Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Millau Viaduct and more

A much more eventful week than last week when I had to resort to shopping news.

Our French friends have arrived to stay in the gîte again. This week, Malek and his brother René and next week Malek will fetch his family of wife and three boys.
I hope the weather will be kinder to them this time.

Firstly, a trip down to Millau to see the Norman Foster viaduct. Millau is about 2 – 3 hours journey away.
We stayed the night in the centre of town, spending the afternoon wandering Millau’s lanes and alleyways. Plenty of interesting shops and cafes here and lots of people enjoying them in the sunshine.

Lane in  Millau
Rufus and Me by a water feature

The following morning we planned our route to the viaduct after having checked things out in the Tourist office. There is a tour bus and it was thought they might allow dogs – because we had Rufus with us, but we decided against this as it was so hot. We made our own way to the main viewpoint under the bridge, where, of course, there was a retail therapy opportunity as well as information about the design and construction of the viaduct. I bought a jigsaw puzzle of the viaduct.


For lunch we drove to Peyre and small hillside village with a good view of the viaduct. After a snack and a wander around Peyre I said I wanted to go on the bridge – I couldn’t imagine returning to Cowbridge and telling folk we had been under the bridge, around the bridge, seen it from various viewpoints but not actually been on it, so we did – it costs €7.90 and is worth every penny. A fine feat of engineering.

The Viaduct from Peyre

 On the viaduct

But the highlight of the week was the snake!
Malek and René spend many relaxing hours fishing in the millpond and putting their catch in a keepnet (technical term). They discovered a grassnake making a meal of their catch. The snake had already eaten one fish – they were not very large, maybe 4 – 6 inches, you can tell by the bulge around the middle of the snake, and was partway through a second helping. We all got our cameras out.

Later, when the snake had finished his repast the remaining fish and the snake were released. Malek told us later that there were several snakes in the millpond.

The following day the scenario was repeated with the addition of a quantity of crayfish. I don’t know whether the snake ate any of these which were about the same size as the fish. I went and ‘googled’ crayfish to find out more about them. It would seem that the native species is being ousted by the American variety. It was ever thus. For those interested here is what I read in Wikipedia:
'Crayfish — members of the superfamilies Astacoidea and Parastacoidea — are freshwater crustaceans resembling small lobsters, to which they are related. They breathe through feather-like gills and are found in bodies of water that do not freeze to the bottom; they are also mostly found in brooks and streams where there is fresh water running, and which have shelter against predators. Most crayfish cannot tolerate polluted water. Crayfish feed on living and dead animals and plants.'

Malek holding crayfish

They can of course be eaten but we do not plan to do this. Malek identified some of both nationalities in his catch and we told him he could eat the American ones if he wished.

Weather remains very hot and dry. Work progresses on the painting, quilting, photography and gardening fronts.

There's enough flora and fauna here for this week - more flowers and bugs next week.

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