Day 6, Wednesday, designated a relaxation day. Although the sun was shining on the gite, the view across the valley was very misty.
As usual I made the journey into Masseret to obtain fresh bread and as is my wont, en-route back to the gite I made a small detour.
The start of some of our previous excursions had taken us past a sign, at the entrance to a small lane, indicating that it serviced something or somewhere called Landes du Pierres du Mas. Being inquisitive by nature I decided to find out what was what and after following the lane which meandered for maybe a mile or two I was rewarded with a beautiful view.
Here I met a gentleman who introduced himself with a hearty “Good Morning” and laughed at the surprised expression that must have been on my face. I had expected at least a “Bonjour” and had, as he approached, been preparing my best franglaise. His immediate interest was to see if I was planning to fish as the pond is owned / administered by the local fishing association. I assured him the only thing that I was fishing for was a decent photograph, or two. As we were talking I discovered that he was a brit and that he originated from Little Missenden in Buckinghamshire. He has been in France for over thirty years and had originally come over as a shepherd, working a farm north of Limoges. He eventually took over the farm but had sold up and was now living in La Porcherie and fulfills the role of “guardien de peche”. During a pleasant conflab he explained that Landes du Pierre du Mas roughly translated to “the moors of Pierre Mas” and that anywhere we see “landes” indicates moors or heathland, areas of special interest.
After he took his leave, I strolled part way around the pond, disturbing a pair of kingfishers who launched themselves across to the far bank. No chance of a photo, they were almost supersonic. This brief sortie served to show that here was a venue that deserved a longer visit but rumbles in my stomach told me I was long overdue for heading back to the gite for breakfast.
Later in the day a couple of us headed out to walk the lanes again, this time heading away from the centre of La Porcherie. We hadn’t traveled very far when we came to an almost complete stop. Having discovered a hazel tree loaded with nuts we spent a few minutes cracking the shells and enjoying the contents.. Moving on, we hadn’t gone very far when we stopped again. This time it was Sweet Chestnuts that were on the menu. This was how our walk progressed, walk a bit, much a bit, walk a bit more. The nuts were supplemented by the blackberries we discovered in the hedgerows. Very healthy.
Our route around the lanes took us to a point where we could look back at the gite and on towards La Porcherie.
The view from the lane, over the pond, back towards La Porcherie demonstrates just how rural this area is. Beautiful.
Although our walk did not cover many miles it kept us occupied with so many beautiful things. Berries and Harebells in the hedgerows, blue Cornflowers (?) in the fields …
One thing noticeably in abundance around the gite are birds, birds of all varieties. Our perambulations were regularly punctuated by the cries of large birds soaring out over the fields. Obviously birds of prey, but we never got a really good look at them. They certainly did not come close enough for us to be able to make a positive identification. Of course it would have been helpful if we had taken the binoculars along with us. That would be the ones sitting in the glove box of my car. My guess would be that they were kites or buzzards, judging by their size. However, the heron posing on a rock in the pond was a little easier to identify. I think the beak was a bit of a give away.
Having seen a few trains passing in the distance, we decided to take a detour to the station at La Porcherie.
Probably not a good idea but it had to be done.
As we headed back towards the gite we passed this sign which was very informative. Unfortunately the site that it was telling us about was fenced off with nothing to see from our position on the road.
The gist of this is that, back in the 11th Century, there was built a “castle” on an earthen mound with a moat. This type of construction was introduced during the 10th Century but was eventually replaced by stone construction during the late 12th Century. My translation may be a bit flaky but it seems that this place was home to a family called De La Porcaria. This area was a centre for agriculture and in particular “pig breeding”. La Porcherie translates literally to The Pigsty.
So my holiday for 2014 was spent in The Pigsty.