Monday 2nd October
It’s October! Whatever happened to September?
The weather has been quite un-extraordinary this month – showers and storms mixed in with sun, hot days and warm evenings. The vines have mostly been stripped of their fruits and life and traffic is returning to normal in the PO as the last of the tourists throw in the towel for the season and return to reality. There is now an alternative route to crossing Le Boulou on the way to Céret/Amelie, but it is not very well sign-posted and many people haven’t cottoned on yet – there is simply a banner on the roundabout saying ‘Nouvel itinéraire Vallespir – Espagne – ouvert’ If you didn’t know what you were looking for you wouldn’t know what it was!! However, it does relieve the rush hour traffic and should make quite a difference next summer as driving through Le Boulou from June onwards used to be nightmare.

I have just returned from a quick trip to Leeds (apologies to any of my friends who I didn’t get to see – time management just evades me at the moment) and the journey back to Barcelona cost me a fortune! Firstly, I was told that my suitcase was 6k overweight so I spent twenty minutes trying to juggle round my hand luggage and contents of offending suitcase, only to find that I had only reduced it by 2k and had to either abandon my M & S curries or pay twenty pounds. The curries stayed. Next, going through security, they confiscated my perfume, make-up, lipsil and a special bottle of miracle stuff for which I paid thirty squid on the promise that it would get rid of the bags under my eyes. Depressed and baggy eyed, I wandered through into the duty free lounge to be told by another passenger that I could go back out and post it back to myself. This I did. However, coming back in I had to go through security again and this time they found my face cream and the new perfume that I had just bought in the duty free lounge to replace the one they had confiscated the first time!! No amount of insisting that I had just bought it in the duty free lounge (along with a bottle of water, still unopened which they also confiscated) made any difference. All in all, the journey cost me an extra £140 in excess baggage and loss of lotions and potions. Quel bugga! I do agree with security in the sky – I know it’s for our own good – but the loss of the eye bag lotion was the last straw. To add insult to injury, I was so flustered by the double search the second time round that I went through to the duty free lounge without my boots and had to come back for them (you have to take off your shoes/boots and put them in a container to get through security)

Olivier’s Mum and Dad have been staying for a week (most of the time of which I was away) and have not been very comfortable in our studio which boasts nothing but a bed! No bathroom, no decoration, no anything really. The builders finished all the big stuff the day before their arrival, leaving Olivier to decorate the room, tile and install the bathroom, fit on the doors, waterproof the Italian shower, and various other odd jobs….. in 24 hours! Lazy man – he didn’t even get half of it done! You just can’t get the staff these days!!

Saturday 14th October
As always, and according to sod’s law, we have had a week of OK weather, sun, wind and plenty of rain, whilst our friends from Leeds have been here, but on their departure yesterday – KPOW! Summer is back, the sky is a bright and beautiful blue, the sun is already hot at 10 am and why can it never be like this when people are actually staying with us!! To add insult to injury, this morning there was snow on the Canigou, the beginning of the prettiest tableaux as the PO shrugs into its autumn coat, and Alan, our friend and professional photographer, has missed it by a day!

Anyway, I suppose the weather could have been worse as my friend Rosy did manage to swim most days, (with trusty Bisou at her side on most occasions) – mad dogs and Englishwomen eh?

We have a wierd and wriggly problem at the moment which has led me to consult the Oracle. (for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about the Oracle is Roger from Le Soler, expert on anything that wriggles, squirms or squelshes.) For the past three days, we have had these kind of catterpillar/maggot type of critturs on the ceiling of our kitchen. They don’t seem to be maggots as they have a sort of web/trail and seem to move all over the ceiling. Each day we get rid of them and another four or five appear. We can’t work out where they come from – all I know is that I’m terrified of hearing an early morning plop in my cup of tea! (How very British!) Well, good ol’ Roger came up with a possible answer to our problem.

“Well well.. looks as if you have been infested by the Mediterranean Flour Moth! [http://www.pestproducts.com/mediterranean_flour_moth->http://www.pestproducts.com/mediterranean_flour_moth]
This means somewhere in your kitchen you will find (maybe in a forgotten corner at the back of a cupboard or similar) an old bag of flour or rice or grain or even bread which has been opened and not resealed. In fact it isn’t wise to keep even an unopened paper or non-plastic bag of flour anywhere. The moths can bite through paper such as flour bags.
Antidote: First you must find the source.. as mentioned above.. and get it outside the house. Preferably burn it (e.g. the open flour bag, etc.) or douse it copiously in a neutral container with “eau javel” and cover it for 24 hours.
Second – look for the moths as described on the site. Grey are the Mediterranean ones Brown are the Indian ones.
Anyway, best to follow the elimination procedures as described on the above site..
(Personally, I would catch a couple of geckos outside and put them in the kitchen – they would snap up all insects, but I guess you would have more problem with the gecko lizards than with the insects?)”

Yes, I don’t think we’ll go for the lizard solution just yet Roger thank you. Zealously following to the word Roger’s usually very sound advice, we have this morning chucked away every single box of rice, pasta, cereal, powdered soup……. If it’s slightly suspect it’s hit the road (or should I say the bin) and the cupboard is now virtually bare! Will let you know how it goes. I feel itchy scratchy all the time and derive scant pleasure watching my dear brave husband scrape them into a plastic glass each morning as I sing ‘Wake up Maggot I think I’ve got something to say to you’. Rod stewart clearly suffered from the same problem – maybe I should contact him.

Monday 16th October
I’m starving! We’ve thrown away all the cereal so I had to make do with a satsuma for breakfast. It looks like a trip to Champion or Intermarché is on the cards today. So far, all is quiet on the creepy crawly front although I have put my foot down on keeping a plastic glass with maggots and butterflies in it, upside down on the bar, just next to where we prepare the food. Am I being unreasonable?

We bought a new bed last week by the way. One of those really comfortable new type of matresses that make you look forward to going to bed from about 7 o’clock onwards! We got it from the bed place on the roundabout of the Intermarché at Pollestres and were very pleased with the price. Olivier is one of those sensible people who always does loads of research before he buys anything, unlike me who just says ‘let’s get it’ and frequently lives to regret it. In this case, his research compared very well with Auchan and several other shops, they deliver within a few days AND delivery is free, unlike many places around here. They have a special offer at the moment of good quality double bed base and mattress for 350€ – an excellent price. Oh… and no, I don’t get any commission for mentioning them but he is a very nice man and took out an ad in PO Life, which made me rather happy! He also said that he would give discount to anybody mentioning PO Life which made me double-happy!

Yesterday, we went to the Salon de la décoration et ameublement at the Parc des Expositions in Perpignan. My only comment is “bof!” (a great word in any circumstances but particularly suitable here.) In fact, it was quite simply a load of the furniture shops in Perps moving their stock into the big hall – no new ideas and few demonstrations. Hower, Olivier did manage to find himself a massage armchair from which we had difficulty tearing him away. It was one of those toning chairs that tosses, shakes and squeezes all your bits, including your ankles. We decided not get one as it might be a bit awkward to drink your cup of tea in front of the telly, whilst bobbing up and down and shaking your tail feathers!

Finally, talking (as I was) about PO Life, the next one comes out tomorrow, which is always very exciting, but it might just be the last. Our new printer, whilst very competent on the technical front, is a rather unpleasant, arrogant and rude woman who treats her extremely nice staff like s–t! They are not allowed to chat to customers or talk amongst themselves and it is like walking into a Dickensian novel. Olivier, of course, tells me that it is nothing to do with me, and that I should just ignore it but I can’t, I can’t I can’t! I hate seeing injustice unless it’s me doing it!! (for which I can always find bucketfulls of good excuses) So, possibly for the last time, here are a few pages of the next PO Life, out tomorrow in OT’s, supermarkets, boulangeries…
As it is a non profit making mag, we constantly need to find sponsors or advertisers to fund it, and I am the worst salesperson I know! I just want to give it all away – hate talking money! The printers also help to sell our ads and distribute the mag so I might well be biting off my nez to spite my visage but it’s the principle (I think!)

Saturday 21st October
Another lovely day, all blues and greens, very warm and summery – feels like autumn is light years away!<doc3596|left>The leaves remain green and cling determinedly to the trees and the colours of summer are still splashed all over the canvas, firmly holding the warm autumn browns and golds at bay. There is no longer snow on the Canigou so I assume it must be warm everywhere. I took these photos this morning on a walk behind the ‘Thermes’ next to Le Boulou. It’s fantastic up there – there are so many different walking possibilites, long and short, flat and hilly. I keep meaning to put them on the site in [walks->http://www.anglophone-direct.com/-Walks-in-the-Pyrenees-Orientales-], but haven’t got round to it yet.

Lulu had his first experience of feeding a baby this week when cousins Fabien and Nadia came to stay with their 6 week old daughter, Maelle. He was terrified throughout that he was going to drop her, and the look of relief on his face when Nadia took her back was comic. He was particularly shocked to find out that she had no teeth, and a little surprised that she isn’t walking yet at nearly SIX WEEKS old!

On the home front, we seem to be moth and maggot free so it looks like Roger was spot on with his diagnosis. This guy really does know so much about creepy crawlies and bitey, stingy, sucky, yeuchy beasts….. merci Roger, tu es mon oracle!

Monday 23rd October
The weather forecast says that it is raining but it ‘aint! In fact, it is absolutely fantastic here – similar to standing in front of a warm hairdryer! We actually put the air conditioning on last night it was so warm – late October! Wow!

Sunday 29th October
Ooooh! We had a little bit of a drama this morning – quite exciting in retrospect but a little daunting at the time! For our morning walk we chose the heights of Maureillas where some fabulous walks will take you all the way up to Las Illas, or join other tracks towards le Boulou, les Cluses, Le Perthus…. Leaving the road to join the first part of the path, we did notice a parked car with a sign on telling us to respect nature etc. Fair enough – I agree with that. However, we were confronted half an hour later by an angry chasseur telling us that we had no right be be there “oui oui” he said “Eet eez publique land und a marked footpazz but vee are juste keeling a vilt boar und you are not velcome ere” (he must have been Franco-German)
In fact, we’d wandered merrily right into the middle of a whole gaggle of the buggas, hot on the hooves of a poor leedle peegy and could well have ended eating Bisou pie tonight. They shoot with real bullets as opposed to pellets and are totally unaware of their surroundings once the scent is up and the chase is on. Admittedly, the chap we happened upon was guarding the footpath, and warning any idiots who ventured towards the killing ground that it was probably a bad idea. In order to avoid becoming a feature mounted on somebody’s wall, we had to take a three kilometre detour, during the first part of which the baying of the dogs and the screaming of men and pig took away any pleasure or chance of appreciating the tranquility of Mother Nature.

On a lighter note, olives are ripe for the picking right now, so Lulu and I picked a couple of pocketfulls and I am now going to have a go at preparing them. I have been told that black olives must first be pricked with a thin needle to let the juice out and then buried in salt. I think a little more research may well be needed!

The weather continues to be amazing – around 26 – 27°, a little cloudy compared to the clear blue skies of yesterday, but fantastic all the same.

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