Sweet dreams are made of this?

24th August 2018

South of Pompogne, Southwest France

Pretty much a perfect location, yesterday and last night, in the extensive forest south of Grinols, almost primeval peace - once the French airforce stopped playing noisy silly buggers in the afternoon sky.

Just the three visitors during the night.

The first I didn’t see but heard. It was whatever forest creature in this part of the world who, when disturbed, sounds a bit like a dog barking. A fox? A wild boar? A badger? Not sure but he/she must have come across us in the early hours and got a shock at our being there because he/she kicked off loudly with the aforementioned ‘dog bark’ and carried on with it for quite some time, seemingly coming and going - presumably, to ascertain if we had moved away or not. Curiously, unfettered Amy paid him/her absolutely no attention and having cocked a roving eye and ear simply rolled over to resume her sleep.

The second two visitors were old friends and they appeared in my period of deepest sleep, for it was my old wolfdog companions Anushkaa and Kalluk.

They were full of life and happily hunting in a wilderness somewhere. Anushkaa immediately broke off her pursuits to bound over and give me the most affectionate greeting imaginable. Kalluk acknowledged me from afar but was too busy engaged in the serious business of food hunting to come over but he looked very happy and content as he briefly gazed my way.

Christ! Talk about bitter-sweet. I awoke with a start both very happy and in floods of tears - so happy to have seen them ‘living’ again but incredibly sad that we are no longer together every minute of every day, as we once were.

To lose two such dear and special companions is hard but the way they were taken from me was particularly cruel. Robbed at gunpoint in the middle of the night in the remote Western Sahara for cash and gold, the wolves were shot in front of me to emphasise the fact that if I didn’t give them what they wanted they would shoot me dead too and simply take it anyway.

An experience like that cuts deep, the wound does slowly heal but it leaves an indelible scar and sometimes, like last night, the scar ‘itches’.

It was a fantastic privilege to live a life with them as (fancifully) a sort of peripatetic human-wolfdog mini pack. Our bonds were especially deep as I had bred them a decade earlier, bred their mums and dads before them too and as painful as it always is to remember them I would never want to forget them.

I always felt it was my job in the ‘pack’ to try and give them a life on the physical margins of the human world where they could exercise their undomesticated instincts without meddlesome mankind to interfere and, most importantly. to keep them safe from his ruthless antics……..

Did I ever mention before that I am not keen on men with guns?!

OK, enough already!

In a reflective mood today, then, it was a wonderful walk through the forest at first light and I think dear Amy would still be happily following scents and trails if I hadn’t bundled her into the Jeep after a couple of hours in order to go in search of our daily bread.

Which we found not too far away in an excellent InterMarche store in the very ‘handy’ town of Casteljaloux. Not all InterMarche stores are excellent but this one was and what I do commend them all for is selling their fresh fruit and veg in strong brown paper bags rather than the ubiquitous ocean clogging plastic variety. Other supermarkets please take note and follow their example immediately! Their meat is also sold in greaseproof paper and so dispenses with all those one-time use plastic trays that supermarkets just seem to adore.

I describe Casteljaloux as ‘handy’ as it was big enough to have everything there that you could conceivably need but yet small enough to feel friendly and almost village like. It certainly helps too that it’s an easy place to navigate and it’s buildings are nearly all delightful examples of traditional French architecture.

From Casteljaloux we headed straight on the deserted, excellent, arrow straight (again, Roman in origin?) D933 and soon found ourselves in Pompogne. The first thing that strikes you about this village, as approached from the north, is that the church has two large visible bells in it’s high pointed gable wall - oh, and a tree growing out of the topmost masonry!

Pretty and tranquil little place with a delightful shaded public rest area next to the church and in front of the Marie. A water tap there also so Amy got nicely cooled down by me sloshing a couple of buckets of water over her (she just adores water!) and I sat in the shade for ten minutes to consult the maps.

I am actually heading for an obscure little place called Parleboscq for it was there (as I believe I have mentioned in previous postings) in the 1970s that I briefly worked for a certain Monsieur Siddiqui, a north African man of rather eccentric temperament, at the 14th century Chateau de Lacaze. The chateau had a massively leaky roof when I was there and not suffered very much improvement to it’s fabric since it’s construction(!). I think, today, I am going to find a very different property (always assuming I am let anywhere near it) but I am curious to revisit and contemplate a life I might have had if a few events had happened differently back in the day. A sort of ‘Sliding Doors’ thing, if you like!

We turned off the main road into another peaceful forest just to the south of Pompogne where we subsequently partook of lunch and a siesta and are currently viewing it as a possible overnight venue if it works out OK this afternoon. It’s a well shaded, airy spot for a mid 30s afternoon(!) and furthermore, it should mean only a short time in the Jeep tomorrow before arriving at Parleboscq :

Google Maps
Latitude : 44.23022 (44° 13′ 48.79″ N)
Longitude : 0.03842 (0° 2′ 18.32″ E)
accuracy of signal : 4 m

After a walk down memory lane (here’s hoping its not a dead end!) at Parleboscq, tomorrow, I guess it will be time to start looking seriously in this region for a grape harvest job. However, if that particular pursuit does turn out to be a dead end then it’s time to be thinking about the Pyrenees which although still a good few km to the south of us are our next logical destination.

How long we stay there when we do eventually get there will depend entirely on what we find there.

If we can find some tranquility within it’s heights we will likely stay and explore but if it turns out to be just yet another tourist rat-trap and/or bourgeois enclave then we may have to set our sights on the distant mountains and forests of eastern Europe.

Stay tuned....

Noise annoys!

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Amy and I travel on a shoestring - and its a thin shoestring at that! - So, if you enjoy reading about our travel trials and tribulations and would like to make a small donation please do! Amy will be particularly pleased as she is very fond of her daily dinner. Woof!

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