Monday, August 23, 2010

Limping and Lizards

So, what have we been up to since our return from Spain? Not much for a few days as we needed to recover from our trip. Then we had to prepare for more visitors – Gill and Brian, who were already on their way, staying in Paris for a few days and then camping down through France.
Firstly, we had to fix the bed in the gîte. Jim attended to the joints whilst I went off to Figeac to look at mattresses in BUT (name of store). I selected one and told the assistant that I would return on the morrow with his husband and our trailer – my French doesn’t improve!  
Getting goods delivered to the Moulin is an expensive business – thank goodness we have the trailer.

It was good to see Gill and Brian again especially as they came loaded with supplies of PG Tips – two big boxes. French tea, even when labelled English Breakfast or similar is anaemic stuff and we were down to our last two teabags.

Gill, Brian and Rufus
 We went into Figeac on the Saturday morning to look at the market and have lunch. The town was very busy – swelled by tourists and we had a job finding somewhere to park.

Another visit to Conques as Gill and Brian had not been there before – they were impressed. There was a good exhibition of Chinese paintings in the gallery. We finally got to buy one of those butterfly things in the toyshop that Jim has long wanted.
The butterfly revolves round the flower
We had details of a two-hour walk recommended to us which we thought that Gill and Brian would enjoy. I think I should have read the description more thoroughly than I did. Jim talked of elevations but I took little heed.
We found the start of the walk at La Vinzelle after some trouble with reading the map and set off. La Vinzelle is perched on a rocky outcrop above the River Lot and has spectacular views.
I had already noticed that the walk was going to involve some strenuous climbing and perhaps this knowledge disturbed my attention to the path at my feet because I stumbled and in the fall twisted my ankle. Unwilling, as always, to retrace my steps, we carried on – and up, and on, and up to the top of a crag and down the other side. Finally, after two and a half hours we reached the Auberge in the village and some cold beers. It truly was a delightful walk but better perhaps without a sprained ankle and not on such a hot day. These pictures give some idea:

Gill and Brian
River Lot from near the top of the crag
Another view along the Valley of the Lot

At the top of the crag - a much needed rest
View of the village from the crag - we have to walk there!
Colourful rock

Limping the last few yards to the Auberge
One for the kiddies - a cat at the Auberge

Our friend Brian is a geologist and has spent many happy? hours here scrabbling through the brambles, up rocky slopes etc to map the geology of the domaine. I am hoping to get a pictorial breakdown of his findings at some stage which I can add to the blog.

On our last evening we went to L’ Auberge de Mourjou for a meal. Excellent, as usual, and quite busy too. We sat outside and enjoyed the view over the Chataignerie.

After Gill and Brian left we began to prepare for our next lot of visitors – a family of four from the U.K.

Rufus managed to step on a lizard – deliberately – and it’s tail came off. I knew that this could happen and seem to remember it as a child. The tail kept squirming about on it’s own for quite a while. The lizard escaped and will grow a new tail in due course although it will never be quite as good as new. Amazing!

Firebug Pyrrhocoris apterus
Lizard in a bucket - we freed it (not the same lizard that lost his tail)

Wild rose

Friday, August 13, 2010

Viva Espana!

Matthew, Tess, Andre, Bo and Dino
Sunday 25th July
We are not in Spain yet, but this is our last day with the family here. This evening their friends Andre, Marcelle and Dino come to stay for two weeks so we have agreed to move out. Tomorrow we set off for Spain.
This morning we went to the Fête du Blé in Maurs to see a tractor rally. 
There were also two large oxen yoked together – huge - an amazing sight!
The girls were disappointed that the ‘Jeux perdous et retrouves’ had not turned up and so was I.
The friends arrived safe and sound and we all enjoyed a meal together.
Monday 26th.
We left Rufus in the care of ‘Wags and Whiskers’ in Marminiac and continued our journey to Carcassonne. We stayed in the Hotel Bristol, centrally placed but not as good as Ibis. We spent the afternoon exploring the town.
Next day we walked to La Cité. The delights of which are best expressed in pictures.
Do any members of CADS remeber this view of Carcassonne?
In the evening we brought back many happy memories of our canal holidays by a trip up the Canal du Midi on a barge.
After a hairy start where Kate (GPS) sent us along a street facing two lines of oncoming traffic we set off for Spain. We had a long journey if we were to get there in one go and it was very hot already.
We made L’Olleria by late afternoon and Eddie had the cold beers waiting. He later took us to The Olive Branch’ a delightful place run by Brits. Jim and Eddie had fish and chips!
Eddie's Terrace
The Pool
Over the next few days we had dips in the pool, more cold beers, excellent meals out and enjoyed the company of several of Eddie’s friends, particularly, Ken and Corinne and Tom and Brenda. During the days following the loss of Mavis, who sadly died a few days before we arrived, these friends have proved their worth, keeping him company and providing him with meals.
On our last day in L’Olleria we took a trip to Bocarainte – a hillside town. 
no - this way?

or - was it this?
Sadly, the glass factory with it’s lovely shop was closed, whether permanently or not we weren’t sure. They specialise in recycling glass. We had hoped to buy more stuff  as presents to take back home. (Since our return I have found that they have a website:, so all may not be lost.
On our return we stopped for two nights in Barcelona (the stay in the hotel was a gift from Matthew and Saskia).
A day and a half is not enough time to ‘do’ Barcelona. We concentrated  mainly on the Sagrada Familia and Casa Batlló, a building restored by Antoni Gaudí and Josep Maria Jujol, built in the year 1877 and remodelled in the years 1904–1906; located at 43, Passeig de Gràcia. Both were great, but I preferred the house as religious architecture is not really to my liking.
Sagrada Familia
Casa Balltó
Salon with gentleman

View into courtyard garden
Attic room - my favourite!
 When we no longer had the energy to walk we caught the tour bus and did it the easy way.
The next day, on to Toulouse and IKEA. Friday morning we collected Rufus and went to Gourdon for lunch where we were alerted by a phone call that someone was anxious to view the Moulin. Nothing for it but to dash home and do the business.
Spent a pleasant evening chatting to Marcelle and Andre before they left early next morning. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Treasure and 'treasures'

 Bo and Tess's Pirate Flag for the TreeHouse

I am over three weeks behind now with entries to this blog. I had just done the first week when I inadvertently deleted it so here we go again . . .

Matthew, Saskia and the girls Bo and Tess arrived Monday afternoon. It is delightful to see them all again. The girls are pleased with the bedroom I have decorated and prepared for them and disappeared up there to play.
Later, they discovered the 'gold coins' and treasure map in their Treasure Chest (see previous post in April). They had fun reading the map and finding the treasure.
Treasure parcels

Matthew outlined the plans he has for their two weeks here.
One idea was to dig a new pond with the tractor just below the millpond where there is a damp area – perhaps a spring or leakage from the millpond.
Here it is although some finishing off needs to be done:
New Pond
He also had plans to fire pottery in a sawdust-filled container. It is called ‘smoke-firing’ and if you want to know more about it just google ‘smoke firing’. We were not around when this was done but here are the results made by Matthew and the girls.

He wanted to make some paper – again we had left for Spain when this was done.
Three sheets of handmade paper with petals and leaves

A bench was to be made for Peter’s Place. This was done by refashioning an old bench from the mill and here it is in situ:
Bench at Peter's Place

After all the hard work some outings – first to the Animal Park at Gramat. I did not go but remained at the Moulin with Rufus as it was too long a time away to leave him. I joined them later in Figeac for a meal. I had crêpes – delicious – my favourite.

Then to the beach at the lake. It would seem that Matthew and family have been going to a different beach at Espinet on a different part of the lake. The weather was warm and sunny and the girls tried out their new air beds.
Tess with ring and airbed

Fun was had down at 'our' beach also despite the mysterious disappearance of some of the sand.
 Matt and Sas watching the dryads girls at the 'beach'

This week we also managed to get the bread oven going and to have a pizza party.

Bo, Tess, Saskia and Rufus

Great Green Grasshopper

Red Clover