Listen to the robin

Listen to the robin

As I write this, the robin is singing outside. The sun is slanting up over the hedge. I can hear a rook on the roof.

I heard a lot of robins in Dublin too last weekend.

It’s time. The days are lengthening. We have daffodils and snowdrops and crocuses. It’ll be Lá Fhéile Bríde in a few days.

Listen to the robin. It’s worth your while. Continue reading “Listen to the robin”

The Winter of The Blackbird

The Winter of The Blackbird

This has been the winter of the blackbird. I haven’t been out and about much for one reason or another but I seem to be seeing and hearing blackbirds wherever I go.

I haven’t seen a redwing or a fieldfare yet, maybe they’re not around, or maybe I need to get out more. Well, that’s definitely true, I do need that. Continue reading “The Winter of The Blackbird”

Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 7

Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 7

‘We’ll take it handy tomorrow,’ they said. ‘Sure it’s our last day’.

‘We won’t kill ourselves tomorrow,’ they said.

‘We’ll do a local loop out of the house and finish early and relax in the afternoon,’ they said.

For me, today’s walk was the most difficult. I’m not sure why. Maybe because my expectations were of a stroll, which it wasn’t. Maybe it was the heat – it got up to 28oC and we were exposed to sunlight for most of the walk. Maybe I’m just tired now after six days of tramping around Pyrenean mountains. Continue reading “Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 7”

Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 6

Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 6

I love maps. I just love them. It’s the certainty of them, I think. And the comfort that when a map says this road goes here – then it does. And this mountain is here, it’s this high and there’s a cliff there. This valley is this low, and if you take this path, you can cross the stream… here!

And so you do. Continue reading “Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 6”

Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 5

Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 5

They go low, so we go high.

We drove south past Laruns into the mountains up to the Lac de Bious-Artigues at 1400m altitude. We were shocked, shocked I tell you, to find the car park by the lake full, with well-equipped and, worse – fit-looking – hikers setting forth. We were most aggrieved, having had the forests and mountains to ourselves the previous two days – well, except for the cattle and horses, but they didn’t clog up the paths, they weren’t smugly thin and they didn’t have hiking poles and expensive walking gear. Continue reading “Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 5”

Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 4

Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 4

After walking up through the early morning village of Bilhères, where we were living for the week, the path levelled off and we passed by some lush pastures and entered the forest. An old forest, big trees, venerable; moss hanging low from branches in the shadow of mountains. Steep mountains, high, stooping down to the valley floor and the running steam that we could hear but not see, far below. Continue reading “Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 4”

Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 3

Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 3

We were hungry and empty when we ate on the unlikely named Col Deus Coïgts at 1068m. We’d climbed up from the villages of Louvie-Juzon and Castet on the valley floor at 400m and it took us four hours to get there. The woods around us as we ate, with tall beech trees reaching up imperiously, were a thing of inordinate beauty. A tree creeper climbed up a bark twenty metres away, doing his methodological thing. Continue reading “Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 3”