31.07.2008 - 01.08.2008 32 °C
We actually did something organised yesterday! - We went with a guide from the Office de Tourism on a walk through the Luberon hills to look at the old ochre mines. Good value too! - 4 Euros each. You can go to larger mines and go inside them, but that's another attraction. This was more based on the walk than the mines.
A lovely morning out. We walked about 8k's and our guide was very knowledgable. We also got lucky - although she spoke reasonably good English, one of the French member of the group was from Brittany and was very keen to translate everything for us. Which was just as well.
Although we got the gist of most conversations, there were definately times when our lack of complete French made things a little confusing. At one stage she told the group (6 of us) about an old folklore tale of two mining groups who tunneled towards each other. When they met in the middle they were so pleased they all drunk lots of Pastis, so happy in fact, even the donkey had some. I translated this as they failed to meet in the middle because they had all drunk too much Pastis. Close, but no cigar. (Probably the truth though)
The Ochre deposits are basically sand stone. Stone is too strong a word. You can scrape your name in the "stone" with your finger. They used to use high pressure water jets to blast it away, then let it settle in lakes and separate the ochre from the sand (sable!).
(There is no shortage of the stuff - but its so soft it'll all be flat in about 15 years they reckon)
(Especially if people like these two numpties climb all over it)
Production didn't stop that long ago. Synthetics are used for the colour these days but there is renewed interest in using the real thing. There were still plenty of signs of life not so long ago.
Ochre was everywhere. We've been warned to brush our clothes off and rinse them in cold water so that the colour does not "fix"!
The general walk was beautiful, and thankfully, shaded most of the time. Another lovely day out. We learnt more French too. I can now tell you with authority, but maybe not the spelling, that a white cherry is a "Bigaro" - a word I pointed out to our helpful translator that we'll probably never find a use for again!
We also learnt about the life cycle of Secarda insects (Segal in French). Our guide seemed obsessed by them and repeated many times throughout the walk all the details of their lives. I won't bore you, but you never know, might be useful one day.
(I'm getting somewhat obsessive about dead trees)
(So much so I took two! :-) )
A few more days here, we think - it's lovely, then we'll head to Lake Garda or Lake Coma in Italy and camp until mid August when we are meeting Matt and Clarty D. Next planned things to do here are going to see some chap's garden model railway - should be hillarious - my idea, and K wants to arrange a day horse riding (I'll give that a miss thanks). We are also going to revisit the lovely restaurant on Villars one evening - it was that good, and excellent value (we had dinner in Apt the other night and it was beyond horriffic - all acompanied by a child that grizzled ALL evening and his mother ignored him all night)
p.s. Congrats to James Bullion and Karin - a baby boy arrived yesterday!. A Bullion Viking no less.