I’ve been going out to The Lot Valley in France for several years in the same week of June and have always enjoyed wonderful weather. Well this year things were different, as many of my other endeavors have been, and it was dull and rainy most days. The sun bathing and swimming were off the menu but there was so much more to do. Restless the first morning – so despite the gloomy outlook I went off for a stroll up the combe behind the house intending to traverse the ridge past a communications tower in the picture below.

Communications Ridge.

Most of the other properties were shuttered up as it is still ‘pre-season’ for the French.

The next field had not been cut so there was an abundance of flowers, orchids and butterflies.

I was wet through quickly from the long grass but once up onto the ridge there are good tracks. The usual views across the valley back to the house were  disappointing and there were no buzzards circling.

Once at the base of the ridge a track winds between the wooded slopes and the vineyards all the way back to the house.  I always think how well tended the vines are in this area.

There was a new addition to the scenery this year, possibly an old Simca or a Panhard??        Where did it come from?

Soon I was back enjoying a glass of white fizz [£1 a bottle at local supermarket!] and a fresh salad. The misty afternoon was spent at  the nearby Château de Hauterive tasting their latest rose and red wines, along with the potent Eau de Vie made from their prunes. The Filhol family have owned this land for five generations. They cultivate with traditional organic methods.  The gravelly/clay soil is particularly suitable for vines. Malbec grapes form the basis of the richly coloured and tannin full Cahors wine. Nowadays Merlot grapes tone down the wine which is much improved with age.  It’s a pleasure to talk to Mr. Filhol and his two sons and we came away with enough wine for the week.

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