Leaving for and arriving in the French Pyrenees…

Following a crazy two months of attempting to contact utility companies to convince them that our accounts do need to be closed as their services will no longer be required in France, packing stuff, sourcing storage for stuff (mainly in the form of charity shops and the permanent habitations of parents (thank you)), moving stuff to said storage, flying RyanAir and further supplementing the company through the use of pay-per-bag scales at Stansted: Tarbes-Lourdes airport finally welcomed us to France…on a Sunday afternoon…when there are no buses…TAXI!!!

So, to save on ink, a quick run through:

Week 1/2 – a very warm welcome.

Become acquainted with 4 dogs and a cat, fix stone path, dig manure patch, collect manure, fill manure patch, collect manure, weed, cut grass, collect logs, pile logs, play with dogs, whittle, clean barn, walk, sleep, ram fence posts, align fence posts, clear barbed wire, ram fence posts, fix electric tape to fence posts, tension electric tape, clear barn, whittle axe handle, play with dogs and so on… Amazing! And not to forget the frequent intervals with plenty of great food (oh my, oh my, the cheese!), engaging conversation, film viewing, cat fussing, hot baths, aperitifs and digestifs and the odd lecture here and there; all of which will now be referred to as the birth of our indoctrination on self sufficiency in the run up to peak oil. Brilliant! What a start to a journey…how hard can it be?

Week 3/4 – a breakdown in the post office of Lannemezan on returning to the outside world, but soon cured by a little isolation and a genuine Mongolian Yurt.

Collect wood, chop wood, stack wood, burn wood, clear woodland of leaves, burn leaves, play with dog (the chunkiest block of Labrador hill climbing muscle I ever did meet), walk, make tea in our new kellykettle (thank you, what a fantastic gift), partake in catching, slaughtering and preparing chickens (well, Java did – I was out shopping!) and more cat/dog fussing. Again, all fuelled by lovely food and home grown and prepared tea.

A couple of new tipples were sampled too. Picon, an alcoholic orange beverage of around 18% brewed specifically to add a dash of life to pilsner. A strange concept but it has actually grown on me, whether because the beer is otherwise tasteless or because it very quickly ups ones alcohol intake, I’ve yet to decide. Second on the list is a herbal spirit from the Alps called Chartreuse. An old recipe originally conceived by monks, it’s actually labelled as a liquor, hard to accept when noting its 56% ABV.

So, next up, a short trip to the Catalonian mountains to visit friends Nuria & Xavi and their six week old son Said before returning to Herault to offer more help on another smallholding…

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