Every now and then, I like to bring you a minute (or so) from écovallée. Here’s a video I shot yesterday, on my reasonably priced phone, from the hammock outside Mustardseed…

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The first time we heard this sound was just incredible. It felt like we were living in paradise.

Now, ever year, it marks one of our favourite seasons. You’ll hear what I mean from about 12 seconds into this one minute in écovallée. This (shot on my reasonably priced, impact-resistant phone with a genuinely terrible picture) is the Golden Oriole, above our home yurts, hidden behind the spring greens.

I’ve been trying to get some video of migrating cranes for years. Last year they always seemed to be flying over at night, but this week they were showing off in their thousands.

When you hear this sound, you know it’s either the start of spring or winter. (Although the first time I heard it, I thought hundreds of turkeys were on the loose in the woods – until I looked up.)

The last of the cold nights is behind us, the temperature outside will hit about 18C today and there’s a HUGE amount to do before we open in – ARGH – less than two months!

ecovallee view

Many of our guests spend a lot of time sitting in the outdoor kitchen, staring across the valley.

I can’t say I blame them. It’s a lovely thing to do – we went on holiday at the end of the 2012 season – to our own yurt camp – so we could do exactly the same thing.

Last year someone suggested that it’s so lovely because modern eyes spend most of the day staring at a screen a foot or so away, like you’re doing now. Or a TV screen in the corner of the room. Or out of the window at the other side of the street. But historically, our eyes developed to look into the middle distance – hundreds of metres instead of a few or fewer – searching for prey. The other side of the valley, with its gently swaying oak and pine trees, a living landscape punctuated by deer, rabbits, woodpeckers and the like, is exactly what our eyes want to see.

It’s a good theory and I’m sticking with it.

We’ve had Mason Bees in the yurt these last few weeks. Looking for holes to fill with mud. (They’re not fussy – I caught one trying to build a mud nest in the top of an envelope.)

In an effort to give them somewhere more suitable to do their thing, Her Outdoors and The Daughter found a mason bee house online you can buy for about €12. However, the website made the mistake of including a picture which I ripped off unashamedly for the cost of eight screws. Here it is (including a hole blocked up with mud):


Now you can rip it off from me.

For the digital record, Her Outdoors saw a Golden Oriole yesterday and we’ve heard it several times today. It’s one of the most exotic sounds of the year.

I was walking the wheelbarrow across the land the other day at about 8.30 in the morning, heading towards the rising sun, when I noticed that all the ice crystals on all the blades of grass were perfect, tiny little rainbows.

Either that, or I need my eyes testing.