Sunday, 26 May 2013

I'm still here!

Time between my blog posts seems to be getting longer and longer, doesn't it. But that's because life continues to be so darned busy down here! This, however, is a good thing. A brief summary of the past 4 weeks for you.

My brother came to visit us at the start of the month for a few short days of mental 'switch off' which was desperately needed. Fortunately, the weather Gods played ball and he had glorious weather for his stay. The peace of the place started working its magic very shortly after he arrived...
We took him for a walk up to the Estives de Paloumere above the Col du Portet d'Aspet which tested his legs and lungs but for which he was rewarded with stunning views

We also had time to put him to work in the potager....
Time passed by oh too fast, but I'm pleased to say he returned home much less of a stress monkey, which was the important thing!

Everything has been on hold in the potager for the past two weeks as the weather has been truly appalling with unseasonally cold temperatures, driving wind and rain. Pretty miserable. Thank heavens for the polytunnel which has already earned its keep. I have been able to sow all kinds of veg in troughs and modules that it would have been impossible to sow outside. It has also enabled me to pot on young brassicas that would have perished outdoors. But we are forecast for better weather from the coming weekend, so I will no doubt have a big push to plant out a lot of stuff. Watch that space.

As the weather has been so dire, we haven't got out on the bikes as much as we would have liked, but we have made the most of every weather window that has come along. I have now got a fantastic new saddle (a women's specific Bontrager Affinity RL in case anybody is interested!) which has finally relieved a lot of the discomfort that I was experiencing on the bike and has made the whole riding experiencing a lot more pleasurable! My best ride to date was at the start of the month, an 85km/1400m+ ride taking in the Col des Ares..
... which I steamed around, feeling really strong, in 3h32! That was a cracker.

We also had a scenic 73km/1100m+ lumpy ride in the foothills which was more exhausting  than riding a col with all its ups and its downs
Then today, on the first sunny day in 2 weeks, we met up with Helen and Chris over in the Luchon Valley who run Pyractif cycling holidays for a blast into Spain then up and over the Category 2 Col de Portillon back down to Luchon.
The river Garonne down the valley was very high thanks to a combination of recent heavy rain and snow melt
It was a wonderfully sociable ride of 79km/1000m+ made 'interesting' by a strong headwind back down the valley from Luchon which saw the boys working hard to bring us girlies home in a not too exhausted state!
May is the month of beautiful Spring flowers in the Pyrénées. Here are a few of my favourites. The unique tongue orchid ....
... the pretty lady orchid....
.... black rampion (phyteuma nigrum), only found in France...