I moved to Laroque des Albéres today, and in doing so have gained a toehold on the foothills of the Albéres, which are the foothills of the Pyrenees Orientales. I would supply a footnote, but I think you get the point.
The local café, Café des Artistes, is owned by a man from Wexford called Feargal and his English wife Mel. They have the biggest, blackest dog I have ever seen, although the lady at the next table has just informed her companions that her sister has a dog like that. Except, her sister’s dog is white with blue eyes and the dog is so big that the sister has to rub sun cream on his testicles. It pays to eavesdrop.
I knew Laroque was a lovely village when I took my new lodgings but last night I discovered hidden depths. My arrival was celebrated with a night market and following the track of the stalls I found beautiful winding streets and a charming square boasting a catalan bar, an old church and an imposing plane tree. And, just around the corner, an elderly French cowboy duo belting out the Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar” in pidgin English. You gotta love France. As usual, everyone was up dancing, from the very young to the very old and no holds were barred.
I had a 3-week run of making some very special memories leading up to my removal from Argeles. Firstly, friends from home who I haven’t spent time with for a very, very long time, arrived for their holiday in Montesquieu des Alberes and we had a wonderful couple of weeks swimming, eating, singing, telling stories and catching up. There are people with whom the connection is never broken, no matter how far the distance nor how long the time. To find yourself waist-deep in warm water and too busy discussing the old days in Courtown (you had to be there) to bother swimming may seem bizarre but every moment counts when there has been so much distance and so many shared memories.
No sooner had the regretful goodbyes been said than an invitation came to join Sarah and Jo at Corlac House for a few days. A 5 hour drive in blistering heat to the Lot area, 2 hours north of Toulouse, was rewarded tenfold. Corlac House is a stunning country home, complete with swimming pool and spectacular bedrooms. We dined outdoors under the trees, sang a (vaguely) harmonised version of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and lounged on sunbeds in-between dips in the warm pool. If you ever have a special birthday, wedding or big event to celebrate, or just want to spend lazy time with a group of friends, this is the place. Bliss.