Back where it all began!

Trip Start Nov 27, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of France  , Limousin,
Monday, May 3, 2010

We're back with our first hosts, Peter and Julie and their wonderful menagerie at La Forge in the Creuse region of France. We had such a lovely time here back in December that a repeat visit was always on the cards and we've certainly struck lucky with the weather. It is HOT.

Everyone here (Peter, Julie, 2 doggies, 10 pusses, sheep, goats, geese, ducks, chickens) survived the snow, and the sheep and one goat are pregnant. Two lambs already born! Very very cute. 

We've all been preparing land for this year's crop, sowing seeds of all varieties, weeding. We've also drunk a lot of beer, hung out in the woods, celebrated Beltane round a fire all night, and generally had a magnificent time of it! It is so nice to be here again. 

When the sun was too hot, we escaped to the woods and camped out for a couple of nights.  Peter got stuck in with some hard work clearing the pond, Julie carved out wood spirits, I tracked animals and did some writing and Alex played with sticks and fungus. I slept out in a hammock for the first time, it was very cool! I got very little sleep, partly because it wasn't very comfortable but mainly because it was so exciting being so close to everything that came out in the woods after dark. Every sound was amplified, the snuffling mice sounded like bears and the deer that walked past at one point sounded like it was right next to me! At some point in the early hours something definitely brushed my back as it strolled under the bunk (I wasn't very far off the ground). Alex recommended I try a second night, and a few beers, extreme tiredness and Alex's helpful tips provided a much improved night of rest. Takes a bit of getting used to, but hammocks are a great way to sleep in the woods!
We also went for a midnight walk one night when the moon was full, taking the two dogs and seven of the cats with us (the cats insist on following, only to start protesting loudly when they get tired!). Eventually, cats mewling from various points along the trail, Peter and fellow helpxer Marie started to walk back along the way we had come to try and gather the stragglers together. Me, Alex and Julie carried on back to the house with only three cats in tow. How many of the seven cats made it home that night? Six. I went off to find the missing cat, Monkey, the next afternoon, calling 'Puss Puss Puss' as I walked along the quiet French country lanes. Hearing a pathetic 'mew' from the bushes, it turned out Monkey was fine, probably having spent the night hiding up a tree, and I carried her back home to be reunited with her brothers and sisters, and to be fed!

Fete de Luma at Cluis was all about snails: racing, parading, eating etc. The carnival was led by a ten foot high snail, a small boy astride it's shell.  Drumming bands, marching bands, dancing ladies, Homer Simpson and Zoro on floats all trouped past the crowds.  Alex tried a snail pasty which she thought tasted like mussels, in a creamy garlic & parsley sauce all wrapped up in pastry.  I tried a regional pasty that appeared to have no filling! With the help of Marie's translation, I mentioned the mistake to the vendor who explained that the filling was in the pastry itself rather than in the pasty. Oooops. The fete was a very busy event with market stalls and some fairground rides. Meeting up with some friends of Peter and Julie, Rayne and Joe, we were treated to some delicious giant waffles covered with nutella or icing sugar, and then we filled any tummy room left with a coffee in a local pub. A lovely afternoon.

We have no photos of the Beltane fire that was lit in the garden for Beltane night, probably for the best considering the excessive nudity, the drugs and the sacrificial rites that took place (joke!). However, it was an amazing night. The weather was warm enough for us to sit around the fire all night, beer or cider in hand, listening to music and chatting as dawn approached. Some of us had to retire to bed at 4.30am, too exhausted to join the truly hardcore among us who stayed up to see in the new day :-) Luckily, next day was not a work day!

Thank you, everyone and everything at La Forge, for another wonderful visit. I'm afraid you'll be seeing us again soon!

We leave Peter and Julie's on 4th May, for a slightly mad dash back to Calais and a ferry to Dover that night. Then we'll be in the UK for a few months, getting the MOT done on the van, perhaps doing some sightseeing, and catching up with friends and family!
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Liz on

What a great way to spend Beltane! I'm so jealous! I had no nudity as I was in the back garden and didn't want to end up on a u-tube video posted by my neighbours. Hope to catch up with you both very soon. xxx

Marie Mottais on


Thank you for the link to your blog and the photos!
Unfortunately I cannot download them to send copies to friends :(

You forgot to mention that Peter and I came back at 1h20 after having looked for the cats, which did not follow us so easily (especially when we crossed the only car in la Cellette this night, near a house with a dog)

I enjoyed meeting you and wish you all the best for the following!


Peter on

That is a beautiful Blog full of lovely memories...Thanks Guys! We are really looking forward to your return, it's nice to be able to share this special corner of the world with good friends.

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