28th August 2018
In a forest clearing somewhere northeast of Le Temple, Aquitaine, France
Seems we picked a good location to overnight in, yesterday, in a forest just outside Roquefort as we neither saw or heard anyone in the entire time we were there.
No gunshots at dusk or dawn either which together with, as I remarked upon yesterday, the absence of the ubiquitous ‘Chasse’ sign makes me think it must be some kind of prohibited area for shooting. Interestingly though, on our early morning walk through the forest we did eventually come across an ‘Attention Palombiere’ sign which my google translate failed to recognise but the following extract from the interweb suggests the following:
Pigeon hunting has been done in the Southwest of France since forever. The pigeons come from among other countries Sweden during October and November and make a stop here to feed before making the last leg of their trip and reach the final destination in Africa. Jean, with his experience, sees several groups of pigeons in the sky that I, in spite of being given the direction, have trouble finding at all. Jean laughs and says it's something you start training as a kid. At first I went with my dad, he says, but at thirteen I made my own palombiére with a friend. The whole idea is to trick the pigeons into landing at the place of the nets and trap them. Jean is against rifles, he says the pigeons learn to avoid places where they are scared by rifle shots. In the French Pays Basque they use a different system. They make the pigeons believe an eagle is close, to make them dive into nets that are set up between two cliff tops.
There’s loads more - interestingly, written by a woman - but I think the foregoing gives you the general idea. I’ll leave you to make your own minds up about how you feel about it!
So, at the risk of being startled by an early season, Basque inspired, mock-eagle screech and subsequently panicked into running headlong into a tangle of nets us poor ground pigeons turned about at that point and returned to the relative safety of our mobile coop and made a low level departure.
The rest of the day has, so far, gone rather well. We headed off northwest on 'vanishing point' straight, deserted, forest roads neatly dissecting busy beyond imagination Bordeaux to the north and just awful in August Arcachon/Cap Ferret to the west. The road got busier as we surreptitiously slithered between these two notoriously congested conurbations but quickly disappeared again when we finally passed the dreaded Cap Ferret turning.
It was coming up to lunchtime as we reached Le Temple and once safely out of it’s clutches started looking for somewhere peaceful to eat and doze for a couple of hours. I randomly turned off the main road we were on into a once tarmaced but now deeply pot-holed side road into a forest which I had to travel some distance along to find a suitable place to pull over into.
But, it’s a goody. A nice open, grassy, breezy space next to a clean pond (Amy delighted!) and surrounded in all directions by forest. The inevitable official sign where we pulled off the pot-holed road into said open space indicates that there is (very rough translation) ‘no route for vehicles to circulate’ - so I have taken the view that I am not ‘circulating’ but simply parked just off the ‘route’ very near the entrance.
I am thinking I would like to stay here tonight so will ride the afternoon out and see what, if anything, develops. The strong, hot afternoon sun (32ºC in the shade) may be more of an issue than any potential human intervention as the available shade is good when the sun is due south but gets a pit patchy as it inexorably rolls westward during the course of the day.
However, as I type we are here:
Latitude : 44.88714 (44° 53′ 13.71″ N)
Longitude : -1.01945 (1° 1′ 10.03″ W)
accuracy of signal : 8 m
If we do have to move for one reason or another it shouldn’t be the end of the world as this area generally looks like pretty good pickings for pausing places.
Paradise Lost Sign of the Times?