The day started as per yesterday but with the addition of rain. We did not get the washing up done from last night and, as the washing up table is outside, we have added the breakfast things to the pile.
Chores started with shifting the big cast iron fire plate up stairs with the assistance of the chain hoist. Once in place on the wooden subframe the Colonial stove was next. Then slip over the outer wooden frame and we are set for a chimney (next year). All sounds fairly simple but just takes time, it is all very heavy.
Then onto making frames for the picture we got printed onto canvas and varnishing them.
By 4pm the rain had abated and patches of blue sky appeared. The kettle went on for a cuppa tea and the washing up got done (having added lunch stuff to it as well). Once we could see the tops there was obvious snow down to about 2000m.
All tools were packed away and we went foraging for brambles for breakfast. Shopping tomorrow for Breezy’s brother and sister in law arriving on Friday so menus and food stock check before supper.
It was still raining but not too heavily. Always takes a lot longer to pack up than we think.
Solar panels, satellite dish and outdoor furniture all needs to be put inside the barn so that nobody walks off with it. Sky lights and windows needed covering up, outhouse needed cleaning, bags needed packing etc etc etc.
Anyway, we got everything done that we needed to and then had time to cook a good pasta supper with a game of cards too before an early night.
Long day ahead of us tomorrow with 800km to get us back to Chamonix. Staying with Sauze and Patrick for the night and they have Keith and Lyn up for supper too so will be fun.
So Summer/Autumn 2011 in the Pyrenees has come to an end. Lots done, many friends and family to stay, some good explores, plenty of rain in July, non stop sun in the autumn and new plans for next year already starting. We should be back down in this neck of the woods some time in May or June so next progress reports will start again then.
Until then it is UK for 6 weeks then back to Chamonix for Ski Breezy and the winter season, hoping for lots of white fluffy stuff this year.
Woke up this morning to that tinkling sound that water makes when it runs down a zinc downpipe. This could only mean one thing; that there is no need to get out of bed early.
Indeed it had rained through the night, filled the water butts up once again, and is due to rain all day today as well. A lie in. A bit more time on the internet sorting out Chalet stuff for Chamonix and emails. Then off down the valley in the van.
Had a rendezvous in the car park at Carrefour at 11.45 for lunch. Our neighbour Jean Claude and a couple from Salau invited us to join them at the cookery school in St Girons. As part of the youngsters education they open a restaurant at lunch time and a couple of evenings. Set menu of fantastic food, served by people too young to join the police, overseen by a teacher. Very interesting and great to be immersed in French.
Back at the barn in the afternoon Breezy and I discussed plans for next year. What size window to buy? What kitchen layout? What to look for in skips? Then we had a nap before heading back down the valley for dinner with Clive and Giselle.
More food and company. Booked Clive to help us create a hole for a window in June 2012.
After the usual morning start with internet bashing for the chalet in Chamonix we had a fruit breakfast with yogurt in order to deplete the fridge.
Then straight on with mixing concrete to use up the cement leftover from laying the floor last year. It is already beyond its best but will do fine for building up the walls of the last little outbuilding. Also leftover was a bit of oak and a big piece of douglas fir so before lunch they went into the wall as lintels for the doorway. We did actually raise the level of the door which is now the only one I can walk through without ducking. Breezy, needless to say, does not suffer from the same issue.
Lunch was again using up leftovers of cheese and pate in sandwiches in the sun.
We began the afternoon sorting out odd jobs ready to shut down the barn before we leave on Sunday. Breezy went down to the van and cleared and swept it out. Checking oil and water levels. I took the wheels off the trailer (it wonâ€™t fit through the door of the barn with them on) and then cleared stuff away inside to make space to stash it. Between us we manhandled it into the barn and then sorted out kit in trunks destined to stay, go to Chamonix or the UK.
With the last couple of hours of the afternoon we set about the walls again. By 5.30 we only have 3 sacks of cement left. We have managed to stabilise the walls to a stage where they are no longer going to fall down. Year on year to date they have slowly tumbled and the structure was unstable to say the least. Now however we can start to imagine it with a roof and being a useful space.
Now showered, Breezy is making a banana yogurt cake (to use up leftovers) which we will take to Clive and Giselleâ€™s kid when we go for dinner tomorrow. Smoked duck, boulanger potatoes with leak & courgette for supps tonight; just to use up leftovers.
Now raining. Not seen that for quite a while.
Another glorious day and after Ski Breezy bookings to deal with we set to with finishing off the 3rd wood shed at the back of the barn. We made short work of it and it was all chopped, covered and any small pieces put down in the lower wood shed for use when we get back.
Although the window was in and the shutters were on, we still need to get anti theft devices on so we spent an hour or so sorting out bars and locks and all pretty secure now we hope.
A little bit of a tidy up before a quick lunch in the sun. We could no longer delay the dreaded walls and cement but we were in the sun so it was quite nice work. More alarmingly was the amount of baby adders about hiding under all the stones. So we were being very careful when picking up rocks. Half way through Henri arrived to see progress. All good news from him, he seemed happy and also has given the thumbs up for the 2 windows to go in….hoorah. That will be next year though!! Finished off a bit more cementing and then hot showers and down to Salau.
Olivier came to take the donkeys away so it will seem quiet without them but it also meant we could take down the rope surrounding the barns.
Rubbish to dump, recycling galore and Al needed to see Clive with gutter dimensions and I needed to print off booking forms from the auberge. We had a quick drink there before trundling back to the barn, fire on and a game of scrabble before supps.
Another blue sky day. We were up at 7am again as Ski Breezy stuff seems to be filling up and it is good to get all the Chamonix work sorted before we start the day. Good to have the fire going whilst we work though as it is fresh each morning before the sun hits us.
After brekky Al got a mix going for the window and I sorted all washing up, solar shower up, filling up log box etc etc before then tackling securing the window in with the mortar, pretty easy job and looks good. Used the rest of the mortar by the door and that is the pointing finished till next year.
We had Annie and Jean from the village up for an apero a midi which was fun. Annie has been in the village since a baby so we learnt a lot about the history of Salau which was great.
They left and we had a bite to eat before starting on the log pile and brushing off walls. A quick visit from Pascal to confirm lunch on Friday and a quick tour of the barn.
We got half the wood pile sorted and another hour will see us finished tomorrow.
Hot showers and internet before Lee arrived for dinner. Chilled courgette and mint soup, mild tomato curry chicken and rhubarb was on the menu. All seemed to go down well. He is working hard and we were fairly tired so we had opted for an early supper so we could still get an early night in before work tomorrow.
Last night we received and email from Hans sayings that he could make it over today to help us with the window in the gable end. We had planned to start building up the walls on the last little ruined building to use up the cement. Plans change.
The alarm was set for 7am to give us time to work on emails and the web stuff for Ski Breezy before Hans was expected around 9am.
Hans actually arrived just before 11 in time for the sun to hit us (and coffee) giving us loads of web time and some time to do odd chores.
Trying to fit something new, straight and with right angles into a hole which is completely irregular is a little tricky and time consuming.
No injuries, one burnt out power plane and a small mountain of wood shavings and sawdust later and the window is in (complete with fettled shutters).
In between helping Hans and I with the window bits, Breezy also managed to sort out the veggie garden, stock take food and a number of other “must do” jobs.
Having done some monster walks the last two days I could definitely feel it in my legs. Sauze, Kate and Breezy said that they felt similar.
England were playing Scotland in the World Cup Rugby so after breakfast Sauze and Kate wandered off down the piste to see if they could catch the 2nd half at the Auberge. Absolutely no sign of life there they continued on to Couflens to get phone reception and spoke to husbands; receiving rugby updates by phone.
They returned in time for coffee and cake up in the trees. After 2 hours of chatting it was then time for lunch on the terrace. More chatting and Sauze just had time to dye Breezyâ€™s hair before heading down the valley to catch Peter & Alison for a drink down in Salau. More chat and back to the barn for supps, salad and wild mushroom risotto cooked by Sauze. More chat and hilarity followed by a last game of bananagrams and bed.
Another glorious day and a few fuzzy heads after the Prosecco….
We had planned another adventure explore walk we wanted to do from the barn. We headed up to Cabane Pouill which is just over an hour from the barn on the way to Port de Salau. From there we headed off on small paths that kept disappearing up to Lane Formente (2227m) quite steep. We popped over a small col before hitting the ridge which gave fabulous views of the walk we did the day before.
It was then a walk/scramble along the ridge up to Pic Montaud at (2496m) Looked more daunting than it actually was and we got to the summit for a late lunch in the hot sun with fab views.
We decided not to go back down via Port de Salau but instead via the col just this side of Pic de Mortabere and rejoin the PDS hike by the top berger’s hut.
Some skinny dipping on the way down for the guests!!! and back to the barn for about 5.30pm. A big day but great fun with fab views and all heads clear again for sure!!!
Continued with the fizz theme for the evening and then had a Thai Curry and salad for supper, with more giggles…..
Another blue sky day perfect way to celebrate my birthday. After brekky, cards and pressie openingÂ we did a car drop and then headed in Vinnie up to the mine and headed up to Col de Crusous 2267m which is a steep 2 hours hike up. The ridge over to above Rouze is something we have wanted to do for a long time. Once up FAB views and a great hike all the way across to Soubirou 2277m where we could see the barn. Sauze’s camera has an amazing lens so got some piccys of it in the distance from the peak.
Sauze had carried a bottle of fizz up the hill for us all so we popped that at the top and had butties and flapjack. Saw one lone Issard on the way up and loads of purple autumn crocuses.
Still a long way to walk after lunch but mainly it was down gradually to the Col de la Serre de Cot and a steepish walk back down to Rouze where Sauze’s car was for a lift back.
Back to the barn,Â girls braved the river with much noise, hot shower was a better option for us though!!!!
Prosecco began to flow with nibbles on the top terrace, noise levels got louder and then Al cooked us a delicious prawn and anchovy pasta and salad. Some amusing bananagrams going on from the girls whilst Al was cooking.
Chocolate tart with candles had made it’s way down from Chamonix too.
Many a giggle till gone midnight before crashing!!!
A FAB way to spend my birthday. Thank you Al, Sauze and Kate for making it so much fun.