Finally finished the cottage kitchen which will now be the room for guests who book table d’hôte and breakfasts when they wish to eat inside.
October was a fantastic month here in the Pyrénées the weather was warm, sunny and we took the opportunity to take some of our visitors on walks and hikes. The school holidays was an opportunity to drag teens off their computers and out into the fresh air.
We also enjoyed a day in the Val D’Azun which is a short drive away and a great place for snow shoeing (Raquettes) in the winter months with 65km of marked trails. We walked up to Suyen Lake which is the first ‘high mountain’ lake of the Pyrenees National Park and is a perfect family walk with dramatic scenery and stunning views. We had a packed lunch at the lake enjoying the sunshine then wandered back down to a bar/restaurant for a well earned beer!
Finally at the end of the month Halloween is celebrated in France and our little village pulls out all the stops. People decorate their gardens and children on the village along with parents visit each house to ‘trick or treat’ more like the UK.
September was a fabulous month here with two great events:
First off was a visit from De Kostoos Cycling Team from Belgium who were taking part in a charity event to raise money for a house in Ostende (the boys home town) for the families of cancer patients and families that need somewhere to stay whilst their family member is in hospital. The boys had to ride up the Col de Tourmalet as many times as possible in a time frame. The weather was scorching hot but all together the total rides were 32 which is absolutely amazing. Well done to everyone taking part and the day ended with a well deserved table d’hôte with lots of Belgium beer!
A few days after the boys returned to Belgium Richard, Tim and Sandro arrived from Norwich in the UK. A hard cycle from Norwich to Poole, then over on the ferry saw the boys cycling through driving rain and winds with heavy backpacks. Once into France the bad weather continued but spirits were high and the miles were speeding by. Normandy, Brittany and the Loire Atlantique were ticked off the list. Finally once through Nantes the rain stopped and the sun finally shone.
Heading south into Poitou-Charenties Doug met the boys and Carlos become support vehicle with Doug shopping and preparing meals life was a little easier. The further south they headed the warm the weather and finally mid afternoon we saw the boys finally arrive after a gruelling ride up the mountain to us. SO SO proud Richard and the boys. Well done. Needless to say they sat in the sunshine, beer in hand, planning their next adventure!
A few days after the boys returned to Belgium Richard, Tim and Sandro arrived from Norwich in the UK. A marathon cycle from Norwich to Poole, then over on the ferry saw the boys cycling through driving rain and winds with heavy backpacks.
A few days ago we were surprised and delighted to see a small bird land outside the cottage. Poor thing appeared to be exhausted and certainly wasn’t shy of humans! He/She even managed to peck some water droplets from Doug’s fingers.
We think it may have belong to the bullfinch family? Can anyone help us identify the little fella. Super colourful and was unfazed by all the attention. It stayed for a couple of hours and then flew away.
We would love to know a little bit about our unexpected visitor – can you help??????
A family day out saw us driving through the Bielsa tunnel into Spain. An easy drive with drop dead scenery. First stopping for morning coffee in the town of Saint Lary which has great snowboarding parks and downhill ski slopes (about 2 hours drive from Les Hauts Pâturages) bike park, panoramic views and hot springs. Onward through the tunnel and emerging into a different world on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. We had tapas on our mind for lunch and headed to a beautiful fortified village of Anisa. Restaurants and history and oh the shopping – amazing leather shoes!
A great day out from Les Hauts Pâturages and we will be returning to explore the Spanish side of the Pyrenees!
Last night saw the Young family hold a ‘Burns Night Supper’ or La soirée set un rassemblement de gens pour célébrer la vie et d’oeuvre du plus poète écossais Robert Burns at Les Hauts Paturages. With La Bigourdane set out for the occasion, 4 course meal and the important whiskey for toasting the Haggis we awaited our guests!
Would Haggis, Neaps and Tatties, not to mention Black Bun served with cheese be a step too far for our french neighbours and how do they feel about men in skirts dancing? Answer – they loved it!
Some of our neighbours arrived dressed for the occasion. Everyone ate the traditional ‘Burns Supper’ and the Haggis was deemed as a success even after we carefully explained what it is made it!
Late in the evening we put away the tables and created a space to dance. With Doug and myself giving a demonstration first everyone quickly joined in and there was much laughter and shouting as we all did the Gay Gordons and Strip the Willow (Jimmy – you would have been proud of us!)
Sharing food, chatting and dancing until after midnight the evening was a great success and our neighbours said we are known as the kind English family and much loved by everyone. All this and only a year in our new life in France.
We headed up to La Mongie to check out the snow and try out the new sledges. Louis took along his snowboard and had the first ride on the season. It was hard going uphill as the lifts were closed. The resort opens officially next Saturday 3 December. With cheap lift passes and flights why not try the Pyrénées this year!
After the busy summer season with scorching temperatures, autumn arrived blissfully warm and golden. Gradually the light seemed softer, butterflies appeared along with artists and photographers. The temperatures were still hitting the mid 20’s and we were swimming for the first three weeks in September we decided to close the pool as Doug’s big project is to re-deck the pool area over the winter. Eating outside was still the norm.
This definitely seems to be the driest, most settled season so far with endless sunny days. Perfect for walking, hiking and cycling without the crowds that descend during July and August. We spent several days with our friends Maggie and Trevor who are keen walkers and bird watchers. They are helping us develop walking holidays for all abilities and ages so if that interests you please do drop us an email. October saw the first snow on the Pic du Midi and we watched birds migrating south across the Pyrenees which makes it a great time of year for birders to visit.
In our orchard walnuts, hazelnuts, figs, apples and pears are falling off the trees and in the greenhouse we are still picking tomatoes, peppers and chillies. Salad leaves keep on growing and the hens are laying! Doug is still mowing twice a week. The markets are full of locally grown plums, peaches, aubergines, quince and ceps (mushrooms). Life is good ….
We bought ourselves an 9 seater Spanish landrover. Its an odd looking vehicle kinda cute so fit right here and the boys named him Carlos! His job will be ferrying guests to and from airports, transporting cyclists and their bikes, the same for walkers and ski/snowboarders. It gives guests the important option of not having to hire a car if coming via plane. So let Carlos take the strain and you enjoy the ride!
Saturday 10 September saw Les Hauts Pâturages welcome 9 cyclists from Belgium. Team GB(v) arrived complete with bikes and beer and spend some time conquering the cols of the Hauts Pyrénées.
You were fabulous company guys and you gave Doug and I lots of ideas as we want to create cycling holidays for both road and VTT biking. Thanks for all the lovely compliments regarding the food we shared. Big thanks to Wouter who organised anything and emailed in English for me. Hope to see you again next year!