I've been away on a wonderful holiday, back last Wednesday evening but unable to do last Friday's post because of a deadline for work.
It's only when I saw that I had 266 photos to download from my camera a couple of days ago, that I did a quiet gulp and thought, oh dear, I really did take lots of pictures, oh dear. And I really have been through each one and selected and cropped and cleaned them out so they download to your screen more quickly.
Don't holidays seem like a surreal dream when they've gone? Our holiday could have been a puff of smoke vanished into thin air, so it's nice to have photographs to prove the lovely time we had, was a solid reality, not just a nice dream.
Our holiday started with flying to Toulouse in France, where we were met by my parents, who had driven up from their home in Spain. This three day trip in France was a gift from my parents, a holiday within a holiday so-to-speak. Very generous of them to invite us along with them don't you think?
We only had a few hours in Toulouse before we set off on our journey to the Cathar region, but we did manage to have a walkabout, and being a Sunday, came across a market. It was somewhere between a car boot sale and a clothes market.
Having a couple of small encounters on the way.
Miniature Wire Haired Dachshunds, also known by as Teckels!
As we own two of this adorable breed, coming across this little family of seven Teckels made my day.
And then later, after lunch, we encountered animals that spend a lot of time in the water.
In France they are called Ragondin, and that translates into the English Coypu.
No they're not giant sewer rats, which was our first thought! They're more like Ratty from The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame. (Ratty lives on a river bank).
We threw the remains of the bread from our lunch to them, and watched as they slowly swam about, clasping the bread in their paws and nibbling at it daintily.
We were fascinated by their whiskery faces and their perfect little hand-like paws. We tried to ignore their tails.
Our first day of the holiday and we'd encountered a Sunday Market, a pack of Mini Wire-haired Dachsies, had a lazy lunch of bread, cheese and tomatoes whilst sitting on the bank of a canal, and also encountered Ratty..............................
And then we were off to see this!
Doesn't it look like something out of a movie!
I liked Carcassonne, it's beautiful, and the streets are very clean, you don't have to watch what you tread on in Carcassonne. It almost stood out for its clean streets alone. But of course there's a lot more to it than that.
There is Carcassonne Cathedral, with its magnificent stained glass windows.
I have to say at this point, that it was HOT. We experienced temperatures of up to 35 c on our holiday, and when your home weather is habitually cold, these temperatures can make you feel very .......... lazy! I was more like August temperatures, not September weather. Still, it was lovely to be able to wear summer dresses without having long-sleeved t-shirts underneath, and cardigans on top, and boots, and socks, which is my usual way of dressing.
I thought the castle was fascinating, and there were good explanations about the building and its restoration. It was special to be able to walk the ramparts, which had been reconstructed. It was hot, so I don't know how much historical information my fried brain actually absorbed. Enough to enjoy myself, and find the film at the start of the tour very interesting. I find it's the same with most historic bulidings that are either ruins, or have been partially restored, and don't have the paraphernalia of every day life like furniture and cooking implements of the period in place, it requires imagination to try and picture what it might have been like when first built. I always try to make it come alive by thinking about the people living in a place at the time. Often there isn't much to help with forming these pictures, just empty buildings. This is where the film at the beginning of this particular tour was of great help.
After the castle, there was the wandering about Carcassonne. With a bit of window shopping, which was a little taxing for my Dad and Hugo.
I love to have a wander, an explore, and it's always a rewarding thing to do in France. Things are done beautifully, the light is soft and works so well with the milky colours so beloved by the French.
My Mum and Dad like to explore too, stop here, stop there, buy bread, find a shop that sells cheese, locate a nice spot with a view, (in the shade), for a picnic lunch. Lovely. So we all got along very well, had a very jolly time.
But next! Next was walking up to ruined Cathar castles. If you'd like to know more about these castles there's a good short explanation of their history here.
I thought you might like to see our starting point before walking up to Queribus castle.
I tlooks very forbidding don't you think? And very high up too?
The walk wasn't as bad as we initially thought it was going to be.
And as you do, on we went to the next castle, Peyrepertuse Castle, much more forbidding looking.
And again, the walk was surprisingly not too bad.
My Mum is almost 69 years old, and my Dad is soon to be 70 years old, so I think I'd be forgiven for being proud of how well they look in the photo above, especially after having climbed quite a difficult slippy path to the very top point of the castle.
We felt tired.
And the next day we drove the nine hour journey back over into Spain and my parents house.
But before I leave France, here are a few pictures for you, we have to have a few more wandering about photos.
On returning to my parents house, we flaked out. We did very little. Mostly eating good food, drinking good wine, sat on their top terrace relaxing.
Whilst sitting on that top terrace, I worked on the Sarah London Scarf I'm going to be doing the pattern for soon. I've made one version, and I'm now crocheting it again in a wider version, to see which I think works better as a scarf, before I write the pattern down. When I've finished the second version, and decided which width I prefer I'll crochet it again to ascertain yarn amounts and write the pattern down.
Before I go, here are some photos from the Spanish town my Mum and Dad live in.
And the crochet scarf in the first picture, at the beginning of this post?
It was strange returning home, it felt like we'd been away for a long time, and things seemed familiar yet unfamiliar.
I had a very, very nice surprise waiting for me in an email message. Whilst we were on holiday, I won Stephanie's fabulous giveaway! What a wonderful thing to return to, don't you think? Stephanie has sent me the pattern I said I liked, and a parcel is on its way, so I shall tell you all about that in another post. There's nice special yarn involved too.
I am now ready for a beer, and I'm sure you are too! See you on Friday!