November Mumbles in the Mountain

with Jenny Rhodes

Early November 2010

November blasted in with high winds which whisked the last leaves off my one and only tree. The poor thing looks so forlorn. Most years, it manages to cling on to most of them until the end of November but not this year. We have had quite a few hard frosts at night and some snow and I’m thinking that winter has come a bit early. This isn’t a bad thing for the village as it means the winter workers are getting on with the preparations on the pistes although the snow cannons make a heck of a racket when they are switched on.

Over the past few weeks we have had a few jaunts up the coast which has made a lovely change for us. We visited Nimes, Arles and the Camargue, It’s quite weird how the flatness of the Camargue is so beautiful, I’m used to the mountains and yet the unbroken flat fields have magic to them and beaches now un-crowded are wonderful. It seems odd that I have never been before. The little fisherman’s cottages are so quaint with their reed roofs and the little crosses on the top. It was a shock to find on the internet that they bring over 500,000€. Any ideas of buying a little holiday place were thrown out the window before I had the chance to think about it twice. Never mind.

When we were in Nimes Mike went to play golf and I strolled round the town and saw all the sights and the beautiful streets. Lovely little shops on tiny streets lulled me into thinking it was a gentle slow going town but when I went to the café where Mike and I had arranged to meet I was in for a bit of a shock…….There was a large crowd of people which just grew and grew. I sat down with my cup of tea and was suddenly swamped by what must have been 20,000 people. They walked past with banners and loud hailers, throwing air bombs and complaining about the retirement age. Being a bit of an old Nelly I quickly picked up my tea and shot to the back of the café. I have never seen a demonstration of that size before and it was quite daunting. Interesting though because it must have taken a lot of work to organise it and apart from the air bombs it all was quite peaceable.

The village is still quite quiet as there are no tourists but the shops are starting to re-open after they have mostly been closed for their autumn holidays.

We have a “local character” up here who walks for miles and hitches lifts to supermarkets from Egat to Prades. In the winter she stuffs her tights with newspapers to keep warm and wears two or three hats. She always wears her apron and a quilted jacket and I’m always amazed at the different places she pops up. I’m not sure where she lives but I think it’s Formiguères as she hovers rounds there quite a bit. I think she enjoys being eccentric and just a little odd, I have given her a lift more than once and she is quite polite and underneath all the weird clothing she is just enjoying life being herself.

Christophe has nearly finished all the work on his new shop and it is looking great. It has taken away the eyesore that the Carlina restaurant had become. It will be so much easier this year to hire skis as it has been designed to have a better  “flow through”

Tomorrow I am going to the Sunday market in Puigcerda to buy some oranges for some marmalade and maybe a few lemons for lemon curd, they always have lovely fruit there. Also the hot chocolates are to die for. Now the main square has been pedestrianised it  has made it a lovely place for the cafes but it has taken away the entertainment of “Spanish Parking” First they choose a space six inches too short, then reverse in and shunt the car behind, then move forward and shunt the car in front. This continues until they make a space large enough for their car and Bobs your Uncle – they have parking space. Incredible ingenuity and I have never seen any damage to any car. I wouldn’t want it done to my car though.

This month I have really been getting around and visited the annual Apple Fete in Fuilla. It really is like stepping back fifty years, every kind of apple you can think of is there, live music and a wonderful feeling of community. It was a lovely morning with the sun shinning brightly and the sky a brilliant blue, with the majestic Canigou towering behind. What a setting!

So it’s nearly Christmas again, what happened to the year? It seems to have flown by and summer seemed to be quite short as we had a heavy fall of snow in May and that shortens the feeling of long summers. Autumn was beautiful as always and now we have the winter to look forward to.
Hmmmm more hot chocolate time.
Til the next time.

Mid November 2010

Surprise,surprise another little Mumble from the mountains before we freeze over for the winter. And it’s really just a word for the really keen skiers who are just yearning to put their skis on. Firstly if you are wanting a cheap season pass get up here before the 21st.
 I think you can save 15% on a Neiges Catalanes season pass   ie € 483 rather than €569 if it’s bought before 21st November. And don’t forget that you will need a passport photo.

I have just been up to Pasa del la Casa and there is loads of snow and they are hoping to open this next weekend along with Ports Puymorens. They look to be working hard at pisting all their slopes.
Our guys here in the village are also working hard and hoping to open on the 27th November.

Now back to the really serious bit of my Mumble.
Yesterday I was down in Perpignan…..I know it’s not really anything special but for me, it is. I had promised myself a new food processor and went along to Darty.Now most of you will know that we own a rather large dog called Lili. I don’t like leaving her in the car so if possible I ask if I can take her with me.So as a courtesy I asked the security man at the door if I could take Lil in with me as I thought it may take a bit of time. I must point out at this stage that when she is out, she is very well behaved and quiet.
The security chap said “no problem” so in I went. Browsing along the shelves, Lil by my side, I rounded a corner to be met by a couple who looked horrified at seeing her. She said in a very loud voice “ Oh why do THEY [meaning the French] think that THEY have to bring THEIR meaning me] dogs into shops” and just out of sheer wickedness I said “because I can”
Well you can imagine the look I got. And Madame if you are reading this I don’t normally take Lil into shops but she was only there because I thought I may take ages. As it was I was really quick and chose within minutes.
Now the one thing I learnt from this little escapade was that we should never think that everyone can’t speak or understand English and we shouldn’t make ourselves look so thoroughly pompous that we look like a bunch of prats to the French.

OK, I am defending our lovely Lili and I am defending myself for taking her into a shop but hey……we all do things that maybe in hindsight we maybe should have done differently, including the woman in the shop.
Anyway I bought a Kenwood machine that is so complicated I think I may need to join Mensa to be able to use it.

Until the next time

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