I have just returned from a wonderful, action packed, though slightly short visit to France. I am back in England to dogsit for my brother for a few days, then visit the rest of my family and some London based friends before heading to the mountains again for winter.
My visit was to Marcilhac-sur-célé, a tiny village that nestles in a gorge valley deep in the Parc National regional des Causses de Quercy. The scenery there is absolutely stunning and the weather was impeccable for November, if I had packed shorts, they would have been well worn.
|looking down on Marcilhac-sur-célé from the top of the gorge|
I stayed with Brigitte, a wonderful helpX host whose ancient stone house overlooks the valley whilst nestling into the sparse woodland that reflects the barren nature of the limestone region. A calm and tranquil location with great views and hardly a passing car.
|terrace with potager and formal garden area beyond|
My morning tasks mainly involved chasing well rooted weeds in the potager and garden areas and using my technical knowledge to bring into line a collection of roses, some of which hadn’t been dramatically pruned for a number of years. Neither task was particularly hard work, as extracting the roots of perennial weeds takes time and concentration, else fragments get left behind to grow again and if you go at a climbing rose bush with too much vigour you tend to become hooked up, tangled and trapped far too easily, so a steady, paced approach tends to work best. The results were excellent, possibly a bit more severe than expected, but next year will definitely show results.
|Brigitte in the traditional gardener pose|
|the river Célé passing through Marcilhac|
In return, I was incredibly well fed with delicious meals, great conversations and encouragement in my french language skills, which is always appreciated. Brigitte did more than enough to keep me occupied and amused throughout my visit. So much so that I feel as if we hardly ever stopped.
|November light over Figeac|
We visited Figeac, the largest local town in the area, where Brigitte takes accordion lessons and then plays with a group of musicians, a double treat as I got to have a good look round the quaint old town whilst she was taking her lessons and then sat in to enjoy some great practice music. It was almost like having a private concert, although they did repeat some pieces several times to get it right. It has made me want to find an instrument to play!
We visited friends for meals and evenings out so frequently that it felt as if we never stopped. A great rural community of similarly minded folk that make sure that a good time is had without too much expense. Family popped in and Timon, the two year old grand son was looked after on several occasions, he was great fun and his books proved to be excellent help filling in some of my vocabulary gaps.
|the garden of Stephan and his family, they are hoping to become self sufficient and autonomous|
It was a shame that I had to leave so soon, as I was beginning to get somewhat settled and could easily have spent another few weeks enjoying my visit. Alas, plans were already made, I have four great dogs to walk twice a day, the chance to enjoy a bit of city life, some time completely on my own, which is a rare occurrence whilst helpXing the whole time and the opportunity to catch up well on all sorts of things that pass me by on my trips away.