Tuesday 8th September
I absolutely LOVE September. It is my favourite time of the year – hot dry days and cooler mornings and evenings. Almonds and figs just begging to be picked and scoffed as you walk around the vineyards and cherry orchards and oh, that smell. Lavender and mint, with a hint of coconut… Fantastic!

The light is amazing, azure blue skies, sweet mountain air now that the roads have cleared of nose to tail traffic, and a feeling of expectancy in the air. Work and school have started up again for the rentrée and promises are made that THIS year will be THE year of hard work, better preparation, greater success…. which usually lasts for a week or two at least. Better than nothing! Anyway, most people are ‘dynamised’ after a month or more of holidays and the future looks rosy! I am SO glad I am not a teacher any more.
So what’s been going on in my P-O life recently? Sooooo much that I’m permanently giddy! Where to start? Well, have met loads of people and made some really nice new friends this summer. Dinners out, dinners in, beach lunches and bbq….

Every day continues to be an adventure and I never stop thanking whoever is watching over me for my lucky, lucky life.

And I have become a biker chick!! Threats of divorce, moving into the spare room, or making him eat my horrendous baking did not deter Olivier from going on and on and on and on…. ’til finally I gave in and let him buy me a helmet. (and some cute little red gloves of which I have already become quite fond)

We headed for Argeles where we were meeting friends for dinner at the Papallonas and I have to admit, he seems like quite a safe driver. Still don’t like going round corners. Definitely not into this ‘leaning into the corner’ business and not mad about getting all trussed up on a boiling hot evening….. but it could have been worse. And there is an added bonus – not a hint of an eye bag or a double chin once the lid has been closed. I felt like quite a pretty young thing!
Last week, we went scuba diving to Banyuls. This is of course the royal ‘we’ as I just went out in the boat to take photos. Olivier used to dive when he was younger, much younger, so he had all the gear. Lulu quite liked the idea of wearing Dad’s old gear until we were in the boat and offshore, and he discovered that it was virtually impossible to get it on, and then even harder to get it off.

The lady boat captain obliged by pulling and shoving until she squeezed him in… and out… but he wasn’t a happy bunny as he was the main on-boat entertainment for around 10 minutes – not a good place to be at his age!!

In the end, he really enjoyed it. Olivier, on the other hand, experienced diver that he is, received a sharp reminder that he didn’t actually wish to take up diving again, when he climbed back into the boat and treated us all to a kaleidoscope of projectile vomiting. He’s thinking of trying kitesurf next. Watch out below!

Wednesday16th September
I fell off my bike again yesterday. Ouch! This time, I did actually remember to unclick my shoes from the pedals before I hit the gravel, so only scraped both my knees and burnt the skin of one side of one leg, along with a few defence grazes on my palms as I tried to prevent the double chin hitting the dirt. I am wondering if I should be looking at crocheting or knitting as a safer way to spend my days! Nope. I’d probably manage to stab myself through the heart with a knitting needle, so I think I will stick to the extreme sport of cycling – at least it keeps my little legs busy!
Went up to the Col d’Ouillat (despite several cow-in-the-middle-of-the-road obstacles) just below the Pic de Neolous with friends for a bbq sauvage at the weekend. What a cracking afternoon. The weather was, and continues to be, September perfection, and I now know what it must have been like to be one of the Famous Five who used to set out for picnics with lashings and lashings of ginger beer (we didn’t bother with the ginger bit of course), ropes, treasure maps, dastardly plans to foil the local cows…….

One of our friends is very very knowledgable about the region and regaled us with stories of smugglers and customs officers, secret signs (look at the rockpool and writing and look out for the whole story in the next PO Life).

A fabulous lunch of steak and chicken and sausage, delish salads followed by everyone’s homemade desserts (apart from me cos I cant bake!) and a drive up to the highest spot, Neolous, 1257m.

As you approach the top, you have views of the the whole of the department of the Pyrenees-Orientales on your left, and northern Spain following the coastline past Rosas, on your right. You can’t usually drive all the way up there but we know all the ‘right people’ …. nudge, nudge, wink wink, say no more!

Although quite misty with light rain threatening, the view really is quite breathtaking. Emotional also, if you pause to remember. Only 50 years ago, hundreds of Jews, and political refugees were some of the small minoriy of escapees from the horror of the Occupation. They struggled accross frozen mountains, on foot, often poorly clothed, fear in every heart…. hoping for safety ahead for themselves, their families, but leaving behind their whole lives. It is humbling to walk in their foosteps.

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