The end of June usually finds me in The Lot valley in France. This year the weather was a vast improvement on last year’s dampness, we ‘endured’ temperatures in the thirties most days, so a lot of time was spent in the pool!

Most mornings I was off for a short walk from the house before the rest had stirred. This is the time to see deer in the adjacent woods. The flora seemed more advanced this year and the orchids were past their best. However there were wild sweet peas alongside the paths.

Longer walks needed to be completed before lunch to avoid the fierce heat.  The cooler evenings are a good time for cycling on the deserted local lanes. Spotted a couple of rusting Renaults to add to my collection – a 4 and a 12 I think.

A couple of visits were made to the nearby Chateau Hauterive for degustation of their range. The demi-sec Rose was the favourite for lunchtime and the Prestige Red for evenings.

One afternoon we watched as they bottled 4500 roses in a semi mechanised fashion. Apparently they distribute into England now through the Wine Society. No visit to the premises is complete without a tasting of Mr. Filhol’s prune eau de vie and I always seem to come away with a bottle of the fiery stuff.

Obligatory visits to the restaurants in Duravel and Puy l’Eveque meant that calorie balancing needed even more exercise.

So three of us found a new walk starting in nearby Castlefranc which proved to be of interest. The village is a ‘bastide’ town centred on the market square and built in a rectangular fashion. A steep climb up the hill behind took us between neat box hedges past stations of the cross to the statues on the top – ‘Calvare’.

Overgrown sign to ‘Calvare’

There were excellent views down to the Lot Valley. Old pathways led us through Cahors vineyards …..….with the occasional old Gariottes or Cazelles, dry stone shelters for the agricultural workers.

Down through oak woods and on to the old railway linking Cahors to Fumel taking us back into Castlefranc over the River Vert with its mills. The walk finished conveniently at a bar by the bridge.

The last day of the holiday was made more interesting as a massive machine harvested the crop from the adjacent fields. As the machine moves through the field red kites flocked down to presumably pick out the mice etc disturbed. Good entertainment.

Spot the Kite.

We flew home despite the usual French Air Traffic Controllers strikes.

Can’t wait to return. Bonne vacance!

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