Sunny days and stormy evenings in Normandy

Two massive cracks of thunder and suddenly the rain has started pelting down. I’m lucky to have just got in in time from gathering flowers for the vase on the table in the hall.

This time of year is particularly lovely in France and my peonies have chosen to flower plant by plant, one after another, the length of the month of May. And now the Lupins and the fragrant roses are also putting on a blousy show, but their scent is nevertheless having a hard time outdoing the Mock Orange.Beds that we’re uncultivated last year and were planted with flowers bought from a flower stall near my sister’s hospice at the time of each of my frequent visits are now growing strongly and producing their first blooms. I particularly love the white peony which has given four beautiful flowers in its first year.I have taken refuge in the conservatory which is a hive of activity, though not of the floral kind just yet. Husband ‘a la Maison’ is busy restoring all our windows and the conservatory is the ideal location to work from. One day soon we want to restore the conservatory itself, but it’s a large and daunting job.You can see the pane of glass carefully set aside and the frame being scraped back to its original wood. The deep reveals of our windows mean that the windows have been protected from the worst of the elements for over a hundred years and there’s not a trace of rot. So far the balcony french windows are all completed and this is this year’s second set of ordinary windows. Only two more sets to go after this and all the windows will have been restored and repainted.

I’m taking refuge from the rain and thanking it for doing the evening watering for us. The thunder is a constant rumble with frequent flashes of lightening. It must be nearly overhead. When it stops I will have to go out again and shake the Peonies heads as the rain has filled the blooms since I came inside and they’re drooping so low with the weight of the water that their heads are nearly touching the ground.But on dry days our new outdoor tap is doing a great job keeping everything watered.If it wasn’t raining I would be lounging in a hammock enjoying the garden, but the conservatory is the next best place and at least when the storm passes over we may have a cooler, less sticky night.Have a great week!

9 thoughts on “Sunny days and stormy evenings in Normandy

  1. An exquisite selection of blooms! And the scent from them must be heavenly. Kudos to your husband for doing such a fine job restoring the windows. Wish we could borrow him to do ours. It’s a task that it seems is quite difficult to find a tradesman to take on.

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    • It’s true Ellen, chipping off paint is a laborious job and probably only for the truly dedicated. I think our windows were only ever painted once as there’s only a layer of undercoat and top finish. A lot of it had popped off or cracked over the years. If you’re not too far away perhaps he might be persuaded – a busman’s holiday perhaps!!


      • Our renovation project is in Lonlay l’Abbaye in the Orne, so several hours from Rouen, going closer to Mount St Michel. Kind of you to offer Husband “a la Maison,” but I fear too far and time-consuming for him. Of course, we’d certainly be more than willing to pay a good wage for such difficult and delicate work.
        We must sadly replace our original doors with aluminum counterfeits, but I am most determined to keep the five chestnut windows with their lovely hardware. If “H” à la M is not keen to do the actual work, perhaps we could share a glass sometime in Rouen or Paris and learn from you both how it is done? We see a wide range of suggestions on the internet – everything from burning it off with a blowtorch to using wildly toxic chemicals!


      • We’ve chipped the paint off with a chisel and used absolutely no chemicals or heat. In the end we decided to do it the laborious way didn’t take any longer than a heat gun or chemical. If you use the latter two there is always a residue and a lot of cleaning up to do. You never know, husband A l’E could perhaps be persuaded.


  2. What beautiful flowers you have posted: those white peonies are divine next to the lupins, which are a lovely, soft, old-fashioned colour. Your conservatory is going to be wonderful when it’s finished. I know well the labour of love that restoration is, having once done a lot of work on an old house in Sydney. It’s time-consuming, but worth it in the end.


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