Tag Archives: weather

Worst floods in living memory

23 Oct

As some of you may have read, the department of the Aude has been hit by the worst floods in living memory. Our commune, along with 125 others in the Aude, has been officially recognised as being a zone of natural catastrophe.

Fortunately our dwelling has not been affected but our organic garden has been wiped out. The disaster figures are staggering:

    14 people are dead with scores more in hospital
    6,000 people without homes
    Over 10,000 tonnes of household possessions to be removed and scrapped
    Many bridges need rebuilding or replacing
    The total damage to possessions and infrastructure is estimated at €300 million.
    Over 6,000 vehicles to be scrapped

All this happened within an area about 30km diameter of where we live.

Here are some photos of our damage.

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The mysterious hole

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We have lots of wood now!

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There is one of the decking pallets under this lot!

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Where to start?

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We cannot access this area yet

We are now taking stock of what’s happened. Sadly the beehives were swept away along with the colony of bees that Trish had been nurturing for the last two years. One of the four goldfish seem to have jumped ship. The new watering system has lost only the pump, amazingly. We think we can find three of the nine pallets that made up the garden terrace, but the frame of the marquee that covered it has gone. The reed bed system seems to be intact although the lower filter is almost entirely covered with debris.

This is what the garden looked like before the flood:

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Thunder in the hills

19 May

Last night I was woken by the dog, who was panting and moving around in an agitated state. Nettles always sleeps in our bedroom since we moved out here; it was a way to reassure her. About an hour later I heard the first roll of thunder. It must have been a long way away, by the sound of it. Nettles has always been our early warning system of an impending storm. I don’t know how long the thunder lasted as I dozed in and out of consciousness but I do remember some pretty long rolls. It was not the short bangs that we normally associate with a thunderstorm. It seemed to be rolling around the plain between the Black Mountains and the Pyrenees. I didn’t see any lightning either.

Eventually, I drifted off to sleep. I was woken at about 8 by the table on the other side of the bed moving, and a box of vitamin pills falling on the floor, as well as by a desperate scrabbling sound! Our dear dog, in an attempt to hide from the storm, had got behind the table and was now trying to extract herself! You see, normally she goes to hide in the shower area of the guest bedroom or under one of the beds there but the bedroom door was shut.

The second favourite place is under the kitchen work surface, behind a curtain and next to the gas bottle! Anyway, there are more thunderstorms on the way, so I’ll have to watch out for her this afternoon.

When we first moved out here, there was a pretty big storm and Nettles fled out the back door and disappeared! We were terribly worried as she was in a strange area and feared that she would get lost. It rained torrentially – the French saying is “il pleut comme une vache qui pisse”! Five hours later she reappeared, dry as a bone. No idea where she’d gone! It happened again some two months later, despite our efforts to close all external doors as soon as a storm was on its way. This time she came back two hours later but looking like a drowned rat!

Hey ho! The joys of dog ownership!

 

Is winter over, over here?

2 Mar

It’s not been that cold in the south west of France this winter. So far, we’ve had two separate snowfalls, each lasting just two days. So, merely a dusting in comparison with what the UK has been receiving this week. And we’ve only had two nights since the beginning of the year where the temperatures dropped below freezing.

I took Nettles for a walk this morning and shot these views of our village from down below where the residential home is.

In the top photograph you can see our church, which is an ancient monument, built between the 13th and 15th centuries.

But it is not all good news – for the last two months we’ve had exceptional rainfall. In one weekend in January it rained the equivalent of one month’s precipitation. The river which passes by our garden is running in full spate (and is very noisy at night).

Anyway, now that spring has arrived, the gardeners are active again. Soil has been carefully prepared and marked out. A garden plan has been drawn up by Trish. And she and several volunteers have already dug-in the compost, ready for the seeds be planted. In fact, Trish has already planted broad beans and peas. There are also seedlings growing in the greenhouse.

Later, we drove into Carcassonne and visited a place where they sell everything that is required for watering a garden automatically. As we jokingly explained to the man behind the counter, coming from England meant that we had little or no experience of automatic watering systems, since it usually rained a lot where we lived in Kent. He understood completely what we were saying! The next step is to go back to see him and show him the plan of the garden and then he’ll be able to calculate precisely the components that we need.

Below is a shot of la Montagne Noire that I took on our return to Montolieu whilst Nettles playing in the field nearby.

Keep warm out there!

It rained ‘cats & dogs’ here today

4 Apr

Today it rained really hard all morning. Really heavy downpours. Normally the water is diverted around the Peace Factory and runs off in gullies down to the river.

Today it didn’t!

The water at the back of the factory runs in a concrete gutter formed in the wall about the level of the first floor. This is because the factory is built into a cliff. The gutter is not well sealed and water started to run down below, finding its way into the factory through a failed expansion joint.

Result – a flood!

Here is the team clearing up afterwards.

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And here is Sylvain emerging from the cavity below the first floor after having drilled a hole to let the water escape.

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Spring is here at the Peace Factory in France

26 Mar

Spring is here. The birds are singing, flowers and trees are sprouting. And everyone is looking cheerfully at the garden.

We have much to do. The greenhouse needs glazing. The organic manure has to be bought and trailored from the farm about an hour away. Then it has to be dug in before the organic seeds can be planted.

If anyone fancies a few weeks free accommodation in this lovely part of France, in return for two hours a day voluntary work in the garden, then please do get in touch via the website.

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