lundi 28 novembre 2022

A stroll up to the snowline

 A Sunday stroll with Sheri and Michiel from col de la Trappe up to Prat Mataou (Guzet). Pistes are nicely prepared and waiting for the snow, some of which arrived last night!

vendredi 25 novembre 2022

Red billed leiothrix

 These beautiful little birds (passerines) are still about

mercredi 23 novembre 2022

Quadruple weave bags


Off the loom and finished

lundi 21 novembre 2022

Autumn starts to give way to winter

The weather is turning, the air is cooler and rain and snow are falling. In the fields the bramblings are abundant and stocking up for harder times ahead.


vendredi 18 novembre 2022

Exploring quadruple weave

With doubleweave one weaves two cloths one above the other, normally on four shafts.These cloths can be joined at the selvedges as you weave to create either a tube or a double folded cloth (joined at one selvedge only). With eight shafts one can weave four cloths and this opens up many possibilities.

Whereas a cloth in 8/2 cotton might have 25 warp threads per inch width (10 threads per cm), weaving four cloths one on top of the other means there are now 100 threads per inch (40 threads per cm) - which makes dressing the loom a little more cramped to say the least!

these first explorations are just to try the different techniques and structures so I've been easy on myself colour coding the warps for each of the four cloths and starting with a 5.5" (12.5cm) wide warp a couple of meters long.

The first section is weaving a tube within a tube - effectively a bag with a lining. Next I brought the lining to the outside and the outside to the inside. Still a single bag but with a "waffled" wall. 

With two layers to the walls of the bag, I tried a bit of leno lace. Hand manipulation of the outer cloth warp threads to create an open structure which allows you to see the cloth below peaking through.

Next I wove four separate layers (4 rather than 2 shuttles required) to form a pair of open ended tubes around the top of the bag to accept a pair of drawstrings.

Finally, a pair of tubes side by side that when turned inside out into the bag already woven will create double lining divided into two sections.

lundi 7 novembre 2022

Before Susie got back I had time to refresh our kitchen table, which I made exactly 16 years ago. I've refinished it a couple of times, but because of some incompatibility between varnishes, its become slightly sticky recently. I replaced the central (floor) boards and upcycled the old ones to make more shelves in the utility room. The perimeter boards were planed down then painted with chalk paint (blue rather than the old Basque red). This was then waxed, whilst the central wood was oiled.

Chalk paint covering well
All finished

At 4.50 the following morning, I was woken by a scream that sounded like a child. I rushed outside with the torch and immediately picked up the eyes of a fox in the field and Mr Clinton our cockerel! Clinton had obviously fallen asleep in the hedge and when I locked the chickens up for the night, I hadn't noticed he was missing! The fox had found him and snatched him from his perch whilst he slept. I kept the fox away from him with the torch and a few shouts whilst I put on wellies and then rescued him from the field. He'd lost a few feathers but seemed to have gotten free from his attacker without much physical injury - he's a big bird. I bundled him into the henhouse, then chased the fox through the woods for 10 minutes until he realised I meant business! Clinton stayed in the henhouse for three days somewhat traumatised, but now seems to have recovered.

A few days later in the morning Shelley our oldest hen (6 years old) was slumped on the floor of the henhouse. She didn't want any food or water so she lay cradled in my arms for a couple of hours until she died peacefully. I think she had a great life and she's now buried next to Mr Quincy who she was devoted to.


dimanche 30 octobre 2022

Pic de Puntussan

Susie is in the UK visiting Jasper and Ruby, friends and sisters, so I decided to get in a big mountain day. This week,15 years ago, I climbed Pic de Puntussan and Pic des Trois Comptes, so I decide to repeat the ascent but by a more sensible route (avoiding Pic de Lesse and returning by the same route). 

I set out at 8.00 and made swift progress reaching Garbettou in 30 mins, where I saw something large moving amongst the rocks, I approached furtively but in fact it was a lone a male isard.

Garbettou - the peak in the far distance on the left is Pic des Trois Comptes, Pic de Puntussan is beyond this hidden from view.

I reached the Etang Garbet in 1 hour 15 mins which was deserted and was at the Etang Bleu in about 2 hours.

Etang de Garbet

Etang Bleu

The long slog through the granite wilderness took another hour and I made the summit of Pic de Puntussan in about 3 hours 45. The climb to the summit was more difficult than I remembered. I climbed the corner on the left of the obvious ramp to regain the ridge then threaded my way through the jumble of huge granites blocks. Not difficult but serious when alone and so far from anywhere! Amazing views in all directions with no civilisation in site, save the emergency transmitter on Pic Près de Puntussan. I decided not to descend the same the way instead taking the north ridge then contouing back under the peak to reach the col between Pic des trois Comptes and Pic de Puntussan.

Pic de Puntussan

Pic de Puntussan, the ascent is via the right leaning ramp then the ridge

Looking towards Pic de Lesse

Looking towards Pic Rouge de Bassies

Looking towards Pic Pres de Puntussan and Montcalm and Pica d'Estats in the distance with snow

Looking towards Certescan and Mont Rouch

Looking back to Pic des Trois Comptes

The long descent was tough on the knees, granite is rather unforgiving, but 16km and 1500m of ascent in 8 hours including stops for lunch etc. 

Garbettou again

Still green at 900m



Fabric off the loom and on the windows! 12m in all, perhaps it could have had a denser set - the fabric is a bit drapey, but generally I'm happy.

samedi 22 octobre 2022

Autumn plenty

It's a gorgeous autumn with the temperatures in the mid twenties, clear skies and plenty of foraging.

After the dry hot summer we've had a cep bonanza and we've been eating and drying as many as we can. It's also an excellent apple and chestnut year. Susie has been making chestnut and cep paté, nut loafs, chilli sauce and jelly and I've been pickling jars of shallots.  

A little sampler of home preserves

lundi 17 octobre 2022

Etangs de Bassies depuis Coumebiere avec Bouquetins (Ibex)

A walk with Sheri, Andy and Paula over to the Etangs de Bassies from Coumebiere. We have looked down on the lakes so many times on other walks but have never visited them. The weather is still hot so made an early start and the reward was stumbling upon a herd of Ibex above the Port de Saliex. They were un-phased by our presence, but eventually wandered off with two males sizing each other up (see the video above).

The Etangs are part of a nature reserve which is protecting peat bogs/wetland areas and also some forest areas on the north side of Pic du Far. Walkways prevent peoples feet disturbing the peat bog. Unusually, we didn't see any wildlife in the reserve, except for a lone Red Kite scavenging around the refuge.

We dropped into the refuge for a cold drink before climbing straight up to the Col de las Fouzès through the heather and bilberry.

The cirques of Etang Bleu, Etang Garbet and Garbettiou

We returned via the Etang de Labant and the abandoned silver mines.