Sunday 1st February
It’s raining! It rained yesterday too! It’s not quite depressing but nearly so, because it’s rare that we get more that a day or two on the trot without ‘le soleil’ showing its cheery face, so when we have several days of poor weather, following on from the high winds of last week, it all feels a bit desperate!! I think that this is without a doubt the worst winter we have had here since we moved. Both the coldest and the most miserable, certainly the most snowy, maybe not the most windy, as there has not really been much wind apart from last week’s wooshy weather.

Monday 2nd February
Well, no more P-O rain for me as my dear old Dad was rushed into hospital in Leeds with pneumonia so I grabbed the first flight from Girona – and here I am housebound in six inches of snow. Good old Ryanair though. On a day when flights all over England were cancelled, not only did Ryanair take off from Girona dead on time, but they also dropped me off in a snowstorm fifteen minutes early! Merci M. O’Leary!
Dear, dear friends Rosy and Alan piloted one of the few vehicles out on the roads, braving the snow to pick me up at the airport, and delivering me to the infirmary, waiting with me, bringing me home to Dad’s place……… At a horrible time like this, how fantastic it is to have such good friends who drop everything for you, take control. I am very, very lucky!Friday 13th February

I arrived back home at the beginning of the week, and will be heading back out again soon, in the hope of bringing Le Papa back here for a bit of healing mountain air.

He is already complaining that he is bored, but I knew for sure that he was seriously on the mend when he asked me if I had put weight on my face and suggested I shouldn’t have eaten the two Cadbury’s cream egg whose tell tale snail trail was still sticking guiltily to both sides of my mouth !!

Well yes Dad, I have put on a kilo or two actually. Pneumonia certainly hasn’t dulled your observational skills!
I arrived back from a cold, snowy day in Leeds to a mild Girona evening, but the past couple of days have been blowing an icy Tramontane around our ankles and it is decidedly chilly out there. There can be no doubt that this is the coldest winter we have had here since we arrived in 2003, but knowing the superb springtime that crouches just around the corner, a few windy or rainy days don’t get me down at all – in fact, I enjoy a good excuse to stay in, drink Heinz tomato soup, and catch up with P-O Life.
Olivier and I braved the elements yesterday and took a walk in the ‘domaine de Réart’ a spaghetti of forest tracks just below Llauro which had us baffled last time we walked there, and turned an intended short and brisk morning walk into a three hour nature ramble. If you want a walk with superb views, which you can tailor to your needs, choosing a circuit that is as short or as long as you wish, depending on your map reading skills, I would really recommend this area.

No really tough climbs, tho’ some easy uphill, on forest paths and tracks which take you through a variety of terrain, from orange clay-like precipices to pine and mimosa.

And yes! The mimosa is out! It is so lovely – a magnificent splash of yellow-gold everywhere you look. Love it, love it, love it! Its blossoms bring with them such hope; at a time when the backcloth is still stark and cold, it seems to be saying “Get ready for a springtime explosion of warmth and colour – it’s on its way!”
Quite disappointing to see so many eucalyptus trees having such a hard time. (see rather poor photos as my camera was on a day off ie lost again so I had to use my mobile) I had heard about it but only really noticed it for the first time on this walk.

There is apparently no sure treatment for this disease, called Lerp Psyllid, and involving sap sucking insects which eat away at the bark, causing the tree .to wither and die. However, if you don’t mind creepy crawlies, the good news is that spiders, ladybirds, birds, dragonflies and various other bugs are the Lerp Psyllid’s natural predator, and may reduce infestation.. Insecticides can also provide some control, but results are variable as the trees tend to be very large..

Thursday 26th February

Just time for a few quick words and photos before February bustles into March. The weather at the moment is absolutely glorious – ‘make-you-want-to-sing’ days, cloudless and wedge wood blue skies, the sun already warm enough to pierce through the layers donned in the early morning when the air is cold and crisp after a clear starry night. I know I say this again and again but how lucky am I?
In the few days before going back to Leeds to pick up my poorly papa, Olivier and I took advantage of the burgeoning springtime weather to take a few walks on the wild side.

The Racou beach was absolutely amazing – Tempete Klaus, the hurricane-like winds which reaked havoc throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon at the beginning of the months, has piled all the sand up at the back of the beach, by the carpark, into enormous dunes – there were people sledging down it for Heaven’s sake!!

It was interesting also to read a sign which I’ve never noticed before (probably been there for years but as I am not the most observant screwdriver in the tool box……) Anyway, it explains that the little village which grew around the Racou actually declared its independence from the rest of Argelès in the 60s!!
And have you tried out the newly finished ‘sentier littoral d’Argelès-sur-Mer’ which starts between Collioure and Argelès? There is now a path from the criques de Porteils to the calanque de l’Ouille, following former smuggler routes and joining the already established path as far as the Réserve Naturel du Mas Larrieu on the opposite side of Arglelès, 9 kilometres of coastal walk, unfortunately not a circuit, but a there-and-backer, with multilingual information signs describing this totally delicious seaside and clifftop walk – oooops, rather long sentence – please breathe now!

Anyway, instead of describing it to you, I will post a map, and use the time saved to go and pour myself a large glass of something strong.

Why does she need something strong?” I hear you asking. Well, limped back from Leeds at the beginning of the week with the wounded soldier in tow, and am weaning him back to health with a daily dose of sweet mountain air, mixed in with some sea breezes and an occasional gin and tonic (including a not-very-occasional double for me, even though I don’t usually drink spirits! Needs must) More about the walking wounded after another few alcoholic beverages!

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