MOUNTAIN MAMA IN LES ANGLES

 

 

EARLY MARCH

I know it has been some time but covered in snow isn’t the most inspiring thing to get you writing.
Anyway…… here goes

So as we go slowly towards spring one feels that one should at least have a bit of umph in one’s step. Not up here. We still have tons of snow and as I look out of my window it is snowing yet again.

Last week was the worst, it snowed day and night for six days. The snowplough moved all the snow in our area all down to the end of our road and made it impossible to get out. Mike dug channels to the barns and a channel up the side of the house Not easy to walk because the snow got trodden down and things were dangerously slippery. Needless to say I didn’t go out. There is an odd feeling that having an ankle full of metal plates and screws that if you fall you would bend the wretched things. So I chickened out and stayed at home.

No doubt you will have read about the terrible accident that happened in Les Angles last Thursday morning. A nightmare like that in our village has saddened everyone. The write-ups in the newspapers are not always accurate and the village is full of Chinese whispers. Basically nobody knows what happened yet.

The only thing that I understand is that the young driver is in a bad way and has been sedated ever since. The rest will possibly come out slowly. I had read comments made in English newspapers and really people should stay quiet if all they can write are comments about the driver, the training and the machinery. The machine they were using has an automatic cut off. The drivers are trained and the machinery is well maintained.
Our snow guys are hardworking terrific chaps and I hated seeing cruel remarks concerning them.

We have been very busy. As some of you know Mike is an IML. [International Mountain Leader] and we were asked if we could put up some aspirants who were coming out to do some pre assessment work.

Firstly we thought we had managed to rent a gite as ours were full. But then we found that the family who own it were coming out the same week.So being either noble or foolish I said “of course they can come in the house.”

Well that lead to the hardest thing I have done in years. All the furniture had to be moved. Beds had to moved , we slept in the linen room and the house was full of people I didn’t know, who talked about nothing else but trees, fungus, avalanche probing….. and my dining table was covered in cones, twigs and .leaves.

Tea was made in copious amounts and the enormous amount of studying was to be seen to be believed. I don’t think people realise just how much work goes on behind the scenes when qualifying for  the correct  and safe backgrounds, leaders and guides have to do. Mike studied and trained for years as these people have.

In fact last night I realised that I had started to glaze over and at times I felt I had double glazed. Can I cope with much more I ask myself?

Now we have another group in and some friends of Mikes in the barn, so last night, on the spur of the moment I decided to cook for everyone. When will I learn to keep quiet?

Oh I do look forward to spring, I need the sun and some warmth. And talking about warmth my oil man has just arrived and filled my tank and of course has turned off my heating.

Many years ago a French lady who lived in pur old village said to me living in the mountains in the summer is easy. Living in the mountains in the winter if a nightmare. Even getting to the log pile is an expedition with coats hats gloves etc sheer madness.

Take care folks, the end of the winter is in sight……I think.
Also a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year

 

LATE MARCH

Winter is still with us all up here in Les Angles. It has snowed all day today and the visibility is vile. Even when we were supposed to have an eclipse it didn’t make much difference.

We Brits are supposed to talk only of the weather but I find that the locals are moaning now about the length of the winter. It’s cold, nearly spring, it’s windy  etc etc. Maybe it has rubbed off from us.

Is anyone else fed up of reading the paper on line and seeing selfies of women in their knickers? What has happened to people that they have this weird obsession with taking their clothes off and then complaining that they have rude comments on their emails. And what about “heavily” pregnant women. When has all this rubbish become news? Maybe I’ll add a selfie of me in my pants. Or not….it’s too cold.

Recently we have been hosting quite a few aspirant IMLs [International Mountain Leaders] they have been going out on training days with Mike and sometimes with Ian for St Pierre Del Forcat. They have spent hours digging snow pits, lowering each other down snow banks and looking for animal tracks. My dining table was covered every evening with samples of twigs, cones and bits of leaves to be poured over during the evening in the hopes of identifying different species of flora and fauna. The amount of work that they put in to taking their assessment for their qualification is immense.

When Mike did his qualifications I really hadn’t expected it to be such a “multi knowledge “ affair. Apparently   in France it is equivalent to a degree. It takes years and costs a fortune. I spoke to one young couple who said to get them this far it had cost them in the region of £15000. Because it is spread over time you tend not to add it up. So it does seem sad that when a group are taken out and are charged €25 each for the time and the knowledge that they are not always happy with the cost. If only they knew how much goes on behind the scenes and how much preparation takes place.

Moving on, I found a crocus in my garden yesterday. Yes a real one not a plastic one. It is remarkable because the snow had only just melted from that spot. OK so today it is covered again but its bright little head brought a smile to my face for one glorious moment.

This  week the “village people” came to repair my fence. Every year the snow plough pushes tons of snow up against it, every year it breaks, every year we strengthen it and the men come and put it back together. You may think we should get a metal fence but it would spoil the routine.

So as I drag myself into spring where most of you have already probably sprung, here’s hoping we can all look forward to a long hot summer. Oh just the thought makes me smile. Goodness that is twice I’ve smiled in this mumble. Not like me at all.
So until the next time.
Take care of yourselves
Xx

 

Jenny’s husband, Mike,  is a qualified International Mountain Leader/Accompagnateur en Montagne and is one of the most experienced leaders in France, having walked and climbed in the Alps & Pyrénées for over 40 years.
Resident in Les Angles, Mike will give you a day to remember so don’t forget your cameras!
For safety reasons the group size is limited, so book your place early

Contact Mike & Jenny Rhodes on 04 68 04 37 28 or email: mike.rhodes@free.fr

 

If you would like to visit Les Angles, Jenny and Mike offer comfortable accomodation in their delightful barn conversion apartments on the edge of the old village of Les Angles.

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