vendredi 14 mai 2021


Black woodpeckers although large are very shy birds, so it was good to get a chance to creep up on one and get these photos. It was excavating a tree to get at some ants which were doing their best to attack him - you can see in the photos he is covered with them.

 At Quélébu the weather has been very changeable, hot sunshine, cold wind, torrential rain, snow to 1300m all within 24 hours sometimes! 

On Tuesday I caught sight of the big, brown, blue eyed, husky that has terrorised our sheep twice before and killed some of our neighbour's goat, trotting up the road towards our sheep. I quickly put my coat on and followed but he was already chasing our sheep, who completely panicked, broke through the fence and fled into the woods. I screamed and chased the dog away, but it took most the day to find and round up the sheep - all in torrential rain! In the UK a farmer can defend his livestock, not so in France. I m entitled to compensation from the owner if the dog kills or injures a sheep, but that doesn't extend to a day of my time wasted looking for the sheep or the sheep being stressed by the dog. Christian our neighbour when his goat was killed by this dog called the gendarme's but I think he didn't succeed in getting compensation because the owner claimed the dog wasn't his...stray dogs here are put down if not claimed in 4 days - maybe that's our best option if the dog continues return.

With the cold snaps one or several bears have descended from the mountains. Attacks on livestock (sheep, cows and horses) in Sentein and a neighbour told me in Sentenac d'Oust and Riverenert also.
Several videos of bears above the Maison de Valier and I think the Etang Rond or Etang Long taken in the last couple of days by walkers have also been posted on La Depêche. In the first video the bear is a long way off but in the second a little too close for comfort!

lundi 10 mai 2021

Ruby's website

Ruby is just putting her finishing touches to her new website
Ruby is an illustrator and as well as taking commissions for illustrating all manner of things from books, CD covers, labels, games, etc the site will have ready made cards, t-shirts, posters and other goodies featuring her original artwork that you can purchase for yourself or as gifts.

dimanche 9 mai 2021

Col de Crouzette, Tuc de Quer Ner, Tuc d'Eychelle, Pené Rouge, Cap Ner depuis Col de la Core

Our friends Becks and Kevin are moving back to the UK in a few days time so a farewell walk was in order.  A hot day today with the south wind blowing and for some reason I just couldn't find any energy. From Col de la Core we climbed up to the Etang d'Eychelle for a snack stop before pressing on to Col de Crouzette on continuous snow after the cabane. It was blowing a hooley at the col where we had lunch.


Lunch spot

Numerous choices from here but opted to return to Col de la Core by the western side of the watershed. After a careful descent of Tuc de Quer Ner, Becks and Kev where keen to continue all the way to the Col de la Core via the ridge. 

Leaving the Col de la Crouzette

View from below Tuc de Quer Ner looking East

Still some sizeable cornices on the West side of the watershed

I've done the ridge from Tuc d'Eychelle to Col de la Core three times before and at this time of year with steep persistent névés on North side, one most follow the narrow ridge over Pené Rouge, which ends with a short down climb in a very exposed position. Much easier going up than coming down! Susie and Sheri don't enjoy these tricky sections but with care everyone managed it safely. A couple of steep névés had to be crossed before we could finally relax and follow the rest of ridge down.

 A surprisingly tiring day despite only 10.5km and 1100m of height gain.

mercredi 28 avril 2021

Sheep injuries

Last evening we found valentine with a broken rear leg. Fortunately we check on the sheep regularly (at least once a day often twice or more) so the fracture was closed and I quickly managed to catch him before further damage was done. The vet came straight away and in a few minutes the bones were set and a resin plaster applied.

This morning Apple has a broken horn (probably decided to take on William who far out guns him). It'll heal (crookedly).

William's heavy duty horns

lundi 26 avril 2021


The rain pours and a good part of it is coming through the back wall of the bathroom where the rock boss was removed! Now I ll have to dig out behind the house and put in a drain! This wasn't what I envisaged when I said I wanted a "wet room".


samedi 17 avril 2021

Project bathroom destruction!

 Bathroom project continues...having gutted all the internal sanitaryware, plumbing and finishes, the next job was to remove the granite which was higher than the floor at the rear, then break though the concrete floor slab to find the below ground drainage and reconfigure it for the new layout. Lots of time consuming heavy duty work.

Pic de Montcaud depuis Les Cloutets

 Another walk with Sheri within our 10km radius of home, this time starting from the hamlet of Les Cloutets below Pares and climbing through forest to the open hill and Pic de Montcaud - a more modest 10km and 700m of ascent. No path through the conifer plantation but spectacular views thereafter and three encounters with a Capercaillie (Grand Tetras). As in Scotland they are very rare here and incredibly shy, but I was surprised by its size and the noise of its wings and feathers when taking to flight.

Pic de la Journalade

Pid Caumale et Pic Rouge de Bassies

vendredi 9 avril 2021

Table des Quatre Seigneurs depuis Lacourt

Under lockdown (confinement) again and trips for exercise/leisure are restricted to10km from one's home, so trips to the mountains are out for us. So we looked to explore some of the areas we haven't visited. Table des Quatres Seigneurs is part of a large limestone massif called La Montagne de Sourroque, the cliffs of which dominate the view from St Girons towards the East.

We started our walk from bottom of the valley beside the Salat river in Lacourt. A long steady ascent through prairies, woods and then beech forest eventually lead to the base of the cliffs and an area dominated by potholes or "Gouffres" as they are called here. 

We picked up the "Sentiers des Falaises" des finds a way through the cliffs, with some cables for support and eventually reaches the Poudac de Hibou, where we had lunch.

The are on the plateau above is an enchanting (enchanted) beech forest and we traversed it from east to west. 

A pair of Egyptian vultures nest here but we didn't see them. We did however see a black and white booted eagle and a golden eagle, as well as a griffon vulture.

Booted Eagle

Golden Eagle

A long descent on forestry tracks detracted a bit from the day, we should have chosen a different way down, but still an enjoyable exploration with 1320m of ascent and 23km.

Plenty of fertility in the limestone soil!

A tree-creeper

samedi 3 avril 2021

Porch progress

The worst wasn't over! The stone wall of the single storey bathroom had been built with steel reinforced concrete intermixed with granite blocks, took a day and half to dismantle it! Door now relocated, old door blocked up and today floor insulated and screeded ready for tiling. Window next though.

lundi 29 mars 2021


Project porch continues. Having removed the old bathroom window (to be reused on the other wall) and bricked it up, work has started on making the new doorway into the bathroom, heavy and dusty work breaking through the stonework and reinforced concrete lintol, but the worst is over I hope!

samedi 20 mars 2021

Fabric off the loom

Finally the fabric is off the loom and in the washing machine. 7m of "extended manifold twill" in cotton. Next curtain making.

Rula one of red hens has developed water-belly not uncommon in old laying hens, but she's not that old. "Ascites" is usually a sign of hypertension or liver failure so it's a symptom of an underlying illness, but there's a slim chance it could be a liver infection, so we took her to the vet. They emptied much of the fluid (over 200ml) and gave her some anti biotics and a diuretic. A very sick hen we doubted she be alive in the morning, but she's still hanging on this afternoon and eating and drinking, though she's obviously very weak. Chickens are so difficult to save if they get sick...time will tell, but her chances are still 50/50 at best.