4am was a very rude awakening but it was a beautiful starry night when we headed back to Cham both of us very sad to be going, just seems a tad too soon this year…..but I guess best that way rather than having had enough!
The 3 months this time seems to have gone faster than ever and we are thrilled to have got upstairs into a habitable state, shame about the wood burners not being in but not the end of the world. The days of heaving plaster board up the hill, endless filling and sanding now seem ages ago and we have a wonderful, bright space upstairs now to fill with furniture and make into a homely place to be. Next year we hope to be in from the word go upstairs leaving our little 3m square abode as a warm, snug guest room. We will miss it I think but looking forward to having space and lots of light!!!!
We have got most of our ticks off the list as such. The coppicing is an endless task that we are seriously thinking of either getting Charlie out here full time (not sure our livers would survive!) or getting some Help Ex people in next year to break the back of it. We will see.Â It is very important to us to keep the meadowland we already have and to create some more too.
We have had some lovely explores as always never enough but what with dodgy knees and backs we have made the most of our time on the hills and really enjoyed exploring some of the skyline close to us on our own and with friends too.
So thoughts for next year move to downstairs, making the inside doors to make the place mouse proof, getting partioned walls up, sorting out the back wall,Â getting the flooring down downstairs, sorting out water into the building, re building a terrace wall outside, building a terrace out the back, re building the back terrace wall and maybe even getting an indoor shower in place but that would be very optimistic…..lots to ponder for now as we head into winter and focus on Ski Breezy and getting the chalet full in Chamonix. Bring on lots of snow, lots of fun guests and many a good day on the hill.
Now the list is shorter as is the amount of time we have to complete it. I fancied going for a short walk once everything was ticked off, alas it was not to be.
We had arranged to go down to the village at about half five to see Clive and to say goodbye to the folk at the the Auberge. Realistically that meant showers by half four in order to then take the shower down and sort out some last bits after that.
At lunch it was another use up salad. We did spy this parasol mushroom in the field at the back of the barn, though we shall not get to use it. Once you know what you are looking for you can spot them a mile away.
Needless to say that we had just finished the “pre shower list” by half four. Showered; ticked off a couple more items and made supper ready for returning from the village. Pasta tonight so as to minimise washing up (in the dark).
Dinner done, washed up and put away. We had time for a hand of cards before an early night. The alarm is set for 4a.m. to get on the road to Chamonix.
Two full days to go before the doors are locked and we set off driving to Chamonix.
As per normal we have a comprehensive list of “things to do”. Everything from turning off the water to putting Walter (the wheelbarrow) away. There are a number of things that can’t be done until the last minute e.g. it is pointless turning the water off before the last washing up is done.
Fortunately the sun shone and progress was good. There is still little time to slack off.
Another thing on the list is to empty the fridge so lunches are great; using up all the random bits and pieces all mixed in with a salad. Sun dried tomatoes, delicious cheeses, anchovies, pate, ham, lentils, beans, and lots more.
The afternoon was spent ticking more things off the list before an omelette supper and a glass of wine.
Another blue sky day in the mountains. Autumn has arrived with vengeance as the mornings are crisp and the sun does not peek over the tops until late in the morning.
Back to the normal routine of lighting the fire and putting the kettle on. Breakfast in there somewhere and finish up with a bout of internet, blogging, emails and sorting out enquiries for the chalet in Chamonix for the winter.
Once the sun hit I put together a load of tools and headed down to yesterdays fire to get some life back into it before hacking more wood out of the copse around the oak tree. Breezy joined in once she had dealt with emails.
A late salad lunch to use up stuff in the fridge before tackling the long list of stuff to get finished before shutting down the barn. The immediate things to get done were to sort out the laundry as Anouk at the Auberge has offered use of her washing machine, and shift scaffolding as Clive is popping up after work to pick it up and to look at giving us a quote for the retaining wall in front of the barn for next year.
Other than that it is a case of picking something up and putting it somewhere else. Ropes, gloves, tools, wood, books, rubbish etc etc etc.
Come 4pm we had showered and changed ready to head down to the village. Washing in the machine, recycling done, fill up with water, printout documents and boarding passes for flying back to Blighty; and also a beer with Adam & Jean Claude.
Back at the barn the washing got hung up indoors, a quick check of emails and curry put on to warm through. Clive turned up as promised with useful suggestions about the wall and collected the scaffolding. Another tick off the list!
Cards, curry and a glass of wine before an early night.
The alarm went off at 5.45am. Becks and Charlie had to be in the car at 6.15 to get to Carcassonne; and the car was at the end of the piste. Breezy refused to make them walk so we had to get up too.
Once back from dropping them off and saying goodbye we went back to bed.
With no further alarms we got up about nine, had breakfast, checked emails and got some tools out to continue with coppicing.
Breezy coaxed the fire back to life and we were back in action. By 2pm we had completely revealed the oak tree at the centre of the copse. Another half day and we should have the rest down to leave just the 2 big trees.
Salad lunch and list making. Gone are the days when you can just do what you want when you want. Not that they ever existed. We started with a blank piece of paper and a list entitled B4 We Go. That then led onto another with a title of Shutdown. A third was started 2 go 2 Chamonix and the last 2 go 2 UK.
The afternoon was then spent ticking things off lists. We did make time to go for a forage and came back with a couple of parasol mushrooms and a handful of brambles.
Just before showers Breezy noticed a clump of crocus still in the sun on the other side of the river.
Just as Breezy was heading back a Shepard took a load of sheep down the piste.
A simple supper of cheese on toads and foie gras; a crossword and bed before 9pm. Staying up late and drinking 3 nights in a row plus eating for Britain has taken it’s toll.
After enormous rain last night we were hoping that it would be blue skies but the weather gods not with us. Cloudy but dry so we had brekky in the warmth before having a massive Coppice attack with Charlie and Al wielding chain saws and Becs and I trying to keep up with getting rid of the debris. Huge impact thanks guys, very much many hands make light work. Drinks on the terrace much needed and Al spied an enormous coumelle.
Showers for some before lunch and pates and cheeses inside sadly. Charlie not leaving Becs with any Pave….not amused!!!! just as well we had another one for supper.
We then meandered off for a forage a few of the last brambles and some more coumelles which will make a good starter for tonight.
Wet weather plan was a drink at the bar and a game of Boules. 4 competitve people made for some good games. Bad luck Charlie and Becs maybe a little more practice before next years revenge!!!
It was then back to the shack and a shower and warm up for Becs before the pink fizz rolled out again with delicious coumelle croutes as nibbles outside.
BBQ lit and we retired inside for rummy bonanzas and marinaded chicken and sausages with potato salad, yet more cheese and wine and then collpased! Early start for us all tomorrow as Charlie and Becs need to be in Carcassone for their 10am flight back to the UK.
It has been FANTASTIC to have you both out here on such cracking form just a shame there was not much sun for you to enjoy it in it’s full glory….next year!!! Thanks masses to you both for making the effort we LOVED having you both.
This is the first time since we have had the place in the Pyrenees that it has rained on Breezy’s Birthday. Undeterred by the weather we prepared for a short hike up to Cirque d’Anglade to get some fresh air after breakfast. Charlie wanted to take us both out to lunch so we also took some dry clothes in the expectation of being fairly wet after the walk.
Initially on the walk the forest provided some protection from the precipitation. It did not take long however for the rain to permeate the canopy and where outside the wood it was heavy drizzle, under the trees it was fat drops of water. Once the Cirque was gained we were inside the cloud and we had to get within 30′ of the cascade to be able to see it. And even then we could only see the bottom 30′. There were some rather nice cows though, and fortunately Charlie likes cows.
The descent back down to the van at the mines took considerably less time than the walk up. Dry clothes were donned and we set off to Seix for lunch.
Had a fantastic lunch at the Gourmandie before heading back to the barn with a short stop to view the church in Salau. We all had a siesta for half an hour before thinking about more food and alcohol.
Pre dinner drinks were Laurent Perrier Rose with foie gras (courtesy of Breezy’s Father).
Duck for supper followed by Chinese Checkers.
Charlie & Becks were due for about lunchtime so the morning was taken up with odd jobs and preparation. I shifted the sand left over from the window openings round the back of the barn with the Mucktruck; bringing back logs to fill up the log store outside the outbuilding. Once the sand was clear we both set about filling a couple of car tyres with compost in the veggie garden in preparation for planting next season. Breezy sorted out bedding and towels for our guests and generally cleaned up.
All the swelling on my leg has now disappeared from the wasp sting though it still itches a little.
Before preparing food we managed to get in a quick forage for brambles.
Charlie & Becks arrived on foot up the piste with a small rucksack each. They were starving having got an early flight with Ryan Air and driven over from Carcassonne.
It was warn enough to have lunch on the terrace. Salad with pate & cheeses washed down with rose wine. Charlie had bought fresh bread.
In the afternoon we took a short walk around the estate before scaling the platform in the trees. The gap in the boards is not especially large but the bottle of fizz was enough to coax Charlie to squeeze himself through.
As we came down from the trees a little rain started to fall so the paella burner was set up just outside the outhouse door and the log burner lit for the evening.
Mornings have developed a set theme. First one up puts the kettle on so that I can get my fix of coffee. Then one of us gets stuff out of the fridge in the main barn for breakfast. Having the fridge has definitely transformed living in the mountains. Generally I light the wood burner and Breezy does some of the chores like heating some water for washing up and filling the solar shower bag (though at this time of year the sun has little impact on the temperature of the water). Breakfast then the inverter gets switched on to boot up the satellite internet. Check emails and sort out any enquiries for the Chalet in Chamonix, sort out the blog and work on websites to promote Ski Breezy. Occasionally there are odd words that we need to look up in online dictionaries which we are not sure what they mean. They have usually cropped up in crosswords which my parents save from the newspapers and periodically send out to us by post. This morning it was “elucidate”.
Once the sun hits us just before 11am we start ticking things off the “to do” list. This morning it was more coppicing; this time out the front of the main barn. There is a large copse with one large beech and an oak tree in it. Ideally and weather permitting we want to get shot of the copse and just leave the large trees. If we don’t manage it this year we can always continue next year.
A late lunch of salad after which mu leg was quite sore. I got stung by a wasp yesterday on the shin and since then my leg has continued to swell up. By lunch my foot had started to swell as well and I decided to rest it for the afternoon while Breezy got in with weeding, foraging and odd small jobs about the place. I had forgotten what it is like to put your feet up and read a book. It all seems to be go go go when we are here. It is a beautiful place to just sit and read.
By the evening my foot had swollen some more so we trundled off down to the village to consult Anouk who used to be a pharmacist. Sufficiently reassured that swelling is normal we headed back up to the barn for supper and an episode of Spooks before bed.
Well it was a disturbed night sleep. We had planned for an early night so tucked up in bed by10pm. By 11pm the sheep bells were getting closer and louder. I had a quick look outside with the torch and a couple of hundred sheep had got loose and were all over our land, trashing anything in sight. We both got up and rescued solar panels which was our main concern and decided nothing else to do till the morning.Â Not much sleep as each sheep had a bell and what a noise they made, we were non too impressed.
So we were up when we heard the shepherds and it did not take long before the sheep dog had done his job and rounded them all up and headed them off down the piste.
So breakfast time and then we had put aside the morning to finish once and for all the end of year accounts for Ski Breezy which took us till lunch time.
We had some curried courgette soup for lunch made from Alison and Peter’s large courgette and some apple and bramble cake for afters with their apples and our brambles delicious.
Fresh air needed so a quick forage no luck with the mushies but lots of brambles still.
Afternoon plan was to get the kitchen sink unit in place and plumbed in as such even though we have yet to get water into the barn!!!! Not too much faffing and the job was done and the skirting boards were trimmed to fit the wall too so all neat and tidy.
We had loads of boxes in the bathroom with kitchen stuff so in an attempt to make some space in there for when we leave we filled the kitchen units with pots, pans, plates etc etc. Beginning to feel like a home. Al dismantled one of the beds to make some more space too in the main living area.
It was then a quick heave ho to get the second fire plate in side and jobs done for the day. Just in time for hot showers before pork curry for dinner, a bit of a curry day!!!! ideal for a wet day like it has been here today though.