Friday, 12 April 2019

A friend in need - is a pain in the neck!

Nearly all the tourist information and publicity for this region talks about the Med and Mountain aspect – the fact that the Mediterranean sea is just a 2 hour drive from the ski-slopes of the Pyrénées.  The most adventurous of tourists could be skiing in the morning and then swimming in the Mediterranean in the afternoon – but probably in full ski-gear as the water is pretty cold in winter.   I can’t claim to have done that but here are a couple of photos taken just 24 hours apart:

On Saturday we took the dogs up the mountain to play in the snow!  The temperature when we set off was 15°– and just 1° when we arrived at Les Angles.  The dogs were having such a great time that they didn’t even notice a herd of wild deer crossing the path just 100 metres in front of us – and yes I did manage to take a picture but there is no point publishing it as they just look like rocks in the distance.  But they were definitely real deer!  We also saw 3 eagles flying slowly just over our car.  A fantastic day out – also helped by a delicious lunch in front of a warm fire at l’Ermitage (just before Font Romeu).

This next picture is taken the following day – Sunday lunch at the port of St Cyprien.  20° of sunshine.  T-shirt weather.  Incredible to look back at the snow-capped mountain in the distance and remember that we were there just the day before, wrapped up in coats, hats, gloves etc.

But the main purpose of this blog-post, apart from boasting about what a great place this is to live, was to give credit to an excellent friend of ours.  Halfway through our snowy walk we found a children’s park and spent some ‘silly time’ playing on the swings.  Then we got back to the car to discover that the keys had dropped out of somebody’s pocket – and I am here to tell you that it wasn’t me!  Luckily we had left the car unlocked (not many car-thieves in the middle of nowhere) so while the guilty party retraced his steps in an attempt to find the keys in ankle-deep snow, I sat in the car with the dogs, quietly panicking and going through the options:  a) He finds the keys and we drive home, b) We walk miles to find the main road and hope to see a bus/car/taxi to take us back home, c) We spend the night in the car and they find our frozen bodies the next morning, or d) Phone a friend.  I chose Option D and rang our ‘closest’ friend at the time – Robert who lives 1 hour away.  What a hero he is – when he had stopped laughing he said he would set off immediately.  Luckily for everybody, Option A miraculously happened and I was able to ring Robert and try to convince him that we hadn't had a problem, nobody had been silly enough to lose the keys and that it was just a test of his friendship – which he he had passed with flying colours!   


Sunday, 31 March 2019

There IS such a thing as a free lunch!

An advert for a financial seminar wouldn’t normally catch my eye – but also seeing the words ‘Chateau Valmy’ and ‘refreshments’ had me booking my place immediately. 

Our hosts were an internationally well-known ‘Wealth Management’ company and while my only ‘wealth management’ is rummaging down the back of the sofa for coins, the seminar was Brexit related, so of great interest to me and the many ex-pats who live here.  There were 5 ‘suits’ from the Company who took turns to explain different scenarios and suggesting when to panic (end of 2020) and when to take steps to avoid panicking at the end of 2020 (now).   There was no ‘hard-sell’ involved –they even gave us a folder with a notepad and pencil inside – but there was lots of good and useful information so I’m sure they’ll be receiving lots of calls very shortly.  And from me too.
But now to the important part of the proceedings – refreshments!  I had imagined it would be coffee and pastries, but when we walked out of the darkened seminar room into the bright sunshine on the terrace, we were greeted by waiters and waitresses clutching bottles of wine (Chateau Valmy production, naturally) and there were tables loaded with delicious mini nibbles and snacks.  Even the ‘suits’ were impressed by the setting – this seminar was part of a series they had been holding around France but this venue, with the sunshine, the food and the views over the vineyards down to the Mediterranean, had to be the best! 

As I am totally independent, I can’t give the name of the company, but will happily provide it on request.  And my grateful thanks go to them for letting me have a copy of this slide, which I think explained the Brexit situation more clearly than anything!