Saturday, 4 June 2016

Journal Provencal: Chapitre 2

Our plans for today were straightforward: drive to Lac Sainte Croix, have a picnic lunch, have a walk along the shores of the lake, drive back to the villa, have a leisurely afternoon (possibly with a dip in the pool) and finish the day with a boeuf Bourginon. It sort of worked out that way - in the end.

Lac Sainte Croix was formed by the flooding of a valley in 1973 and is part of a wider water catchment scheme that uses the River Verdon as the link. We were in this region about 25 years ago, back in the days when our children were young and we 'did' camping. It was enjoyable then and it's enjoyable now. Makes us want to revisit France again and spend some more time meandering around the countryside.
Lac Sainte Croix. The water is as blue as it looks and I put that down to suspended silica particles.
The back end of an unidentified raptor. I think it's a harrier of some sort but haven't got my bird guide with me to be sure.
A perusal of a large scale map suggested that we could do a circular walk around a headland jutting into the lake. Using our thumbs, we estimated that it would be around 5 - 6 km and we thought that it would take us a couple of hours. Those familiar with walking in France will recognise the red and white route markers of the Grande Randonnee footpaths. In our case, we'd be walking 'out' on GR99B and 'back' on GR99A.
The map lied! In the event the footpath was, in some parts, much more rocky than we'd anticipated and we ended up walking just over 11 km, rather than our estimated 5 - 6. And it took us over double what we'd planned, 5 hours rather than 2. It was not the lakeside stroll that we'd imagined. But we did it and all felt very satisfied with our performance. We may have had a combined age of approaching 350 years but we could still negotiate some difficult terrain. What this meant was that our leisurely evening was somewhat compromised but nonetheless civilised.
Not that many birds were to be seen on the lake. Just a couple of Great Crested Grebes, of which this is one.
What a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon. I was quite envious as it's been an absolute age since I last fished. Only electric motors are allowed on the lake so it was very, very quiet. Just the sound of gently lapping water and gasping lungs. 
And then, all of a sudden , out the sky came 7 or 8 yellow aeroplanes. They wheeled around and then, one after the other..
..landed on the water. They were marked 'Securite Civile' but we had no idea what they would be used for. We walked on for a while and climbed up a wooded hillside: as we doing this we could hear the planes talking off again.
A Common Blue butterfly. A rather prosaic name for a beautiful insect. There were four or five of these attracted by something in the animal scat you can see in the background.
Mirror, mirror, on the side of the road... A strange place to locate a mirror - on a not too-sharp bend in the middle of nowhere.
Log envy. I do like a well ordered pile of logs. If I'd done this, I'd be very pleased with myself.
An alley off what passed for the main street in Bauduen, where our walk/trek/adventure/mistake started and ended.

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