Sunday October 2nd

Je suis FouIt’s a blazing hot summer day outside, more like June or July, so I’ll be brief, a few quick words before I thrust myself back onto the Dad-entertainment circuit and head off in search of a suitable afternoon sortie.

Lizards are still sunning themselves lazily, and plants and flowers are bobbing up and down in total confusion. It’s October innit? Shouldn’t they be wrapping themselves in a nice warm layer of soil and preparing for spring or doing whtever autumn flowery ladies do?

And talking of lizards, did you know that the Gecko lizard is the chap that you will most likely find lazing about in your P-O garden? And that these little chaps can stick upside down or even cling to smooth vertical surfaces such as windows thanks to the sticky pads on their toes?

Oh yes, I am full of bits of yeuchy info on creepie crawlies, thanks to a dear man called Roger, close internet friend, occasional real life friend, who is no longer with us, but who used to regularly send me snippets about all the critturs that I try to avoid in my daily life.

For example, he told me exactly what to do when we had a weird and wriggly problem several years ago. These kind of caterpillar/maggot type of critturs kept appearing on the ceiling of our kitchen. They didnt seem to be maggots as they left a sort of web/trail and seemed to move all over the ceiling. Each day we got rid of them and another four or five appeared. I was terrified of hearing an early morning plop in my cup of tea! (How very British!) Well, good ol’ Roger, expert on anything that wriggles, squirms or squelches, came up with a possible answer to our problem. He told me…….

Flour Maggots“Well well.. looks as if you have been infested by the Mediterranean Flour Moth! 

This means somewhere in your kitchen you will find (maybe in a forgotten corner at the back of a cupboard or similar) an old bag of flour or rice or grain or even bread which has been opened and not resealed.

In fact it isn’t wise to keep even an unopened paper or non-plastic bag of flour anywhere. The moths can bite through paper such as flour bags. 

Antidote: First you must find the source.. as mentioned above.. and get it outside the house. Preferably burn it (e.g. the open flour bag, etc.) or douse it copiously in a neutral container with “eau javel” and cover it for 24 hours.

Second – look for the moths as described on the site. Grey are the Mediterranean ones Brown are the Indian ones. Anyway, best to follow the elimination procedures as described on this site..

(Personally, I would catch a couple of geckos outside and put them in the kitchen – they would snap up all insects, but I guess you would have more problem with the gecko lizards than with the insects?)” 

He was, as always, absolutely right and we had a moth free ceiling a few days later.(without flooding the kitchen with geckos!)

He also supplied me with a few other gems such as warning me to check in my shoes before I put them on in case of scorpions or tarantulas!! Yes, yes – I was ready to pack up and return to Leeds until he explained that their bites are only fatal in rare circumstances – that most times they just hurt like hell – , and loads more genuinely fascinating information about birds and bees, plants and trees, frogs and toads, moon and stars….

He was the first person to post on my newly created forum seven years ago, when 10 visits in one day was a cause for celebration, and an excuse to open a bottle, and he supported the forum and myself in his own gentle way, right up to his death earlier this year.

A kinder, gentler, more generous hearted man you couldn’t find – yes, a bit of an ’anorak’ because he knew so much, was fascinated by all aspects of life and people, and assumed everybody else was as fascinated by life as he was and interested in sharing his knowledge.

Of course, not all were, and some expressed their discontent in no uncertain terms, but most people on the forum accepted Roger as he was, smiled at his occasional lengthy postings about things that were way above their heads, or out of their interest zones, and enjoyed and learnt from those that weren’t. Miss your generously dispensed wisdom Roger.

Thursday 6th October

I’m in Leeds. As for the weather………well, what better excuse for hitting the clothes shops or going for a hot spicy, warming curry. Every cloud…..

Monday 10th October

I’m shrinking! Now, for most of you normal sized people, that’s not so much of a catastrophe but for me this puts me on the road to dwarfdom! Useful for Christmas if I could find another six small friends but no good at all for reaching the top shelf in the kitchen without a stool. Maybe that’s where I should start to keep the chocolate!

Anyway, before I get to the stage where I can no longer reach my keyboard, I must just tell you that today is October 10th and the weather is absolutely amazing. Very hot sun, clear blue skies, confused trees and shrubs…..

I’m back from Leeds, and it’s SOOOOO nice to be home. Got a warm welcome from a happy hubby and a waggy welcome from her Royal Hairiness, who, despite having a sort of epileptic type fit the morning before I left, then becoming comatose for a spell, is still stinkily ensconced at my feet.

Large amounts of euros to doggie doctor got her back on her feet after the incident, along with the usual injections and dire warnings from a pessimistic vet but it was hard to leave her in case it happened again. However, she has just breathed on me to remind me that in this gorgeous weather, one should really open a window – and that she is most definitely still here!!

Olivier is amazing. He injects her with insulin morning and evening (a task which would be an absolute nightmare for needlephobic me) and adjusts the insulin levels when she’s not looking good. Wherever he is working, he never forgets to come home for her injection, even though it might sometimes mean him driving back to Maureillas just for that, then going out to work again. He is a fantastic doggie Daddy.

Wednesday 12th October

sunny day

Here’s the view from the front of our house, and looking down the road, this morning at 7h45.

It is now nearly 14h and registering 33°. No snow on the sunny dayCanigou with temperatures like that, although someone did mention they had noticed a sprinkling up in the hills a few days ago.

It’s so bright and lovely, so very blue and green and uplifting – you can’t help walking around with a spring in your step.

Popping over into Spain to do a bit of shopping – it still feels SO POSH saying that!

Mozzies are totally confused with this weather by the way. Think they should usually have disappeared by now, but instead, they have hung around and ’piqued’ Olivier (who never gets bitten) and left me without a pinprick (who always gets bitten).

Although I don’t like to see Olivier with red lumps on his neck, it’s hard not to feel a little bit of ’schadenfreude’!!

Popped across the border (such a jet setter!) into Spain – then popped more or less straight back into France! Spain was closed.

Yes it was, although it took us until Figuère to figuere it out as we just assumed everything was closed until 15h…. then 16h….. then we caught on that something wasn’t quite right and, after searching around for a warm living body in the deserted wastelands of the zone commerciale, discovered (very painstakingly, in a mixture of French, Spanish, English German and Arabic) that today is ’Día de la Hispanidad’, Spain’s National Holiday, Hispanic Day or Fiesta Nacional de España held annually on October 12th.

It commemorates the exact date when Christopher Columbus set foot in the Americas and there are apparently processions and parades throughout the country. Could have heard a pin drop in Figuères! They must have been partying like quiet little mice, the rascals. Anyway, put it in your diary – no shopping in Spain on this day, though there were more than the usual quota of roadside ladies on plastic chairs with parasols and very short skirts, to cater, I suppose, for all the very quiet parades and processions of people partying quietly.

Wednesday 19th October

The weather is still dry and warm, although the clear blue skies have given way to paler blue with wispy cloud, and the temperatures are down to 17° – 21° – still delicious, perfect for walking and cycling, neither of which I have done recently, but both of which I have considered from the comfort of my deckchair. I am totally full of good intentions!

The hunting season has started around the PO. We don’t get as angry about it as we used to do, as Bisou rarely walks past the end of our drive, and we don’t like going out walking without her, but it is dangerous to go out in the woods and even on the roads. Each year, there are several people wounded and there have also been deaths – innocent passers-by caught by a stray bullet or a ricochet.

Each commune decides on its hunting timetable. Here in Maureillas, hunting is allowed on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Wednesday! I hate to generalize about French hunters, but the few I have met out on a sanglier hunt are grumpy, unpleasant, selfish and unsmiling and totally focussed on the kill. I have heard all the arguments for culling, and the necessity to limit the rabbit population, and control the wild boar community, and I do understand how dangerous these animals can be – but do they have to enjoy killing so much?

Some friends of ours a little further up north more or less adopted the sanglier that appeared regularly in the garden of their new home – they named him and even fed him.

He eventually responded by digging up their vegetable garden and savaging their car! They have small grandchildren and just couldn’t take the risk. They were obliged to call in the mairie who arranged for a special dispensation for an out of season hunt to kill the culprit.

According to law, because the boar was shot on their land, they were given half of the beast to put in their freezer, but don’t have the heart to eat it, as they feel so bad about having the poor animal hunted down and destroyed. It’s a predicament for animal lovers. You hate the idea of killing an innocent animal, but can understand that in certain circumstances, it would be crazy and irresponsible not to act to get rid of it.

The leaves are still clinging comfortably to the trees, and autumn colours feel far away, although greeny yellows are beginning to replace the emerald green summer scene and I supect that a few days of wind and rain will quickly take us into autumn.

Mushroom Man

A friend of ours in Saint Cyprien had an alarming mushroom experience last week. He actually woke up in the middle of the night IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PORT actually in the water…. and has no idea how he got there.

More on this breaking news as information comes in. We all had a good laugh but in fact, he could very easily be no longer with us. Dangerous sport this mushroom hunting lark!

Sunday 23rd October

It’s warmer again today and clear as a bell looking towards the coast, but moody with heavy cloud looking over towards Blue SkySpain. It’s only 8.30 am so I wonder which one is going to win – it’s either going to be a beautiful day here – or a gloomy one, but not a problem as we can always head for the coast, a 15 minute drive, if we need our sunshine fix.

MushroomsTo continue the mushroom story of last week, our friends went mushroom hunting (bearing in mind that they DO actually know what they’re doing) and made themselves a delish mushroom dinner that evening in their home on the port.

The next thing Philippe remembers is waking up, in the water in the middle of the port at midnight!

He managed to swim to the edge and drag himself out, but when he tried to wake his sleeping wife, she told the dripping hallucinant that he hadn’t fallen into the water, he was just very sweaty…..and went back to sleep, waking up with a massive hangover herself.

Both of them were quite shocked, and moderately ill. They hadnt been drinking. He has no idea how he ended up in the water – it’s all a blank!

Wow! Quite frightening and proof that mushrooms are not such ’fun guys’ to be with! We still giggle about it now, but in fact, it really could have been very serious and it’s a warning to anyone who picks and eats mushrooms that it doesn’t matter how much you know or how sure you are, you can never be too careful. Personally, I buy all my mushrooms at the supermarket to play it safe, and just take photos of them!

Friday 28th October

cloudy mountainsWell, the P-O has been placed on orange alert, following yesterday’s heavy rain described as “not unusual for the season” accompanied by thunderstorms and gusting winds.

Bisou loved every moment of it (not) and cloudy mountainshasn’t been out for a pee for nearly 24 hours! She spent most of yesterday evening trembling in my underwear drawer which, given that she smells like the fish they used to serve up in the canteen for school dinners, and also has a tendancy to pee on her feet when she’s goes out, is not a good thing.

Love may be blind but it doesn’t take away your sense of smell.

At 18h30 yesterday, Météo France recorded rainfall of 6 mm in Saint-Paul-de-Fenouillet, 97 mm Vives (80 mm in three hours) and 24 mm in Perpignan or 61 mm in le Perthus.

The pebbled area at the front of our house was completely flooded. I know I shouldn’t say it but I find it all rather exciting. Weather extremes fascinate me, as long as I can watch them through the window of a nice warm house that is! Weather like this means I can spend the day in front of my computer without feeling guilty. olivier & Lucien

For Olivier, rainy days mean pancakes, a throwback to a gourmet childhood and family holidays in Brittany, so husband and son set out to beat each other on the pancake eating front.

Score so far: Oliver: 14 Lucien: 11. Bisou and I just sit and watch and get thrown occasional scraps, Bisou because she’s diabetic and has a delicate tummy and me because I already look like a regular pancake eater!

Lucien has just cut his finger, giving us a chance to try out our new ’pansement liquide’ or liquid plaster. You pour it on and it hardens into a dressing, a barrier against infection.


House View

The photos here show first the view from our house a couple of days ago when the weather couldn’t decide what to do with itself – you can see dark clouds in one direction but clear skies from another – and today’s soggy sceneDark Clouds looking towards the totally obscured Pic Néoulous. Still quite warm though.


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