Revisiting old haunts

Our first two hikes were local… we aren’t really in shape for long ones! J spent a lot of time weeding before departure and M cut up a huge amount of firewood – both strenuous in their own way, but not great preparation for long hikes. We’re getting up to speed with some easy hikes along the coast near the gîte.

But first, we enjoyed the gardens at our rental. (J took a bunch of botany courses last winter, so plants get a closer examination than they used to.)

What the heck is the plant above? The flower stalk is taller than the first story of the building! One of J’s many plant id apps says it’s called Pride of Madeira or Tower of Jewels (Echium candicans). And check out the cordyline below. J was impressed with it in 2019 (photo on left). It’s usually used as an annual at home and is less than a meter tall, but here it can overwinter. On the right is how it looks in 2022 – even more impressive!

But we can’t look at flowers all day, though J may be sorely tempted…

Both our hikes started at “our” beach, the Plage de Cameros. It’s still as beautiful as we remembered, even without blue skies and blue water.

The Plage de Cameros

On our first expedition we started to the south, going up to the clifftop in search of a particularly good blackberry patch where we had had great success in the past. It was still there, but no paths were mowed, so berry picking required more of a commitment. We persevered through the thorns and emerged with a nice haul – of berries and of dozens of burrs stuck to our socks!

We then retraced our steps down to the beach and went north around a point. Along the way we heard a loud buzz, which turned out to be a small drone – a new sight for us in France. Actually, what we saw was a woman walking well in advance of a man, who was now carrying the drone. Had she asked him not to bring it? Did she think the annoying buzz was ruining a perfectly good walk by the sea? Maybe I’m projecting…but we’ll never know…

Along the way we encountered some passion flowers. We had never examined them closely before – they look cool from above, but even more so from the side.

Our second hike took us to the beach at Saint-Nic. The trail goes along a narrow dirt road. A German camper had parked in the middle of the road, forcing those who came up behind it to back up a long way on the narrow track. The camper didn’t appear to have suffered a breakdown – the owners were casually eating their lunch. How oblivious can people be?

By the time we came back, the camper had moved off the roadway and a small crowd had gathered to watch some paragliders. We had seen them before, but always from down on the beach. Up close and personal, they’re even more interesting. One person appeared to be a student – he never left the launch site, just worked on controlling his sail. Another launched quickly and disappeared below the cliff edge. Later we saw him walking back up with his gear (the walk of shame?).

It’s such a pleasure to revisit all these gorgeous views and see what has and hasn’t changed. A few sprinkles falling on us from time to time didn’t dampen our spirits at all. Our post-hike ritual of kir and cashews also helps. 😉 It’s great to be back!

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