We had a good journey back to La Maire on 3rd January, despite driving through the storms sweeping across the UK and northern France. We left Maidenhead at 5am and arrived here before 9pm which was good going - probably the best drive yet!
The last couple of weeks have been mostly dry and sunny with the occasional morning frost. The countryside has a very different look at this time of year. Now that all the leaves are down, the fields are empty of crops and the verges all cut back and tidied it looks very pristine and open - and surprisingly green. The snowy mountains also look very close in the clear air.
We had another walk on Tuesday at the Prat d'Albi, the summit just the other side of Foix last week. Lisa joined us for a really enjoyable walk and picnic. Incredible views again - see the photo above.
We have also spent some time driving around the local area delivering leaflets to publicize our chambres d'hotes, watercolour classes and picture framing. On leaving the neighbouring village on Thursday we saw a hot air balloon - quite an unusual occurrence here! It was starting to descend so we drove uphill hoping to see it land. We were in luck - it came down in a field right next to the road. It was clearly such an unusual event for the cows in the field that it caused a stampede! Dave was lucky enough to have his camera on him - so a photos will appear in his 'photo a day' at the end of the month.
The next job in the house is to put up some bannisters around the stairs in the attic, which we are using as my picture framing workshop. Suitable wood is very expensive to buy, but luckily Dave found some old pieces of manger in the stables which are perfect for the job. He is cleaning them up ready to put in place - they should make a nice feature as well as serving a purpose!
Yesterday evening we were invited to dinner with Jean Paul and Magali, along with Jean Paul's sister and brother-in-law. It was a very lively and enjoyable evening - speaking both French and English, and the time flew by. We could hardly believe it was 1.30am when we got up to leave!
We love the way that aperitifs are often the most important part of the meal here. We had a choice of champagne and 6 different kinds of whisky - so Dave was in his element!The meal was also delicious!
Today we went out for a local bike ride to clear our heads! We explored a different route out from La Maire, up through the forest following the St Jacques de Compostelle route, then back down through the country lanes - beautiful!!
There are a few more photos of the month so far here