Thursday, 30 June 2011

Meeting cousin Martin

Meeting up with cousin Martin and Jo and their family

In the morning, we decided to have a go at Luz Ardiden climb, before travelling down the Gave de Gavarnie to meet up with Martin and Jo at Arras-Lavedan.  For me a challenge, but for Ian a day off, “leg-turner”!  14k and 1000m climb through wooded hills, and gradients of 9%!  I’d forgotten how hard these horrible ski station climbs are.  The weird thing is that coming down is easily as painful, with hands straining to grip the brakes!  I had to stop just to get sensation back into numb fingers.  Bit more frightened after falling off and that’s made going downhill much tougher!!  May be being negative, but it was a crap route!  Chased up by hundreds of flies, who were going faster than me and had to stop once to recover from swallowing on of my companions!  Once on summit, what could you say about it- it’s a ski station- not much to look at, no facilities, no celebration orange juice and fizzy water!  Rubbish!

At start of walk in Gavarnie
Once recovered from the stinky downhill, we set off to Arras-Lavedan to visit my cousin.  I haven’t seen him for about 36years, and he and his twin brother were only about four years old when I last saw him, running around the tent on one of the joint camping holidays in Norfolk we had together with my uncle and dad’s families.  He , Jo and their three children have been living out in France for eight years, in a lovely old house in the Pyrenees.  It was great to catch up with them, or really get to know them from scratch.  It was great that we seemed to get on so well and had lots to talk about.  We admired the way they had taken up residence in France, both being able to speak the language really well, in spite of little before they went out there, but they have put themselves out there, and circulated with the locals.  Their daughter was born out there, and so they have that necessary contact with other parents, pushing them to communicate in French.  Ian and I had also forgotten what it’s like to have a young family, and how there’s always something to do.  All too soon, we had to be off, but promised that we would come back and see them all again.  There’s so much still to do in this area, particularly walking and cycling.  So we’ll definitely be returning. 

We returned to Luz-St-Sauveur and changed into Sunday best to go and watch some Pyreneean Singing, which had been advertised near the old church.  I’d hoped it would outside in the open-air, with the mountains in the background, but the performance was in the church, which is beautiful but sombre.  We hung around outside to measure whether we were up for sitting inside, only to hear the durge-like tune of “Auld langs Syne” sung in French.  Didn’t hang around!  They’d highjacked that famous Scottish anthem, and tried to pass it off as Pyreneean.  Ian needed no second chance.  He never wanted to go anyway!  So back to the van, and a “digestif” still dressed in best frock, and smart shirt!!

After 3 days here, it’s starting to feel like home and we’ll definitely re-visit “Les Cascades” and its welcoming owner.

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