There has been rather a delay to this weeks ‘blog’ as our stay in Carcassonne had to be extended by another week. As we flitted from Brico to Brico the car gave a squeal and died. The end result is a complete clutch replacement and a consequent delay to our return. Oh well; it is a very pleasant place to be stuck. However there is still so much to be done in Puymangou.
Because we had seemed to be making good progress with the gites at Bon Abri we thought we should set off, once more, to Carcassonne and put the finishing touches to the apartment before our first booked guests turn up.
The progress had been topped off with the posting of both gites and the apartment to a holiday rental site.
The weather has been increasingly hot and sunny over the past week and so, after a long day of moving plants and seedlings into the shade whilst ensuring that they will get some water if it rains, we set off, late in the afternoon, and headed south from Puymangou. As ever the beautiful drive down through the Forêt de la Double was sheer pleasure despite the narrow, twisting and winding roads through the woods. The slowly sinking sun lit-up the tree-top with a beautiful warm glow.
We crossed the wide plain of the Dordogne river at Bergerac having made good time. We passed the airport in just over an hour. When the sun set it turned into a burning golden ball; beautiful. After climbing into the hills beyond the river plain we crossed the plateau with stunning views of the sky. The great dome above our heads blended gently from a deep, dark blue in the east through to a burnished golden glow in the west that very slowly faded away as the suns light was replaced by the crescent moon and the pin-prick glow of stars from horizon to horizon.
Once darkness had finally settled in we passed through Issigeac, and all towns down to the Aude fairly quickly, or so it seemed. We experienced the friendly comfort of the Canal du Midi running along beside us from south of Toulouse most of the way through to Carcassonne. This approach to the city from the northwest at night gives you a lovely view of the distant towers and walls lit up and glowing (from artificial light at this time of night). However it would be a mistake to expect to see la Cité towering over the landscape from a lofty mountain crag. The ancient town crouches low on a small hill surrounded by distant but bigger hills.
We had made the trip in exactly six hours without the usual stops for sight-seeing, coffee and comfort breaks.
One incident during the trip down was very exciting. I know regular readers of this blog will sink their heads into their hands thinking about driving troubles from the first part of this and from previous posts. Rest assured it was nothing as mundane as any of those although it did involve a large animal. As we were descending the great slope into the Dordogne river plain on a very good quality road a wild boar popped out of the scrub to our right about 100m ahead of us. As he trotted slowly across, carefully looking to left and right, we slowed right down. He unhurriedly hopped over the roadside drain and vanished into the scrub as we crossed his, now vacated, path. Sometimes you just cannot get to your camera in time.
The positive benefits of our delay in Carcassonne were that, not only did we watch the final three games of the ‘6-Nations’ (a great end to this years competition), but we then went to the ‘Celt’ again to mingle with the local French and Irish supporters.
The night’s music was supplied by Mike Joyce, a great solo musician (he did have occasional contributions from Martin on harmonica/blues harp and Izzy on vocals), who was playing his final session as resident act. He is returning to the Emerald Isle for work. The end result of all of this is that the apartment is ready and waiting for the first guest.