lundi 30 octobre 2006

Provence

Have been visiting Howard and Stella in Provence for the last few days so haven't posted for a while so here's an update.

On Wednesday night there was a tremendous and unforecasted storm (I think it sunk a load of race yachts in the Bay of Biscay). There was no rain just a warm hurricane force wind (which was fortunate as I could go outside in my dressing gown to try and tie things to the ground - like the car!). I was up all night as 100 mph winds tried to rip the roof off the house. The large lime tree by the workshop has a trunk nearly 1 metre diameter, it was bending in the wind...a lot...I thought it would be blown over. As I'm surrounded by forest the noise of the wind through the trees was deafening and the power flickered on and off all night. I consolled myself with the thought that the house has stood for 150-200yrs weathering all sorts of storms...but the new slate roof and the workshop have not! I went out and locked all the window shutters over the windows and weighted down the corrugated iron sheets on the wood pile with loads of tyres (to no avail - I heard the wind pick them up and hurl them down the road).

In the morning the worst of the storm was over and amazingly everything had survived. Healthy trees had lost large branches, several had been blown over (more logs for the winter), a few telegraph poles in the village had been snapped in half and generally there was lots of debris everywhere. I spoke to John who has lived here 7 years and he has never experienced anything like it.

I left the carnage behind and set off for Provence. The 7 1/2 hour drive was awful as for the first 5 hours I travelled with the weakening storm and the Suzuki being high sided with a short wheel base and noisy at the best of times, hates cross winds. My complete lack of sleep didn't help either.

Fortunately, hospitality was waiting at Claviers. Howard and Stella's home in Provence is lovely and as always I was treated to fantastic food, drink and company. The weather in Provence was beautiful the whole time we were there.

On Friday we headed to Theoule-sur-Mer in the bay of Cannes and swam in the Med, before an excellent lunch in a beach side restaurant 'the Marco Polo'. A walk through the Esterel completed a lovely day.

Sheila and Kevin, who were also staying at Howard and Stella's, were excellent company and we all drank and laughed late into the evenings.

On Saturday morning I did some logging to help out, then Kevin and I took off for a tour of the Gorges du Verdon and the Lac de St Croix - my old stomping ground. It was strange to be back after 14 years. I visited Comps sur Artuby, Aiguines, Bauduen and Aups - little has changed really. The gorge was more spectacular than remembered, I should have arranged to stay longer and redone some of the walks I used to lead.

All to soon it was time to leave. Even though I love Provence and it's picturesque villages have an unrivalled charm - it's good to be home in Pyrenees. My heart is definitely here.

Photo's to follow (very slow internet connection tonight).

mercredi 25 octobre 2006

At last the shed has windows (double click on image to see more detail).



And the field is almost clear.

mardi 24 octobre 2006

Sunrise

Was going to go for a walk (well more of a climb) on the arete that straddles France, Andorra and Spain (Baretyes - Medacorba), but a poor nights sleep and an indifferent weather forecast dampened my enthusiasm, so I worked in the field instead. Pity - it was a blisteringly hot and clear day. The sunrise was spectacular (this is the view from the bedroom with no touching up or photoshop enhancing).


Most of the field is now clear, 2 more days should do it, but it was hot work and every hour I had to go and drink a litre and a half of water!

Will probably do the climb tomorrow, as the weather is still supposed to be good, but there will be a strong southerly wind which might make the ridge 'interesting'.

Then off to see Howard and Stella in Provence on Thursday.

jeudi 19 octobre 2006

Field clearance

At last most of the field is cleared (just 300 sqm of easier stuff to go) but for the first time I can see from one end to the other.

From this jungle...



...to this fertile meadow!





Unfortunately, I managed to snap my scythe 'snath', not surprising after all the abuse it's been getting. I've glued and lashed it whilst I await a replacement.



Went to the local agricultural market in Seix yesterday looking at pigs!! Look at these lovely little porkers.

mercredi 18 octobre 2006

ADSL at last!

Finally I have a broadband connection here at Quelebu. Please note that I now have a new e-mail address too (the old one seems to be malfunctioning so don't use it).

The new contact is: lee.inglis-sharp@******.fr

****** insert here a 6 letter word - a well known fruit / a colour made by mixing red and yellow / a city in S.E France / national colour of Netherlands.

lundi 16 octobre 2006

Chris and Jules




Chris and Jules have now gone home. We were blessed with fantastic weather and climbed a couple of peaks as well as visiting Foix and walking in the area around Quelebu. I haven't laughed so much in ages, particularly Jules' stories about a french girl and cut price bananas and a life model and a donkey, neither of which I can repeat!
A meal in St Girons (fondue) was memorable because it was so awful - fortunately we can laugh about it because Chris paid!

dimanche 15 octobre 2006

Climax for Chris and Jules


Chris and Jules are visiting for a few days , so I took them up a nearby mountain. In spite of snow and exceptionally fantastic weather they both bitched and moaned the whole way and the day was utter purgatory - I can't wait till they leave. Today I've got up early and gone for walk by myself, hopefully they'll be gone when I get back!

Seriously though...we're having a great time and we had a fantastic day in the mountains today. It's great to have my first UK visitors since the move and both Chris and Jules are on good form. will probably do another walk today.

dimanche 8 octobre 2006

Pica d'estats


Weather forecast for today was good so decided to climb Pic Mauberme. Alarm woke me at 6.00 and I changed my mind and decided to climb Pic d'estats instead. At 3143m (about 10,200ft)its the highest mountain in the Ariege (and Catalonia). Its about 1hr20mins drive away and is usually climbed in two days as there's 2000m of ascent, but an early start and good weather made for rapid progress (4hr30min to the top). Its a fantastic route with ever changing scenery and views. Despite the hot sun much of the rock was still covered with verglas (thin ice) in the morning and all the water was frozen. Some snow on the summit added to the atmosphere. The views were breathtaking and crystal clear in all directions.


The descent was long and the legs were complaining a bit at the end. I'd also taken clothing for colder weather (thinking it would be cold at 10,200ft) but it was a scorcher so long trousers and a helly ensured I was hot and bothered. The crystal clear waters of the numerous lakes was tempting - but the ice floating in them put me off.

vendredi 6 octobre 2006

It's official...

Back from the UK - the flat let in about 4 hours, MB World is handed over and I now live in France! Weather to day was beautiful and I spent most of it continuing with the field clearance. The brush cutter is too old to get spare parts for so I'm gonna finish the job as I started with just a strong arm and a Austrian Scythe.

Haven't got a pictures of the field so here's one of the living room.


Champignon season is here..today I picked a melange of species - orange red birch bollete, bay bollete, some tawny grisettes and a blusher (close relation of fly agaric). I'm not dead so my identifications were correct.