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17th November

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We eat out every Thursday, today a restaurant in Nestier, about 40kms away. The direct road there runs parallel with an aqueduct for most of the way. Not a roman one, but apparently built by Napoleon’s soldiers in the 1800’s when they didn’t have much fighting to do.  Water from the Pyrenees is diverted by a clever system of canals and aqueducts to supplement the flow of rivers and feed reservoirs in the north of the department, then farmers pump water out of the rivers to irrigate their crops. This year the rivers were at their lowest ever. More farmers are growing maize which is very thirsty and farmers pump the rivers dry to water their crops, which upsets the fishermen and wildlife.  Our local river drying up apparently caused rats to move inland in search for food, the cats brought the odd one into the house as gifts.

The road parallel to the aqueduct has a gentle incline, so it’s good for cycling and you can watch the torrent of water from the mountains running alongside, so Philip cycled there and I drove, intending to cycle back (downhill) but after a glass of wine and a big lunch, I lost enthusiasm for exercise so we both came back in the van with bikes in the back.

The chef at the restaurant in Nestier is keen on unusual presentation; the starter on a piece of slate, main course (boeuf en cocotte) was in a mini casserole and the pudding (blackcurrant compote on a mascarpone base) in a kilner jar. All delicious.

I packed this afternoon, easyjet-ing to Bristol tomorrow for a few days with the children; Philip is staying here on cat duty.

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