vendredi, août 15


Back in the UK for 2 days for an important work meeting. Snatched a day on Dartmoor with Jasper and his friend Jordan who both come out to France in a couple of days with Susie and Ruby.

 Jasper and Jordan chimping around

View from Great Mis Tor

mardi, août 12

Les Landes

Just back from a few days camping on the Atlantic coast in Les Landes, a vast flat department of pine forest. 

Found a lovely camp site under the trees, quiet and well maintained (about 95% of the campers were Dutch). The beach was a few minutes walk away. There's a continuous fine sand beach about 150 miles long so no difficulty finding a place! To the West there's nothing until America so the waves were big and surfing popular.

On Monday we hired bikes and explored down coast on excellent cycle paths through the forest. Another (better) beach further south and the freshwater lake at Leon.

 A ridiculous selfie taken as we cycled along

dimanche, août 10

After the storm a return to summer weather. Hopefully high pressure over the Azores will return at the end of the week and we'll have 'normal' weather.

The market in Saint Girons was heaving but Susie managed to get some plants and herbs at very reasonable prices.

It was hot in the afternoon, so I fixed the solar power in the barn and finished off the towel shelves in the bathroom...just my ski-rack to build! Visits in the evening to Gilbert and Nicole, John and Sandrine.

A short trip to the Atlantic coast in Les Landes next.

vendredi, août 8

Yesterday Susie sanded and re-varnished the table whilst I made new tree trunk seats for the terrace.

A welcome return to normal summer temperatures today (32 degrees). The Dutch threesome we met in the cabane de l' Etang Hillete, came to visit in the morning, a pleasant surprise and good company. In the afternoon Susie set to work on her herb garden whilst I cleared out the workshop. A strong winds heralded the arrival of an electrical storm at nightfall - despite the weather warnings it didn't last long.

lundi, août 4

Etang Hillette

On Saturday we went to Foix to visit the African Festival going on there. We bumped into Donna, Sam, Helen, Cherie and Michael and ended up having an African meal together. This was followed by an amazing band from the Ivory Coast with drumming, dance and a Kora player. During the concert I spotted Ben in the audience who I haven't seen for years (he now lives in Andulcia) who by chance was in Foix for a few days.

On Sunday afternoon we headed into the Cirque de Cagateille and climbed up to the Etang Hillette for a overnight camp. In fact there was no-one in the cabin when we arrived so we opted to sleep there. Later we were joined by three Dutch walkers - a dance teacher, a double bass player and a mime artist. Lots to talk about.

Above the cirque

Pyrenees Lily

During the night we were kept awake by dormice, who relentlessly (and rather boisterously) tried to get at our food - they eventually managed to get into our tupperware sandwich box!

In the morning we continued our walk to the Etang Alet and then the long descent back to the car, alas it was a pea-souper all day.

Etang Hillette

Evening views from the Etang Hillete

Looking past a huge erratic to the cabin and Etang Hillette below

In the morning on the way to tthe Etang Alet the clouds part briefly

A slow worm Susie found on the descent

Yesterday we went on a mushroom hunt in the afternoon and got quite a haul of chanterelles and hedgehog of the woods, a single cep, a blusher, a puff ball and meaty russula. A brief stop in La Trappe to see the new windows in the project I'm running there and tea with Gilbert and Nicole.

Back home l'Apero with Sandrine, Alain and a visit from Georges and Lucette.

vendredi, août 1

A fantastic relaxed evening last night at John and Sandrine's with friends old and new. 

Today after a lazy start we headed on a circuit including Cominac where we had lunch. Saw my first ever Red Backed Shrike. Back home just before the thunderstorm.

jeudi, juillet 31

France for the summer

Yesterday I was mostly finishing off pieces of work and involved in site meetings but in the afternoon Susie and I headed off into the woods near the house. A good haul of Giroles, Oyster mushrooms and Hedgehog of the Woods (Girolles, Pieds de Moutons et Pleurote en Forme d'Huitres). Showed Susie the mother of all badger sets and she saw her first pyrenean squirrel.


Is that a squirrel?

Strimmed and erected the badminton court today. Tonight is John's birthday party, so Susie is cooking and I'm finishing the last of the work. A camping trip to the mountains soon.

dimanche, juillet 27

jeudi, juillet 17

Port de Barlonguere (2400m)

8.00 start from Pla de Lau and straight into the stiff climb up the Vallon Peyralade (same route as my climb of Pic de Barlonguere last autumn). 50 minutes saw me out of the trees and into the sun which was already hot. The footbridge opposite the Cabane de Peyralade has been washed away and the snow bridges were all too thin to attempt. A large group which had been staying the cabane opted to stay on the left bank and climb to the Cabane Trincade, crossing higher I up. I knew this was a lot further so after some searching I found somewhere to cross - though it was mid thigh deep!

A helicopter passed me several times dropping supplies for the bergers at the Cabane de Barlonguere.

I got to the col after about 3 hours and it was really hot. I had planed to climb Pic de Trois Comtes to the right of the col, but the view from the col of the Etang Long was too tempting so I opted to descend. Passed some Irish on the steep névés below the col without sticks or ice axes - dragging their kids up! A slip would have been difficult to stop and could have had serious consequences - none of them looked very happy.

Looking down from the col, Mont Valier on the left

The Etang Long was about 80% under snow despite the heat, but quite beautiful.

Great view of the last part of the voie normale up Mont Valier

After lunch at the outfall of the lake, I descended to the Etang Rond, I was sorely tempted to swim but after putting my feet in for a few minutes the cold was decidedly painful.

The long descent of the voie normale of Mont Valier took me back to Pla de Lau - about 6 hours 30 minutes in total, plus lunch.

Flowers today were varied and amazing, including these geraniums and the orchid below

mercredi, juillet 16


Good and hot last. Today was all about clearing up - spare thatch to the barn, waste thatch burned, waste wood cut and stacked for the the fire, lawn cut and raked, rubbish to the tip, scaffolding back to Ian's, grass cut, house cleaned, thatcher back to Toulouse airport.

En route I took Daniel to Joubac to admire the view and take photo's for his wife.

mardi, juillet 15

All done! Dormer day 7 (and a bit)

A long hot day for Daniel today (and slightly less for me).

In the morning I excavated the new path, finished the shuttering and mixed half a tonne of concrete in barrow loads. Then in the afternoon, headed off the site meeting in La Trappe.

Meanwhile, Daniel worked all day on the dormer and finished at 7.00pm. It was a long hot day in the sun for him, but the work of the last 11 days is finally over and it looks great!

The new thatch will slowly change colour over the next 12-18 months to match the existing.

lundi, juillet 14

Thatching starts

Bit of a palava this morning, first of all the thatcher's flight was delayed by 1hr 45mins. Daniel (the thatcher) said they got on board and there was a really strong smell of fuel then they were all evacuated to another plane. Then just as he disembarked at Toulouse, after several public address messages about an abandoned piece of luggage in Hall D, we were all evacuated before we heard the explosion as the offending article was destroyed! Was gone three before we eventually got to Quélébu. 

Daniel made a start with some more dethatching and the first line of reed, whilst I made a start on the last piece of path to the front door (more later).