Category: Autumn 2009


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The time has come again to move up north away from our little Pyrenees Paradise.

We obviously did not want to leave and slept through the alarm so left an hour later than planned. The stars were still out and thank good ness we put the cardboard on the windscreen the night before too cold on the handies to defrost the car first thing.

Sitting in Vinnie tapping away a couple of hours from Chamonix where we are staying with Sauze and Patrick tonight before hitting the UK tomorrow.

A bientot.

Categories: Autumn 2009, The Project

Packing up

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Blue skies and colder than cold!!! Heavy frost on the ground again, Vinnie almost looking white.

We had a visitor this morning a young Spanish cartographer who had old piccys of the barn and needed to get the new GPS co ordinates. Sadly he was not in the position to give us the aerial picky which would have been quite nice.

A day of tidying up, lots of bits and pieces. Solar storage up to 90% so happy with that should be OK for our return.

Satelite dishes down, solar panels in, general pack up and  tidy a lot easier with the sun shining.

Hot shower in the sun which was FAB…clean bunnies again!!!!

We popped down to Salau to drop off rubbish, recycling, and keys for Alison and Peter before back up to the barn for a final meal and early night as we have a long drive and early start tomorrow back to Cham.

Categories: Autumn 2009, The Project

Another mushroom education

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Woke up to another chilly morning but blue skies again so quite happy.

I spent a while doing work stuff while Al tinkered with the generator which is still misbehaving.

As soon as the sun was out Al was back on the roof with buckets of water and fingers crossed  we think the leak has stopped, time will tell.

We had a bit of a planning session for the bathroom for next time we are back and we are hopeful we should have a functional indoor shower next time we get back without too much hassle.

Lee popped in after lunch for a bit of mushrooming and we found another couple of bolettes plus Lee showed us the Grisettes which we seem to have lots of, which are edible and the Blushers. As always plenty of the inedible varieties around which we left well alone.

As soon as the sun had gone down we were inside warming up. A good beef casserole and dumplings for supps the odd glass of wine and a game of scrabble for a change.

Categories: Autumn 2009, The Project

Cirque de Cagateille

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Needed to set the alarm to make sure we did not sleep in as we had a walk planned for the day which we estimated at about 6 hours.

Woke up to blue skies which was great and made packed lunches and had brekky before getting away by  8.45am, not bad for us!!!

It was about a 40 minute drive to the start of the walk through another valley which was beautiful, slightly more affluent than the Salat valley maybe due to Guzet the ski area and the GR10 influence.

We then headed off up to the Cirque de Cagateille, Etang Hilette and Etang Alet as a circular walk.

It was an easy walk up to the cirque which was not as impressive as Cirque D’Anglade well we thought anyway.


The autumn colours were however really beautiful. It was then a steep climb up to the Etang Hilette which has a little unmanned refuge on the lakeside.


It took us 1.5 hours to get to the lake, so we stopped for a rest and to take in the views before heading on to Etang Alet. Quite different terrain, boulder hopping most of the hour to get to it where we had a good packed lunch over looking the lake. Sunny but a chilly wind. We got really good views from here and could piece together bits and pieces of valleys and peaks etc.


Gloves back on and we headed down for a couple of the hours back to Vinnie. Through lots of very pretty woodland, but no edible mushies to be found.

We kept seeeing these markings on the way Lee any idea what they are for?


We stopped in at the café on the way back to see Daniella and Freddy and say good bye to them. The auberge is on the market so not sure if they will be about again when we get back. Hopefully, they will get a buyer soon but it is a bit of a waiting game.

Back to the barn, quick showers, wood burner on, unpacked kit, internet stuff to sort. Generator still being temperamental which is a pain but it is still under guarantee so if it is not sorted by Friday it will be going back with us to Cham to get fixed.

We had a good chicken curry for supper and a few hands of Bezique before hitting the sack both pleasantly tired after our walk in the sun and the wind.

Another very starry night, totally unpolluted skies and we could see millions of stars, not for long though far too chilly outside….to bed!!!!



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Hoorah!! An uninterrupted night. So it was the culprit in the solar box. He had not discovered that he could sneak under the ill-fitting door and regain the advantage.

It was cold as soon as we opened the door. Autumn is definitely here.

On a mission to save the battery we fired up the generator for internet only to find that it kept cutting out (the generator). The next half hour was spent fettling that.

Next we set about cutting up some firewood. The chainsaw would not play ball either. So used the generator and the zip saw instead.

Thought we ought to check that the mucktruck was working so shifted all the ballast from outside into the main barn. No problem and it kept the cold at bay. Shifted the tin from under the ballast round the back to tidy the place up and then used the mucktruck to fetch more stones from the river to fill the water capture butt.

The sun reached us about 11am and we set to burn the trees we had cut down up the back and chop up some wood for fuel.

A late lunch after, which Annie came to visit and learn what we had done with solar and lighting. She left with a lighting rig for her place and the know how to set it up.

Back up the back to clear some more trees and burn them.

All in all a good physical day and a few more ticks off the list of things to be done.

Cleared up and went for a forage for mushys in out favourite spot coming back with another two bollettes for the beef stew.

Categories: Autumn 2009, The Project

Mouse out

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A late start after the interrupted (mouse) kip. Drizzle and low cloud. Not much chance of charging the battery with solar today. It’s getting a bit alarming as we have only a few days left before we leave and the battery is showing 84%. We could do with getting it back up to 100% before we leave so it is in a good state when we get back.


Started the day by taking another forklift pallet apart to generate enough timber to clad the blue bin we are using to gather rainwater off the roof Fitted that and then onto making windows for the toilet area in the main barn. Slowly we will get all the little things prepared before an onslaught of work to get the main barn sorted out.

It was gone 3pm before we had lunch and then finished the windows. We had a little surprise over lunch when I spotted a fat furry mouse sat on a rock in the solar box warming itself. The cheeky little bugger must have used the pipe under the floor to get in. I immediately went to get the spanners to take the box apart. The little tyke shot under the stones but hopefully did not gain the pipe before we emptied the box and applied mesh over the entry. Perhaps that is the end of the mouse problem?

A little sun poked out but not enough to make an impression on the battery. Having cleared away we went on a small forage for mushrooms and came back with another couple of Bolletes to bolster the starter for this evening. Showers and update the blog before roast chuck and baked pots.

Categories: Autumn 2009, The Project

Rainy Sunday

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Egg Window - Always a winnerEgg Window – Always a winner

More rain which was a bit dull as we were really hoping to get the battery charged up fully before we head back, don’t think that is going to happen so we are minimizing on electricity at the moment.

We decided to light the stove first thing and get rid of any putty residue so we could have a snug night without any funny smells. That seemed to work a treat and it seems to be working really well which is great.

We then decided we needed to attack the water catchment area so we can hopefully come back to full tanks and no more trips to the river for water. That is the plan anyway.

We first had to get the main water buts in place and levelled out which was considerably easier than when full, we have nearly run the cave dry. Once in place and stabilised we then had to find a way of drill holes in them to accept pipes.

We needed one pipe to link the 2 butts together which needed 2 holes drilling and then another hole for the overflow.

One of Al’s grandfather’s tools came in use again as we stretched inside the butts to fasten on washers and make sure the adaptors were water tight.

So we now had water being able to be connected between the 2 butts and an overflow system in place, now the only problem was to get water into the butts in the first place.

Al had recycled some pipe from the skip which was the perfect length and we used an old blue container for the catchment area.

Trenches were dug to accommodate the pipe from the main down pipe into the water butts and hey presto we have a system in place.


A late lunch and the sun had come out which was great and it was actually really quite hot.

In the pm, we made the last adjustments with cleaning out the catchment water butt before attaching everything. Then bringing up a load of rocks from the water to act as a filter system for the water and it will look good, just need to hide the ugly blue container now, but we have ideas how to do that for tomorrow.

Al ended up on the roof again still trying to fix the leak which is beginning to be a pain in the neck and then you guessed it we went a mushrooming again!!!

We went back to our Favourite spot and found 2 really good ones before exploring the area opposite the barn, now that the bull has been removed we felt safe to go. Managed to find a Brown Birch Bolette to go with the other 2 Orange bolettes. Lots of poisonous ones on the way down and Al found some more in a new location, though old and not edible this time they seem to come back to the same locations so the more places we can find the better.

We had prawns for tea as a starter and then it was on to sausages and mash. Plenty of Bezique, Al thrashed me with 2 double Beziques!!!! Bed in a very toasty place but not for a good night’s kip as the mouse has found a way in and who ever made the phrase “quiet as a mouse” was wrong they are really noisy. Al explored middle of the night but to no avail, how to get rid of him…..


Categories: Autumn 2009, The Project

Dinner out

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The alarm woke us at 7am. The idea being to get down the valley to St Girons, do some chores and actually get to the market before it closed. Brilliant idea but we had not figured it would still be dark. Having dragged ourselves out of bed and picked up all the stuff we needed and the list we trundled off.

First port of call was the Agri Co-op, which was still closed at 8-30 so we set off to the Bricolage. That was closed too but the motor factor was open so Vinnie got some new wipers. Wood from Mr Bricolage; plumbing bits from Agri Co-op; laundry in the laundrette and off to the market. A quick tour and pickup some cheese then collect the laundry before it started to spit with rain. A very sociable shop in the supermarket bumping into three folk from the village and back to the barn for lunch. Called in with Lee in Pont de La Taule to drop off his cag. His place there is definitely taking shape though motivation was waning. Suggested that we were available this week if it would inject some momentum to support.

The afternoon was spent fettling the wood burner in the outhouse then a short forage for mushrooms. We’re hooked on the mushy hunting wanting to learn as much as possible before we leave. We found another couple of Birch Bolets where we found some yesterday so they must just pop up daily. We also found an old bolet at another site which gives us another possible site to search. Still no trumpet de mort (horn of plenty) though.

An indoor shower and chillout for a while before we head down for dinner with Annie.

We had a lovely night with Annie. Excellent curry and homemade Indian Breads, cheese and choocy, before we knew it, it was midnight. Thanks Annie for a lovely night.

Categories: Autumn 2009, The Project

We found some…..

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Woke up to lovely blue skies after a bit of a lie in. The blue skies did not last for long and we had sunshine and showers on and off all day.

We decided to make a start on the ceiling in the bathroom, so first step was to make it bug proof. We found the mesh and staple gun again and got all the areas between the beams protected.

A quick measure up and we realised we did not quite have enough insulation left over from the outbuilding to complete the ceiling so we thought we would leave that until we can do it all in one go as such.

Al made a start on clearing the ballast from the front of the barn and I cleared all the tin from the back of the barn so the place is beginning to look a bit neater.

Run out of bread so we had omelette for lunch and as it was drizzling we sat inside, had very few lunches inside this time which has been lovely.

Determined to find some cepes we set off again into the woods for an explore and towards the end of our little wander we came across them…and they were in reasonable condition too. Did find quite a few Death Caps on the way which we left behind!!!

On our way back we bumped into 4 oldies who had been walking and wanted to have a looking at what we had in our bag and they were great and proceeded to tell us all the names and which stems to eat and which stems not to eat etc etc. We would not have had a clue before our outing with Lee so we have found our first little place to look for them hoping for many more.

A little mushroom starter tonight I think.


Donkeys still here and determined to get into the outbuilding for we took them to the other side of the river hoping they will take a while before heading across again. Hope to see Olivier the donkey man at the market tomorrow and see if he would like to move them!!!!

Seems to have dried up so blogging outside before pasta surprise for tea, down to the last of our food. Hope the sun shines for a good trip to the market tomorrow.


Categories: Autumn 2009, The Project