Monday 5th October

Life must be a doddle if you’re a cow! Taking a walk this morning past the gorgeous gals grazing in the field along the road, it struck me that that ‘it’s a cow’s life’!

They don’t have to worry about the state of their hair, saggy face or dog breath when they wake up in the morning. or fret about fatty bits squelching out from under their bra straps. They don’t moan about their expanding tummy preventing them from admiring their new trainers and are not the slightest bit bothered if Mr Bull has sex with their sister, daughter or mother. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served up daily by farmer Giles and there is no washing up! And the fatter they get, the more they are admired!

They look so serene, communing with the long necked white birds (egrets?) which perch on their shoulders and chatter away in unknown tongues….. so very peaceful.
September has slipped away and faded into October but what a month it was! Unfailingly superb weather that you want to cling on to with both hands and never let slip away, maybe magic it out later to share with friends and listen to their ‘Oooooos’ and ‘Ahhhhhhs’ as you place it in front of them.

Perfect temperatures, not too hot, not too cold and a daytime brightness that lights up surrounding mountains, still thick carpets of colour with red and purple wild flowers and emerald green trees….. and just makes you want to laugh out loud!. I have to, I really do.

It is just so far away from my Octobers in England when I was already beginning to leave for work in the dark and come home in the dark….

I’m not saying life is perfect here, but for me, it’s as near as I can imagine.

I headed off for Argelès on my bike again last week and managed to get there and back without falling off!

I did manage to get soaked though when I zapped through a rather full ‘passage à gué’ near Elne, after a night of heavy rain (though stylish September still managed to pull another beautiful day out of the hat, following the rainstorms) but it cooled me down and left me giggling gleefully to myself as I continued my journey. Luckily there was noone around to see… and cart me away!
Arriving in Argelès from the Saint Cyprien side, I was brought down to earth by the sight of a llama tied to a stake on a very short rope, pacing unhappily around a small area in a trashy looking field, with a grubby water bowl well out of reach.. Why, when there was so much space around and the place was advertising itself as a riding stable, would anyone treat this beautiful animal so carelessly?

I rode into the stables to give them a piece of my mind but nobody was around – probably for the best as at four foot eleven, wet and sweaty, beetroot red with hairy legs (forgot to shave them) I realise that I was unlikely to put fear in to their hearts.

Anyway, take a good look at the name and don’t go there without checking out in advance how they treat their animals. I am going to go back this week and check if the llama is still there.

After that, I rode along Argelès beach path, the Med shimmering and glinting in the sunshine, not a whisper remaining of the tragedy of 1941 when thousands of Republican refugees near froze to death on this beautiful beach…… apart from one photo and text. Something so little to remind us of something so big…
My destination was Argelès port, my target was my husband who was taking the final part of his boat licence! And yes! We now have a qualified boat pilot in the family. Just need to win the lottery and buy a boat!

I flew back to Leeds last week to pick up my Dad… and while the cat was away, the mouse took full advantage of her absence to get in a bit of serious motor biking!

He headed off to the Cathar castles with Leigh and Merry and had a whale of a time. Have to say, it all looks rather beautiful, and I might have to don my helmet and my little red gloves and give it another go next time they are over. With weather like this, it feels like everything is possible!

Dad had a great week. Perfect weather and made loads of new friends – watch out ladies. you have all noticed that he is a bit of a charmer!

Many of the afternoons were spent driving around in the quest for the perfect cup of tea! Disaster in Collioure and disappointment in Céret. However, new hotel La Fauceille, next to the Clos des Lys, opposite all the garages near if you turn right at Auchan roundabout coming from Le Boulou, proved to be a winner.

An above average cup of tea with homemade cake was voted the winner of the week. The hotel menu also looked very good and quite reasonable for a four star hotel and the chef already has an excellent reputation. To be looked into at some point in the future.
Invited out for dinner one night with dear papa, I managed to catch Pete with his trousers down as he showed us his ‘fallen-off-bicycle’ scar. Luckily for him, you can’t see his face, and he was apparently wearing clean underpants, but the injury was quite nasty (he spent a week in hospital) and it made my cuts and grazes seem rather insignificant, particularly as I have now picked most of the scabs off!
Today, I headed off to Amélie with Olivier, intending to take the fabulous disused railway track which takes us all the way from Reynès to Palalda. However, after a couple of miles, my tyre exploded and I had to limp back to the Intermarché where Olivier changed my inner tube – under my expert direction of course. Must learn how to change a tyre!

Thursday 29th October

The sun is shining, the sky is blue, I have English sausages and cheeses smuggled past the douane courtesy of some kind friends… and the mother-in-law has just gone back home. Life is good!
The weather is amazing! Really hot sun, even warm in the shade, and reading 24° on the thermometer outside the Maureillas chemist this morning. The PO is crackling into the most vivid reds and oranges as autumn colours replace summer greens and the light continues to be inspirational, always there to chase away the blues!
The Fete des Vendanges in Banyuls a couple of weeks ago was fabulous. The beach was packed with all ages, shapes and sizes, tables groaning with food and drink, bandas, dancing….. fantastic atmosphere all round. So nice to see so many people smiling!

Next year, I shall book a table and invite anyone who fancies dropping in. Tables and chairs are free (you have to book them at the Mairie and go and pick them up early in the morning) and everybody brings their own food, or bbq fodder (fo der bbq) and shares it with the whole table. Great fun and thoroughly recommended. Thanks Sue for organising that and inviting us to your table even though I was forced to come on the motorbike for easy parking. You looked after us in style
Mother and father-in-law have been staying for the past week or so, ‘though it feels like a month. Father-in-law is a lovely man. Sadly he has Parkinson’s but he is very philosophical and never complains. On the other hand, there is the mother-in-law!
We took them up into the mountains to see cousins Jeremy and Nelly who live in Porté Puymorens on the way to Pas de la Case in Andorra. They have a new baby – baby and daddy are pea in a pod and even have the same haircut, a sort of mini-me. If baby turns out like Daddy, he’ll do all right – Jerem is such a nice guy – laid back enough to be horizontal. Love you guys!
We also took them (the parents-in-law) to Saint Cyp for a picnic on the beach. Dad in law was wearing a straw hat from last year’s Céret feria with the equivalent of ‘Let’s party’ emblazoned across the front.

When it blew off his head, a nearby fisherman resued it in his net and handed it back on the end of his fishing rod. It was lovely to see him laughing out loud as he doesn’t have too much to laugh about these days. Another reminder how unfair life can be and how important it is to get on with following your dreams while you still can……
Preparations for the next PO Life are in full swing – 64 pages which is quite a jump from the original 4 page leaflet that I started in 2005. I find it so difficult to put a business head on and see it as money making venture.

Poor old Jane tries hard to keep me on the straight and narrow and stop me giving things away, or telling people how useless I am with money, (not what potential advertisers want to hear) but she’s a bit of a softie herself beneath the brisk exterior. Rather prefer it that way.
We had snow on the Canigou very briefly last week when temperatures dropped but it’s all gone now.

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