Friday, 27 November 2009

France, part five

WHAT a fantastic morning we had for the walk today.
We drove up to this plateau, called Planis, parked the car,
and set off up what Brenda said was; 'one long climb, all the way'.

We were going to walk up to Roc de Trepassats, 1,600 metres.
The path was quite good and clear, as it was used frequently by shepherds.
They take the sheep to graze on high ground in the Summer, then
bring them back down in the Winter. The shepherd can spend days at
a time up here with his sheep, and will think nothing of walking all the way
down to meet up with his wife, who will bring him food and supplies.
It's a hard and lonely life.

We could see the pipe store across the valley.
We were already at the same height as the plateau, and could see the lorry
winding its way up and down, and the helicopter flying back
and forth with the pipes.

The pipes.

Sunglasses - how cool am I??? (don't answer that).

Brenda was spot on with the description.
It was a long, stiff climb but we were relishing every moment.
Often we could see scratchings in the earth by the path, signs of
'songlierre', or wild boars. They are hunted in this region to cull the numbers.
They can be very dangerous if surprised, but that doesn't happen often,
as theyare shy creatures that avoid human contact, if possible.

We were high enough now to see over the ridges on the other side
of the gorge, and could plainly see the sea.

The winding road the lorry had to ply day in, day out.

Mannes has one of those watches that also tells the height, and checked it regularly.
Brenda has one too, and this often ensues in 'play argument's, as each one told a different height!
It was only a few feet, but Mannes is very pedantic (in a nice way), and HAS to be precise.

Ahhh, nice place, and we were very happy.

Not very plain, I know, but that IS the helicopter DOWN there!
We were at sufficient height now to be looking down on him.
Click on the picture for a larger version.

This is a 'cabane' - a very simple stone shelter that the
shepherd uses to spend the night in.

Rather HIM than ME!

Tremendous views, on a perfectly clear day.
THIS is what the Pyrenees are all about.

The final part of the climb to the top, where we would have lunch.

Here, we saw the second, even SMALLER than the first, cabane.

Top of the Roc de Trepassants - 1,600 metres.
Time for lunch.

(The view's not bad either)

The fabulous sky and clouds were constantly changing.
These are my favourite skies, and I LOVE pictures of them.

You can keep your fancy restaurants - today,
we were having lunch in the best place on earth!

Did someone say lunch............

After lunch, we made our was back to the car, noticing that the car park had got REALLY busy
while we were away - there was ANOTHER CAR!!

Brenda & Mannes knew who's the car was though, it belonged to the young shepherd,
and we soon saw him and his flock as we made our way down.

He looks a very serious (and hard) character, doesn't he?

So ended a really great walk. It had been a very special day, and Brenda was to match it
with a very special meal tonight -an 'oceane de mare' - a seafood soup (of sorts). Another of Brenda's super gadgets, This one, you put a selection of seafood into the boiling vegetable soup,
and it cooks to perfection!
 The rice steams steadily in the top to complete a delicious meal.
The best thing is, at the end you are left with this wonderful fishy soup, which we saved
and served up the following night as a scrumptious starter.

(Better get the last drop out of this - can't waste any - it's far too nice!).


Day five - done!

Tomorrow, we were off to the SEASIDE.
(And I'd forgotten my bucket and spade).

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