In the Bleak Mid-Winter-Not!

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So I know I’m not the first to say it, but this these last two months have been incredibly mild. The sun has shone and there has been much talk of the dangers of late sun. The clear skies have meant a succession of the most gorgeous sunsets. The day time temperatures reaching, on a fairly regular basis 20 degrees and certainly often 17. Although just as often falling rapidly at night and we have had a good few night time frosts.

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Processionary Caterpillars

We have made the most of it with plenty of country walks, because, as the local “paysanne” never tire of saying “we will pay later.” The cows and calves and the sheep are still out in the fields when it’s long past the time when they would have been taken indoors to protect them from the extremes of the weather. The catkins (chatons i French, sweet huh?) are hanging like fat hairy caterpillars on the branches and the fat hairy caterpillars (processionary caterpillars) are still marching when they should be sleeping.

 

 

The Ransomes is already well above ground, the daisies are out and the gorse is in flower.

Ransomes
Ransomes

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I can remember years when by December it was already so cold that the rain froze as it hit the ground turning the ground into sheets of ice and as evening fell you could see the fingers of thick frost creeping across the road from the frozen gulleys. When the waterfalls stood frozen in mid flow. I have never on the other hand known a year when we have been able to celebrate Guy Fawkes night outside coatless, or in the case of my son, in a T-shirt.( but the habits of 14 year old boys are not of course those of the rest of the population!)

I look forward to continuing to make the most of it, but snow can be seen on the higher mountains in the distance and a wind came up today that hinted at the possibility of an approaching chill. We shall see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Armistice day

P1060308The sun has shone on us again this year for the 11th of the 11th. Armistice day is a bank holiday here and we gather every year at the monument aux morts.

P1060290The mayor reads a speech sent by the president, the children read a poem prepared at school, the “gerbe” P1060300( a floral tribute) is laid at the monument, the mayor reads out the names on the monument(after each name those gathered reply “mort pour la France”) P1060301the last post is followed by a minutes silence and the Marseillaise and we adjourn for a Kir and some  fouace ( Sometimes fouace is a cake in the madeira cake style, sometimes it’s more like a brioche, if you get given the choice go for the brioche version every time.)

The whole thing is very respectful and sensitively done, but at the same time, the traditional rather lax approach to timekeeping of the Aveyron can creep in. Last year for example there was a decision that 11.30 was quite early enough , a decision that some (yours truly in particular) ranted against and normal service was returned this year,  and I have been asked by people “When are you doing the 11th in Bournazel?” because locally quite a few villages play a bit fast and loose with times and dates!

poppyLest we forget

Indian Summer

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So having complained about the premature arrival of the frost, the summer has returned to Bournazel. day time temperatures of up to 26 ° C and even the nights have stayed mild. This has been the first year we’ve celebrated Guy Fawkes night with a barbecue, and dressed in t-shirts. The flowers continue to flourish and the lizards are still soaking up the rays.P1060320

Walking the “Chemins” of Bournazel, you can still hear crickets and see butterflies; the cows are still out with their calves and the farmers are still out ploughing the fields.P1060325

Of course there’s always a reason to complain; there are plenty of wasps and flies still and the grass still needs mowing, a small price to pay I’d say!

The frost arrives


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Well we’ve all been a bit taken aback by the sudden change in the weather. At the beginning of last week, despite the cold nights, I was still sitting on the terrace in short sleeves during my lunch break, by Thursday the nights were dropping to minus 3 and whilst by mid afternoon things were warming up , the days are too short for the autumn sun to make much of a difference. There’s been a mad rush to gather in the rest of summer’s harvest and tomatoes and courgettes have joined the summer jams and autumn walnuts and apples in the larder.

Personally, whilst I appreciate our sun, I’m quite looking forward to a trip to UK to warm up!P1050745 P1050766 P1050765 P1050754 P1050675

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Autumn

P1050620So autumn seems to be getting established. Still plenty of sun and warmth, but there are days now  that are a bit gloomy or when the wind blows off the mountains bringing a chill. The mercury can sometimes drop dramatically at night and many a” heated” discussion is had about when the heating will be turned on and whether “juste la chiminée” counts.

Strangely only two weeks ago, I was walking around delivering flyers, thinking how wonderfully summery everything looked. After the dryness of summer some major rain in early September had given the countryside a new lease of life and the greens were fabulous. Those greens have now started nearly overnight turning to the colours or autumn. Better get out and gather my walnuts sharpish!P1050618

Repas de Quartier

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An extra event in the year’s social calender can be the “repas de quartier”, but it depends in which quartier you live.

These yearly celebrations of your own personal “quartier” of the village have their own characters and traditions. Amazing that in a village of only 300 people we can mange to subdivide on so many different lines, and yet the events themselves are very inclusive. Anyone within the boundaries is invited, no matter their popularity ratings.

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So different quartiers have slightly different traditions. The old market square leave it up to one person to get the food and drink in (handy to have the local restaurateur on the team!) and then divide the bill. The menu revolves around a BBQ and the date is usually fixed last minute based on the weather and peoples commitments.

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The hamlet of Le Fau has a fixed date in the summer and a firm tradition of who does what. Some quartiers rarely have a repas any more and some never.

Apéros with René's famous
Apéros with René’s famous “Ratafia”

Our own celebration is in June or September depending on the organiser’s (guess who!) diary, but always a Friday. We are blessed with a wide range of ages (6 months to mid 80’s!), personalities, and professions and can be up to 40 strong.

Everyone brings something. Some have specialities like Juliette’s “Poule Farcie” and Réné’s “Ratafia” , other’s like a change, and we have now come right up to date with a bit of barbecuing!

The fact that the tradition continues and that people are so willing to take part is another testament to the community spirit that still exists in our little community.