Thursday, April 16, 2009

Arriving Home

In spite of French fishermen we are home all in one piece.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Visit to Penne

Yesterday was a wonderful sunny day almost like summer. We went to an amazing place, the village of Penne in the Tarn departement. Actually it is not far from us but the border of the Tarn and the Tarn et Garonne winds about a bit in the area. Penne has an amazing ruined castle which looks like a fantastic stage set from an Arthurian fable but is actually quite genuine. It was first built about 560 (No I have not missed the first 1 off!), In the thirteenth century it was used a refuge by the Cathars who were a Christian sect much persecuted during the Albigensian Crusade. Next it was occupied by the English and it was dismantled in 1586 by Henry IV who used the stone to build up the surrounding village. It certainly makes for a breathtaking sight.

We walked all around the village and as we were coming back to the car I noticed that we were parked right next to the memorial for the First World War. Every village in France has a memorial which is absolutely covered with names and what always strikes me about the one in Verfeil is that all the names on the memorial are the same as the one s in today's phone book. I'm sure it is the same at Penne and all over France, and I would guess many villages in England probably including East Harling. It really brings home to me how many families lost not one but two three sometimes four members. For tiny villages like Penne and Verfeil every family would have been affected. It makes me think how important it is to remember.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Two walks

The weather has been beautiful, although it is raining today. We have been making the most of it by walking through the countryside on some of the way marked paths. We also took the cats for a walk. Amelie was perfect and trotted along happily,

with John whilst I dragged Spike with me until he lay down and refused to go any further so I ended up carrying him. Walking makes you realise how many amazing wild flowers are blooming at present. We really enjoyed walking alongside the river Bonnette and seeing the Cascade Petrifiante

or petrifying waterfall. (Actually it's not that scary ha ha). The paths are usually quite easy to follow being clearly marked with red and white blobs for the main walking routes or Grandes Randonees or yellow blobs and numbers for the smaller one or petites randonees.

After all that walking, lunch was indicated and we had wonderful seafood tabbouleh followed by milk fed pork and fresh strawberries with a quarter litre of wine and also with coffee all for 15 euros. Here are some pics so you can feel part of it all. I love the cowslips and violets, the cats were less impressed by the flowers,

and had to have a siesta in order to recover from their exertions!

Saturday, April 4, 2009


What a beautiful day it has been. Spring has really arrived as you will see from the pictures of the pansies and the blossom which is everywhere. All the fruit trees are covered in white blossom and it reminds me of Robert Bridges' poem Spring Goeth All In White.

Spring goeth all in white,

Crowned with milk-white may:

In fleecy flocks of light

O'er heaven the white clouds stray:

White butterflies in the air;

White daisies prank the ground:

The cherry and hoary pear

Scatter their snow around.

I like to think that when we are next here the blossom will have transformed into cherries plums and apricots with pears and apples to follow. In the meantime it looks wonderful.

We have been making the most of warm weather and had a trip out to Cordes today. This is an incredibly beautiful hill top town a few kilometres from us. It is like a mini Carcassonne and is often very busy with tourists but at this time of year it is still rather quiet and very pretty. The hike up the hill is a bit heavy going but worth it for the view. It was market day and the beauty of the aubergines and peppers made me feel inspired to make ratatouille. This evening it is carnavale in Verfeil so I expect the music will go on into the night. At present there is a steady trickle of visitors arriving and an expectant air especially amongst the children who are in fancy dress. As I was writing this the samba band arrived and it was all very jolly and colourful, especially the lady in the flowery hat! Spike is adding to the general excitement by chasing flies and crunching them and trying to break into the new box of cat biscuits. He has also contributed to the white theme by opening and destroying a whole packet of cotton wool! Enjoy the pictures and the video.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Well we haven't been here since September and although a few things are different its good to see that a lot of things remain the same.

They are busy making the bridge in St Antonin all smart with a new railing but the lovely view of the river and the bridge is still the same and all the soft spring colours are beautiful in the warm sunlight.

There is a lot of evidence of damage done by the big storm in January. Many trees have come down and obviously a lot has been swept down the river as you can see from all the debris that has collected around the bridge supports.

All the animals are waking up and liking the spring warmth, this little dog was sitting happily in his window at lunchtime and loving the warm air.

The cats are pleased to be here although they look a bit cross here because the kettle was whistling and they really hate it.

We went for a walk by the river and saw this wonderful heron. It is lovely to be back and we feel so lucky to have the chance to live this second life.