Easter Sunday saw the arrival of Lisette our first lamb of 2017.
A little lost Lisette searched and searched for her mummy until eventually she was taken into the barn and will be bottle fed until she is old enough to feed herself.
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!
We visited the Donjon des Aigles centre yesterday to do some research on identifying the enormous birds which we see daily but just called them eagles. The whole family piled into the car and we arrived at a breathtaking location about 20 mins drive from our house, near a village called Beaucens.
The centre is set in a spectacular castle which was built around 1,000 some of which remains today and it is nestled in the mountains. There are over 45 special mostly birds of prey and some parrots. Each show last at least an hour. Sitting down not really knowing what to expect and were truly amazed watching the birds. At times the sky was full and the trainers clearly loved the birds and we saw them chatting and kissing them. The children had the opportunity to be part of the show. We were told that we could expect to see Vultures, Kestrels, Kites, Falcons, Eagles and of course Owls in our area. So now with our book we will try to keep a record of all the birds visiting Les Hauts Pâturages! Please make time during your holiday to visit the centre.
Doug and Gabriel decided to let a little more sunlight around the pool and reduce the amount of leaves falling into the pool. Picking a quite afternoon when the guests were out and about sight seeing they got started.
Once the tree was secured with ropes they got out their saws and some time later……..
After much pulling
finally down she comes and voila we have new tables for
pool area, new bench to sit on and two very tired boys!
Well done Doug and Gabriel!!!
July has been a busy month here – the strawberries and cherries have been and gone (we started picking in May) and we are freezing raspberries, black and red currents to make jam and cordial. Also growing are apples, plums, walnuts, figs, kiwi and grapes. I’m proud to say that I’ve managed to keep tomatoes, peppers, melons, cucumbers, and chilli’s alive and growing even though the temperatures are up in the 30’s. Strangely it can drop 20 degrees overnight and we are learning to ignore the weather forecast watch out for the clouds forming over the mountains. Louis is convinced he can ‘smell’ when the rain is coming….
If you choose to visit Les Hauts Pâturages in the spring (April and May) you will experience wild flowers everywhere, birds singing, lambs and foals appearing in the fields, chicks in the chicken coup and the vibrant green of the newly-leaved trees and the stunning blue sky framed by white snow capped Pyrenean mountains …
The trees come back to life and are in blossom, shrubs are in flower – spring is exploding in glorious technicolour.
Wild flowers are everywhere; in late spring the Alpine varieties at altitude are wonderful. We have seen orchids on our mountain side.
Awake to a dawn chorus! Migrating birds are arriving. Eagles, Golden Oriole, Bee-eaters, Black Kites, Wryneck have all been seen around here.
Come early April and catch the last ski-ing of the season. Sometimes the snow lasts into mid April.
Weather-wise, it can be unpredictable especially recently. Come prepared; you can expect rainy days and well as glorious sunny weather and temperatures in the 20s (or higher). On the sunny days you can spend most of the time outside enjoying the mountains.
It’s warm enough to eat lunch outside in April and dinner in the evenings from early May.
Come May the shorts are on! We start preparing the pool and by late May we are splashing about!
We think this a great season for walking and cycling as the heat isn’t too intense. The cols and high passes are usually closed until early/mid May
This is the perfect time to discover the lower areas and its not too busy for walking and cycling holidays.
The chickens are laying. Asparagus, artichokes, broad beans, early cherries, strawberries, beetroot are start appearing in our local markets and gardens. Salads in the polytunnel at Hauts Pâturage are in full swing and new potatoes are plentiful as are the herbs. The famous spring onions of Tresbons (village below us) start appearing along with local cheeses. Watering is a daily duty along mowing and attending to the orchard and vegetable garden. Seafood is amazing and the new spring Lamb is appearing.
The french school children have 2 weeks holiday in France, and there are 4 public holidays in May. All the attractions start opening. Prices are reasonable and there are great bargains to be had for flights, car hire and ferries.
7 Km further on from Cauterets we discovered the jaw dropping beauty of Pont d’Espagne (Point of Spain) this trip being recommended by our new french friends we thought we should check it out ourselves. The drive up was amazing and we arrived to discover that it was actually a ski station in the winter. The boys were immediately miffed that we hadn’t got their gear however watching the skiers we saw that they all had large back packs with a ski attached either side and we walking in their ski boots – it most definitely wasn’t for the faint hearted. There were also lots of families with sledges and people with trekking poles. Its obviously a mecca for all outdoors activities. We managed, with mum (see photo) to walk up a green run and see the thundering waterfalls and check out the restaurant.
From May to end of September the chairlifts are open to allow visitors to explore the whole area especially Cayan, Marcadau and the Lac de Gaube. We’ll be back in the summer with hiking boots!