbecue in spring

The evening was balmy even after the sun had gone down, so we were able to stay out until the light went. We ate at our stone table on the terrace under the hazel tree, near which we have rigged up a rustic barbecue. The table was one of the things that sold us the house, reminding us of the famous stone table in Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence. The Statistics Freak (being of that turn of mind) has calculated that the single slab of stone which forms the table top weighs around 900kg and that it would take 12 men standing shoulder to shoulder around it to lift it. No doubt it had to be installed with a crane. The hazel tree is a boon. It provides a natural parasol so we can sit beneath it even when the temperature is in the high thirties and the sun is beating down unmercifully.

Before you conclude that we eat out every day of the year, let me tell you that this is most unusual. Naturally, the Statistics Freak keeps a record of when we had our first evening barbecue each year. We have never had one as early as this before: the first one is normally in late April.

And this is how it is in winter...

This reminds me that I am late with the weather report for March this month, owing to the nice weather. Will rectify that shortly. 

Copyright © 2011 A writer’s lot in France, all rights reserved

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About nessafrance

My husband and I moved to an 18th-century farmhouse in SW France in 1997. I am fascinated by French history, rural traditions and customs and enjoy seeking out the reality behind the myths. I run my own copywriting business and write short stories and the occasional novel in my spare time. My husband appears here as the SF, which stands for Statistics Freak, owing to his penchant for recording numbers about everything.
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6 Responses to Two BBQs in two days – not bad for early April

  1. Tina says:

    Hi Nessa!
    Here in Hässelby there is almost no snow at all left now! Just some piles here and
    there. When it´s clear at night it is still around +-0C but in the day it rises up to incredible 10C if you´re lucky.
    The ice we had everywhere a couple of weeks ago is now gone and so are the big
    lakes of water we had outside the school where I work. One day we had to phone some men in a big truck (!), we couldn´t get out. They came and took the water with them! This is problems you get after a winter with a lot of snow, such as this one. It sounds absolutely fantastic with real spring; green lawns, flowers and birds. A 6-year-old in my class had seen a butterfly yesterday, I still havn´t. Hope you are well. My love to the SF. Will see him soon. Kram Tina

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    • nessafrance says:

      Hi Tina, it’s really nice to hear from you. I’m glad your snow has almost all gone – you have had a hard winter, it seems. I hate to tell you this, but we had a BBQ this evening (Friday) as well and will probably have one tomorrow. This is very, very rare in early April. I’m sure that Easter will be awful; it always is, never mind when it falls. It’s good to hear that spring is arriving with you too.
      The SF is looking forward very much to seeing you all soon. I am also looking forward to seeing you in the summer this year. You have to come to see Felix, our fluffy pussy cat. I hope Lilla Frö is well.
      We both send lots of love to you and all the family.
      Puss och kram,
      Vanessa

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  2. Cathie Dunn says:

    Your BBQs sound wonderful. And I like your outdoors dining table, summer and winter.
    Unfortunately, Edinburgh’s been blighted with gales for the last week, and typical April weather -heavy showers and warm sunshine. Even up to 18C today but so blustery you couldn’t sit outside, as grey clouds were looming above the hills.
    Enjoy your spring!

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    • nessafrance says:

      We are enjoying wall-to-wall sunshine this week, which is unusual for this end of April. Last year we had nice weather in April but that was at the end. Sorry your weather is variable, but then if you will live in the frozen north!!

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  3. Stephanie says:

    We’ve had wonderful weather too, but it’s gone now. We’re not quite ready to open our pool yet. I’m rather dreading that. We have more of a problem with worms than frogs! Have you been in for a swim yet?
    I am envious of your beautiful stone table. What a striking feature in the garden. Let’s hope it’s not too long before it sees use at your next barbeque.

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    • nessafrance says:

      Today was grey and a bit damp after two gorgeous sunny days. No swimming yet – probably not till May at least. The pool was 12C when we opened it! Being a wimp, my lower limit is 22C. The SF will go in at 18C, but he’s Swedish, which explains a lot. The frogs had all got back in today.

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