Like birds it is time to go to leave this tranquil sleepy village Blajan. The weathered crumbling buildings are everywhere their past glory reflecting better times long ago, I stand and watch closed shops and small bars they dot the landscape village after village. Some even look abandon rows of homes empty shutters closed families gone, never to return I think, but what do I know.
Church bells ringing I can see slate steeples on every hill-top Church after Church in every direction, the popular trees bare, the seasons are changing the bright vivid greens that covered the small winding roads hiding those huge red tiled barns, those warm long summer days have grown short. I could not help thinking about those poor African cows we have seen running through thorny bare rocky ground the dust bellowing from their hove’s skin and bone trying to eat 4’’ prickly thorns, a far cry from these huge French cows which eat that lush French green grass the constant smell of organic decay nourishing the earth, those French cows lick their lips their long black tongues constantly rotating around their mouths munching and munching day and night…..they are in heaven I thought they are really in heaven….those poor African cows they would never believe this.
Bright crisp mornings with picture post card scenery the colours changing autumn is here the leaves turn brighter every day golden colours now dominate the rolling pastures until they are orange, the sunlight flickering through their transparent carcase in a warm golden glow as they flutter to the floor below, they crunch beneath my boots knee deep as I stroll along ancient paths.
The hum of machinery is in the air Farmers cutting their crops those new green tractors loaded down dwarf those small back roads between their wheels, working day and night the harvest is gathered.
The Pyrenees dominate our horizon slate greys and deep blacks and purple blues, their sharp peaks, white with winters snow a post card landscape.
No the Bentley is the one above…lol…sorry Nick….thanks for a great ride in a GREAT car I will always remember the wonderful Polls.
Old barns and Farm houses appear as if from nowhere hidden before by lush green leaves of summer’s bloom they are revelled by bare trees hibernating as their golden orange leaves pile high along the country paths.
Chestnut trees have drop their fruit, mushrooms are picked, the locals gather a wild harvest, the ell of burning wood fires drift across empty groomed fields, the sun sets glowing red its path low across the winter horizon she dips into a smoky haze the air cold gathers, bang, bang a deer is in a hunters sights not far from where I stand, the echo rings through the hills penetrating my bones, I wonder if the hunter takes his quarry, I quicken my pace and head for home.
We have made many new friends in and around Blajan, experienced new marriages, funerals, Brocants, country markets, country walking ,local fairs, wine sipping long summer evening conversations, Guy Fawkes burning effigies, art shows and beautiful wood turning, our adventure and travels reported in local news, constantly invited for suppers and parties, driven through this picture perfect countryside in a beautiful vintage Bentley, country lives sleepy and warm nestle in a different rhythm connected to past values, weathered faces sit and talk, the church bells ring and ring again, the crackling kitchen fires, the smell of baking bread, local wines, old recipes, tastes and smells which have gone from modern packaged life, time ticks slower, nothing has changed much, the conversations sing’s across the local village square, laughter echoes in the cold air, the Plain trees bare stand as gathered sentinels’, solemn paths lead to silent war memorials, shiny black crows squawk gathering amongst the stone crosses spiralling higher above the church steeple’s their music ringing louder, they drift across those earthy fields, as I stare at old wreaths which lay together with new winter flowers, the past remembered in triumph, the fallen lay beneath stone never to be forgotten the Great War forged in black iron their names chiselled in polished grey granite.
We have glimpsed the past in a beautiful Bentley with picture perfect empty country roads, crossed farm fields in old rusty Citroens, watched licenses – less French plastic single cylinder diesel cars with 90 year old drivers pile these winding lanes, it still lives here…a different way, those crumbling stone buildings with their shutters closed, their paint long gone, stand in defiance of changing values, modern ways, faster times a quicker pace which leaves little time to wait for a 90 year old single cylinder diesel car …but for how long will this past live……I will never know.
We leave to-morrow and I watch the sun set onto an icy field, horses beat the frost with their hooves munching the last winter grass their hot breath rises like fog the air is grey and heavy as they gather and warm each other.
Victor waits until the early morning hours packed and ready as we set off to Genova 800klms to the east set ting sail to Tunisia back to North African and that crazy rhythm of life which lives and breaths a different pace, one we remember fondly and miss in a crazy way….those African cows!
…wait until we tell them what we have seen….they will never believe us….!!!!
Thank you so much Chantal for all your warm hearted kindness we will always remember your friendship and hospitality and endless help. Thanks to all our new friends in Blajan and surrounding villages and Thanks Bruno and Dominic for their help in the last days in Blajan, big hugs and kisses to you all …ps I will always remember those chocolate brownies…..thanks Dave to…and you lovely Polls and for all your help Jonathan…you know what for AND IT WORKED…great a real story for a book I think. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx