Friday, May 31, 2013

How Cool Is This?

As I mentioned, a couple of weeks ago we went with Mr and Mrs Septimus to a Mark Knopfler concert in Liverpool. Every concert on the tour is being recorded on the spot. The Liverpool concert is stored in this USB stick, heavily disguised as MK's favourite red Stratocaster guitar.

The same question above - "How cool is this?", could also refer to our weather. It has warmed up a bit and has today even managed to creep marginally above 10 degrees, but May must surely be one of the wettest and coldest ever recorded in the South of France.

In a final flourish, I understand we have had one month's supply of rain in the past 24 hours. When we were in Lavelanet this morning, the normally fairly placid weir was something to behold. It was like standing by the side of the Niagara Falls. Unfortunately, I did not have a suitable camera with me.

But this afternoon, when we took advantage of a brief break in the downpour to go for a walk, we were confronted by this sight at the ford just outside the village. Normally we can walk across some stepping stones or not even bother with that as the ford is frequently completely dry in spring/summer/autumn/fall. But we wouldn't have dared to try to get through this lot today (below). Click on the arrow to start the video moving and click on the bottom right symbol (looks a bit like a window frame) to make the picture fill your screen.

Friday, May 24, 2013

3 Degrees In The South Of France

We spent last week in England, mainly prompted by attendance at an excellent Mark Knopfler concert in Liverpool, but handily timed to help my daughter Nicola and grandson Alessandro attune themselves to English ways and weather. Nicola has lived in Italy for all her adult life and Alessandro was born in that country. They have now moved to England.

We returned to find that the rain which has blighted the winter here had carried on during our absence. The river which is normally pretty turgid in the spring and summer is ragingly turbid and very brown as it clearly is trying to wash the Pyrenees into the Mediterranean. The vertical humidity which has caused this has continued since we arrived back on Wednesday. Our visit to Lavelanet market this morning was extremely wet and some stalls which had been brave enough to set up were packing everything away as we left at about 0930.

As we drove home the car screamed an ice warning at us because the temperature had fallen to Three Degrees! Should I remind you that this is the end of May in the South of France? As the girl group The Three Degrees used to sing - "Ah, ah! Ooh! ooh!"

Monday, May 13, 2013

Napoleonic House For Sale

Work is underway, as you can see, at chez nous. We always have a bit of a rush at this time of year to get the garden up to scratch. Gay has a splendid vegetable garden but, as we tend to be out of the country until the end of April, things are a bit behind when we arrive home. My job is to keep the grass under control and to assist with any heavy lifting. Not to mention trying to repair the ravages from about ten thousand moles and the odd herd of cows or horses which somehow get into the garden. This year it was horses and although, unlike the cows, they did not snap our teenage fig trees off at ground level, their hooves have left some significant pot-holes (or nids de poules - chicken nests, as the French call them).

This year we have an added incentive to tidy up not only the garden, but the house, because we have put the property on the market with the intention of moving, in our dotage, to an apartment in Narbonne, 110 kms to the East.

The third picture, the pinnacle of our gable, shows, we believe, the face of Napoleon Bonaparte. The house was allegedly built by a drum major in Napoleon's Grande Armée.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Big Walkers Gather In The Alps

Morning Mist in Uriage

Where to next?

Andy tucks in to breakfast

We are home now. Left Switzerland on 30th April and drove to Uriage, just outside Grenoble. There we had a reunion with Andy Greene. If you recall, Andy is an American chemist who we met in New Zealand last year just after he had completed the third stage of his Big Walk from the North to the South of NZ.

This year we met him again, in Oamaru, just after he started the fourth and final leg of the project, which has stretched over 4 years.

Andy has lived in France for 40 years and his home is in Uriage. We went for a walk with him soon after we arrived. We also had dinner in the evening and breakfast again the next morning before we left for the long drive home. Due to a misunderstanding, Andy had expected us to stay for longer and he had a program of events planned, including treating us to the very handsome pizzas he makes. We had to take a rain check on that. We will definitely go back to Uriage, which seems a splendid small town and we think we have persuaded Andy to visit us here in the Pyrenees (Uriage is in the Alps).

Having completed his big walk in New Zealand, Andy is now looking for a new project. Any ideas, anyone?