Dad’s Trip to The Barn and then on to The Dordogne.

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We have had mixed weather since getting back to the barn after our UK trip but felt very lucky that we had weather windows to tame the jungle a wee bit before Dad’s arrival and the weather gods decided to be kind to us.

We collected Dad from Carcassone late afternoon and as we got back to the barn the skies cleared and the the mountains came into sight and continued to do so for Dad’s visit until we left for the Dordogne in the mizzle! So it was perfect timing.

We had a very leisurely few days at the barn, breakfasts on the terrace, Dad in his ski chair after that reading, taking in the views and strolls around the garden, long salad lunches with a few roses  before siesta for Dad and we pottered on. Then it was the nightly games, aperos, and good food and chat. Boggle pre dinner (always reminds me of family hols with Mum and her own creative scoring style for her good words! )and then crib after dinner.

Dad ventured into the outdoor shower which seemed to go down well, don’t think Dad will miss the steep stairs though!

Had some good wildlife spotting in the evenings too with deer and foxes appearing.

We then headed to the Dordogne an area Dad had wanted to visit for quite a while. We had not visited the area before either so new ventures for us all. It was a 4 hour ish drive there in the rain but by lunchtime the sun was vaguely out for a picnic outside before finishing off our trip to Le Roque-Gageac. We had booked a wonderful Air B&B. Luckily Al was at the helm as the road was so so narrow literally mm’s each side to squeeze Poppy through each day! We were quite happy that it was not our old beloved Billy!  

A great place to base ourselves from with a separate en suite annex for Dad and a lovely terrace with views and hot air balloons going by each evening.

We decided one meal out a day was quite sufficient so we mixed and matched lunches and dinners in/out which worked very well.

We were in the middle of foie gras area so meals out usually had at least one of us choosing that as an option. We generally chose 3 different dishes and then we could all sample the various local delicacies. We stumbled across some excellent restos and Dad chose some wonderful wines to go with them as well as a good selection back at the apartment for our aperos in the evening.

We generally had a morning seeing something before a long lunch and then leisurely afternoon. Al and I found the boules pitch so enjoyed that a few times. We visited Sarlaat, Vezere country, wonderful gardens and a stunning water garden with an abundance of colour and so beautifully done. Le Roque Gageac in itself was a lovely little village cut into the hillside full of charm and character

Again we were lucky with the weather and enjoyed sunshine days and temps dropping a wee bit at night.

The Dordogne is beautiful and a lot of wealth about with all the buildings beautifully restored. We really enjoyed it although a week later and I think the area would be inundated with tourists and quite a different feeling and experience.

We dropped Dad in Bergerac to take the train onwards to Paris and then Yorkshire and we headed off to see 2 lots of Dutch friends from the village.

We had a lovely lunch with Olaf and Sylvia who split time between Holland, Salau and the Dordogne and we finally got to see their house and the wonders they have done to it. Looks amazing.

Then on to see Rene and Anouk great friends who used to own the Auberge in the village and have now taken on a new camping venture in The Lot area. A truly magical, special campsite very unique and beautiful. They were doing Table D’Hote that night so we joined the other guests for dinner and caught up with Rene and Anouk whilst the rain lashed down and the thunder roared! It was impressive!

We then headed back to the barn the next morning after a leisurely start and brekky with them.

A great trip.

Thanks a million Dad for coming to stay so pleased the weather was good, you got to see the Pyrenees at their best and lso for exploring the Dordogne and Vezere area with us. What a fun time.

Categories: Summer 2024, The Project

The mouse challenge

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Before heading to Sicilly for a relaxing holiday we spent a few days at the barn to unload the van and plant the garden up. This year is one of those when the mouse population soars, then they get some disease, then the population decreases again. This is, apparently normal every 5-7 years.

As per normal, we had slightly overloaded our van leaving Chamonix so had arranged to borrow the van from the Auberge in the village to decant loads into to ferry our stuff up the piste. This is where we got the mouse news. Not only have the guys at the Auberge got holes in all their clothing, they told us that all the cats in the village are fat and bored. Bored of the same diet and also playing tennis with mice.

We were lucky. Yes there was some mouse activity inside the barn but we caught two and dispatched them both. We cleaned everything and sought their entry point. A hole was found in the floorboards upstairs and duly plugged. Bingo. We got off very lightly.

Off to Sicilly with a van full of toys.

On our return we found more activity indoors. All activity had ceased on our arrival but there were several dead critters to clear up. It would appear we trapped some inside the barn, maybe in an undiscovered nest. A second round of cleansing the barn and searching for a nest. The critters had raided the first aid store in the bathroom and made a lovely nest from bandages and dressings. Since then all quiet on the mouse front. Boom.

Since then we have been cutting grass, weeding and walking our local walks from the door.

Categories: Summer 2024 Tags: Tags: ,

Pic de Montareing Montagnoule and Cap de Rhuos

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The scramble ridge

A windy day with blue skies. We started from the mine above Salau in the shade and only got to sunshine when we reached the Pis Noir after 2 hours in the cool. Ascended to Tuc du Pis Noir with great views of Mont Rouch to the west. Picked our way up to the French Spanish border and turned left (east) towards Cap de Rhuos. Windy on the ridge and lovely scrambling with minimal loose rock. Did not see a soul all day. Animal count included: stripy cows, sheep, an izard, an audience of vultures, and various other birds. We heard a marmot but didn’t see it. Grand day out and right on the doorstep.

1800m of up and 12km in 7hrs.

Categories: Summer 2023, The Project Tags: Tags:

Last visitors of the summer

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Mont Vallier

Carolyn and Dawn met at the chalet in Chamonix in the winter and have become firm friends. They flew out to Carcasonne and then drove over to the barn. Keen walkers we had a list of possible itineraries depending on the weather and fitness levels. An interest was expressed in hiking in to Spain for a night so a menu plan was also kind of flexible.

Paella on the first night of arrival has become a bit of a signature for a first stay at the barn. This one got cooked indoors as the wind was too strong and kept blowing out the gas.

Day one we went over to Pic des Trois Seigneurs with an early start to beat the heat. One of our favourite walks although it is just over an hours drive away. It has a bit of everything with a reasonably high start point at Port de Lers, steep up the ridge, then a fantastic ridge walk with amazing views all the way to the summit of Trois Seigneurs. The descent takes in the Etang d’Arbu for a swim then a hot walk down to a bend in the road below the parking at Port de Lers. We actually parked at the bend and walked up to the start to avoid walking the road in the heat of the day at the end. The van said the temperature was 39 degrees when we finished.

Forecast for the next couple of days was marginal but we committed to walking from the barn over Port de Salau and down to the Refuge Fornet in Spain. Stay the night there and then return via the Port d’Aula. We had done a car drop on the road to Col de la Pause the day before to make the return easier. A Dutch friend Miriam joined us which was great.

We started in cloud and much cooler temperatures, only reaching sunshine when we reached Cabane des Lannes. What fantastic views of the mountains peaking through a sea of cloud. We dried out in the last 240m to the Col.

The descent path down to Refuge Fornet was much better marked than last time we did it and Spain was completely clear of cloud.

A couple of beers on the terrace, a couple of games of dice and a lovely meal before bed and an early start the next day. Unfortunately it started to spit with rain just as we set off. Waterproofs came off once we reached the grass roofed cabane above Borda de Perosa. Not so well marked route took us up to Port d’Aula in very light drizzle. Wind at the frontier pushed us down the hill to Etang d’Areau, just above the cloud level, where we had a buffet lunch from the contents of everyone’s rucksacks. The descent through the cloud on the GR10 to the car was eased with a word game of professions starting with the letter H.

Beers at the Auberge in Salau before outdoor showers at the barn and chilli con carne with cauliflower rice.

The last day of their stay was very wet. The fire was lit and games were played. A nice finale and a chance to recover. Thank you.

Categories: Summer 2023, The Project Tags: Tags:

Breese family visit

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Due to an administrative issue we only hosted Charlie (Breezy’s younger Brother) and Liv (his daughter). If all four who planned to visit, had made it out, the fridge would have struggled to keep up with demand for nourishment and refreshment. As it was, we ran out of rose wine on the last night and had to resort to Muscat as a digestive.

Apart from moving the cars off the car parking area so we could use it as a boules pitch, we didn’t drive anywhere and based ourselves at the barn. Temperatures soared to 35 degrees and the plunge pool in the river saw considerable action. In between feeding, drinking and dunks in the Salat we:

  • Took a stroll up the valley and round the back of the barn to get the lay of the land.
  • Learnt a new version of the dice game from Charlie and Livs
  • Edged the pathway to the gable end with long logs
  • Re-edged a flower bed with left over logs
  • Threw some knives at a home made target
  • Took the tree-house platform down and salvaged what was reusable
  • Star gazed on the helipad where Liv saw her first shooting stars
  • Played cribbage, Liv’s won.
  • Played Carom
  • Chopped down a tree to make some legs for a log hive
  • Devoured a catering size pack of coco pops (well, Liv did)

    Thanks for coming, all the help, great banter, games and much needed catch up and we will look forward to seeing Becs and Betsy out here next year with you.

    Enjoy Bergerac with all of Bec’s famille. A bientot!

    Categories: Summer 2023, The Project

    Col de la Core, Estagnous, Valier and Chemin de Libertee

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    Early morning on Valier

    A gorgeous day without a cloud in the sky. Parked at Col de la Core and set off on the GR10 to Etang Ayes. Broke off from the GR and headed over to Etang Milouga where we stopped for lunch. A 1hr climb up to Col de Pouech overlooking Refuge Estagnous, our destination for the night. 15Km, 7.15hrs walking and 1800m ascent.

    Highlights were the variety of cabins seen on route in the mountains. We also saw a huge flock of big birds over Bouirex on the other side of Col de la Core when we were near Ayes. There must have been about 100 of them. They then flew across and over us. We think they were black kites. Lastly, we picked up some delightful company for half the day. We saw her setting off with someone from the Col where we parked, then we picked her up where we left the GR10. A lovely brown dog (we called Flo), with no name tag. She lead the way to the refuge then found some new friends with a tent she could stay in.

    Day two was a long day. Alarm at 0630hrs and away by 0715hrs. Up Valier where we had the summit to ourselves for half an hour before heading down. Retraced our steps back to Milouga and then up to Cabane d’Espugues and steeply up to Col de Craberous. Mackerel tacos for lunch then we descended the Chemin de Libertee back to Col de la Core. 21Km, 9.25hrs and 1600m ascent.

    If you do the Chemin de Libertee backwards, is it the Chemin de Captivite?

    Categories: Summer 2023, The Project Tags: Tags:

    36th Pujada

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    Pujada engulfed in cloud

    The Pujada is when French and Catalonians meet at the Port de Salau. There are speeches, sharing of wine and cheese, some music and some very dodgy dancing. We needed the exercise and it is on our doorstep so we went.

    The clouds were down but there were odd windows where blue sky was visible so we were looking forward to spectacular views of a cloud filled valley from the col. We did get some lovely views but were disappointed as the cloud followed us up the hill and engulfed the col.

    Sandwich and flask and down again to get some outdoor chores done at the barn.

    Categories: Summer 2023, The Project Tags: Tags:

    Sauze Patrick and Tood

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    Sauze and Patrick

    It has been 8 years since they visited us at the barn from Chamonix. I honestly can’t remember what stage we had got it to then. I think last time Patrick was helping dig a drain at the back to alleviate some of the humidity inside on the ground floor.

    This time was much more relaxed as all the major work has been done. We managed to get a mountain bike ride in from Oust and a hike up Pic de Seron with a swim in the lake.

    Thank you all for making the effort. Tood, by the way, is a dog and just comes along. Great to see you all.

    Categories: Summer 2023, The Project Tags: Tags:

    Certescan from Col de Colatx

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    Certescan and the ridge from day one

    Always got a plan. This time it involved a trip to Spain to stay at the Certescan Refuge. We left the barn early to get to the parking for Cirque du Cagateille. Picked up a couple of hitch hikers on the way who were also heading for Certescan.

    Set off up to Etang Hillette in the shade before the sun got too high, then on up to Col de Colatx. The only people we saw were the couple we gave a lift to and a shepherd. From the Col we turned west and started along the ridge towards Certescan. At this stage clouds were enveloping Certescan and Montabone which did not look favourable.

    Good progress to Pic de Soune on sound, solid granite rock. From there onwards we encountered some loose sections and some exciting scrambling. We dropped off the ridge to the Spanish side twice to miss out sections of grade 4 down climbing which we deemed too risky and finished up the snowy scree between Certescan Nord and the Spanish Certescan. After a late lunch we traipsed down to the Col where the HRP heads down to Refuge Certescan arriving there with time to freshen up before dinner.

    Another early start and lukewarm coffee before heading round east to Etang de Romedo de Dait and Romedo de Baix. Turned North on to the Guilo lakes and up to the Col de Guilo. Decided to go over Pic Turguilla and then down via Cabanede Turguilla. Passed Etang de la Piede where we picked up the trail back to Cirque de Cagataille. This last trail we would not opt to do again as very steep and greasy rock hopping with long grass obscuring where one wanted to place feet. Picked up Poppy in 33 degrees of heat and back to the barn.

    The first day was over 2500m of ascent, 17km and took us ten and a half hours. Day two was 800 m and another 17km with lots of downhill.

    Categories: Summer 2023, The Project Tags: Tags:

    Port de Salau

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    Historical building at Port de Salau

    It’s great to be able to walk out of the door and access the French Spanish frontier. It’s about a 1000m of up and is quite gentle. There are always new things to see and it is always changing with the light and the clouds.

    Categories: Summer 2023, The Project Tags: Tags: