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Published: July 11th 2013
Oui, il fait chaud maintenant - at last it is is hot but there were days in this first week when we struggled ...with comments from me at Carcassone like "no I am not walking up on the ramparts of this medieval city walls- I will freeze to death" and "let's have a hot chocolate to warm ourselves up". Then suddenly summer arrived - HOORAY. In this week we have driven about in the mountains up and down river valleys to villages ( most of which are named " one of the most beautiful villages in France" ) - this is the Cathar country where the Catholic Crusaders led by Simon de Beaufort did not like any other version of christianity - so they set about sieges to lots of towns and castles and if the Cathar folk did not want to convert to Catholicism then they burnt them alive. Memorials abound in these villages. Carcassone is magnificent with its walled fortifications set above the old town. Nowadays the cobbled streets are filled with tourists, shops and restaurants but nevertheless you can get a feel for what it must have been like 100s of years ago. Some drives we were up
in the mountains so high on very narrow roads with Lesley saying don't look down!!!- I am getting quite used to these hairpin bend roads and my little Skoda Citigo car is getting a good workout.
A tip for fellow travellers - when some information says " The lake is a few minutes from the village" ...check that it means driving or walking!!!! WE set out for a few minutes walk from our village and then across paths in the vineyards thinking it is only a few minutes so it must be round the next corner - oh no 45 mins later we arrived at the lake. Well it was a lovely walk - our first sunny hot day - this nearby lake had a pebbly beach , lawns to lie on trees for shade and a cafe for icecreams ...perfect . We went back several times ( by car ) and it was just perfect at the end of a day's visiting to spend an hour or two , sometimes cooling off in the water.
We had to take Maureen to the sea one day and decided on a little place called Guisson ...very hot and sunny
but soooo windy...there was a wonderful long wide sandy beach with no-one on it except some kite surfers - no wonder as we walked down to the sea to paddle we were sand-blasted and almost blown over. But it was exhilarating to say the least!! After a cafe au lait on and on we drove and by the beach were hundreds of wooden chalets most of them on stilts with living quarters on the top floor - an unexpected sight on the Med. Where to have our picnic was the next challenge - and we eventually found a less windy spot around one of the marinas. It was a case of hold onto your olives in case they blew away but we are so good at putting these picnic plates together and we managed quite a feast. ( Thanks to Janey for that picnic rucsac she gave me it is wonderful). We took Maureen to an oyster tasting place - but I think she preferred the Australian ones - she said these were very small !! After all the feasting we walked around the marinas admiring the boats and thinking about all the money tied up there!!!
finally our week at Olonzac came to an end and Lesley and I set off to travel back north through France for our second week ...and Maureen was off to Montpellier as she has another few weeks on her trip in France before she rerurns to Oz.
And yes you are wondering at the reference to a kettle in the title of this blog ... most chambre d'hotes, B+Bs here do not have a kettle so we have become adept at even making hot meals with just the kettle. ( A last minute thought when packing at home..." oh I have a travel kettle which I bought in Sweden a few years ago - we will take that!!!")
Recipe - packet of Aynsley Harriot Mediterranean couscous + boiling water from kettle.
Pour boiling water over courgettes , leave for a few mins, then add to the cousous. Chop up tomato or any other veg and add. Makes a nice feast.
Broccoli salad- pour boiling water over broccoli florets , leave a few minutes , make a dressing with garlic, red onions, oil from jar of feta cheese and a bit of balsamic vinegar ( we happened
to have a lttle bottle of it with us) - mix with salad leaves and feta etc ...tasty.
In addition of course we have made numerous cups of tea and coffee and our thermos is always filled when we are off out on picnics. A thought - next time I am travelling with the car should I take the sandwich toaster/ grill thingy ???
Adventures in France to be continued... xxx
PS Lots of fotos cos it's one week's worth.
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