This is usually a good plan. February and March are often a bit cold or wet to be doing much outside, and by May things are getting too hot – apart from anything else, pulling weeds out of baked hard soil isn’t very practical.
This year something has gone wrong! We have leapt straight from winter to summer in the space of about 24 hours, and the last couple of days it’s been around 30 degrees here in the sunny south-west. Great weather for holidaymakers, less fun for actually getting much done.
My big job this ‘spring’ is painting the shutters on the house – at least a year overdue, I can’t put it off any longer despite the sunshine.
The real challenge isn’t in painting the shutters themselves (although having the paint drying in about four minutes does complicate things slightly) but in choosing the colour to use, and each time we have a round of shutter painting we get through numerous sample paint pots, and just as many disagreements, before we find ‘just the right colour’.
Usually we don’t have much success, but I have to say that this time we have excelled ourselves. After 10 years of testing I think we’ve got the colour (a kind of grey meets light green) just right.
Some regions have quite specific ‘typical’ shutter colours which makes life much easier. In the Basque villages of the Pyrenees-Atlantiques they like blood red, for example, as shown in the photo of Espelette, something to do with a tradition of painting the shutters with real bull’s blood if I remember correctly (which I probably don’t).
Around here it is every house for itself – and no one seems keen in giving away the ‘secret’ of where they get their shutter paint from, so you always have the impression it is being created illegally in a back-room somewhere and sold under the counter to those who are ‘in the know’.
As an aside, it’s one of the oddities of France that for insurance reasons every single window has to have shutters or bars – but we are the laughing stock of the neighbourhood children because we actually lock our doors when we go out. Seems that no one else ever bothers – so imposing rules about shutters and steel grills on all windows seems just a tiny bit superfluous when doors are left wide open.
I have the impression this is one of those rules created so that expats and foreigners can be spotted a mile off, while French people just go about their business and ignore such silly regulations.