A perfect day

It’s always been our habit to go to the sea on 26 December as a way of blowing away the excesses of the day before.  When we lived in west Wales we often went to New Quay, and it was usually very cold and blowy there.  Today it was Le Grau d’Agde.  As we were driving towards the sea we could see Mont Canigou in the distance to the south and the snow-topped Pyrenees running westwards away from us.  It was a bit hazy from the smoke of fires lit by vine-growers to burn the prunings, but this photo – I hope – gives some idea at least of the size of this massive peak at the eastern end of the Pyrenean range, about 100 kilometres from here.  It’s 2784 metres high and there are better pictures of it here.

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Today isn’t an official holiday in France and, although the larger fishing boats seemed to have stayed in port, there were a lot of smaller ones out fishing, some quite near the shore.

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On the sea front, the street light shadows made boat-shapes on the walls opposite – something I think they must have been designed to do, but this is the first time I’ve passed when the light was perfectly aligned for the effect.

boat shadow

Most of the holiday flats overlooking the sea were closed for the season but some were occupied, like this one showing a seasonal flash of red curtain.

red curtain

And then lunch…..this is something we never did in west Wales: eating steack frites outside in the sun by the beach at the end of December!  (I have a contradictory relationship with steak – I don’t think that beef production is sustainable and thus do not really approve of eating it, but there are occasions, like today and probably New Year’s Eve if we stick with the planned menu, when I abandon my principles.)

lunch

Back home at the end of the afternoon we were treated to a rare colourful sunset over the hill above the village.  We don’t see pink skies very often because we either have clear sky or – more rarely – heavy cloud.  Tonight’s was glorious.

sunset

A lovely peaceful day after the equally enjoyable excitements of yesterday.  Our son and daughter won’t be here till the end of the week so our family celebrations will take place over New Year, but we didn’t miss out at all because our wine-making friends invited us to join them for what turned out to be a six-hour lunch yesterday.  Among the delights, conviviality and interesting conversation, there were foie gras in two guises, fresh and conserved, a roast capon (that had been raised in the village) with duck-fat roasted potatoes, delicious cheeses including a huge piece of Roquefort, which comes from the mountains near here, and more wines to taste than I counted…..a very enjoyable fête and we still have our own family to look forward too!

>Mountains, a small bird and soup from a giant pumpkin

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We had a good view of the Pyrenees from the hill between here and Magalas this morning.  They are about 150 kilometres away and not always visible if the air isn’t really clear.  When they appear, it’s always a shock to see how huge they are.  There doesn’t seem to be much snow on the mountains at the moment.

Walking around the village this morning I saw this small bird on a climbing rose and have since identified it as a Goldcrest.  The crest is clearly visible in the pictures, top and bottom right, below.

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And spicy pumpkin soup

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This is the biggest of the pumpkins we grew last season.  It was too big to go on the scales but we think it must have weighed about 15 kilos.  Lo Jardinièr made a wonderful spicy soup with part of it, for lunch today.  The recipe is on the Mediterranean cuisine blog.