A walk up to those cliffs above Quillan

At Quillan three years ago I explored many of the tracks in the hills surrounding the town. On my very first foray into a forested mountain area I felt a little on edge, not knowing for sure what dangers I might encounter. Hans Christian Anderson tales had taught me from a young age that Europe’s forests were to be feared. Should I watch out for snakes? What were the chances of encountering a wolf? And what of the people in these remote hills? As time went on, and reassured by a little internet research, I became more confident and saw that the only risks were familiar ones: getting lost or breaking an ankle. On this current visit, the winter weather adds the risk of hypothermia. Continue reading

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A boiler of good French character (or how not to engage a French tradesman)

When the boiler broke down last week, I wasn’t initially too worried as I have become experienced in resetting it thanks to an earlier failure. But after four days of freezing temperatures, no heating, no hot water, and no sign of a qualified tradesman willing or able to fix it, I was becoming less optimistic.

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A walk up the hill to a lookout over Quillan

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.

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Chateau de Quillan

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A walk above Ginole

Nicholas and I went for a walk on the tracks above the tiny village Ginole, France. It was warm for the time of year, so Nicholas was happy to leave the extra layers of clothing in our bag. We stopped to look for vultures a few times but saw none. We saw a long-legged spider walking up the track and we followed it some way. Nicholas was careful to not step on it.

The village bell donged 12 times at 11am (no adjustment from summer time to winter time, apparently), then repeated that two minutes later. I counted the chimes and Nicholas stamped his foot to the rhythm.

The track was crumbly and steep in places so we held hands.

A very pleasant morning. Thanks, Nicholas.

At the farmer’s table

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.

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