|Cattle above Ax-les-Thermes|
Hello. Do you remember me?
We got back from France last evening and zoomed northwards in time for the quiz at "The Hammer and Pincers". By the way, with my chum Mick we won one of the three monetary prizes. It helps to know that Florence Nightingale planned her funeral fifty three years in advance of it.
France was hot when we left it - well maybe not all of France but certainly the L'Ariege area west of Carcassonne. The late summer landscape was baking and fields of ripening sunflowers hung their weary heads awaiting the impending harvest.
|The Cité de Carcassonne|
We had three lovely days there. It was good to catch up with my brother Robin and his long time girlfriend Suzy. Each evening, as darkness was descending, we enjoyed simple, rustic meals on the terrace - talking, laughing and drinking French wine until tiredness arrived and our beds beckoned.
I didn't look at a screen once while I was there - no TV and no internet. It was a pleasure to be out of this addictive loop. Instead, I swam in the pool and we drove out to Ax-les-Thermes, Foix, Mirepoix and upon request back to Carcassonne to wander around the walled and medieval "Cité" that has figured in various films and is certainly a wonder to behold.
|Sunrise over Floc|
For our son Ian and Frances's boyfriend Stewart, it was the first time they had been to Robin's place. They both loved it and appreciated their Gallic break on the doorstep of the Pyrenees. I asked Robin if he would take Stew out for a ride on his biggest motorcycle - a shiny Honda beast with more power than your average small car. It was better than the scariest fairground ride and better still - Stew lived to tell the tale.
|Frenchman in Ax-les-Thermes|
At the single pay kiosk by the closest petrol station to Carcassonne Airport, I was fumbling to provide the right amount of cash to pay for filling up the hire car. A woman got out of the car behind and angrily poured forth a tirade of French abuse. How dare I hold her up for thirty seconds? Of course I didn't understand a single words she was saying so I just ignored her and asked the kiosk attendant for a receipt. These days some hire companies have developed the nasty habit of asking for proof that renters have filled up with petrol. I hope that my abuser rots in hell.
Fortunately, she didn't sour the end of our long weekend. Vive La France!
|By the river in Foix|
|In an antiques shop in Mirepoix|
|Robin and Suzy's place in the sun|