Monday, 30 March 2015

Ceret - Packing, cleaning and goodbye

Last day today. First things first. We had finished the box of wine last night so Aimee and I went out the domaine we have been frequenting and bought our "good" bottle of wine.
After yesterdays research it was interesting to see that they had some of the vines pruned so
that one of last years branches ran along a wire
and some with no stakes or wires, pruned so that there were short pieces of last years
growth (with 2 or 3 buds).
We drove to Port Argeles and sat in a café for about an hour and a half, just chatting, drinking coffee and looking at the boats and the mountains, in the sun.
We walked along the waterfront of Argeles sur Mer but it was very windy and we
turned back as I was getting sand in my eyes.
The afternoon was taken up with packing and cleaning and then we walked to Le Pablo for a last glass of wine (or 2).
Outside Le Pablo, taken by Antony.
In "Bella Tuscany", Frances Mayes wrote "If you settle in, even for 2 weeks, live in a house not in  hotel, and you buy figs and soap at the local places, sit in cafes and restaurants, go to a local concert or church service, you cannot help but open to the resonance of a place and the deeper you go, the stranger the people become because they're like you and they're not" Yes to feeling the "resonance" of the place but I'm not sure I agree about the "strangeness" of the people. Yes there are differences from me, from the culture I live in but there are so many underlying samenesses. The café culture is different I've seen it a bit in Toronto in the patio culture but there is a frantic sense to it there as the summer is so short and its a busy city. But the underlying joy in sitting for an extended period of time outside, relaxing, with friends or a newspaper is not strange. The double kiss is different as a greeting but not the need to greet and the happiness to see friends. The amazingly well behaved dogs, often off leash, sitting at the cafes or walking with their owners is different but not the love of dogs and the obvious affection. "They're like me and they're not" gives me a feeling of familiarity and comfort but also the excitement of being "away".
Needed to use up some leftovers.

On our last night here Ceret said goodbye with our first pink sunset.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Ceret - Vide Grenier and walk through the orchards.

Time change last night so we were a little late getting going today (new time).
The road beside the tourist office was blocked off and Aimee and I checked it out.
A huge flea market.
All the way down the street and covering the petangue court and the nearby parking lot.
Would you like a stuffed Ibex? The same table had a stuffed fox. There were of course clothes,
shoes, lots of glassware, home décor,
toys (this guy had lots of Playmobile, but not cheap), baby stuff, pots, pans, cutlery
tools, small appliances, furniture. It just went on and on.
On the way back we stopped in to the Salle Manalo, the art gallery next to the tourist office,
to look again at the current exhibit. All 4 of us really liked this artists work.
There was no indication of title but the artist is Marie-Chantal de Peretti and she gave me
permission to take photos. This is Aimee's favorite.
She has some common elements in her work. The figures are simply painted, sometimes looking
like candles though she also has candles in the paintings. There are frequently ladders and  books and writing
though letters and words may be falling off the pages. Eggs and trees are also prevalent. You can look
at one of her paintings for a long time constantly noticing new elements or levels.
If you are interested in her work you can see it at under the list of artists choose Marie Chantal de Peretti.
After lunch Aimee and I headed out for a walk.
It's Palm Sunday but people were not coming out of church with palms, rather with huge
bunches of foliage; olive branches and something with berries that we couldn't identify.
Walking down the street, first we noticed the large black couch in the road and then
 the guy in the fourth floor window, setting up the pulley system. He
shouted down something when he saw us staring. I yelled up "bonne chance" and
he responded "its my job". When we came back 2 hours later the couch was gone
from the road.
We went down to the Devil's Bridge, across, and along the trail that goes up to L'Ermitage De St Ferriol, although we knew we were not going to do that 7km long hike.
We walked through orchards and vineyards. The fruit trees are just starting to
blossom and their freshly pruned branches were stacked beside their trunks.
We wondered why some vines have wooden stakes and wires
and some do not.
We wondered why, in a whole field of vines, one had not been pruned.
We could see the Chateau (where we buy wine) in the distance and tried to walk to it but the track twisted and turned through one orchard then another, round one vineyard then another and finally ended at a shed. We turned around and retraced our route this time facing Canigou.
As we were in the wide valley we had a lot of sky to see and the clouds were in strange
formations. Towards the sea they were a series of bubbles.
Towards the mountains there was a pathway of dark grey that shifted into layers
and at one point looked like a series of hawks heads.
As we walked home it got hot, humid and still and we heard thunder but rain never materialized and after more than 2 hours of constant walking we got home and collapsed with a glass of wine. Getting into practice for Barcelona (the walking, not the drinking)
Afterwards I did some internet research regarding the pruning and trellising in the vineyards. The manner that a particular kind of grape is pruned and supported is determined by the Appellation Controlee (Like Ontario's VQA designation).
There are 2 main kinds of pruning. In the Gobolet style the vine is free standing and pruned in such a way as to produce a bush shape when in full leaf. In the Cordon style a branch is trained along a wire strand (or sometimes 2, one above the other) and it becomes the main support that other canes branch off.  In full leaf there appear to be fences made of grape vines. This second style is used more often when picking is done mechanically.
Now we both know.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Ceret - last market day and windy Queribus with Aimee

Last market day today, sad, but fun to show Aimee.
We tried this a couple of weeks ago, tastes like a combination of cauliflower and
broccoli, so we got another one today.
Hadn't noticed these in the market before, tiny little VW bugs, 2CVs, camper vans (complete with roof racks)
and motorcycles all fashioned out of tin cans.
Great Dane at the Grande Café
Last time to buy a Poulet Roti and because Aimee loves potatoes we also got the
pommes de terre that are cooked below with the chicken dripping on them. Dad was happy!
Drinking coffee at Le Pablo we were entertained by this young Siamese trying to
escape from the balcony.
He checked out the nearest tree, next balcony, downspout. When he's a little older they will
come home and wonder how he escaped but for now it was all too big a jump.
We packed a picnic (hard boiled egg, fresh carrot from the market, fresh apple fritter from the market, fresh sugared ginger from the market) and set off over the hills to Queribus.
We ate our picnic in the car. It had been gusty windy in Ceret but here it was wild and the lady
we bought the ticket from warned us about the wind and told us to take our sun glasses off. She
was right, they would have been blown off our faces.
We climbed up the trail (pretty easy though steep), then the stairs (pretty easy though steep),
then the zigzag stairs (so attackers could only go single file) (rough going and now the wind was
buffeting us), more stairs with a rope banister (we held on, hand over hand, as the wind howled),
through the narrow archway entrance (the wind literally blew us through the doorway), more
stairs but now we were around the other side of the castle and sheltered from the wind - whew!
I hadn't realized how much of a problem Aimee had with heights until I noticed
she was plastering herself to the inside wall and made a comment about the
difficulty of climbing stairs with wobbly legs.
We explored all but the top of the tower and at times had to crouch below the level of the
parapet to protect ourselves from the wind.
Aimee Todd defeats Queribus!
We drove home with the most fantastic views of Canigou and snow covered Pyrenees behind. Orchards and vineyards along the way. Much of the blossom had finished and the fruit trees were leafing up now.
Our route took us through a number of these areas with Plane trees
on each side that restricted the width. We loved the sign.
Home to wine, cheese and olives in the garden.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Ceret - so many baby goats and the archeological museum

Mum and Dad drove to the bird watching place in Spain today and Aimee and I wanted to walk, having spent most of yesterday in the car.
Wheel barrow full of vine prunings. We walked the Ventous trail and it was sunny and
warm enough to take off our jackets.
Canigou with still more fresh snow. I sat in my usual spot and sketched a grapevine
on watercolour paper in order to make a painted thank you card for Margie, our landlady.
Meanwhile this was the scene that was the subject of Aimee's first ever sketch (she
hasn't let me see it)
Please excuse the crooked photo but I wanted to show the yellow, dandelion like
flowers that were between the grape vines. Still no leaves on the vines.
Pedro Felix. How do I know his name? There was a sign on the gate with his name
and a list of things he could be fed, like carrote, salade, pommes de terre. I think
the owners must have been concerned that people walking on the trail were feeding him
things that were bad for him.
The horse in with the goats
There are so many baby goats in the enclosure now that you can't look anywhere without gasping at their cuteness. More babies than mothers (must have been some twins).
They were making short work of piles of olive tree branches.

Such cute little horns.

I know, I know, too many goat pictures. This is the last.

This was a tiny trickle last time I walked this way, still getting runoff from
the big rains.
We walked 5km in total and felt a well deserved glass of wine at Le Pablo was in order. Sat in the sun with our deux vin rouge and then headed home to make lunch. Unfortunately we had to pass a crepe restaurant and it didn't take much discussion to decide to lunch there. Seat in the sun, shared nordique crepe (smoked salmon and melted cheese), two more glasses of red wine, shared caramel and sea salt crepe, two café crème, it doesn't get much better than that.

The archeological museum in this building was open for the first time, since we
got here, so Aimee and I decided to give it a try.
There were no English pamphlets or English signage so we struggled with a couple of displays regarding neolothic burial chambers in the area and a large exhibit of pre Columbian pottery and fabrics. It was quite small and I had hoped for more information on the history of Ceret, oh well.
There was a model of the fortified town of Ceret.
Not some weird sculpture. Its looking up the circular staircase in the turret
part of the museum.