WMC's diary pages, 2001.

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See-also: http://www.wmc.care4free.net/diary/.

June 2001

Fri 1st

A.m: Nearly time to go. Put seedlings into shed in water. Weather has gone grey. Work: tidy. L'ts & posters to Tom. Disk space! Argh.

To town to pick up money & buy travel plug - can't find old one. Squeeze in G cafe. Home with D. Tidy & wash up, last bit of weeding. M back, calls taxi, delivers pg l'ts to Janet. And off at 3:20. Train at 3:45 but 5 mins late. Girl with blue-eyed corn snake lets us stroke it.

Waterloo. Espresso + crois. Try to buy films but crappy smiths has no slides. Could buy travel plug for £1 more than in C.

Eurostar. Arrival a bit late: we have spare time but D is becoming a touch manic. Across Paris: metro for once since its direct. Austerlitz. Train: oddly, a q at accuiel. Curious. D & I look at various 'old trains'. Realise q is pointless & go past to our couchettes. D & I go to front: no engine. Later one arrives & we leave about 20 min late, which matters little. Since we're slumming in couchettes we'll have to wake self up.

Off we go. Somehow the idea that we will arrive tomorrow a.m. seems wrong: it should take longer. Past biblio f mitterand. Past choisy-le-roi. D & M abed: I watch out of corridor window according to tradition. D looked out a bit.

Sat 2nd

Takes me ages to get to sleep, but then do. Dax: get up & check it is, not Pau. Sit for some time, then off at 7 - we're a bit late. 1/2 h to Orthez (some nice river scene along way): next stop Pau? Early sun/cloud. Glimpses of hills & snow in distance.

Races at Pau (F3); bottom of funicular at bottom right; station out of sight to right; taken from ramparts/esplanade Yes. Even get 10 mins warning. To gare cafe, M orders b'fast then she + D to look around. It appears to be the 61st grand prix de Pau in preparation: grandstands being erected & cars tuning engines. How exciting! Must tell Gareth. Watch some practice laps with D, who watches the big blue crane. But the funicular (D's moving-houses) is thereby shut :-(, though it is not clear why. One car satisfies: spins at corner & (softly) thumps barrier. No explosion :-(. Buy sud-ouest, which says it is f3, and others. Up to ramparts.

Since we are in Fr I have decreed that Mr Weasel must be M'sieur Belette.

Train 9:24 to Oloron but forget till last minute to buy tickets: q: too late. Oops: must buy a return. At O: have 1/2 option to meet M+J but bus is leaving & next not till 2:30, so get this one. Grass has had 1st cut, but maize/wheat is only 2" high.

Bedous. No marché: early season. To playground. To our surprise, creperie is (re)open. Good: cider, tilleul, 3 fromage crepe. Try to phone F but no mobile cover: M goes seek payphone, to be good. There is a new shop in B: tents etc.

Sud-ouest is getting a new press-plant, it proudly tells us. It also has a site: .sudouest.

The toilet of the creperie seems more radical than ever: 'les 3 plantes pest toxiques: l'habitude, l'ignorance, le préjugé; NON au fascisme; etc.

M and D walk hand-in-hand through the field, the image I was trying to capture is of innocence and trust and peace D and I go for a little walk along the lane just above the house Second crepe: temps des cerises. At 1:30 take D for wade (precarious at times) in river while M orders taxi for 2. Back just as t arrives: he recoqnises us. Up we go, stopping for troupeau in Bedous. Slightly more snow high up than last time. Mme arrives, opens up & provides chairs & a drink while she finishes whatever. M & D walk cutely hand-in-hand in field, which this year has sheep. Obligatory walkers asking 'is it far to the lac?' (signs in village sort of imply its close: its 3h walk) arrive, as do 2xtractors to D's delight.

All in all, a remarkably pain-free trip.

M+J arrive soon (bringing rest of our kit; part of reason for lack of pain). And so a quiet pm. Kite flying. Take D for little walk 6ish for nearly 1/2 h: he does well but finds steep bracken slopes... steep.

The Billare, with cloud shadows, looks like a vertical cliff, which it isn't Clouds come & go; eat in due to chill but more sun than not. Cloud shadows over Billare linger as sun sets down its edge.

Soir: D: 'I wish I could have my fingernails painted pink because I really like pink'.

After dinner outside with tea & Proust (we are short of coffee filters) a lovely still evening as light fades, still on the peaks pink-speckled with snow that close off down-valley.

Inside. Light fire (now an enclosed stove, like Chris H's but bigger; probably more efficient than open f'place but takes a while to catch as I've laid it badly & there is little kindling). Do photos, which haven't really been sorted since Corsica.

Sun 3rd

Up late, past 10, because it was misty early (when oh when will I learn?). Sun, but wind.

M+J to Bedous mid-a.m. to get filter-papers & beer (& a few other trifles). D & I go across the field for a little pic-nic with M. Belette & Gross-Pied.

D runs towards the waterfall Sheep dog vying for dominance with a sheep. The dog won Lunch, then coffee. At 3.30 take D up for walk to Sanchez: others elect to stay home. He walks perhaps 2/3 of the way: I just carry him up steep bits. Takes 1h. No horses (he doesn't comment) but streams to play, of course. Another picnic. Go to see huge gigantic w'fall (maybe more water?) then D decides to climb the scree under le Billare: we get quite a way up, too; my poor bare feet.

Now 1/4 to 7. Heading back. D stops for a play in the roadside dust. Pass a berger milking. Dog & sheep vie for dominance.
D, Weasel (a bit) and me (looking rather worried)

D & Mr W take some pictures. D discovers 'jump in the sheep poo'. But now we're nearly home, though slower than going out... cloud shadows over the Billare get ever longer.

View across Aloun (aka two-hump-hill) to, probably, Pic Bacque from the Sanchez path Get home just at 8: but Mfd set off as a search party at 10 to, in the car to Sanchez (a bit odd that, since they had guessed correctly that we were going the other way, and if he'd walked up the path he'd have met us...). Anyway, we start dinner in odd order, D, J and M have some fish while I shower, then I join in, later Mfd comes back but by them M and D are reading Baby Bear together. D doesn't get to bed till 8:50 what with the wart stuff and all, but then he'll be late up tomorrow.

Evening (I say that not soir as I'm typing it into the tosh so can afford to be long-winded): drink coffee and read Proust on the war (not the events, just the reactions of people to it; odd to see it from a ttoally French perspective; the English appear briefly as allies, with the Scots particularly sought after by the Charlus's). Fire burns better since I started it earlier. Now, photos.

Thinks: walking with D is quite fun (though slow, and sometimes irritating because of that): because there is more time to look around. And because of his company, too.

Mon 4th

Up 7.25, & all is quiet. Sun. A v few thin clouds. D sleeps sweetly. Off 8.10. Forget long trous, then pen knife, then x, then trous again, then off. 35 mins to lower park. On foret communal sign: 'onf dehors'? Upper park 1h, cabanes 2h. Ok. About 10 people here: more than I've seen before. Above: people mount trail to aig d'a.

Rest 20 mins at cab & refill bottle. 35 mins to lake & rest. Since I've sat down decide not to push on up but have nice long lunch break. I didn't pack choccy! Over lunch the sparse thin cloud becomes more widespread but still thin. There is snow at the lac: a wide band on the outward side. Now (or soon) I must finish my apple & head up.

View from Col, across the Cirque 'Chourique' (as I call it), with Lescun in the distance just visible 13:45 then ridge 14:10. Rest. View lescun. Watch 2 others take oh-so-faint path to col. So I'm not alone :-( but I can rely on the path :-). To col, over grass bursting with iris, & scree, 2:40: new ground. View L again. Climb to col easy: down looks ok too [found posthumously...] Off 2.55. Back on easy ground 3:10. M wouldn't much like it (but could do it).

Carnivourous plants (you can see the insects on the rosette of leaves) this year at this time in flower Soon down to marked junction with side valley: prob up to col de Laraille. From stones & snow down to pines, new beech, gentians. Stop 3:45 to rest by stream in shade, at cab. Bourregué (ruines). Find those carnivorous plants in flower (purple). Have little wash in stream to excuse not swimming in little lake. Eat orange: last of food.

Down into woods. Turn off path seeking lac d'Ourbiette but (as expected) fail to find it whilst struggling through trees & leaf fall. Back down to road at the barriers canadiennes: 5.15. Rest a little then home, tired, 6.15: somewhat before I'm expected. D brings me a biere & I am quiet.

Others have been to village but D not so good about walking.

Bath inc 'relaxing' sea moss. Dinner. Bathe D. Spend soir worshipping fire.

Tues 5th

D wakes me up 7.30. Make coffee & brek (today D has biobix too). Mfd next, attracted by coffee.

View from above down the ridge to the Bidet; this year in full gorse flowering M & I aim to leave at 9 for 'over bidet' walk but actually nearer 9.30. Sun. Slowly to sancheze (feux pastoreux in progress); rest; up w'fall. Through meadows & woods; now resting at end of shade: 11.45. Visit lower cabin then up to path & up hillside. Stop at plateau above bidet ridge 1600-ish at 12.30. Lunch + rest till 1.30. While M draws aspodel I go down ridge (new! to first spine). Bluebell (now over) wood beyond, then sharper ridge to Bidet.

From here 'contour round' in an open up-and-down way. Fine views.

M at the bridge over the river at La Mouline Cab de Lacure 2:40. Roof, canvas door, bed platform; not smelly! Path down found easily (just head d to r of stream). More pleasant woods, odd purple flowers, patch of snow. La mouline 3:15 - have last of food & 2nd biere. As y'day clouding over a little. Off 3:45. Out of woods 4:10. Cairning has improved. Cloud now thicker/mist.

Down scrub-grass-wood to road-to-sancheze 4:45 (at place with pile of logs). Cloud has descended too & we're in it. Back to house 5:20, picking up some kindling in the lane as we go, safely hidden in the cloud.

Earlier dinner, since all is laid along. D eats ham enthusiastically :-( indeed has to be persuaded to eat anything else, including the taboulet he has been asking for for ages...

Mist adds light rain to its repertoire but the fire works well tonight. Soir: photos, inc yesterday.

Wed 6th

'Write down breakfast pudding *please*' - what does it mean? - '*Ice cream!*'.

'I'm a black kitten & I'm stuck up a tree, who will phone the fire brigade to rescue me?' - all this while 'hiding' inside an orange blanket. D often invents roles: he had prev said that M was little bear & Mfd was D.

Up 9. Last nights rain has cleared (but in-cloud didn't lift till 8). Ever-so-slightly chill: I sit out, but with jumper. Sky 5/8 cloud. Sun illuminates hanging valley of Lhers & (since there is v thin mist in valley & flowing out) it has a faint silver halo.

There is a problem with Lescun which is that the village shop doesn't open early: not till 8.30-9 ish. So you can't go bright-&-early to get bread & crois (oh I would, really...) so one is torn between sitting out on the terasse & heading off to village.

2/3 through v6 & Proust begins to lay out his theories clearly. Whether he is summarizing prev vols I have not the memory to know. But a curious quote: 'the railway... was destined to kill contemplation & there was no sense regretting the age of the diligence. But in fact the car has taken over its function & once more deposits tourists outside forgotten churches'.

Hmf. The cloud edge is staying quite constant but as the sun has risen the shade now covers us. But Lhers is still bathed in light.

Meanwhile, inside, M & D play h-&-s, which D nearly understands, though he is prone to say 'you find me, I'll hide under this blanket'.

With D to village: takes about 1/2 h & he complains not at all. In village, & M. Sports-&-fruit shop is indeed shut & a louer :-( To lower cafe so D can have i'c'm. Pleasant sit: M arrives: she has shown alarming lack of understanding by thinking that I wanted a lift back. And so (even though we were prob going back soon) it feels as though we are torn away untimely, & of course D opts for a lift home. Buy ff160 bread, cheese, wine, eggs (& my annual restock of 3 bic razors).

Lunch. After: M upstairs for rest; m+j play with D (or v v) inside; I sit out, finally in sun.

Manfred and Jessica, on the way home, by D (with some help...) Some kite flying. Then, off to village again, Mfd+J+D+Me, M rests inside. D once again walks perfectly, bribed it is true by hope of an ice cream, but contrary to fears not distracted from walking by Mfd+J. Sweetly he wants to hold my hand quite often, and goes along with a ski-stick so he can makes holes where the tar is soft.

Village: to lower cafe so D can have i'c'm: are we forever exiled from the hotel cafe? Mfd+J investigate the poterie which is as ever closed, despite an apparently fresh sign. Coffex2 for me, biere for Mfd+J, Calippo for D. I write p'cards to SC GP and to work. Quite hard to find a good one showing everything, oddly enough. As we are leaving D has a sudden and huge desire for a hot chocolate; escape only by promising one at home, which of course he has forgotten all about by then.

D is recalled to walking duty from making-holes-in-the-road-heaven Wasps nest, with wasp herself peeking out On way back find interesting wasps nest, below the "snowflake chalet". Very delicate, and exposed. Can it really stand being rained on? Or was it made in a day?

M has been cooking, splendid (main course is feesh, bought from poissonerir van this a.m.). Light fire which soon blazes bright, we have the hang of it at last.

Soir: some Gill; turn up the cuffs of my red jumper and then darn a hole in M's brown Sheltand one by the "micropore technique".

Thurs 7th

The gite (somewhat to left of center) under the Billare; from Lhers side of valleyLescun seen from the head of the Lhers plateau; gite is just visible on L edge of picture, below and L of prominent white farm at 1/3 height Once again I am first up, at 7:30. Truly cloudless a.m. but slight haze. Sit out with coffee. Then, head off 8:40 - it is market day in Bedous, & I am going to walk, circuitously, via Lhers plateau, or at least the head of. Head up then round, shortcut through bracken, to bridge above us. Up other side of valley towards Lhers, following gr for a while. Pleasant route. At Lhers plateau leave gr & follow field-forest edge (path) to road. At road 10. Follow a lacet or so then strike off into field to top of 'serrelongue chemin': this should be a path but predictably isn't (though crosspath to pris d'eau appears): descend beech leaves piled deep like snowleaves. Steep. Desc too near stream. Road 10:25, stop to brush off leaves & rearrange. Down more lacets, cutting off one via steep field with steeper 20' drop to road. Past Toyal, to main 10:50. Walk 10 mins quite happily: then mmjd stop for me: on to Bedous.

Overall, a good walk, the serrelongue bit is a touch dodgy and it is quite possible to get lost there. One could do that bit on road instead.

Bedous marche, about half of the bit under the 'arcade' Bedous marche. Buy cheese, yoghurt, vegetables (Mme bio is there), fruit, wine (van has petrol-pummp style delivery for larger customers). And stuff. Thence to creperie for lunch but! Wah! quelle mauvais surprise! creperie is only open evenings during the week, even market days. Hmmmpf. Well, play in p'g'd by river even so.

Home for lunch, and it is indeed pleasant to have a replete table in the shade with the hot sun burning outside and the beautiful view of hills to watch. And some biere, too. I must remember to spell "biere" properly.

After lunch coffee: Proust proves too dense for me (detailed explanation of his theroies of the meaning of Art, which I'm not really interested in: for all his decrying of the fashionable world (of which he of course was a habitue) the most interesting bits of his books are the descriptions of said world. Though this is not unfair: the world may be empty, but the description may not be. Anyway, I fall asleep.

D plays happily in the stream throwing pebbles and making little inlets D is a bit tired on the way back but happy really; J carries M. Belette on her camera 3ish Mfd says, or resays, shall we go to Sancheze (do try to remember the last "e") and so indeed we do, somewhat (3:40) later Mfd, J, D and I set off, leaving M to rest. Its quite hot: I have my umbrella, but I have to carry D up the steep bits. He walks most of it, excluding the grassy path and the steeper bits, just like last time, which is good going for one quite small. We pick up a dog who follows us cutely for a while and this amuses D who squeaks with delight. Somewhat perturbed when dog comes all the way to Sancheze (takes us about 1:15).

Get across river (Mfd+J in "english abroad" style; sadly I refraimed from photos) and find shade tree for picnic: bread-and-butter, banana, orange, apple, yoghurt, water, choccy biccy. Play in river: Mfd and J take him down to bridge while I laze for a bit. Dog still runs around and makes D squeak.

Home: we have to drag him away. He is less keen to walk: "I hate walking" etc, but when distracted walks well enough. His "bits" rub a little on one side: consequence of nappies, perhaps: though he hasn't had one for a while. At top of voie-sans-issue, a flock of sheep overtake us going down:speak to berger; it is his dog, fifi.

A bit cooler now, get back 7:45. M has cooking in hand, and so to dinner. D not till bed till 9, tired.

Tonight is election night: but the hour goes the wrong way. I can wait.

Last election M & I were driving down to Pembroke o'night, kind of them to arrange an election to entertain us. But tonight: nonsense: an exit poll of 18k people to tell us what we'll know it 12h anyway. Etc etc.

Ps: now onto 2nd set of camera batteries.

Nearly midnight: outside: moon not yet above hills but illuminates thin cloud to E. O'wise quite clear. Opp hillside dark.

Fri 8th

Up 1st but D hears me & wakes: he goes in with M. Sadly #1 he is wet; sad #2 he got up to use potty, his bot stuck, & he o'turned it.

Leave 8:10, by which time M & D having b'fast. Yet another sunny day. L cp :35. Don't find lake, slowly. Eventually lose path. I rather expected this, but I think it is now time to declare that this lake and woods shall remain a mystery to me. Unless, perhaps, I dedicate a whole day to exploring them... are they worth it? It should be an o'cast day, or it would be too hot.

Back to path up from U cp 10:10, where it parallels the river for a while. Meadow-of-the-big-blocks 10:30. Rest 20 mins top of meadow, above ruins of cab. Path becomes quite faint here. Get to join with col Chourique path 11.45, which is unknown land, over snow. Mountain sheep/isards on far side of this narrow valley. Col 12.15. Sit, gratefully. Splendid views looking S. Forced down by wind after 1/2 h, find little hollow by snow patch & hear wind gusting above. Clouds over. This is a huge cirque - views off to snow mounts south - all empty bar me. Fields of iris pushing up.

Off again 1:50. 2:20: wrong (2065, SW of Pic Lariste, above Mail Bourregue) col! Oops. Since there is no cloud, and the true col has a (clearly marked on map and ground) river running from it, I have little excuse. But at least I stop and look and think "this is wrong" instead of plunging down it. True col 2:40. Excellent. Now feel fairly confident that my timing is OK and I will get back down in time and to the right place. Sit a bit. Marmida summit is just a little away, and I haven't been to a summit for some time (Pic d'Anie last year?): 10 mins walk, arrive 3. Great views. Cloud sea in Bedous plain below. Spanish sheep tiny but bell-audible over on far hill, with a few bigger black dots of cows. Jean-Pierre sticks up on S skyline, only a few valleys away. Below can see cab: binocs (at last I get them out) seem to show people there.

View of cloudsea from the col Leave 3:25, col :30. Glissade down snow patch! Cab (d Bonaris) :55. Quite salubrious inside: bed platform, fire with hood, boxes for food. A little walled-in courtyard with a sheep-grid! Water piped to trough. In the distance a pair of marmots: fighting/running/kissing/boxing/mating, tumbling down the hill in excitement. They're still at it: stand on rear legs in pair with front together. A third joins in.

More ?isards? flee at my approach, climbing implausible slopes. How many can you count? Col (d'Escourets) 4:55 (after now-familiar wandering around the SE slope, always upwards but always losing the path) but no rest: clouds below and I need to descend a little to be safe. Isards climb implausibly off to the right, they look back at me. Descend to the path & cloud edge, which then envelopes me. No need for hurry now: sit & eat last of food, an orange. Cuckoo. Cloud retreats & breaks to reveal path far below, & makes odd horses-head patterns. Off! 5:20. To road 6:05, now beneath the sea. Feux pastoreux.

Back 7:05, just as others are. Quick from col down! This was mostly due to knowing-the-way, not too much stopping to consult map. I didn't feel I was racing down, just good striding out. There are some nice little short cuts between Salanoube and the pont, and more could be put back into use if some of the little old lanes were cleared of their vegetation.

D (with relish) 'I'm - going - to have - some - HAM!' I, however, am going to have a bath. While I am, D does something naughty (smashes a bowl onto a glass, breaking both, when denied ham; and while it is felt that he didn't mean to break either he did intend to be naughty) & is sent to bed. He is back when I return but is clearly too tired: I take him upstairs with a banana & put him to bed.

Soir: rain. Thunder. Lie on sofa. Bed early.

During the night (yes, this is written next day on tosh) vast rainstorm and near-continous lightning, enough that I can walk around by their illumination. Fortunately D sleeps though most of it, and only wakes up much later when distant thunder disturbs him, and I sleep with him for a while.

Sat 9th.

Half-way point :-(

D is first up, just before 9, and comes in to us, dry, but then insists on going to M+J: I am not good enough :-( So I come downstairs too.

Patchy cloud in valley, thin cloud above. But then mist rises and we are now (11) in it, I type whilst watching a blank wall of white.

Start fire: its chill while we're in mist.

Mfd & I to v'age to shop through white: biere & bread etc. Cafe in hotel & discuss 17© religion, St Paul & Jericho. Back, via surprise mobile shop which adds forgotten choc, & mushrooms. Cloud is now above, about 100m above house, & though sun is hidden light is bright. Wasps nest still there (despite storm), no bigger, with wasp hiding behind.

D & J have made choc buns! Lunch.

Walking back down again towards Bedous and the mill, passing the grange Post lunch cloud returns. Decide to visit watermill in Bedous, arrive somewhat before 4 but (although it should be open on the hour) it seems not to be. Poke about a bit around the mill-stream, etc, then walk up the river a little to "le roche qui pleure" (which we saw another of last year, rather higher up off the road to Aydius,; probably last y we mistook a normal but interesting rock for it...) which (assuming we now have the right one) is a limestone rock, with nobbles and runnels and caves like unto what is seen in grottoes. I struggles into the cave, and D is hoisted in. Next door the rock continues in a waterfall and more cliff face hidden by vegetation. Walk higher up, past (as our book says) a renovated grange, but rain becomes heavy and we fail to find the house of slate, despite walking a fair way.

All looking through the hole in the floor through which one sees the waterwheel and the jet that powers it. The strange look to Manfreds jacket is relfections from the raindrops from the flash Indeed we walk so far that when we return we are only a little late for the 5 o'clock visit. It is interesting: basically a very simple vertical-axis mill, with "velocity" not "weight" driving. The one that Ma and M and D went to see at home was apparently far more complex, though this one appears to function quite well, and when turned on spins nicely and grinds corn for us to feel and taste. Chap sieves the grind to separate flour and husk. You can (we do) look through the hole in the floor to see the water hitting the wheel. D enjoys all this a lot.

After, to shop, then on to creperie (Mfd somewhat reluctant; later it appears that this is due to the utter wetness of his feet from the rain and long grass). We are there 6:30-7:45 and just before we finished someone else came in. Well, perhaps we were early. I drive back.

Soir: sit by fire, writing postcards, reading architects letter, sorting pictures, thinking about tomorrows walk, tending fire... rain recommences, heavily, about 11.

Sun 10th

M read to D, its a day for that sort of thing Awake to rain which continues most of day... a quiet day. Mid-a.m. M & I to v'age for paper (shop is open) and drink.

Not a lot happens for the rest... restock fire, drink coffee, play with D, M reads more Mr Men to him.

Around 5 its really time to go out again, & the rain has stopped, so Mfd, D & I go through v'age onto Belvedere path. D awards me gold star for picking up litter. We stop at all the village water troughs. Go far enough along path to get view down to main valley but path is o'grown here & v wet: I carry D a little.

Head back. Enthuse over small patches of blue sky & gorgeous brilliant green patches transient opposite. Look at mystery woods for signs of lake.

Back (gather more wood: there is lots of hazelnut coppice going begging). D bath by Mfd. M has prepared nibbles.

Quiet soir: read some Gill. I'm starting to lose touch. Before bed look out & see promising stars.

Mon 11th

Wake to sun. Sit outside with view again for b'fast. Today we will all go up to Ansabere.

And so a little past 10 we are ready. Lower cp ok, but upper is problematic & one or 2 unpleasant noises under car oblige a turn in a fortuitous niche. MD & I get out to await. D wants to colour in his book. And so with colouring breaks, we progress. M Belette 'points' the way with his paw, aided by D. Over far to the SE, the high mounts have fresh snow.

To ucp & over the bridge. Having hurried past here before I had forgotten how lovely it is on a brilliant fresh day. D throws stones off the bridge & generally has fun, & takes quite a time before he falls in.

Lunch (we got here 12-ish) till 2. I lie on M, D colours, M+J walk on far bank & decide we look like 'rest on flight from eqypt'.

Up to upper meadow, passing grazing cows. Arrive 3:30 ish? Have fun here too: some more food, dams, stones, cascades. Unblock blocked channel & watch flow spread down the dry bed. A wonderful effect: as the water spreads to dry areas, daisies are submerged, and end up straight, nearly under, with the water level above them by surface tension. Essay a few photos, which turn out to be excellent. Leave 5:30. Ucp 6:20 where we meet a herd of transumanting cows. Down 7:10. A splendid days walk, and we all thank D for giving it to us. Makes being a parent worthwhile (along with other things, too).

Back. D bath: J bravely washes his hair. M cooks him fish. I sit outside in the beautiful re-appeared view & read Proust. Continuity of generations: now lost? Sun set slidewise behind Billare but now reemerged.

Inside for dinner: hot veg mix by Mfd (who has done most of the cooking so far).

Tues 12th

Up 7:15. D opens an eye, smiles & sleeps again. B'fast outside. Broken high cloud to E, clear to W. As I leave, D comes downstairs to wake M+J: M. Weasel is boinging.

Lac de Lhurs from above (in fact from the upper Cabane, which is de Pouey, which presumably doesn't soound so silly in French Off 8:15, leave forestry track at corner 9:15. Lac de Lhurs10:15, cab 10:30. Lac borders look somewhat dead since it has an outflow drain not stream & hence the level changes. But from the cab. the lac sparkles with snow peaks cross valley beyond. Cab is modern (well) built, concrete floor, good stove, upstairs sleeping platform, even a 'lobby' to hang wet kit. Upper cab similar (why are there 2?). Leave uc 11:10. No path seen from below but one develops; follow it into the cirque below tdtr until it ends in scree at a cairned boulder at about 2100m at 12:10. Above is obligate snow and I have no axe (let alone crampons); I am alone; I don't know the ground beyond the top; the path has given out & the scree is loose; and I can't see beyond the immeadiate slope. Turn back reluctantly after 3 tentatives on the grounds of indeterminate risk, 12:20. Descend snow then contour round to ridge, 12:45: fine views of y'days meadow, Ansabere cirque & lac (or the lip of) & beyond. But the grass is spiky. And there are ants!

Move, & move again lower, to by tiny lac au tadpoles. Find mummified froglet. Lunch & rest till 2:20. Then down to upper cab (seems an unsatisfactory route) 2:30 & head up Anaye ridge, arrive 3:20. Just at/above level of top of orgues & can see off into the plain, faintly. Shall I go up to the col-to-spain? Hmm.

Painful descent/traverse over steep grass, scree & boulders. To path ~1830 at 4:00. Rest 15. Finish last of food: orange. Always last: hard to peel. Take boots off: I always do at rest stops, M never does: but I have sweaty feet. Clouding over but not low, yet. I have this whole huge valley to myself.


Self portrait looking into a bleak and snowy Spain. That is to say the *picture* is taken looking into Spain; I am looking back into France View up over the chaos at the head of the Anaye valley; to the left the col I took (col des Ourtets) is the one the path leads to; the one on the
right (?col de Anaye ou col de Insolito?) is about 50m lower Over the top (ourtets) & into Spain: 5:10. Its a long climb up. Limestone pavement/rubble. About 2200m. Can see to probable top of col de Lhurs, but I'm not going there. Quite snowy on this side and high. Don't stop long: chill wind, cloud; bleak.

Down the snow-between-my toes. Marmot meadow. 2 dwarfed pines. Melt lake. Still. Back to rock-where-I-joined-path 6:00. More marmots.

Lower cab 6:15. Sun returns. Top of w'fall promentary 6:40: look down over the meadow and beyond. Cows & horses graze but no cars. Sanchese :50. Back 7:30. Mfd hears breaking wood (for fire) & knows I am back. D comes out to say+smile hello.
Twisted roots of very dwarfed piney-type thing

Soir: meal by J; put D to bed with Mr Tickle; sleep by fire. Tired, esp feet. Brief powercut 10.30 caused by storm. Outside: see glow-worm by water trough. Bright green in last 2 segments.

Wed 13th

Wake to sun at 8. Up with D, make coffee, Mfd up too. B'fast outside. Read v6. Watch plateau of Lhers gradually emerge. As does M, who comes outside too. Draw piccy of same.

Reflect that last year D was having after lunch naps, which is why there was more sitting-quietly-out-on-terasse last y.

Wasps nest with sealed cells and grubs; sorry it insisted on focussing on the outside About 10-ish, decide to go into village with D (assuming he agrees, which he does); Mfd+J decide to take him on tour of villages, so agree to meet in L; M walks in with us and we get to cafe as M+J drive in. Walk into v'age painless, indeed pleasant (bar a few horseflies, the first seen, possibly because the cows have now arrived), as D looks at a few things and we renew our aquaintance with the waps nest, which has not enlarged (presumably it won't) but is growing some grubs.

After we've sat a bit, D leaves with M+J and we sit some more, now with paper, till about 12:30 when locals arrive for lunch inside in numbers.

Lunch at home: bread and cheese and pain d'epices and stuff like that. Sun and cloud (2 levels of cloud moving against each other; photo: but that fails to capture the movement).

Read till 3, then M in for yoga and I do photos from yesterday (oddly enough, I was tired y'day soir; quick calc has me doing 2000m of ascent) and today.

Talk about architects & decide to say no: do smaller things.

Walk in to v'age with mfd. Stop by wasps nest again: grub has silked itself over.

View up-valley as Mfd and I return from the hotel meal at about 9:30. The Billare to right; to its left just on the skyline apparently tiny the Aiguille d'Ansabere Meal in hotel. Acceptable: omlette for veggies. Discuss mountain dogs & their habits: they are allowed to roam. For pud I risk creamed prunes: a good choich. Local map (1-10k drawn from aerial photos) shows Lhers as L'hers, Ansabere as Ansabe, etc. Dated 1962, shows gare de l'aspe below in main valley.

At this point the camera decided that its batteries were nearly gone, and I'd forgotten to bring the recharger, so piccies become fewer. I took more with the SLR.

Thurs 14th

Rain during night but sun in morning. B'fast outside peacefully. View down to lhers not quite up to y'day: hazy.

All to Bedous marche about 11. Get cheese, veg, fruit, etc. Get a whole brebis #16 (number reflects age; they are #'d in order, but we don't know absolute age) from M. (or rather, we suspect, Senor) big moushache. I get a sensia24 100 & only discover its out of date (by 2 months) when I get back. Find glasses to replace the one we broke, new ping-pong balls, superglue to fix the shower shelf edge I broke, but nothing to replace the 3 bowls we've smashed.

Lunch followed by v6 (I *must* be getting close by now) & a bowl of cherries. Sheep are back in our field but no sign of grass being cut, though it is lower.

[carni plant is grassette commune, pinguicula vulgaris L.; strange purple fleur might be pédiculaire des bois, pedicularis sylvatica L.]

A little before 5 M&I drive off to look at stuff: ex-rail line etc. Go via lhers side. First of many stops to look at view & photo Lescun.

M notices a 'Borde Bayé': follow path then dodgy bridge, find a meadow, kept but being encroached by briars, but no houses.

Finally get down to valley, & stop at fishermans bridge. Go through rail tunnel, 1903 or thereabouts. Seems taller and wider than necessary. Partly around where the tunnel goes, about 10 feet above the water level, is a built path, but a quite minimal one, of dry stone. Who made it? The workmen of the tunnel? But then why restrict themselves to dry stone? Is it older? Then why on that side of the river? The other, road side is much easier.

Down further to electro station, and end up going through LEES-athas, then lees-ATHAS, then OSSE-en-aspe, where we stop at supermarche on the off chance of bowls (no). Poster on door: Reouvrons the rail route all to gather and demonstrate in Oloron on the 17th, which is the day after we leave.

Now head up back (via bedous) to Etsaut, where we will find the nice village square, the view up to Borce, and a choice of cafes: we (I) choose the Randonneur because we went into the other last year. Notices at the Mairie: the roads must be named because the administration insists on it; so a committee is to be formed; the names will be bilingual in Bearnaise; a géomètre is running through the commune updating the cadastral maps and everyone is to be nice to him.

Back, only 1/4 hour late at 7:45. D just finishing eating: Mfd proudly displays the exploded and burnt (with real flames) potato he cooked in the microwave. Do some colouring with D while M cooks; D bathes and I shower "together" downstairs. Then D to bed (no need to do wart tonight, it fell off yesterday when M took the plaster off, faster than expected), dinner, and now post-dinner sit on sofa by fire.

Fri 15th

Last full day :-(. D comes in, says "don't ask me if my bed is dry" & snuggles up. Goes downstairs to M+J: bounces: hits head: needs mummy & comes back up. Up 8. B'fast outside. Today is sun but lower down mist: lhers is lost in light: try to capture in photos. M sees a hare running, briefly.

Two blue butterflies (blue when open) beautifully symmetric as long as you don't look too closely at what they are eating Decide to finally do belvedere walk. Set off with M 9:40. Into v'age; past church; out along path. Below, big birds circle, then rise. Pernocopters?. View deep down valley. Butterflies. As we go round Toyal becomes a bit of an eyesore. See turns of road we took y'day. Wood we climb through is oaks, unusual round here (aarh, you don't get much o' that round 'ese paarts, sor...). Lots of wind at top (retreat into wood for biere) but none lower. Sadly, no view down-val to Bedous: prob needed to continue a bit before heading up.

Back to v'age 12:10, to cafe. Just as I finish & go to photo shut house meet mjd coming in, unparralleled exemplars of lateness.

Sit on bench while D 'tidies up' drains. Home, slowly enough that mj catch us up, just as we've seen a snake (which turns out to be a couleuvre a collier, and thus safe; incidentally I discover than Gene Wolff did not invent the amphisbene) in the roadside stream: about 20cm, black, with a white collar. Others go on: D & I stop to inspect wasps nest (find 2 others further on, all on vertical rock). Mme wasp puts her head into various cells, shakes her tail, stares at the camera, & flies off.

Home: 2:15: because D said he was so tired he needed to be carried, we agreed this meant he was so tired it was time for a nap. This lasts 1/2h while we lunch. MJ off to look at sarrance/cette.

MJ return: they bring with them the info that Buses bedous -> oloron 12:16->:45 & 13:41->14:10. I have been out collecting wood, and picking up the outdoor chairs which had been blowing about. Diary 2001/06 #a (15-; Lescun)

Meanwhile we had just about screwed up our courage to go out for a walk up the Aloun, delayed by unseasonable weather (huge gusts of wind; a little rain) and M has decided that it would be nice to come, and now that the wind has gone down D will come too. So we take the car up to ?Anapia-Lhurs? parking 5 mins away to spare us the road walk, and head off up the unknown Aloun, which is the closest hill to us all these last 3 years... leave the road for a track and the track for a bracken slope that steepens, into a wood, discover traces of an old track that winds up, easing the effort of carrying D on my shoulders for the path (or lack thereof) is not suited to him, and we are discovering why this walk is not in the books... emerge onto a shoulder with views onto the-way-up-to-lhurs, and head up a ridge of burnt heather and bracken, quite steep. Arrive at a summit-ish bit, and declare that this is one of the two humps: D is quite happy, and M is to rest. While M and D picnic on the 2 squares of chocolate left, I head up the steepening ridge which leads me to the northern and highest of the two humps; the southern and slihtly lower is a steep ridge away and must await another year.

This is a superb viewpoint for the valley; uninterrupted views down, and even up to Sanchese. However, there is a veil of clouds and a photograph would not be photogenic. M calls; time to go back; I return. D sad because he wants to go up too, but we calm this and go down, D walking initially 'cos its safer, then I carry him down, the path turning out to be easy when sticking to the old road.

Back only a little after our promised 7:30: a quick shower (D comes up too) then dinner, extended by numerous pudding courses to eat up the ice creams, cherries, melon. The reptiles book has a wonderful picture of a toad attempting to copulate with a nonplussed salamander; the text explains that the impulse is so strong that errors sometimes occur; we all laugh, except D who is baffled.

D to bed; I do this; M does tsunami puzzles; Mfd adds up our spending (£350 for all of us on food over last 2 weeks); J packs.

For backup, diary & piccies (yes I got past 3000 on this holiday) up to 3066 goes onto clik! Up to 3178 onto 32m cf.

Outside, the field is stiil not cut! It feels a bit as though something is missing:we're early. Ditto bergers, who are not up in their cabins. But D got to be introduced to the small sheep dog when the woman came to shoo them out of our field: the dog was only an apprentice, she carried it, and was showing it sheep.

Sat 16th

Last day. Up early 7:30 (how corrupt we are: 7:30 is become early...): outside in sun and chill - on the whole it has been cooler this time, otw a good thing - others up 8 - d awakened, sad-because-tired, 8:30. Starts to cloud up: I had intended to do group photo y'day but do today, under the terasse roof and with the camera shaded by the umbrella. Mme B is a l'heure, and after a little chat M+J take us down (they insisted! we could have got a taxi like last year. But this is, in truth, easier). Rain, as we say goodbye to the valley.

Down to Bedous, and in the bar Handaye: cafe, and (at D's request) they turn on the pinball and we play, D settling for watching me and M. Also they have a computer spot-the-diff game.

Lunch: Creperie - M. le Tortue chats to M le Creperie, & others are there too. Strumfs on the wall-tv (not so sure thats a good idea). Read leaflet about the gare Canfranc. Rain continues. Have we been careless and missed the bus? We are a minute late at the busstop, perhaps, our watches disagree.

D waits in line for the wonderful merry-go-round. The bottom of the waited-for Fusee (rocket) can be seen at left But no: bus arrives. By Oloron, the weather is better. D and I look at trains and track, while M buys our ticket and decides we'll leave now (2:30) rather than at 6. Pau: the hotel de funicular is shut, even though we booked a room!?! Silly them, how annoying. Also faced with dilemma-of-niceness: should we go get one elsewhere our are we bound to wait and see if this will re-open? Hey ho, go up funic, and discover wonderful merry-go-round - wildly impressive menagerie of art (catamini) - plane, liner, balloon, sub, rocket, octopus, locust, cello, little rockets, pterodactyl, tyranosaur, and on an inner track, not apparently working, a snail & caterpillar - all beautifully made. Music appropriate - sounding of olden times & wonky machinery. How long does a ride last? I time it at 3.15. All this in the square-bordered-by-square-trees above the funicular. Nice wooden deckchairs for the parents to sit and watch on.

D wildly keen on it and has to be paced. Off to nearby cafe for a rest. One more go, then to Galeries to buy D a toy for the train: settle on modelling clay and small cheap digger set. On the way pass hotel commerce: this seems to be a good choice: we'll take it. Back to hotel room: leave M+D and have a walk, to cathedral (the one with truncated towers) and end up visting, it seems, all quarters except the one I intended (shops and restos). From chateau ramparts see the river and go down to the huge weir, walk over and back the bridge, though I'm now late. Why do they have such a big weir? Posters: tonight, by happy coincidence, is "boulevard en fete". Come back up via tour de la monnaie ascenceur (Pau seems to go in for free ways to get up the ramparts).

Back to m-g-r, only a little after my 6:30 target, D is in file d'attente pour la fusee: and wildly sweet he looks too (attentive; not totally sure of the situation but quite sure he must stay in his chair in the queue to get what he definitely wants): observe that rocket goes up twice in a ride. Draw a in the q - then frustration! - feel the need and run for cameras - but only manage to squeeze 1 out of 950, and have no film for the 801, argh! D gets his go on the rocket but then doesn't want to come out, and has to be cajoled and prised out. Instantly he rejoins q.

I run off looking for film, fruitlessly, and sillyly: should just have stayed to watch D and the m-g-r; get back just in time to see D get in to go up again: but what is this water (D's denial) - up he goes: wave! - down again - oops it was wee: back to hotel. Resto: walk around and see the Phonecian (same as 1st year), good again.

After D and I have finished dinner go for little walk and leave M in peace, down funicular (open late tonight): hotel d' still shut. Walk up under to watch wheels: distant rainbow: see/hear 3 musical groups.

Back to resto and pick up m - to hotel - M shower then me but D fails to sleep - becomes tiresome, or maybe it would be fairer to say that I lose patience. D: "mummy, is there a french postman in france?" Apropos nothing. Later: "weasel's a lady".

Get up 10:30 to walk to station - m-g-r busier than ever, all rides full. The boulevards en fete is clearly a great success, there are crowds: we mingle and listen to music briefly: down to station, its a warm night, sit quiet on p'f'm, listen to music above. Onto train, - d explores the compartment, the folding sink, especially the potty. I have to restrain my leaning-out-of-the-window to avoid teaching him bad habits.

Sun 17th

Sleep well o'night, to A'z 7:15-ish, D wakes slowly & we have fun again with the potty.

Down the rer for double decker, C then B. C is fine but B single, D would like to wait forever for a double-decker, is in tears, 'let me out' he says and beats on the doors.

GdN - bfast upper Alize (d rejects chairs lower).

Discover a thing calling itself a TGV but looking like an ES. Buy rail passion special tgv med (which confirms this rebranding) ubt manage to restrain myself from getting the tgv med supplement. Suddenly realise we have 5 mins left to the 20 mins deadline: go to passports. For on very obvious reason the French side are checking, which is unusual. Sadly (frustratingly) they are doing it v slowly and apparently inefficiently... I tap passports on the counter in a get-on-with-it way, and get lecture from the customs officer, which I am pleased to understand. But he doesn't trouble himself to explain *why* they are indulging in this nonsense (by contrast, the normally more stringent UK checks - this is after all for leaving France and going to the UK - wave past these suspect people. But anyway, we get on ok.

Announcement, from Tim the Train manager & Colin the Colleague! Mr Weasel has to be confiscated for being naughty, since D refuses to accept respnsibility for his actions. The train is near full, so I sit outside - which is to say in the doors-and-luggage-space. Beautiful pics in Rail Passio of the trains, viaducts, etc... My turn with d:we play with the modelling clay & bulldozer, and have fun making trees, a frog, a turtle, etc.

Ponder: Pau: the day was a success: had most of pm there & all ok till 10: indeed not enough time to look around.

Ponder: reading RP makes me enthusiastic: would it be fun going to watch tgv line being built - but the TGVs are the sexy side: really more use is cam->paris or london o'night->nice etc.

London: phone D+A but D is in Tokyo and A is going out. U'g'd - D cute with weasel: tail wipes window. KC:trains in slight disarray, it being sunday: bus stev-letch. Consume smiley-face-biscuits.

Cambridge, via our bus diversion. Home via huge (£50) shop in Nasreem Dar, at a bout 3-ish, and sit and eat and look at garden (overgrown but OK).

And there we have the end of the holiday. Diary 2001/06 #e (18-)

Mon 18th

Work, busy. Have honour of appointment to web committee.

Soir: bg: kill Love etc but then baffled.

M to yoga.

Tues 19th

Lovely morn. D wakes quietly & goes downstairs, later discovered to have eaten a whole pack of smarties. Irritating wetness persists. B'fast outside.

Swim 27.5, 29, 30, 28.5. Cb1, arj... same old round again.

Pm: put 'roof' over hacked-out bit by soil pipe though this turns out to be tricky due to lack of space: ends as jigsaw. Rick+ewan delvier paper and stop for a while: Rick identifies a purple weed as a good wild plant he wants to grow so we dig up a sod containing one of our many examples: when finished realise that the pond wire was just underneath...

Wed 20th

Busy-at-work. Pm with D to pool (though he would rather have visited C+H) and pool cafe, then cycle home. Puncture so have to walk from dog-leg-bed, where M ovedtakes us.

Soir: GP pre-AGM chez H.

Thurs 21st

Today is solstice. Work. Yoga. M busy so no lunch.

Cb1: a belgian beer club is supplying low-alc (<2.5%) to schools because it is less sugary than coke.

Head home. Stop at NB to look at her bees; they seem fine, stop for coffee and chat, Sophie there too.

BG: Find another wardstone.

Soir: M does appraisal forms; she has 4 to do, its 10pm and she's nearly done one...

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