Pique Rouge Bassie Loop

Another hot day dictated another early start to beat the heat. Breakfast at Coumebiere before heading off via Col de la Fouzes. At the Col we turned right to take the ridge in the sunshine to Pique Rouge Bassie. There was a welcome slight breezy on the ridge, and on the lee side there was a huge flock of crag martins. We watched these beautiful birds playing in the wind for a while.

A cup of hot cassis and ginger (our preferred thermos filling) and a handful of peanuts at the summit before descending passed the lakes towards Refuge Bassie. We stopped at the the lower lake of Etang des Lavants for Breezy to take a plunge. From the Hut, uphill again, to Port de Bassie and Port Saleix then back to the van on the GR10.

Big loop of 1700m and 19km with great views and hardly anyone there.

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Cagataille

The weather forecast said it was to be 35 degrees so an early start was called for. Alarm set and no coffee in bed. Breakfast made up in ice cream containers and we were off.

Got to the parking, breakfast and away for just gone 8am. Most of the way up to Etang Hillette was in the shade which was bliss. There were a couple of people there but it was super quiet. An easy hour of boulder hopping to get to Etang Alet where Breezy took a dip. Lunch and then took the track via Cabane Lacarde and the descent back to the van. We couldn’t find the Cabane where it was marked on the map. There was a shelter built under a rock above the tarn but our notes from the last time we went was that it was quite comfy and well equipped.

A much needed day in the hills. Nice and peaceful though the parking was completely chock a block when we got back to the van.

 

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Steve and Anne

Anne has visited us at the barn a couple of times before but Steve has never been. Friends from Chamonix, they drove down for three nights and had fantastic weather. Having said that, I think the whole of Europe has had fantastic weather. It did rain one evening which completely refilled our water butts.

Two lovely walks, the first up to the second waterfall, le Bege. The next was above Rogalle around Le Rus. It was a fab loop, mostly on the flat but with amazing views over Oust and some beautiful hamlets. Took a dip in the river at Kabernac on the way back for a late lunch on the terrace.

It was brilliant to see them both here. Must get to visit them in N Wales at some stage.

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Papa Breese

Breezy’s Dad hasn’t been to the barn for a couple of years and quite a lot has changed in that time.

We collected him from Carcasonne airport and had 3 nights at the barn. Then drove over to Cassis for a couple of nights en route to Grimaud to meet up with other Breese family members at a Villa to celebrate Iain’s 80th Birthday. It was actually the year before but was cancelled due to travel restrictions.

Time at the barn was playing games, catching up and relaxing. Cassis was being tourists, eating sea food and drinking local wines. Grinaud was family time. Playing tennis, swimming in the pool and playing games. Not to mention the drinking and eating. Drinking magnums does reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries from pulling corks.

All in all there was a huge amount of laughter and banter; and it was great fun. Now for the detox.

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Running repairs

Having converted a barn and made it habitable one would hope to be able to put one’s feet up and relax a bit. Maybe read a few novels, or even write one. However, stuff starts to rot, slates slip, fences go slack, etc. This is compounded when most of the building materials have been recycled or repurposed. Then there is the other “stuff” which has been salvaged over the winter which needs some fettling. Finally there is the new sign for the Naughty Corner which Patrick made us in Chamonix. The Naughty Corner is the little shack which we lived in for the early years. Thanks Patrick.

The list included:-

  • Removing the rotten steps between the front terraces. The originals were salvaged from the tip in Les Houches with our great friend Keith some 10 years ago. The “new” ones were salvaged from a friend of Patrick’s in Vaudagne near Chamonix. A bit wider and substantially more stable.
  • Renovating a garden table salvaged from Chamonix over the winter.
  • Fixing the helideck – decking planks lifting needed fixing down.
  • Tensioning fencing.
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Port de Salau

There is something really nice about being able to walk from the door of the barn into Spain. Less than two and a half hours and 1000m of ascent carrying a sandwich and a salad for Breezy and you’re there. Generally it’s not the most interesting walk but this time of year the flowers are amazing. Also the birdlife, though never the easiest things to catch on camera.

We were lucky enough on the way back down to sit and watch a couple of goldfinches feasting on a thistle.

We also took a detour to go and look for the Eglise St Jean. This sign has been on the path for all the years we have lived here. We have never before even been curious enough to explore. This time we did. We found a pile of rocks with another sign explaining what the rocks were and a magnificent view of cascade Bege. In fact the site is a mere 10m from the path, and very interesting. From there we took the higher path round the back of our barn towards the village as a more interesting way home than the 4×4 piste.

Both the sandwich and the salad were delicious.

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Have they got legs

Early morning start to drive to Guzet for a trek up Pic de Seron. Having bailed on our walk last week we were hopeful to actually get some exercise. Deliberately not beasting ourselves on the first proper walk since the winter in Chamonix we went for familiar territory and not too much ascent.

Headed round clockwise via Etang D’Aube and on following the red markers towards the summit. We had forgotten about snow patches at this time of year and skirted round some by tackling some rock scrambling. Some however was unavoidable.

A quick snack on the blustery top as we scanned the horizon working out which peaks were where, then headed down to Cabane de Turguilla where we had lunch. On past the two lower Etangs to the ladders and back to the van.

A beautiful day with loads of wild flowers (all of which we have forgotten their names) and, we still have legs. Tip top.

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All in the mix

That’s the first week at the barn done. We had a fun week, doing chores about the place. Nothing megga, and chopping and changing. A little weeding here, make a new base for some water butts, then a little more weeding. That sort of thing.

We knew before we went travelling that the batteries in the main barn had expired. New ones were delivered to Peter in Toulouse for us to pick up. Unfortunately one was damaged and so we are only operating with one at the moment. Another is on its way, and in the meantime we are trying not to abuse the one we have. So no pump for running water, all outdoor showers and minimise the internet and lighting. Fortunately we have a completely separate system for the Naughty Corner (the small outbuilding we first lived in) for charging bits of kit.

Also one of the water butts out the back was destroyed over the winter. We have replaced that with two connected together which will give us more capacity and secured them both to the wall so that they can’t get trashed.

Then apart from weeding and strimming, we have been planting the vegetable garden up. Made some blackcurrant jam yesterday and redcurrant jelly to come this week. Both are for the winter in the chalet in Chamonix.

We did try and go for a walk up towards Col de la Pause but got rained off by an impromptu storm within an hour of starting. Gotta get out this week for a hike and a cycle.

Shopping today – food for the next 10 days (all based on a menu plan as usual), a couple of DIY bits n bobs and some plants, mostly veg but some flowery stuff too. We always use a menu plan and there are always some new recipes on it. That way we don’t ever run out of food, we have very little waste and we get some exciting food. Also always on the search for new dishes for the chalet in the winter. The DIY stuff is for some new stairs between the terraces out the front and the plants have already been installed in the garden.

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Post COVID travels Nicaragua

After several travel plans have gone to the shape of the pear over the last couple of years we have finally got away. Destination Nicaragua.

As per normal we planned to stay in different places and explore for a few days before moving on. Grenada, on lake Nicaragua, was a great first stop and eased us into the culture. It’s small enough to walk around and is steeped in history. Next was Ometepe, a small island with a couple of volcanos on the same lake. Much more chilled, superb people and some opportunities to explore. Climbed a volcano, cycled the island, saw capuchin monkeys, a calmen, and loads of plants which we have never seen before.

The plant life and the birds became a strong theme for our explorations. Next we headed up north to the highland and stayed at Don Chico’s farm. Don Chico is 84 and has carved out trails around the Penas Blancas. He is like a small child/mountain goat and is so keen to show folk around. We had two days walking with him and learnt so much. Then, as we were waiting for our lift to the next staging post, he got out his accordian and started playing music for us.

The Somoto Canyon was brilliant. We had a private guide (just two of us booked that day) and saw nobody else while there. Stayed at a cool little farm and saw loads of wildlife.

Last stop was the Corn Islands and Orinoco on the Caribbean coast. More varied food which was great. Amazing people from different tribes and a whole different history and culture. The most memorable day was Mothers Day when all the Mothers of Orinoco played baseball.

Travelling around was all on local buses and pangas (boats) except the Corn Islands which we flew to. All pretty easy and hastle free, though it took some getting used to how it all worked.

A fabulous country with such variety of people cultures and histories.

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Pic 3 Seigneurs

Met Sheri, Michiel, Lee and Suzie at the Col to head up to the Pic des 3 seigneurs. A couple of hours to the top where we had lunch before heading down to the south on a cairn marked path which took us straight down to the lake. Some people took a dip. Nice new variation for the descent. Managed to get back to the van just in time before the rain started.

It is a great hike for a short day as only 750m of up and 9km.

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