vendredi 21 juin 2019


The loom is finally threaded and ready for weaving. 

We broke a rear suspension spring on the car but fortunately the part is still available. I made a spring compressor from some old EDF u-bolts and fitted it this morning.

Susie is off to B12 dance festival in Berlin next week. Although she bought tickets and accommodation back in February, we completely forgot to book the flights, which has proved rather expensive....especially as I accidentally bought return tickets from Berlin to Toulouse rather than vice-versa!! "Twat-tax" (the cost of occasionally being an idiot).

lundi 17 juin 2019

Mont Beas ...and bears

A planned day walk with Sherie on Sunday had to be cut short because of a gite changeover, so Mont Beas seemed a suitable trip for a 3 hours excursion. Short steep and a bit airy the route follows the narrow ridge from just below the Col d'Agnes. We had vultures swirling overhead and a carpet of wild flowers below our feet.

Fantastic panoramic views from the summit.  Last time I did this peak I descended to the Col de Dret and made a circuit, this time we had to hurry back so returned by the same route.

Another encounter between a walker and a bear just a few miles from here in the valley Estours. A walker early in the morning came upon a bear cub on GR10 and was charged by its mother. Fearing for his life he turned and ran (not the right thing to do, but very understandable in the circumstances), the bear fortunately stopped and returned to her cub. With about 60 bears in the Pyrénées and about 85% of them in the Ariège and the Val d'Aran, an accident here is probably just a matter of time.

dimanche 2 juin 2019

Quer de la Fourche

An attempt to repeat the trip I made in July 2012, following the Chemin de Liberté from the col de la core, over the Col de Craberous then a return by the Col de Crouzette. It's been very hot the last few days and yet there remains quite a lot of snow in the mountains. Susie and I set off and reached the Cabane de Subera in about 1h30. Previously I'd found the old direct path but climbs straight into Les Clots, but it's over grown as the longer more gradual variant is now signposted. Above Les Clots we reached the snow and heat and progress slowed. It's complicated terrain and without any markers we just headed up on very soft snow and flattened gispet grass.

The corries under Pic de Pomebrunet, Pic de Lampau and Pic de Caries are still full of snow and quite spectacular and the ridge joining the peaks still have some very large cornices waiting to collapse.

At the false col that has to be crossed before the final snowfield we finally got a view of the state of the Col de Craberous and quickly decided that it was still charged with snow and in the heat was too dangerous to climb, another steep snow slope that gains access to Tuc de la Messe was in a similar state so our way forward was barred. We stopped for lunch and soon heard the boom of an avalanche which we watched fall from near the summit of Pic de Pomebrunet, pour down through the cliffs, then slide down the snow slopes below.

Col de Craberous

Lunch spot

We climbed a little higher to look for any other alternatives and stopped close to the pothole of the Grande Glacier du Quer de la Fourche. We climbed the Quer before retracing our route of the morning to the Col de la Core. A long roasting day of nearly 8 hours and 1350m of ascent;

Quer de la Fourche

This boulder fell on the path in the couple of hours between our ascent and descent

I recently got a MCON-P01. It's a lens that fits on the front of my Olympus 14-150mm lens and turns it into a macro lens by shortening the focus distance to about 25cm. It's much cheaper than buying a dedicated macro lens and the results are quite good really.

samedi 25 mai 2019

Sheep shearing

This year we decided to join with our new neighbour at La Coste (Christian) and get both our flocks sheared at the same time. We took the sheep up to La Coste in the morning and penned them. The shearer arrived in the afternoon and after shearing Christian's 30 or so sheep, it was our turn. Our sheep were getting stressed by now and started to misbehave. Despite their small size our sheep showed there strength and even the shearer had a job trying to hold them. the wool is lovely but because of the struggle the sheep looked like they had been attacked by a lawnmower! We and they were glad to get home. A couple of days later I neatened them up with the hand shears. Our surplus rams will be off to the abattoir soon, unless there are any local offers to have them as lawnmowers.

In the woods, I came across the nest (hole in a tree) of a middle spotted woodpecker. In the UK we have the lesser and great spotted, so this is a new species for me. Have tried several times to get photos of the parents feeding the young through the hole but they are so observant as soon as I am within 20m of the nest they spot me from the treetops and sound alarm calls, refusing to come close to the nest.

Also spotted a small emerald moth and a frog (couldn't identify it).

A few days of rain and no architectural work has allowed me to get on with some work in the house. The first steps towards fitting solar hot water panels - reorganising the utility room with new shelves, a spot of decoration and installing the solar pump and controller.

I've also got back onto the loom and after a 6 month absence have started threading the heddles.

vendredi 17 mai 2019

Serre d'Araing (Pic de l'Har)

A few days joining Pauls field at Le Sarrach with the new field via an area of woodland belonging to Minsou. The sheep always escape into the woods to munch a few leaves and as neither of the other fields is really large enough to satisfy the sheep for more than a couple of days the larger enclosure makes a lot of sense. On Monday sheep shearing!

Shelley is sitting on some eggs, she started with 5, but has broken 2 over the last 10 days, so now she has only 3 left.

glorious weather for the past few days but as it was set to change on Friday (which it has) we squeezed in a walk on Thursday. Pic de l'Har 2445m (last climbed by me 13 years ago) was the objective, but as is often the case these days we overslept so didn't start walking until 11.00. It's a steep start through the woods but we made good progress and made the Mines de Bentaillou in a couple of hours.

The edf were there working in some of the tunnels, I guess something to do with the hydro electricity plant at Eylie. After the mines we were in the snow which just warranted putting on our crampons. Slower progress up to the Col at Serre d'Araing 2245m.

The Pic de l'Har is just another 200m higher, but Susie was pooped after 4250ft of ascent and we had to get back for her french lesson. A bearded vulture circling over the peak decided to pay us a visit.

We thought of descending via the Refuge de Sans but eventually returned the same way.

mardi 14 mai 2019

Cirque d'Anglade

It's a while since I visited the Cirque d'Anglade, it s a great spot and barely 20 minutes walk from the parking at the Mines des Anglade. Just a shame there is no easy way out of the Cirque.

A Wheatear