I met Jenny Rhodes for the first time in 2008, in their deliciously cosy cottage in the heart of Les Angles, just a five minute walk from the ski slopes. Rosy, fun and delightfully chatty, she explained to me that she was in the middle of pickling everything that moved. I stood very still…. and asked her whether she would be interested in providing a ’gossip in the mountains’ type of column for Anglophone-direct readers. She has never looked back!


Friday October 7th

Yesterday it was summer and today it’s staggeringly Autumn/Winter. What happened over night that made the long hot days develop into a cold misty morning? Even the big tree in my garden has been fooled into thinking it was still summer and has not turned colour or shed a leaf. My poor plants are looking very dry but are surviving and my roses are still blooming but now has come the crunch. I knew something would happen soon as it always does, even the snow cannons were tested last week and the men are out checking all the pylons for the lift systems.

Apologies for not writing last month but I have been off the mountain.

Yes I actually get off “The Hill” sometimes. We went up to Guernsey to see the family and took our new motor home. And with all things new we were learning how to use the thing as we went along. It didn’t look too difficult. Park it up, turn the gas on and make a cuppa.

Nothing to it……or so we thought.

During the first night we were as snug as a pair of bugs when at 4.45am. there was a weird noise. As always when you hear a noise that you don’t recognise you sit bolt upright. It was pouring with rain. But everything looked OK so we started to settle down again, but not for long.This time there was a terrible noise, bang, clash  and the sound of metal. Mike jumped out of bed with me closely on his heels. The door was opened and the sight that greeted us was dreadful. Bent twisted metal and blowing canvas were hanging at odd angles. The awning had collapsed with the weight of the water. Mike dashed out in his PJ’s and I stood in the door hoping that he could sort it out without me getting wet. This was not to be. There was a shout of “come and hold this” and I was put on holding up duty while he fiddled with the fixture that held the stupid thing to the van. “ Hold it UP” he shouted . I was and with the water gushing down my arms, down my sides and into my PJ bottoms I must have looked a sorry sight.

So it was a lesson to be learnt……don’t leave the awning up all night no matter how nice the weather is as it is a very cold, wet and expensive mistake.

Up here has been fairly quiet except for two forest fires. One over in the valley of La Tour Carol in an area totally inaccessible to fire trucks and so the planes were used using Lac Matamale as the water source, and yesterday week we could see a fire on our side of the Madres. By what we could see Mike thought it was somewhere near the little refuge that they stop at  snow shoe walks in the early spring. We started with two Canadian water planes, they used the lake again as their water supply and then about 6pm two more joined them in the hope that the fire could be put out before dark. There have been a couple of flights over just checking this morning and as far as I can tell….all is well.

I don’t know why I put that it has been quiet up here because it most certainly hasn’t. Every evening about dusk the noise starts…….as primeval bellows thunder through the forests  and when you don’t know what it is, it frightens you to death. The deer are rutting and make a noise like something out of Jurassic Park and all we need is a dinosaur and Richard Attenborough staggering out of the undergrowth trying to flog us an island and we are all set for part three of the film series. Hopefully they will give up all the noise soon or I’ll have to go out nightly to give out throat lozenges.

We have already had some snow on the tops of the mountains but that quickly vanished with heat of the days we have been having. Still, I’m sure that it won’t be long before we start having serious snow falls and my thermals will be out of the cupboard once more for a six month stint of wear. [Not without changing I hasten to add.]

Must get on and get prepared for winter, the logs have been delivered and Mike has built a new log store [very posh] the garden has had its final weed and the barns have had their bi-annual “do” But do we sit back now and wait for winter? No there are always things to be done and retirement is just a memory.
Ttil the next time.
Bisous to all

Jen (Mountain Mama)

Saturday October 22nd

There is something weird in my life that always seems to happen at 5am. [Guernsey and the awning breaking]
A few days ago we were playing with our new camping car up at Aigues- Mortes and watching some of the festival etc. Of course there were loads of young party goers and we had expected some noise  but they were all good and kept their noise within the town walls.
It was however a little bit of surprise at 5am to hear someone shouting and banging. We consoled ourselves with “ it’s just some drunks going home” and turned over and went back to sleep. Not for long though. The shouting and banging went on and on and on. I was getting slightly irritated and said I would go out and sort them out. As my French is absolute pants Mike said I should stay where I was and mind my own business.No real argument from me as drunks and French don’t sit well on my shoulders.
It suddenly dawned on me that the banging was coming from the direction of the automatic loo. Ha!……. Someone was stuck in the toilet. Now, I must say that I had not used it as Mike had done the “ roving report” and said it was vile and there was a notice on the outside warning that the lock was faulty.
So in this chaps haze of alcohol he had unwittingly got himself locked in and probably had sobered up very quickly finding himself in the pitch black and hardly daring to move his feet. Urrrrrgh .Fortunatley a couple of minutes later we heard someone go to help him break out of his night mare.
I’ve never liked those loo’s and no will never set foot in one again.
The weather is still sunny up here but we do have a good covering of snow on the mountain tops, looks lovely but cold.
‘til the next time.
Take care

Leave a Comment