Firstly a big ‘merci bien’ to all our customers who made the year at Notaires so pleasant and successful. We’re looking forward to meeting quite a few of you again next year. A return visit really is the biggest compliment you can pay any venue.
The fishing was good all year and, although it can slow down during a heatwave such as we had this summer, it never stopped and nobody blanked. The stream-fed lakes maintain a steady level and the fresh oxygenated water keeps the fish active. For most of the season the fish fairly flew out of the water. The majority of our clients went home with new PBs, and one of our specially printed keyrings or torches as proof!
The lake record for Notaire’s still stands at 41 lbs but this year saw several 40s and a lot of high 30s coming out. We are into the winter fish-feeding programme now, even though the temperatures have remained unseasonably high. This extended feeding season should be reflected in the size and condition of the fish next year.
We welcomed our first fly in clients this year too, at just 90 minutes from the airport you can be baiting up your rods in next to no time!
A lot of you took advantage of the fact that we stock and sell Quest Baits to save you having to load the car up with odiferous bait. All flavours produced good results. Our fish do seem to like a good bed of groundbait and a steady trickle of particles or pellet keeps them interested.
The cats enjoyed being spoiled by you and, while a couple of them are still struggling to lose those few extra kilos they accumulated, they are at least condescending to eat cat food again. For the first week or so after the holiday season has ended, we get pained looks of ‘what’s this meant to be?’ when we put a bowl of Kitty Chomp in front of them. Believe me, they miss you! And so do the chickens. They sat mournfully in the gîte garden for several days before they realised that it was closed up for winter now.
The guinea-pig gardeners have moved out of the gîte flowerbed and are currently living next to the barn. They did a great job keeping the weeds down in the flower garden, but we’ll round them up soon and put them in their winter cages before it gets really cold.
We have reached a truce with the sheep, one by one we reinforced the latest place that they were escaping from and now they seem to feel that sheep honour is satisfied and are content to wander around the field munching. They have become very tame and barrel down for their treats whenever we are letting the chickens in or out. Hopefully Ramesis has done his job and next years visitors will be greeted by bouncy spring lambs. The sheep, llamas and alpacas enjoyed their summer visitors. They especially miss Kiera, Adam and Evan.
One angler reported that he thought he’d seen a bear chasing one of our llamas. Don’t panic, there aren’t any bears in this part of France. What he’d seen was our dark brown alpaca Brendan chasing his sweetheart Windy (the llama) around, futilely!
The pool was enjoyed by everyone again. We kept it open until October this year, but it’s now all covered up, waiting for the warmth of May or June.
Next year you’ll see a few changes. We’re restricting cereal farming to the upper half of the farm and to the furthest field only. From now on, there will only ever be haymaking in the large fields above Alder and Notaire’s lakes. At most the farmer is only working on our land for a few days a year but we don’t like our guests to be inconvenienced any more than necessary. We’re also constructing a few more fields and spreading the llamas and alpacas out a bit more.
We’ve begun on the winter lake and ground maintenance tasks. We’re repairing a couple of patches of banking and thinning out some of the snaggy willows. Mind you we have a very big job to chop up the trees that came down just before Christmas fortunately they don’t obstruct the access to the upper lake so we have plenty of time to deal with them.
So while we have a busy winter ahead of us, we hope you’ll have a more relaxing time, and in particular a happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year.
See you in 2012!