As the summer approaches I’ve been out and about snipping, pruning and shearing – always under the watchful eye of Mrs B (head gardener).
She lives in fear whenever I use the strimmer or tractor-mower, secure in the knowledge that another small bush or tree is about to be thrown to the ground and chopped into thousands of small pieces.
Mostly she is right, and if I didn’t work without pay I would be sacked immediately.
It’s the same with the children. One of them was coaxed into pulling out some weeds in exchange for a fistful of euros but then worked in mortal fear about which ‘weeds’ they were allowed to remove.
A problem made worse since a lot of the weeds currently have more impressive flowers than the non-weeds, and she wasn’t clear why she was only allowed to yank out the prettiest plants. Still, it seemed a straightforward rule to follow…
All these hours of work improving our landscape are worth it now that spring is here. The garden is beautiful, the fields are orchards around us are leaping into life, and there is perhaps nowhere in France more attractive (although I might be biased).
A special thanks must also go to the farmers of France for helping with this task, preserving the unspoiled countryside that is becoming ever harder to find, although it is slightly less onerous for them perhaps. The figures were recently released online that show how much each farmer in France receives from the Common Agricultural Policy – and it is true that they are sometimes paid rather well for their efforts.
The attractive orchards and fields that you look out on from our gites are costing someone a great deal of money. The mayor of our commune and his farming family receive 150,000 euros a year from the CAP, for example – see HERE for farmers in your own commune (thanks to Craig at thisfrenchlife for mentioning the release of this information).
Not that they aren’t worth the expense, who would dare live in rural France and suggest such a thing, but you can’t help wondering how far into the financial crisis we will be before someone queries whether Europe’s money is best spent on ensuring our holidaymakers have the views that they expect and deserve.