It was a rude awakening 4am!!! but we had a long drive ahead of us so it was a quick get up and final pack up before heading north to Calais in Vinnie. A good trip sharing the drive and sleep time on the way and we got to Calais by 4,30pm and found somewhere to enjoy moules frites before hitting the sack. UK here we come.
Another gorgeous autumnal day which made packing up so much easier. the leaves are all really looking beautiful now as they start to change colour every day.
We had a last forage for some bolets for our pasta tonight and we had success a good couple for the pot and then picked loads of brambles to make a tart and to have for the journey. They are delicious and there are so many of them now too.
Lots of tidying up jobs first thing, emptying compost from the toilet, clearing upstairs and closing a few more openings, packing bags and taking them down to Vinnie.
Put down the last few bits for the terrace so apart from the steps it is finished. We have a flat outdoor terrace for next summer.
Ian turned up mid morning on his bike just as the sun was arriving so coffee in the sun before cracking on with the rest of the jobs.
Rest of the day was scrubbing etc so we have a cleanish place to come back to.
We had early hot showers and pasta dinner with the bolets so we could wash up in the light. A few hands of rummy before bed by 10pm ready for long drive tomorrow.
Sad to be leaving especially as the weather has been so gorgeous for the last week but I think we are both looking forward to getting back to the UK and seeing family and friends again.
Already thinking about what we hope to get done next year….
We had a few little bits and pieces we wanted to crack on with before laying the terrace.
We strimmed the final bit of bracken that we had missed and cut back a few new shoots that had reappeared but generally the whole area looks so much better.
Lovely lunch in the sun before setting too with hammering and cutting skills to get the deck down. Only a few little bit left at 4pm when we quit as we really wanted to head to the auberge and catch up with Anuk and Rene. We had a couple of drinks with them in the sun which was great. They are doing a wonderful job with the auberge and have created a lovely atmosphere in Salau. Lots of locals popping in and out and they seem busy with clients still which is great. Highly recommend staying there if you don't fancy slumming it up at the barn!!!
Back for quick showers as it is getting chillier now as soon as the sun disappears, dinner and bezique. Hot cards on both sides but Al won.
The sun is shining again we love it….
Al had a phone meeting at midday so we had a couple of hours propping up the the top terrace with some stumps. So we are now ready to deck.
Al had to crawl underneath the lower terrace to put one more chevron in as it was a bit bendy!!! It was tight but now much more stable and no worries that someone might go through it.
We have learnt for the top terrace and have decided to out another couple of supports in so we don't have to do the same again!!! Managed to get this all done just before 11.30am in time for Al's dash to Salau.
Al disappeared for an hour ish to chat with a contact in Toulouse re some potential work.
I cracked on removing compost to the "will be" flowerbed areas and creating a level and smooth ish area to lay the geo textile material.
Made some butties for Al's return so we could then crack on in the afternoon with laying the geo textile material, in the hope we can keep the weeds at bay.
Lunch in the sun and then started decking the top terrace.
Off to Clive and Giselles for supper, a delicious beef casserole plus cheeses and lots of homegrown veggies.
Wow, another wild wild night the wind was so violent it did feel like the place might blow down!!! Woke up and it seemed to have calmed a bit although the effects of last night were obvious. Washing up bowl down by the river, smoker in the field, buckets everywhere. Anyway, the rain had stopped and it looked like the sun might shine too.
Had a quick look for mushies before brekky but not any luck, maybe tomorrow.
One of the "must do" before leaving was the windows. We had been putting it off until a bad weather day but decided today was a good time to get it ticked off the list.
It was just a matter of setting them in place and we only had 3 left to do.
Half way through we heard the donkeys and soon after Olivier landed. Great news as the land is in much need of grazing as the grass is so long. A mixture of horses and donkeys about 12 in total so we should soon have the grass trimmed!!! Good they have arrived before we left.
Managed to get the windows set in place before lunch. One tricky one into the bathroom without a frame to try and set in to make the last bit of the bathroom bat proof.
Half way through lunch Annie arrived to say hello and have a look at progress.
We managed to dig the small veggie plot through before the rain began and we retreated inside to make a start on packing and tidying. Time flew and we are nearly there with the sorting up in the main barn.
I braved the shower in the pouring rain before we settled down for shepherd's pie for supps and a game of scrabble.
The wind was howling but the sun was shining.
Ian and Nina were due for lunch about 12.30 ish so we wanted to get lunch prepped before trying to finish the lower terrace.
Clive arrived for coffee and a chat and to ask us for supps on Tues. He left about 11.30am so it was a quick start and finish to get the rest of the lower terrace decked just in time. There does seem to be a bit of a bendy board so we need to put another chevron underneath for support before we go through it!!!
Had a good if somewhat windy lunch outside with Ian and Nina. Smoked duck salad, cheeses and bramble tart. We were full.
Ian is very talented with turning wood and Al had a surprise up his sleeve. He had asked Ian to bring a selction of some of his small bowls for me to decide which one I would like as a birthday pressie. 3 choices, and there was no choice, a wonderful Olive bowl. I love it so thanks Ian and making it and huge thanks for Al for a lovely birthday pressie.
We were full and tired after a restless nights sleep last night so retired for a siesta before having a dinnerless supper as we were both full and we watched a film a very relaxingway to end Sunday.
St Girons day so off we trundled after brekky to the big city!!! Just needed to pick up some large nails on the DIY front and some tacks for geo textile fabric so that was quite quick.
Normal load of washing and we then zoomed around the market picking up a few bits and pieces we needed. No luck finiding Olivier to find out about lack of grazing donkeys….
On to Carrefour where we had a huge shop for wine for the UK. Ken has an order in and we wanted to stock up with supplies as well as our favourite fizz at 5 euros a bottle we love a great bargain, just a bit too quaffable!!!
Our luck was in as we bumped into Henri who we had been trying to see for ages and he agreeed to come and visit us in the pm. So conversation on the way back was how to tackle velux issues at the barn.
Lunch in the sun again delicious prawns with maybe a bit too garlicy dip but yummy nonetheless.
It was then back to the terrace for a short while before Henri arrived. We showed him around and what we had done and then discussed openings etc with him. We got the BIG thumbs up for 3 large veluxes in the back roof…HOORAH this will make such a HUGE difference to the amount of light we get in upstairs and we could not have wished for more. He then helped us with lots of other bits and pieces to do with the barn and even said why not put a large west facing window in for view of Mont Rouch. Just make sure you use old wood and not a problem, well why not? Looks like we will be busy next year.
Once Henri had gone we started decking the lower terrace which is great as it is quick impression work, goes down very quickly and you can see the results.
About half the lower terrace down and it is taking shape. Hoping the whole lot will be done before we leave weather and a bit of hard work permitting.
Just having a glass of wine before heading to Alison and Peter's for supper.
A lovely day so we wanted to be outside so decided it was a terrace day.
We attacked the top terrace framework which went quite smoothly and quickly and got them in place in holes in the side wall.
We needed to build a small wall at the far end for the frame to sit on aso we used up a lot of the rock we had dug out from elsewhere.
It was then a matter of cementing these in place at the right levels and all of a sudden it looks like it is coming together.
Lunch in the sun which is always a bonus and then back to the terrace.
I gave the framework a quick seal with wood preserver while Al chopped at chevrons and then it was just the case of nailing it all together et voila we are nearly set to deck…..
A quick rummage for brambles and bollets. Brambles in greater abundance than the mushies.
A delicious chorizzo pasta for supps after we tackled a few crosswords, not very succesfully!!!
Over cast skies early on but not too cold. We walked down the piste to have a quick look for bollets before breakfast. Breezy found a tiny one just poking out of the ground so we decided to leave it until the evening to see what progress it had made during the day.
Having got the pathway in on the terrace we set about building a framework for a raised deck area. Made some holes in the outside wall of the barn to accept joists for a frame. Once the frame was complete we mixed some concrete to secure it in the wall. We did have a brief interlude in the morning when the shepherds brought a couple of hundred sheep down the piste from the high pastures.
After lunch we started doing exactly the same for the next level up. Slightly bigger and more difficult due to all the compost we dug out of the main barn a couple of years ago.
The mist rolled up the valley from Salau about 4pm threatening rain so we packed up tools and headed off to find our little bollet. I am sure it is the same size as it was in the morning so maybe they just grow at night. Found another one so took them both to accompany duck for supps.
Every Birthday should start with opening cards in bed, and this was no exception. I even got Breezy a fizzy water with grapefruit cordial to sup while she did the cards.
Packed lunch, flask of tea and a few other bits and pieces and we set off to Col de la Core to start a walk. A steep climb up to Cap Ner and scramble on to L'Aubague and onto Tuc D'Eychelle. Fantastic views off both sides of the ridge and a snack before descending to Cabane D'Eychelle on grassy slopes. Had lunch before gaining the GR10 and descending back to the van through the trees.
Blue skies escorted us all day even though there was snow on the summits. Will definitely head back there for some more exploring as it is a beautiful area. The Cabane sleeps 4 and is very basic with a couple of pans and an open fire. Wood would have to be collected and taken in but if using the GR10 that would be easy.
On the way back we had to hunt down a couple of beef steaks as that was Breezy's wish for her Birthday supper. The butcher in Seix was on holiday and close so we went to Oust. The butcher there is great. Loads of choice and good looking meat. Will definitely go there again.
Called in at Clive's to check the house over while they are away then back to the barn for some Blanquette de Limoux and Bezique. Picked up a couple of bollet mushrooms on route to go with the steaks.