mercredi 30 septembre 2020

Mont Ceint

A stroll up Mont Ceint from the Port de Lers this morning. Great to be out in the snow and sunshine! 5 people on the summit but no-one else all day. 

During a lazy lunch we spotted vultures far below us feeding on and scrabbling over the carcass of a calf or foal which had fallen down the south face. Could just about pick them out with the telephoto lens. Times like this I wish had the new zuiko 100-400 lens!

A little Merlin soaring over the mountains.

On the way back we got stuck behind the transhumance all the way from Le Port to Massat (about an hour in the car at walking pace) no other routes to get by the farmer bring his 50 or so cattle down from the estive.

mardi 29 septembre 2020

Meteo France

Meteo France completely revamped their weather website and I am sorry to say it is absolutely awful. Lots of web design (not particularly inspiring) but much less actual content. Whoever was in charge of it should be sacked. 

There are buttons to select forecasts for 7 days or 14 days but whichever you press you only get 5 days on the screen and have to scroll to see the other 2 or 9 days, so why bother having the option of 7 or 14 days? The point of a long range forecast is to be able to see the evolution of the weather at a glance i.e. being able to see all 14 days on the screen at once.

For the mountain forecasts, none of the automatic weather stations are available anymore - which gave historical and present data for temperature, wind speed (maximum gust and average speed) and snow depth over the winter - crucial safety information for skiers and mountaineers.

Neither are there any menus presently to get avalanche safety bulletins, or snow depth by aspect and altitude. 

I wrote to them asking why all this vital information had been dropped and they said they were hoping to add more features back to the new site over the coming months....One has to ask why they took down the old fully functioning site and replaced it with one that is far from finished?

Please give us access to the old site until the new one is ready! and give excellent forecast information but no historical data which allows you to judge the snow conditions.

dimanche 27 septembre 2020


The cold front which passed over the Pyrenees brought heavy rain to Quélébu and a good 50cm of snow to the mountains, nice to see and itching to get out.

Tow-hitch now fitted to the car (somewhat scary pulling the body panels off our new car, but it all went back together without mishap). 

Susie's contemporary dance classes have restarted in Oust and I've been busy chipping the mountains of branches from hedge laying and putting them as mulch on our various gardens. Fields have also been scythed of bracken, hopefully for the last time this year!

After the dry August and September, the mushrooms are back in abundance too.

mercredi 16 septembre 2020

 I ve had man-flu for 4-5 days, now thankfully over...could it have been Covid 19? I isolated just in case and will do an antibody test in a few days time. 

Hedge laying all finished (apart from the clearing up) and after saving since last february and help from mum, dad and auntie, we bought a new (secondhand) car on Monday. Hopefully we can collect it from the dealer at the weekend (in france it's illegal to pay more than 1000 euros cash for an item and bank transfers take 4 days for large sums). It's a suzuki vitara allgrip. First diesel car and first blue car.  It has almost three times the fuel economy of the mitsubishi so we should save some money even though he insurance is a little more. Our model, the copper edition, has a large sunroof, which may not be the best idea in the summer for keeping the car cool when its parked out of the garage, but I'm sure we'll enjoy it in the winter!

jeudi 10 septembre 2020


Since finishing the chairs we ve been mostly hedge laying, but the last couple of days I ve been assembling and installing this stair for Sheri and Michiel, with Michiel's help.

samedi 5 septembre 2020

L'observatoire Cap du Guzet

My initial design for the Observatoire l'Occitanie à Guzet, visitors enter through the inclined screen of photovoltaic panels which power the observatory and mirror the mountains opposite.

A job I was interviewed for last year and led to believe I had secured (pending funding applications) was for a new astronomical observatory at Guzet a few kilometres from Quélébu. I have been in correspondance with the client (an association) for the past 9 months and I did some initial designs for the building during the lockdown/confinement. The building which would have to function completely off grid, at over 1800m altitude, in an exposed location and accommodate people with a wide range of disabilities was an exciting prospect. 

Alas, I discovered a few days ago when I saw a facebook post, that the association has appointed another Architect from Grenoble to do the project and didn't even have the courtesy to tell me! The new design I have to say is rather bland and a lost opportunity to build something special on a unique site.

Pic Tarbesou

A walk a bit further from chez nous than normal on Thursday with a trip to Tarbesou, East of Ax les Thermes. From just below the Col de Pailhères, we (Michiel, Sheri, Susie and I) followed the classic route up the Crete de Mounegou to the summit for a fantastic 360 degree panorama.

From the summit we continued along the Sarrat des Escales and the Sarrat de Gabensa to reach the Roc de Bragues before returning via the three lakes to cross the col de Coumeille de l'Ours.  The landscape east of the Ariege valley is much drier than the Couserans and the landscape dominated pines rather than deciduous trees.

descending from the summit

Dead pine with the Dent d'Orlu in the background

Reeds in the first lake

Tarbesou with the col de Coumielle de l'Ours on its right

The incredibly green Etang Bleu!

Etang bleu and the very blue Etang Noir from the Coumeille de l'Ours