We all made it to the church at Carcans on time so it was not too bad a start to the New Year, and the first 2013 vintage walk is now respectfully assuming its rightful place in Piet de Bie’s repertory of always very interesting and enjoyable walks.
Earlier in the morning, I heard a foghorn down on the Estuary at Le Verdon. But, by the time I and we had all arrived at Carcans, the mist and low cloud was beginning to thin acceptably for ground-level walkers. Just as well, as Piet had found us another nice pleasant ramble in the hectares of forestry land, cleared, reclaimed and replanted further to the disastrous storms in 1999. Already, the one time saplings had grown to respectable fir trees 2-3 metres high, interspersed by an occasional oak sapling still wearing its autumn cloak of golden brown. As the mist continued to clear, it was to reveal whole ranges of browns, ochres and greens which were so beautiful, natural and untouched as they were, and so a panorama which was fit for many an artist’s pallet. The bright and pure cadmium yellow of the gorse bushes in flower in splendidcontrast to emerald greens of the gorse bush itself and also that of the smart, green, green, brand new fir trees, just beginning to learn to stand up straight for themselves.
Notably absent, apart from the sun, was the wildlife, birdlife in particular, and the noisy chatter of young jays flapping their way from tree to tree. Possibly, the lack of cover and undergrowth explained that all this wildlife was feeding elsewhere, in another neck of the woods. Without thinking of anyone in particular, maybe, after all, it was not a bad idea to flex a few of those joints and get those cartilages back into working order and the 5 miles or so of rough and smooth terrain, forestry rides and sandy tracks were just what the doctor ordered. No way, with Piet fully kitted out with GPS and large-scale IGN maps of the area, could we have had to ask our way or have missed out on our important rendez-vous for lunch.
So, and not too soon, we could notice Charles striding out in front, leading us back to the superintendantand meter-free church carpark at Carcans. However, and I guess there may have been a second reason. I suspect Charles was in the know. Back at the ranch, Deirdre was ready with a warm mulled wine welcome for us thirsty British souls cluttering up her driveway and carpark. And, afterwards, Deirdre invited us to sit down to the ‘simple’ lunch which we had been told we might expect. I suppose I don’t know too much about these things. What is particularly simple about delicious home made onion and home made vegetable soups? Maybe the dozen or so French cheeses, rosé and red wine also on the table were of help? On behalf of all who partook, may I say, quite simply thank you Deirdre, thank you Chris and, yet again, thank you Piet
Report by Anthony Dingle, Photo by Piet de Bie