“Une Femme Formidable” is probably how the French would describe my new friend Pam. We first met her a few weeks ago when she dropped in to give Colin a message. She had been mentioned a number of times previously, most notably when her fast driving and disregard of French speed-limits came up in conversation.
The flash of shocking pink in her grey hair is perhaps a sign of an artistic temperament which, along with her love of walking, indicated a strong possibility that she and I would bond. Testing her open invitation to “drop in anytime”, I called to see if she wanted to join me for a walk one afternoon last week. Although in the middle of her lunch, she insisted I stay, talk and drink tea. After more than an hour of her talking without apparent need to breathe, I walked the half mile back home.
A few days later we arranged a proper walk. She took me along the Ariège River passed a weir and an old mill stream. Then we meandered up through a hillside village and climbed a wooded track up the mountain beside a cascading stream towards the snow-line. I’m more used to walking on flattish ground than steep hills, so the unfamiliar gradients were testing my fitness. Pam is about ten years older than me and only about three-quarters my height (and I’m fairly titchy) but she was hardly puffing despite maintaining a constant commentary. The advantage of walking up a mountain path is that it’s downhill all the way home. We’d been out for nearly 3 hours, lunch time had come and gone and I’d not taken any water, but I’d had such an exhilarating time: no complaints, just a mental note for future reference.
Annoyingly I’d left my camera at home because we’d planned to take the route I’d already walked and photographed. As Pam’s route was so beautiful, I showed the first half of it to John a few days later and that time took some great snaps.
Now we’ve got to know Tori and her brother Harry, who are staying at the Château and helping with the restoration, John and I walked up to see them one glorious sunny afternoon this week. My visit with Colin, the first week of our stay, was tantalisingly brief so I’d been keen to see more.
After taking tea on the kitchen terrace with its fabulous views down to the village and over the fishery, Tori took time out to show us around properly. It seemed not to be appropriate to photograph everything as I longed to do, but I did manage to get a few gems. The project is many times greater than anything similar that I’ve seen in TV.
This blog is based on truth but for privacy and security many of the names have been changed and some of the story may be embellished at times for dramatic effect.