June mumbles in the mountain

3 With Jenny Rhodes 3

3 Late May/early June 3

Things have been happening up here. Yes I do mean real things.

Firstly the Landy decided to debunk its rear wheel bearing. Mike had just been to Perpignan and could hear a weird noise coming from under the car but couldn’t tell where it was coming from….. but managed to get home O.K. Then we drove down to the garage in Formigueres and Mike and the mechanic….no not “Mike and the Mechanics” just Mike with the mechanic, went for a drive. They were ages as I sat with Lil waiting for them to return. When I next saw the loyal old Landy it was limping along the road at about walking speed with the hazards going…..I knew it was bad. Apparently as they had turned the corner of the road there was a loud bang and that was it. No wheel bearing.

However it was no big deal and we were told it would only take a couple of days, mainly the time in getting the spare part. So I went down on Monday to collect the vehicle. Yes it was ready and off I went into Formigueres to get Mike a birthday cake . First time my foot went on the brake, my foot went to the floor. Oops thought I….no brakes….pump the pedal……never realised that my right leg was that fit. Nothing. Fortunately there was a derelict wood yard on my right and I swung the car into the open space and stopped. WOW, that was a hairy few moments for a person of a certain age.My thoughts about Tena lady were certainly looking more interesting

I limped back to the garage in first gear [only a few hundred yards] and got on the forecourt. The mechanic gave me a funny look and not knowing the word for “brake” I was extremely fluent in English and he understood perfectly that I wasn’t too pleased. As I got out of the car there was a splash on my leg……..whoops Tena Lady sprung to mind straight away. No it was diesel pouring out from under the car.

What had he been doing to my faithful friend? He suggested that I should leave it and he would look at it. I didn’t argue.

I drove off in the Suzi and headed towards Mont Louis. Legs still shaking after the shock of no braking system and as I drew up to the traffic island I first heard, not saw a motor bike behind me, I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw to my horror a motorbike racing towards the back of my car. I don’t really know what he did but the next thing I knew was the motorbike hurtling past the left hand side of the car, then skidding up the road on its side. The driver was not far behind cart wheeling across the junction.

Now I have always felt quite strongly about helping at an accident in this day of Litigation etc and I have always said I wouldn’t stop. But guess who was out the car and running as though my life and the young riders life depended on it. As I got up to him he just stood up, I asked if he was OK and suggested he sat down but after looking himself up and down he confirmed that he was in one piece. Just shocked, then concerned for the motorbike.

I was beginning to wish I had never left the house. What an afternoon.

So you see living up here in the middle of nowhere it can be quite interesting…….nay terrifying .

Everything else seems rather dull, falling over Lili in front of the Marie seemed to pale into insignificance . Humiliating …yes, lying flat on the tarmac under the Mayors window isn’t the impression you want to give of the English abroad is it? But bruised and dignity battered I hobbled away to feel sorry for my self.

On a bright note the allotment is coming on and Mike has made some raised beds which are great for keeping the water concentrated on the plants. It has been breezy here and the ground dries out very quickly so I think I have made a good discovery. May be good for you folks in the “flatlands”.

So before anything else happens I will close this muttering mumble.

Enjoy the summer guys

Take care of yourselves

3 16th June 3

There is something pretty evil about a computer that lets you write for an hour and then “poof” everything vanishes. Which is what happened yesterday when I did my Mumble.I had written it then checked it and then ,I don’t know what I did but it just vanished. Nothing anywhere. Mike checked it and searched all the secret little places where lost files go but nothing. I even wrote to Kate and asked if she had it but it hadn’t got that far.

So I start again.

The weather has been dreadfully wet up here. I am going to try and not complain too much as it saves much carrying of water and hauling of hose-pipes. My seedlings are thriving after a second sewing as the first batch got frozen even though they were in the garage. I had only just put them in at the beginning of May when we got a foot and a half of snow. Not one of my best ideas. However the potatoes are looking good in the allotment and I have some Jersey Royals in a tyre so they are kept nicely separate from the others.

Lil is continuing to be a source of amusement as she chases the swallows in the day time and the bats at night. The bats have learnt to fly round the house and dive bomb her which drives her crazy. So with that and the singing she does with the church bells there is never a dull moment.

Things up here are starting to look up for the summer season. The village workers have been hard at work on the Bike Park and new ramps have gone in. The café down at Lac Matamale is open and the little café at Lac Balcere is now open at weekends. Now that the fishing season is well under way the thought of catching a trout and barbecuing it on the prepared BBQ areas is a nice thought but I never seem to get round to it. I used to fish back in Guernsey but never really caught much that was edible. Watching people like Ray Mears makes me feel that I should go and be a bit more adventurous.

I may go and buy a licence and have a bash, although I did try it a couple of years ago with my grandson Jordan and the first cast got tangled in a tree and he said I was rubbish so we didn’t go again. How humiliating was that.

A few weeks ago I managed to get off the mountain and went up to Beziers for a couple of days. I had been there some years ago and had an idea of what it looked like and I was delighted to find that the town centre was still the same. Unchanged, not ripped out and modernised. It was very French. We stayed in a hotel in the centre over looking the cafes etc and it was just lovely. The hotel was supposed to have been renovated but it was quite shabby…….not chic just shabby but I felt it was just like stepping back thirty years. Lovely.

There were some English people there caught by the ash cloud and they had come over to look for properties. Now remember we were in May when everywhere is quiet and they were most disappointed with Beziers and what it had to offer saying that they didn’t think much of it. Shame that you can’t please everyone. I was just happy with trees, cafes and revelled in the quietness.

I have noticed in the “flatlands” the tractors are really posh. There are tall spindly looking things for the grapes and hefty great things for harvesting. Now up here there are little rusty vehicles that lurk throughout the winter in darkened sheds and garages covered in blankets, cobwebs and spiders. In late Spring they come out and spend weeks turning the soils for the spuds. Elderly men in their blue boiler suits and blue flat hats sit hunched over the steering wheels at one with the world and their beloved tractor.

For anyone thinking of a trip up here, the wild flowers are stunning. Sheets of white narcissi spread like fresh falls of snow, the Gentians and Forget Me Nots shine out like Barbara Cartland’s eye shadow and clusters of Spanish mushroom pickers search the fields for tiny little carriollets [apologies for the spelling] which they sell to shops for exorbitant prices.

Hmm must find out how to spell carrioletes ……or maybe not.

Must get on and make supper for Mike and do my housewifely chores. Have taken up making bread by hand and it’s getting better. Well Mike hasn’t choked on it yet which is good indicator.

So take care folks and enjoy what you can of the rest of June.

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