Enjoying the last rays of autumn

This weekend one of two wishes was granted: to be allowed out to walk more than 1 km from the house. The other wish (to get a haircut) has to wait until this week. The French government eased the lockdown regulations slightly on Saturday. Now, “non-essential” shops can open, although restaurants and bars must remain closed until mid-January. And we can now walk within a 20 km radius for a duration of three hours.

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We took advantage of our relative freedom to go for a reasonably long walk around Parisot and enjoy the last sunshine of autumn. Meteorological winter starts on 1st December. The weather was glorious, as it has been throughout November.

The leaves, touched by the first frosts, have turned a warm golden brown. In another week or so, they will have fallen.

We rustled through dry oak leaves with acorns crunching underfoot and noticed things we hadn’t seen before. We must have passed this half-hollow tree countless times, but this time I spotted a neatly constructed nest in a large hole a few metres up.

I guess this could be a tawny owl. It’s too large for a woodpecker. Hoopoes will nest in cavities, but their nests are incredibly untidy. This bird was a more fastidious housekeeper. Any ideas?

Lac de Parisot

Mistletoe covered with berries on a tree we passed.

Past an open-air pig farm where the porkers basked in the sunshine and through a hamlet where two small dogs threatened to tear us limb from limb from behind a secure fence. Along a straight road which afforded magnificent views of the countryside to the south.

Down a hill with the village of Parisot to the right on its hilltop and down again towards the lac de Parisot.

There, we encountered le tout Tarn-et-Garonne. Encouraged by the relaxation of the rules and heartened by the warm sunshine, much of the local population had ventured out for a Sunday stroll.

Le seul bémol (the only downside), a gendarmerie van patrolling the path. Those not wearing masks were ticked off and told to put them on. It’s compulsory in public places in our département. We were wearing ours and so escaped a dressing down.

The lac de Parisot is an artificial lake, formed by partially damming the River Seye, really a stream, that flows in one side and out the other. I haven’t been able to find out when it was first constructed, but it has been the subject of some controversy.

A few years ago, the lake had to be drained for work to correct some problem. We noted yesterday that the water level was very low. Lack of rain or further work? The lake has been criticised for reducing the flow of the River Seye at dry times of year.

The Seye, some 19 km long, flows into the Aveyron above Varen. It runs behind the Abbaye de Beaulieu, where its banks are carpeted with snowdrops in late winter, and through a lovely green valley. We have seen otters and water rats there. The river formerly flowed fast enough to power a number of watermills in its lower reaches.

Babbling brook. La Seye at the Abbaye de Beaulieu, flowing fast after rain.

From the ridiculous to the sublime

It was just as well to enjoy the sunshine since the weather is planning to take a nosedive later this week. We noted during the spring lockdown that the weather was unusually good. And according to the SF (Statistics Freak and resident weatherman), Lockdown November was the best in our 23 years here. A neat counterweight to October, which was the worst.

We award each day’s weather a plus (good), minus (bad) or zero (indifferent): a bit subjective, but patterns do emerge. The charts below show the proportion of pluses each year over the 23 years for October and November. The line is the trend. October is definitely heading downhill.

A couple of announcements

I don’t normally mention my books on this blog, although writing is a major part of my life in France. I know it can be oppressive to read constant “buy my book” promotions, so I have a separate website. And you can see my books in the sidebar here (or at the bottom of the page, depending on your device).

However, I’m going to break that rule for once. I’m in the process of writing a trilogy set partly in Southwest France from the 1890s to 1945. Book 1, Overture, is out. And I’ve also published a prequel novella, Augustine, which is now in paperback in time for Christmas, having been only in Kindle previously.

End of commercial.

Finally, Life on La Lune has a Facebook page where I post photos and snippets that don’t fit on the blog. This year, I plan to post a favourite photo every day from 1st to 24th December, with a focus on patrimoine, cultural heritage. If you’re on Facebook, pop over from tomorrow and take a look. And feel free to post your own pix.

You might also like:

Every Château Tells a Story # 8: Le Château de Labro

L’Abbaye de Beaulieu: A Hidden Gem

A Walk Around Castanet

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