No, don’t worry, you haven’t lost a day, and I’m not getting that forgetful! I decided to post Day 3 over at Fat Dormouse. You can read about our day visiting villages (and see me as a Young Thing) over there.
So we’re on Day 4, which was another bright and sunny day. Mr FD still felt under the weather, or “he was not on his plate“as the French put it. So he stayed in our room to read and snooze, while I went for a walk with some of the others.
It was an easy walk but with beautiful views along the coast and out to sea. We were passed by lots of cyclists, some of whom stopped to chat with our group.
This next photo shows a view down to Antheor where our friend Danièle has a holiday home. She often goes there with the grandchildren during school holidays, and we’d hoped to visit her. Unfortunately she was going to be there the following week, not the week we were there. Oh well.
We were back at the holiday village in time for lunch, and Mr FD was feeling better. He decided to go out with the “second group” because he didn’t want to be doing anything too difficult. Mind you, they still did some climbs, and in fact rode this route that we had walked in the morning.
That afternoon, I was booked on a minibus tour of the regional nature reserve, with three others from our cycle group, plus three others from the holiday village. The guide, Joseph, drove us around the reserve, giving us lots of information about the flora, fauna and how the reserve was managed. He was really interesting and engaging.
A couple of times he stopped the minibus to talk to people who were contravening the local regulations – usually by smoking cigarettes or using primus stoves. The wardens are very vigilent against fire, and although everything was lush and green, this was the worst time for fires. We expressed surprise, and he explained that in the height of summer fewer people actually ventured into the reserve because it was so hot. So even if the vegetation was drier there was in fact less risk of fire; at this time there were more people who were less careful, because they also imagined there was little risk. One cigarette butt, or a spark from a primus stove and there could be a catastrophic fire. So the area is a no-smoking zone.
The other reason he stopped was to reprimand people who were feeding wild boar. I wish I could have got a photo, but it was obviously frowned upon. Joseph explained that the campsite and hotel owners told tourists that this particular spot was a good place to see wild boar and that they would gather to be fed. Which they indeed did – we saw a huge boar lolling around on the floor, and a mother with about ten babies. The tourists who were there hastily dropped their bits of bread as Joseph was lecturing them.
(not my photo)
The problem is that, when there are fewer people to feed these animals, they descend into the villages to rootle in bins and cause chaos, especially as they have lost their fear of humans. Then they get blamed for the mess and danger, even though, Joseph said, quite affronted, it is not their fault. It is the humans who feed them. He was so stern I really didn’t feel I could ask him to hang on a tick while I took a photo!
Then we stopped, and were given a little degustation of some local products – tapenade which is a type of olive paste. We were told the best tapenade is in fact brown, because that is made with veritable local olives. The black tapenade includes a large number of Greek olives. Also, to be called tapenade it must include something (can’t remember what!!!!) Otherwise it should be labelled “Pate d’olives”. We also tried a red pepper and chilli spread, which was delicious, and a tapenade-and-goats’ cheese spread, which I didn’t really like. There was a kir made with myrtle sirop, and a mimosa jelly. That was a little too sweet for me.
Although we think mimosa is beautiful, it isn’t a native species, and actually chokes a lot of the species of plant that should grow in the area. So when it is spotted in the reserve it is generally uprooted to allow native species to grow.
Joseph had his dog Happy with him, who was very well behaved – except when there were cyclists or other dogs going by.
When we got back to the Holiday Village Mr FD had already finished his ride, and was feeling perkier, having cycled well. We went to the bar for a beer, and then to have dinner. Mr FD and I walked round the perimeters of the village again – we heard a scops owl, and also the rootling and rustling noises of large animals. We assumed it was the wild boars again, so we talked loudly to keep them away. Again, we fell asleep to a podcast!