samedi 27 juin 2020


A female purple emperor, I couldn t get a photo of the male which is Purple

 A rare sighting of a pair of Egyptian Vultures over Camp Faba here in Aleu

mardi 23 juin 2020

Hay making

It's been a wet June, but that has made the grass grow. Good weather since the weekend meant it was time once again for making hay. With our finger mower and baler dating from the late 1950's, it's always a fraught time trying to get everything to work. This year after changing the cutters on the Busatis mower all went reasonable well. The tedder worked without a problem, then we spent a 2-3 hours raking the hay into winrows (we don't have an andaineur). Then out rolled the baler which worked marvelously last summer. This year it just refused to work. As per normal the knotters wouldn't knot. I spent all afternoon fiddling but without success.

This morning armed with various manuals and advice, I sharpened the cutters, synchronised the needles with the knotters and adjusted the wipers and hey presto it worked again. The bales weren't very dense but I dared not change anything. I had already had to fluff up all the winrows which were damp with the overnight dew! Susie had dance class so I was baling single handed and failed to notice that 40 bales had passed with only one of the bobbins had run out! All the bales had to be broken apart and rebaled.

A hastily put together extension to our trailer doubled its capacity and 7 trips later the barn is full for the winter. There's still another 50 or so bales in the field but at 9.30 we'd had enough. Should be hot enough tomorrow to dry the dew out of those bales....I ll find somewhere to store them.

samedi 13 juin 2020

Gerac, Turguilla, Rabaserre

A break in the rainy unsettled weather allowed another hastily arranged walk in the mountains with Sheri and Michiel. Despite the sunny appearance of the weather in the photos an icy wind was blowing a hoolie and it was both bitterly cold in the morning and sometimes difficult to keep your balance.

Pointe de Rabaserre (left) and Pointe de Hillette (right)

At the cabane de Tuguilla we took refuge from the wind for an early lunch and discuss the onward route options. We decided to head up to the Etang de Reglisse and then the col on the west ridge of Pointe de Rabaserre, as this looked like it would be more sheltered from the wind.

Etang de Rabaserre

A few hundred meters below the col the fresh snow appeared and Sheri and Susie decided to cal it a day. 

Michiel and I pressed on to the col which was decidedly delicate as some 20cm of fresh snow had covered the patchwork of huge boulders and old névé with a seemingly continuous snowfield but this disguised deep holes and weak snow bridges. Mostly we managed to stick to the edges. Below the col there was a small patch of steep grass covered in melting snow and this was perhaps the trickiest bit to cross as a slip would have nasty consequences! Inhte end all passed without incident and at the col we were greated with the icy wind and marvrllous view to Certescan and Montabone.

samedi 30 mai 2020

Compost bins

Decided we needed to get more serious about compost so have built 2 big bins to turn our grass, old hay, sheep manure and vegetable waste into Black Gold!

mardi 26 mai 2020

Peyrelade, port de Barlonguère, Etang Long, Etang Rond

A hastily arranged walk with our neighbour Sandrine and we opted to head over the Col de Barlonguère and descend via the Etang Long and Etang Rond, which are often snow filled at this time of year.

The steep climb up past the cascades d'echelles was a rude awakening, especially for Sandrine as this was her first mountain walk since lock-down. On emerging from the tree line an overdose of sensations from the noise of the torrent and the colours of the wild flowers and butterflies.

Looking back to the skyline we walked a few days ago

We managed to find a place to cross the torrent without too much difficulty, before the long ascent in the sun to the upper valley.

Snow patches appeared a km or so before the cabane de Barlonguère

We had a short lunch at the cabin because it was gone 1.30 by the time we arrived and it was 2.30 by the time we started our descent from the Port de Barlonguère. The views were magnificent and the descent though all on snow was soft and easy.

The Etang Long still had a sprinkling of snow islands floating around.

The descent to the Etang Rond was snow free though there is a place where the the path has fallen off this winter requiring a short detour.

From the Etang Rond the long descent back down to Pla de Lau on tired legs. 18km and 1450m of height gain, it's always a tough day.

jeudi 21 mai 2020

Cap d'Auternac

After a couple of months of being confined to our homes for all but essential journeys, the rules have been relaxed and we can travel within a 100km radius and socialise in groups not exceeding 10 people, whilst maintaining a 2m separation from those not in one's household....ample to allow a trip into the mountains with friends.

After a rendezvous at Col de la Core, we headed up to the Etang d'Eychelle for lunch. Pete, Dee and their kids called it day there, whilst Susie, I, Al and Breezy, Sheri and Michiel and Becks carried on.

 Red kite

After the Cabane d'Eychelle, we followed the vague path upto the SW to reach the broad col opposite Pic de Montgarié.

From there we followed the ridge over 4 or 5 tops to reach Cap d'Auternac 2361m and a second lunch with views to Mont Valier.

 Mont valier

 Tuc de la Messe, Cap d'Auternac and Pic de Lampau

A short steep descent from Cap d'Auternac put us on the Col de Crouzette, from where a snowy descent saw us back at the Cabane. Just over 1000m denivilée and lovely first walk of the season.

Fabulous to see friends and be back in the mountains doing what we love best.

Today the weather remains beautifully hot, we have our first guests in the gite and there's a semblance of normality!