dimanche 17 février 2019


Glorious high pressure has settled over the Pyrenees and we have clear sunny skies with temperatures in the sun of 29° and cold nights with just a hint of frost. Perfect ski-touring weather but as ever I m struggling to find others motivated / available to go.

The fine weather is good for outdoors work and Susie and I have been filling the raised beds in and outside of the poly-tunnel with manure from our new neighbour at La Coste Christian, who has bought the farm from Manu. I've also cleared the band of woodland between two of our fields of all the fallen trees (mostly from the May snow of 2010) and brambles. The sheep love the new terrain to explore and I've been able to remove the fence which was always being engulfed by the brambles.

The fish which we feared had died in the cold weather are slowly emerging from the murky depths and we've now seen most of the bigger ones at least once, though some of the smaller casualties occasionally float to the surface.

The symbiotic garden has had a good tidy up and looks ready for business - just need to keep the chickens out!

dimanche 10 février 2019

After the snow

Another quick ski up and down Joubac in rapidly warming conditions on Monday and then down came the rain. The sun has blessed us with its heat and suddenly nearly all the snow at Quélébu has gone. A couple of gloriously warm days have allowed us to carry out the fence repairs to the fields (50 new posts) as well as a few realignments. The vegetable plot terraces have been repaired and Susie has moved her Goji berry bush (hopefully without killing it).

I also made a new ratchet for the tractor handbrake (the old one was worn through) and the readjusted brakes. On our land working brakes are pretty essential!

dimanche 3 février 2019

Ski tour from the front door

More snow yesterday, so another trip out, this time on skis for me and raquettes for Susie and Sandrine.

jeudi 24 janvier 2019

Out in the snow

Snow at last

Red sky in the morning warned us that the snow was finally on it's way.

A couple of days of snow and we have 30cm after some compaction over night. A few days of calm before more arrives next week.

Organic garden and pond

The sheep are coping with hay and sheep nut rations

Guests this weekend - hope they bring their boots!

A willow tit keeping warm

mardi 8 janvier 2019

Peyre de Mesongère

A short walk with Sophie, Sheri, Michiel and Susie to Peyre de Mesongère from Ustou on GR10. A fairly short and steep approach to the col through beech woods then a climb to the bald summit with its emergency telephone mast.

 Sheri, Sophie and Michiel obviously didn't think much of their lunch : (

 A pair of parapentists took off from the summit shortly after lunch.

After a couple of weeks of cold nights and sunny days, snow is forecast from Wednesday.

samedi 29 décembre 2018

Chemin de Liberté

The beautiful sunny weather continues (and is set to continue for at least the next 2 weeks) so as there was no change over to be done on the gîte, Susie, Sandrine and I went for a stroll, starting from the Col de la Core and following the Chemin de Liberté (one of the routes used during WWII to get servicemen and woman out of Nazi occupied France) until a little way past the Cabane Subera.

The path traverses the flank of the ridge which heads northwards from Mont Valier, crossing a succession of wooded spurs which divide the flank into four or five grassy coombes each with a cabane.

At this time of year the walk is marked by south facing side of each coombe being hot and in full sun and then the north facing side being icy cold and still carrying snow...so lots of clothing changes.  

We had our lunch at La Lauze 1653m, a grassy plateau high above the Cabane Subera which was in the sun just long enough for us to eat, as soon as the sun dipped behind Pic de Lasirouge, we made a hasty retreat.

Some beautiful light for photography.

Susie collected some Lichen to make a garland, but after smelling it changed her mind as she said it smelt like a deer's bum!

mardi 25 décembre 2018

Last week Jasper made a flying visit to us for a few days, he was glad of some sunshine and we made a few local walks together up to Joubac and into the snow at Guzet.

Dani and Serge's on the way to Joubac

The weather has stayed warm and dry for Christmas. Inspired by watching bake-off we thought we'd have a go at the "seven veils" cake that the was the challenge for the finals. Very complicated but all went perfectly until the final step - the mirror glaze - we didn't have a thermometer to know exactly when to add the gelatin and rather like bryony's cake in the finals, our glaze isn't exactly mirror like. It does however taste delicious and all our layers (seven in total) are equal. Not quite worthy of a Paul Hollywood handshake but I reckon we did pretty good.

This year has marked by the shambles that is brexit and after the recent chaos a "no-deal brexit" looks more and more likely, so Susie and I have had to make sure we are as protected as we can be from potential fall-out. It's been an expensive and time consuming operation. We will shortly receive our carte de séjours, I'm now registered as an Architecte in France and Susie still waiting to hear about her registration as a Professeur de Danse.

jeudi 6 décembre 2018

Tuc de Bignau 2385m

With a day free and the weather forecast wonderful (19 degrees) another walk was in order. We headed for the Col de Pause but the winter restrictions on access are in force we decided to be cautious and park at Laserre (after our friend was fined for parking at the Col) this added another 40 minutes in each direction to our walk.  From the Col we headed up towards the Port d'Aula passing the Cabin d'Areau and the adjacent lake which is already frozen.

The sun was warm and after a quick bite to eat we continued past the automatic weather station where are objective came into view.

Port d'Aula

Things got a bit cooler now with a breeze blowing through the Port d'Aula. We headed for the col to the south of the Tuc de Bignau and the snow was soon very hard and put on our crampons.

 Tuc de Bignau

It was Susie's first time on moderately steep terrain (25 - 30 degrees) in crampons but she marched in pieds en canard and made the col in single push.

Reaching the Col

Great views from the col across Spain and in either direction along the chain and then a short steep rocky ridge to finish.

 Summit at last

After a second lunch on the summit it was time to continue along the ridge then find a way down on loose shattered rock to the Port d'Aula. An easy descent from here back to the car in a couple of hours.

The scrappy descent to the Port d'Aula

It was only meant to be a short walk but after having to park at Laserre it ended up being 5 hours 30 minutes and about 1250m (4100ft) of ascent. A magical sunset ended the day.