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The Bivvy Girls

As there will be no catch reports this week we thought we would do a little post about what Jo and her sister, Julianne got up to in the two weeks that the Divvys were fishing.

With Julianne and Dean making the long journey from North Wales on the Sunday, that evening was spent catching up and Monday helping Nigel and Dean setting up their bivvies and letting Floyd, Maisie’s brother, get used to his new surroundings. Floyd can be a bit reactive at times so he was kept away from the other anglers on Kingfisher. He is lovely with people he knows but he can kick off at times and him and Maisie had a couple of set-tos but generally he behaved himself and was quite happy mooching about and enjoying the sunshine when we had it. Monday evening we all had a lovely meal at Le 16 Beach, overlooking the lake, as Dean had not been here before.

Last year when Julianne came over they did loads of jobs whilst the men were fishing but this year it was decided that the priority should be about getting out and about a bit more and seeing places that they had not been to before. They did manage to squeeze in a few jobs as well but the boring things like housework and weeding were left.

On Tuesday they set off to go to Nontron, about 40 minutes away into the Dordogne. Although the Divvies have previously fished in this area, it was not a town they were familiar with and, as they do, they just went and had a walk round, visited the church and walked up to the old château and found somewhere nice to have lunch. We can recommend the Hollywood Café, near to the château. There is also a cutlery museum in Nontron, the town is famous for it’s knives, but by the time they had walked round to there it was closed for lunch. We always forget how important a lunch break is in France!

Wednesday is market day in Piegut-Pluviers and is somewhere they have visited every time they have come to this part of France so it had to be done and the obligatory cheese bought! In the afternoon, the girls decided to stay at home, demolish the pergola and spend some time with Nigel and Dean, well watch them fishing anyway.

The decking area in the garden, where the hot tub is, was obviously rotting, as the level of the water was higher one side of the tub than the other, so we had decided we would replace it this summer. We were not sure about the pergola but as that was also rotten in places we decided we would remove it and replace it if we felt we needed it. We left the deck as it was for the two weeks break so the girls could use the hot tub and make a decision, but with a plan to empty and move it before Julianne and Dean left (many hands make light work).

The rest of the week was spent at home or by the lake, apart from the odd trip to the supermarket. The weather was not great for sight seeing but by the weekend the girls had definitely unwound, read a few books and drank several bottles of wine. Saturday was changeover day and the boys moved over to Kingfisher lake, having had 12 carp on the bank from Lac Lucie. New guests were expected there this week so the chalets had to be got ready, grass cut and bait prepared.

Jo had seen in the local press that the old château at Les Salles Lavauguyon had an open weekend to raise awareness of the château and the work that is being done there to restore it. The château was built between the 12th and 15th centuries and belonged to an important noble French family. During the French Revolution the aristocracy was toppled and many châteaux were sold or confiscated and this one was used as a quarry. In 2008 an association was formed to start the restoration and they have some events to raise money. They also work with groups of people from various sectors who come and stay and get stuck in. The stonemason who was showing people around had a wealth of information and his English was really good so a lot was learned.

Although the weather forecast for the second week was poor, what arrived was on the whole much better and we had some hot summer days, mixed in with a few dramatic thunder storms. Both Jo and Julianne like to be outdoors and exploring new walks and on Monday they combined a 6km walk with a visit to cash and carry (now that Jo had her card at last) and lunch by the Charente river near to Angoulême. The walk was stunning, near a place called Puymoyen and was a good circular walk taking them down the valley which was lined with limestone cliffs, apparently a world renowned climbing haunt. They hardly met a soul and passed by a deer breeding centre and some of the views were amazing.

Lunch was pretty good too at, on the banks of the Charente. They also rent out leisure boats there. Jo had a 5 cheese pizza and Julianne a burger and it was very reasonably priced. There might have been a pudding too….

Visiting the local alpacas had been on the list for the first week but due to the poor weather on the day it was booked it was sensible to delay this so it had been arranged for the Wednesday morning. are only 10 minutes up the road from us and and visits have to be pre-booked at least 24 hours in advance, but that is easily done by email (and can be arranged for any of our guests if wanted). Julianne lives near an alpaca centre in North Wales and so was keen to go, knowing how therapeutic spending some time with the animals is.

The girls got there at about 10am and were greeted by Jules, one of the owners, who explained that himself and Gaynor had found the property through Place in the Sun a few years before and had had an alpaca farm in the UK prior to moving out to France. They have approximately 10 alpacas there, split across 2 fields (males and females), as well as some Valais black nose sheep, loads of free roaming chicken and 2 donkeys. Visitors can go into the fields with the animals and feed them and, if the alpacas allow it, stroke their necks which are so soft. One of the alpacas was pregnant so Jules wasn’t sure if we could go in the field with the females but she seemed happy for us to be in there for a while and let us pet her.

You are then given a walk around the land with the donkeys (weather and terrain permitting) and the whole visit takes about an hour and a half. The land at the bottom of the property that day was not really suitable for walking so we just spent some time with the donkeys, Polka and Bilbo, in the barn. The whole experience is very uplifting, you focus your attention on the animals and learn so much from Jules. It is nice to switch off from everyday life once in a while.

Wednesday night saw several hours of thunder, lightening and heavy rain; dramatic to watch but not nice to be out in. Not that that stopped Dean and Nigel fishing, and they stayed out all night. Thursday it was Jo’s birthday and the girls went to Champniers, near Angoulême to get a few things for the swimming pool and have a wander round the garden centre. Julianne (and one of her other sisters) bought Jo some new solar spotlights for the new hot tub decking and they paid a quick trip to the supermarket. The boys stopped fishing for a few hours in the evening and we went to Mamie’s bar in Montamboeuf for a lovely meal of Chinese chicken and Bailey’s cheesecake – what a treat. We do try to go there at least once a week if we can – the food is always superb and there is a such a warm welcome and lovely atmosphere, whether you sit inside or out.

Friday was packing up day and getting some jobs done. By lunchtime the hot tub had been slid onto some pallets and the girls took the decking up, ready for Nigel to build a new one.

And that was the fortnight at an end. We always have such a lovely time when Julianne and Dean come out, fishing, having a few drinks and lots of laughter. Julianne is back out accompanying some friends who are fishing on Lac Lucie in August but until then à bientôt…

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