Our lake is the best thing at La Citadelle. It was that first glimpse of the lake as we walked round the back of the house that first captivated us, and after four years we have just found out why our neighbours nearly all slow their cars to walking pace as they pass La Citadelle: from one spot on the road there is s brief view of the lake, and it is always lovely.
|Our lake is the best thing at La Citadelle. It was that first glimpse of the lake as we walked round the back of the house that captivated us, and after four years we have just found out why our neighbours nearly all slow their cars to walking pace as they pass La Citadelle: from one spot on the road there is a brief view of the lake in the distance, and it is always lovely.|
The region has many thousands of lakes, mostly artificial, kept as fishing ponds and as farm reservoirs, and there are even special laws governing what fish you may raise in lakes of differing ages.
|Our lake is quite small, tear-drop shaped, just 70 metres long by 40 metres across the widest point. It is closely ringed by trees, mostly willows of all different types, with high, dense bamboo around the long narrow end. It is fed by a freshwater spring in the pond in the lawn to the south of the farm house and just above the pointed end of the lake. This means that, while our nearby neighbours' lake gradually empties as the summer passes, ours maintains the same level all the time, with the surplus carried away by a small stream running down into the woods.|
|La Citadelle's lake kept a dairy herd of 50 watered and sluiced clean via a big electric pump and a network of underground pipes and tanks. The farmer was a keen fisherman and kept the lake stocked with trout, carp, and a wide range of coarse fish. His family also used the lake, with its constantly refreshed water, as a swimming pool. It may not be crystal clear, but one child even went snorkeling in it this summer!|
|Many of our guests try their hand at fishing, with even small children catching a score of roach, and the more patient experts hooking carp between 7 and 8 pounds. There are even bigger fish in the lake, but the evidence from these is from broken lines, straightened hooks, huge splashes and glimpses of great silver bodies as they arc out of the water. This is a 7 1/2 carp caught in August 2001.|
|I am a keen swimmer, and 70 by 40 metres offers much more of a challenge than the 8 metres of the average domestic swimming pool. Whenever I get too hot I do a couple of circuits, surrounded by clouds of blue, green, and red dragonflies, and buzzed by the occasional kingfisher. At dusk the flocks of swallows dive into the surface of the water catching insects. Although we now have the swimming pool, like me, many of our guests continue to prefer the adventure of the lake.|
|The lake is 10 feet deep, with the sides sloping steeply down from around 2 feet at the edge. With such a volume of water, the summer heat is retained well into the autumn. In the cool air temperatures that we can get in September the surface of the water "steams"!|
|To provide a platform for diving and jumping into the water we built a small jetty at the start of our first summer. From this, children and adults embark in the small boat and canoe which we provide. Other guests simply spend hours gazing at the lake in its many moods, the fish and the birds. We had one family in 2000 who reputedly just stocked up with food and drink and didn't stray from La Citadelle for their whole four weeks!|
|The best thing about the lake is its constantly changing beauty, changing with the weather, the light, the seasons and the viewpoint. We often walk around the lake at dusk, watching the colours of the sky on the water, returning to the Owl Barn to watch for the arrival of the heron.|
Click on any of the small pictures above for a bigger view. If you would like to enjoy a stroll the length of the lake, click on the panoramic view, but note that it is 250 Kbytes and will take a short while to load unless you have a fast connection.