No worries, these live in the garden not in the house, some are noisy (birds) some discreet (the mole) and some furtive (bats and many more). After a while there you will notice more and more these small creatures e.g. frogs, hedgehogs, birds and what they need to feed on e.g. snails, insects, butterflies, creepy crawlies and beautiful dragon-flies.
The local bird population includes singing blackbirds, beautiful tits, small wrens, garden warblers, owls hooting in the evening, cuckoos in the spring, sparrows, nuthatches, jays, magpies, wood pigeons, collar doves, dunnocks, green finch, chaffinch, swallows, house martins and you can hear at distance chiffchaffs, green woodpeckers and black caps. All of these have been either seen or heard by previous visitors. In the photo a familiar robin.
At the end of May 2020 I was fortunate to be able to cross the Channel to see my elderly mother who is in nursing home near Hesdin and I stayed at the cottage a full week. As I boarded the train a real sense of freedom rose in me. To be fair life under lockdown in Britain had not been too harsh. There is certainly a different buzz in France where life is starting a new normality. Museums, zoos, and beaches are announcing reopening dates; restaurants are now open for business. Shops are welcoming customers. While there people were prudently moving around me, many wearing masks. “Distantiation” the French word for social distancing is 1 meter, it seems close but it has worked as numbers of dead people is dramatically down and this has been the case for nearly a month.
My understanding from my local friends and family is that the virus has not had much of an impact in the area around Boulogne and in the villages. The density of population is low, there is little in a way of public transport (no tube or large train network), most inhabitants stayed safely in their home and cars. Edouard Philippe, the French Prime Minister lifted last week the 100km barrier and people are free to go on holiday, a big sigh of relief for most people.
Now concerning the cottage itself, I was really excited to open the door after 3 ½ months of absence and was wondering also how I would find it. Glad to say that all was in order just as I left it in mid-February. The central heating had been on low and had kept the house just warm enough and the new boiler worked well... Wi-Fi and TV were fine so just the need to air the house and I was enjoying the house to its full again.
Romain, our young gardener, looked after the front garden and cut the grass but because it has been so hot recently we lost a couple of plants. To Romain’s bemusement he showed me where a hen-pheasant had been hatching 13 eggs, that was only 5 metres from our front door, sadly he explained, when she saw him she fled and abandoned the nest.
Bird life is one of my joys there and I was for a treat on Wednesday night when a great spotted woodpecker (the one wearing a red cap) came to drill into the fat balls, the ones on the bird feeder. The next morning there were two of them on the same feeder, clearly the word had gone around that humans had returned and fresh grub was available. I am a little soppy about birds and this is my pride and joy when I go to the cottage. Although I suffer from poor hearing, they must know it and sing louder I reckon. In previous years visitors have spotted up 13 species of bird but the great spotted woodpecker was new to me – there are also green woodpeckers around (and red squirrels… hard to spot).
The front door of the house opens directly into the garden so you can actually enjoy the view and the birdlife and songs sitting practically anywhere inside the house and that is one reason it makes it so enjoyable in the spring and summer. There is hardly any traffic on the road and neighbours are friendly. At number 22 (house closest) Thomas a young electrician and his girlfriend took over my mother’s house and have done a fantastic renovation job. Opposite left side you have Christian and his wife Anne-Marie and on the right side Marcel, a retired farmer. At the bottom of our garden lives Patrice; he cut the grass on our road side and is most helpful if you need him.
The house itself is very easy to keep clean thanks to its tiled floors, all on one level (no steps) and a simple layout and structure. Thanks to WI-FI, I never feel isolated and managed to follow a couple of courses using the infamous Zoom app. I took most of my meals out on the terrace while birds were serenaded at a distance. I will finish my note here by saying that being so close to nature in a peaceful environment it does tons of good for morale and health – a real tonic for difficult times. Jean-Pierre
24 rue des 3 Hameaux
Courset 62240 France
Tel +44 1732 453929
Mobile: +44 788 0828880
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