It has been a long journey, with more turbulence than a long-haul flight over the Urals, but, touch wood, we will soon own a house in France.
For once, we were finally able to use a sled. A toboggan. Being a Wednesday, I had school in the morning. Naturally. It was boring. But while I was at school, Dad went out to a large sports shop near Carcassonne, called Decathlon. They have so many things there, including sleds. Dad got two sleds. One big, red one with brakes, and one small green one that looks a bit like a spade. When I got home from school, we made sandwiches, and Dad, Nicholas and I went into the snow.
This week I left Stephen to enjoy the bracing walk and scramble up to the arche perdue while I looked after the toddler at home, and beavered away on my book, but last week, as school had not quite started back, I persuaded the two older boys to join me for the weekly Monday full-day walk.
Prospects looked good for a sunny day once the mist lifted, but it was the iciest morning so far, for the walk around the hills between St Ferriol and St Just-le-Bezu.
Today I join the local walking group on their walk up to L’Arche Perdue, the hole in the rock above Maury. Last month I wrote about that remarkable rock formation and my hope to visit it. This is the walk that was scheduled for last month but cancelled due to high winds. Today is also windy but we do it anyway. I drive to the meeting point at Maury, half-way between Quillan and the Mediterranean coast. We have friends at Maury, very close to the meeting point, so going there brings back happy memories of pit stops and a summer evening barbecue three years ago. Continue reading
This afternoon Tom and I go exploring up the hill above Quillan’s old castle. Despite the sunshine, I wear many layers of clothing. You can’t be too careful at this time of year. Tom is more lightly dressed. More sensibly dressed, as it turns out.
We start by going up Rampe du Chateau. This leads us onto Rue de Bitrague. Now we go offroad.
Today’s organised walk took us around the plateau above Brenac, following the sun as it moved from its highest point in the sky to set below the distant hills, leaving us in the increasing cold and returning to our cars in the encroaching twilight in the space of just three hours.
On the 10th of December we went to the Sigean African wildlife reserve. They had tons of animals there. It wasn’t just a few well known animals that happened to live in the reserve, there were hundreds.
For the latest organised Saturday walk, the rest of the family having arrived in Quillan, Tomos opted to stay at home with his brothers, leaving me to enjoy a walk in the winter sun, ‘on my own’. It was a little odd, not having my constant companion at my side, but a chance to chat with different people and, sometimes, just to enjoy ambling along on my own, at my own pace, without the need for conversation.
This week’s walk, like the first, was again for Telethon, a big event here with weeks of fundraising events culminating this past weekend with televised coverage, and a full programme of activities from zumba, to vide greniers (a community garage sale) and organised walks. There were two walks of different lengths to choose from, both leaving from the hamlet of farmhouses at Pailheres near Esperaza, known as Les Soubirous.
There’s something about holes. They’re real – everyone knows that. And yet, they’re not really real. A hole is really just the absence of the real stuff that surrounds it. It’s as real as a shadow. In fact, a shadow is a hole; a light-hole. I’m thinking about holes because the day after tomorrow I plan on walking with an organised group to a hole (I hope) in a mountain above a town in the Pyrenees. Continue reading