A Rest is Good for a Change

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06/10/18 – 08/10/18

When looking at the weather forecast we tend to err on the side of optimism. We check a couple of different sites and apps; the BBC, the mountain forecast and a French website. They all say the same thing. It is going to rain, quite a lot, and it’s going to get cold. There is no optimistic forecast that we can grab hold of and use to give us cheer. 

We debate what to do, if it’s going to rain then our usual outdoorsy stuff is no fun at all. We’re not really near any cultural centres to give us an alternative indoors option. We do, however, have a list of jobs that is stacking up. We decide to look at the ACSI book and see if there are any campsites that appeal.

We end up choosing a campsite on the outskirts of Luz-Saint-Saveur. Camping Pyrenevasion is €15 per night (plus tourist taxes) and as with all ACSI sites we get electricity as part of the price. Unlike many campsites in the area it’s still open, for the next week at least, and as a bonus it has a small indoor swimming pool and spa. Luz town itself is small but quite lively, we park up near the tennis courts for a couple of hours while we take a look around and pop into the shops for some essential supplies.

When we arrive the weather is beautiful, warm and sunny. We make the most of this by washing our sportswear (by hand as the machine is quite expensive) and hanging it out to dry. Paul makes a good mangle, wringing every item until it gives up it’s last drop of water. I sit outside in the sun enjoying the views and the warmth and we even contemplate a barbeque for tea. But as evening approaches the cloud builds up and the hills start to disappear. We see flashes of light and hear thunder. The washing is taken in, awning is rolled and we settle in for an inside dinner with nature’s sound and light show in the background.

Camping in the sun

View from the campsite – before the snow

The following morning the rain finally stopped, for a short while at least, and the clouds lift a way to show the top of the hills have been dusted with a layer of snow. It’s the first new snow we’ve seen this year and is quite exciting. There is more heavy rain that afternoon and overnight, and the following day too. So we hunker down and rarely leave the van except for our trips to the pool/spa where we press every button we can find to see what exciting features we can activate (sadly the waterfalls aren’t working).

…and after the snow

I do some baking. I’m experimenting with focaccia, our oven isn’t really hot enough for bread and I don’t manage to get a crisp oily crust, but regardless it seems to be quite successful and will give us an option if we can’t get to a bakery. Fresh French baguettes will still take precedence, although they rarely make it back to Bertie in one piece as Paul has a habit of nibbling on the way back from the bakery.

Dimpled bready goodness

I also started to do my tax return. Finally, after some headaches, I have everything I need. Having been employed by the same company for the last 20 years I have never had to complete a tax return. Now that we’re making an income from letting our house this has all changed. Rather naively I assumed that my employer would ensure that my details were kept up to date with HMRC, but back in June when we got to the UK and I started the process of registering for self assessment I found that HMRC had the same details (name and address) for me that they had recorded at the age of 15 when I first got an NI number. So they refused to recognise me, It has taken this long to get my details updated and get registered for online self-assessment.

By the time we leave the campsite Bertie is spick and span (inside at least) and has a couple of new 12v and 240v sockets, Paul has lost his ‘wild man of the mountain’ beard and my grey hairs have been covered up. Cake has been baked, clothes are clean. Tax returns have been completed ready for a final review and we finally have a weather forecast that doesn’t just show rain.      

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