October mumbles in the mountain

3 With Jenny Rhodes in Les Angles 3

Monday 4th October
OK guys I accept that summer has gone and is now just a distant memory as we have had our first falls of snow high on Le Carlit. I know it looks pretty but it does seem to have made it a rather short summer after heavy falls of snow in May.

For us it has been a nightmare of a September. Both cars have broken down and the Landrover is still in dock. About eight weeks ago the drive shaft broke so it was driven slowly to the garage. Needless to say we didn’t know what it was as the wheels were still going round. But I could hear a noise……you know girls. We do hear noises on the car that men don’t

That slight tap wasn’t there yesterday .So I had to put my money where my mouth was and Mike made me go out with the mechanic. I drove like I was taking my driving test. knees knocking and sweaty palms. I had to drive round the back streets of Bolquere along with the road works, and the mechanic shouting “ Bonjour” to every man and his dog. As though it wasn’t bad enough to creep round trying to prove there was a problem he made sure that we were seen. On being told to drive back to the garage I felt a complete fool not hearing anything at all. But all was not lost……he HAD heard the noise and it was something to do with the transmission. Smug is the word I would like to use but as it isn’t a word that is sportsmanlike I did not shriek “I told you so”

Unfortunately it took weeks to get the piece and only arrived to be fitted in time for Mike to go to Switzerland. All seemed fine…. until I had a phone call about 5.30pm on the Tuesday night when I was expecting Mike home. A weary voice said “ I’ve broken down” OK…so where was he?….…3kms from home. Yes he had an engine but the wheels wouldn’t go round. Our son Paul went to collect him and the car was towed to the garage the day after.

Guess what had broken………yup…..the drive shaft…..the one we had just paid over 1400€ to have replaced. The new one had been faulty and had only lasted 1400kms before it broke again Hmmm I think that works out at approx 1€ per kilometre, now that in anybodies book makes expensive motoring.

It doesn’t bare thinking about really as he had only just come down the motorway from Geneva airport. Now we are waiting again for the piece which must be as rare as hens teeth considering the length of time it has taken to get a replacement. My daughter Emma and I have been eyeing up local Landrovers with a view to jacking one up and pinching their drive shaft. I sure they will never notice it missing.

And so we wait.

Mike has just looked out of the lounge window to see that the village ski mechanics are testing out the snow cannons It’s too early for that sort of thing, can’t we just get through the Autumn in peace and quiet. The Autumn crocus are out in the forests and look beautiful and now they are blowing piles of artificial snow all over the place.

Lili is eating for France at the minute, she had cut down through the summer and now seems to stocking up for the winter, her coat is thickening and she looks wonderful. She is calming down a bit now and hopefully will not eat anymore visitors boots shoes, jumpers or anything left outside. This summer she acquired an unpleasant habit of nipping bottoms, not a bite but just a friendly nip. No body was hurt but it was always a bit of a surprise. It was more of a chew really and it would only happen when people first arrived. Weird dog, fortunately that has now stopped. It would never be noticed with a normal sized dog but 44 kilos of dog chewing your bum can be just a little daunting.

However she has been loved by all who meet her and has become quite a star with her photo being taken by tourists with and without children. She patiently sits with children draped round her neck whilst adoring parents take pictures of little “Pierre” with a real mountain dog. Maybe I should start charging !!!

So, I’ll go back to waiting for our car and hope it will not be too much longer as I need to dig up my potatoes which are a mile away. And it’s not a good look pushing a wheelbarrow uphill with half a hundredweight of spuds ,an enormous dog and sweating like a horse. I’ll wait a bit longer.

‘Till the next time it’s Bonsoir from the mountains


Monday 18th October

It has suddenly turned to winter up here.
Yesterday Mike and I went down to our little plot to dig the last of our potatoes. There was a coldish breeze so we wrapped up warmly and Mike put his potato picking hat on so I knew it was cold. As we drove down the road to Formiguères we could see dark clouds gathering down the valley and that weird white sheet that appears when bad weather is coming in. Nevertheless we drove on like a pair of pioneers to get our crops in for the winter

Hmmmm I don’t think we would have survived more than a couple of months on what we had grown. I’d like to say that my carrots were young and sweet but they were tiny and tough. Mike started on the first row of spuds when the weird white sheet finally caught up to us and we were engulfed in a blizzard of snow. Fighting against the wind and snow in October is an odd thing even for us. So after two rows of digging we gave up and went home. An hour later the wind had blown the clouds away and the sun came out.

Every night we are getting hard frosts and the last of the flowers have been frozen to their stems. The geraniums are locked in the garage but I know that they will not survive the harshness of the coming winter.

The colours of the Autumn leaves are now a sight to behold. The yellows, browns and even maroons are wonderful. Tiny valleys are festooned in brightly coloured displays that no artist could truly copy Even my camera doesn’t fully capture the colours but they are firmly imprinted in my mind and I will look back on my memories whilst our countryside is blanketed in snow.

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