Thursday

Ceret

Day off on Saturday - today - a trip to Ceret. Its the Feria, an annual festival.
A 3 day party focussed around a bullfight. Lots of drinking and the music is loud enough to be heard in the mountains (I can hear it now - 11.45pm)
At the end of each night the fire brigade clears the drunks from the streets and puts them all in the sports stadium, dousing them with water occasionally.
Armed police have road blocks either side of town, breathalysing everyone driving. Jean passed through at 6am today, they had caught perhaps 30 people and kept them by the side of the road, no fines, no charges brought. Just wait two hours, blow into the bag again and if you are o.k. then you can drive away, if not, wait another two hours!
I like this too. Heavy handed with the guns, but allowing for the festival and resulting drunkenness.
On Saturday night they just seal the roads, nobody drives out of here.
The market this afternoon was excellent, lots of small farmers selling their products. England should have this. Stop the supermarkets and let the people be people, stop the image building and expectation of product appearance "pefection". Appearance over all else, and let the best produce sell, not the supermarket "buyer" decide which LOOKS the best for the shelves.
Food galore, samples to be tried, friends to chat to, bought some delicious duck pate to send home.
Blokes in red shirts everywhere, red for the blood of the bull, a red bandana around the neck means you've seen the bulls. Bands playing in the cafes, plywood bars quickly made lining the roads. All cars kept out of the centre, lots of people, a good market! From spices to pottery, underwear to fresh bread, souvenirs to "indians" (real) complete with feathers dancing in the street, busking for CD sales.
Saturday night - Jocelyn's brother and sister in law visiting from Brittany - just driven 930 km to be here, I feel out of place, this is a family event, I don't speak the language, am a stanger here. These are all lovely people and their hospitality is absolutely second to none, but I need to get out and let them get on with it.
What have I learned so far.....
Irrigation - drip feed and pressure spray fed from a river above the level of the land, how to kill chickens the French way, brushed up my tree felling, how to keep a sheep controlled when its caught, (when its caught).
I can understand more French now than I thought I would after a week, but still can't recall it fast enough to be able to speak to people.
I can drive a car on the right of the road, with a French gearbox (easy), not bad for 5 days, O.K.
Need to line the inside of the small polytunnel with small guage chicken wire, there are animals here that suck the blood from the chickens and that kills them. The jobs half done already - will finish it in the morning. Then the fencing, not an easy route to take, plenty of ???? trees and brambles, thoroughly overgrown, will take some time to clear. I'm not sure I'm going to learn what I wanted to here, but will stay as long as I'm welcome, and learn what I can, this place is breathtaking and the people wonderful, I would love to stay longer than the month, but need to learn the walling, perhaps the next place?..........

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Good luck with your own journey.
Thanks for visiting,
Rob.