The 650km adventure

img_2674Well might you wonder about the days and days of silence: there has been catering here. Fourteen house guests and lots of laughter and meals and endless feeding of the dishwasher.

Twice to the recycling bins with bottles and bottles (water too), and the washing machine is on hard rotation.  I’m getting my exercise by trudging to the clothes line down on the lower terraces with yet more sheets and towels.

Gardening? Pah! There has been endless raspberry picking. Raids on the rocket, the aubergines, courgettes, and smash and grabs up at the cabbage patch.  img_2625

The tomatoes were a great hit. Especially as I made the salad with proper buffalo mozzarella instead of my usual blander brand.

But what was all this in aid of I hear you bleat?

David turned 60. So to celebrate this rather alarming event, his old university pals decided to cycle from Paris all the way to this mountain top farm. To see if they could achieve a huge feat of travelling half way across France.

Nine riders, six days, 650km, many hotels and restaurants and cafes and bars.  It was a feat of organizing which finally paid off.  Hard work in the hills, sweeping descents on the last day here in the Ardèche and the Auvergne. A long long plod in the flat lands of the Loire.

Scrapes, tumbles, tire blow outs, sore saddles.  They survived the lot.


What a triumph. I am very proud of them.  And I know that the traditional University College London colours and stripes are not kind to the fuller figure. But they all did a brilliant job.


My task over the week and weekend was far easier. Feed, water, entertain.  Beetle about the mountain ferrying people from gite to gite. And walk and stroll and assign tasks in between meals.

Yes, there was no such thing as a free long weekend on the farm. The poor lads and accompanying lasses were given a small job on the next door farm.

For the past week I have been listening to Jean Daniel crank up the chain saw and try and try to cut this huge tree down.  It isn’t what you call a mellifluous accompaniment to my gardening. Especially as I keep listening out when it stops of a sudden and I fear for his life.

I can proudly report that his huge chestnut tree has now been reduced to manageable log sized chunks for his winter fuel.

Thank goodness we had Fenning to wield the axe, the chain saw, the splitter and the wedges. This monstrous tree took a lot of dismantling.


And it all went much faster when Jean Daniel came back from riding with one of the guests (a two hour gallop through the countryside by the sound of it) and plied everyone with pastis.


The only way to recover from that rather onerous task was to repair to the pool. Can you believe my luck? Gorgeous sunny weather worth of summer the whole three days.

And where was Artur in all this melee? Right under foot. He is such a funny critter. For an ornery old thing he just loved the company.  He managed to sit, lie or just stand right where everyone could make a fuss.

He did keep bleating to go out and in the main living room doors when the noise level rose and ebbed and flowed.  Here is Rick’s surreal shot of the cat outside begging to come back in. For the tenth time.

He is going to miss all the gushing attention.

Right now the mountain is mine again. Just me and the washing machine and the dishwasher and the bleating plaintive cat.

It will feel very surreal.

Next week, back to the garden.