Saturday 1st December
Arrrgggghhhh! It’s December! How did that happen? I’m sure that last Christmas was only a few weeks ago!
I finally had my hair cut a little last week as I was beginning to look like the wild woman of Borneo (whoever she was). Olivier said I looked like a scruffier version of our dog, Bisou, which I took as a compliment as she is very cute. Apparently we also have the same dog breath since I have gone back on my diet! I had my hair cut by Stephane at the hairdressing salon called Ladyboy in the Intermarché in Pollestres. Very nice chap with a smattering of English, who allowed me to ramble on happily and still kept a smile on his face. My Dad didn’t like it so I know it must suit me (seeds of adolescent rebellion which still remain firmly planted within)

The TGV line appears to be advancing quite well considering the tiny three year delay to its debut run! Took a bike ride to Corneilla a couple of weeks ago and was quite impressed by the size of the hole borer at the foot of Les Chartreuses on the Le Boulou – Argelès road. It’s a big booger, it has to be said! It never fails to amaze me the lack of security in France around building sites and heavy machinery. Not only was there nothing to prevent me riding straight up to it but if I hadn’t been such a softie, I could have climbed on and gone for a ride. In Leeds that would have been loaded onto a lorry and carted off for sale to the Iraqis long ago!

Last week we went to the Lebanese Auberge du Cèdre (on the main road between Perpignan and Céret) for lunch. Very pleasant and a little bit different – loads of little dishes or couscous or other interesting choices – but certainly not cheap! We actually went with Mark and Louise Sayers of Med and Mountain properties in Perpignan. What a nice couple! If you are selling or looking for a house or just need some property advice, I really can recommend them as a couple who will go that extra kilometre. (We’re not moving by the way – it was purely social) The owner of the Auberge du Cèdre offered us a complimentary bottle of Lebanese wine and I must admit that even I, who judge wine purely by its colour, (ie red or white) was quite impressed. If you go that way, it’s worth popping in and getting a couple of bottles to taste (he didn’t tell me the price – I didn’t ask) but he said that he would give 10% reduction to anyone who bought a few bottles of it. Its name???? Um…. I’ll get back to you on that!

This morning we parked behind the casino on the Le Perthus road after Le Boulou, and walked up into the mountain. What a day! What a view! What a feeling of ‘bien etre’! It’s a fabulous walk – one that I will put on the site in the near future. You can see the sea on a clear day such as today and it’s like being on top of the world. Of course, Saturday and Sunday from November to February are not really good days to go walking through the mountains and wooded areas of the P-O, particularly if you have pink skin, a curly tail and an oink in your accent.

No, these are the days of the wild boar hunts, when the hills resound with dogs baying, bells ringing (hunting dogs must all wear bells) and men screaming for blood and it can actually be very frightening if you find yourselves in the middle of a ‘battue’ as we seem do quite regularly! They place men all around the hunt area so that if the poor ‘sanglier’ manages to slip through the kill area, there is a big man with a gun ready to pop him off. Well Bisou snuffled out a hunter with her keen sense of smell, honed to a fine point by picnics and sandwich boxes over the years, and shoved her snout into his rucksack. “Ne tirez pas” (don’t shoot) I shouted with hands up and a nervous smile (Never tell a man with a gun what you really think of him!) and true to the good old French sense of humour, he launched into a long dialogue of why he wasn’t sitting there waiting to shoot people and animals……. I was only joking mate!

Saturday 8th December
The weather continues to be pretty amazing for December in Britain, but fairly typical for December over here. It feels like a long time since we’ve had any rain. Mornings and evenings are chilly but most days this week have been warmish and sunny and some have been positively spring-like! Unusually for this time of year, there is very little or no snow on the Canigou, which does not bode well for Christmas skiers or more importantly for next year’s water supply!
On a trip into Perpignan yesterday, we were continually assaulted by wind blown sprinkle spray as we drove past Fly and But ever onwards towards Darty….. and Perpignan. I can’t remember the grass having to be watered at this time of year before but there again – I can’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning so maybe I’m not a good weathercock!

Sunday 9th December
It rained quite heavily last night and through until early this morning, but had stopped by first light and was already drying out by the time we headed out for our morning walk through the vines. Bisou is not too well at the moment – she has to have an insulin injection every morning and has lost a lot of weight, and watching her drag her thin little body out for a walk is making me terribly, terribly sad. I’m hoping that the insulin will start have the right result soon and she’ll be back to her hairy, happy self.

After all the rain, we thought the Canigou would have donned its white winter bonnet this morning but no – little more than a sprinkling as you can see from these photos. According to the Indépendant, if the weather continues like this, there is likely to be a hosepipe ban and other water restrictions early in the New Year! Up on the skis slopes, there is apparently little action and if you are intending to ski in the near future, make sure that you go somewhere with snow cannons. Still, plenty of time yet for a massive snowfall!

Saturday 15th December
Whoooopeeee! It’s snowing!

Tuesday 18th December
Calm down, calm down. It was a false alarm! The white out conditions actually lasted about five minutes, and by the time I’d pulled on my precious hairy après ski booties (very immature but I just love them to bits – it’s like wearing a bear on each foot!) it had stopped. What a disppointment. The weather in general is very cold – probably the coldest winter we have had here since we moved to France, but it is crisp and dry with plenty of sun so I aint complainin’

On the positive side, her Royal Hairiness is now responding well to her treatment, after an extended stay chez le vet, and is bouncing round the house and garden with a spring in her step – the best Christmas present I could have asked for. Long may she pong.

Last weekend was the Maureillas Christmas market – not terribly packed when I was there as the Céret foire au gras was on at the same time – but plenty to buy and a lovely atmosphere. Rachel of Aubergine, an upholstery and soft furnishings outlet in Maureillas (based at the Auberge du Cedre) was there – a very talented lady who makes all her produce herself and it really is bright and colourful and cheery enough to make any room smile. There was also another British lady from Saint Laurent de Cerdans selling home made crackers and Christmas pressies and decorations which were fabulous – what talent. I would so love to have even one, tiny, creative bone in my body but if I do have one, I haven’t found it yet!

Saturday 22nd December
Happy birthday to me, Happy birthday to me, Happy birthday to meee-eee……Happy birthday to me! And yes, it’s raining and it started even BEFORE I started singing! You may think I’m a bit of an attention seeker shouting out loud that it’s my birthday, but if you can’t be a bit of a rascal on your birthday, when can you? Each year is a celebration – just to know I’ve got this far and am still around has got to be worth making whoopee!

I feel so sorry for people who have come over for Christmas though. It’s the first real rain that we’ve had in a long while and it doesn’t seem fair. It could have waited until after Christmas! Anyway, I would just like to wish everybody a fantastic Christmas and a happy, healthy and lucky New Year. For those of you who have had a difficult year, may this new one bring you peace and new beginnings…. and for those of you who, like me, count your blessings every day, may you carry on counting.

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