Martin in Maubourguet
Well after my adventures in Sicily I have found my assignment here much easier.
Assignment you say ?? What assignment ? Housesitting and minding 3 beautiful dogs, 4 chooks, 1 rooster, 3 fluffy white things, a recluse cat and one gorgeous kitten with many many personalities. How did this happen ??? Well, unfortunately the Château owner I had been emailing all last year decided the week before my arrival to take a month off and go to South Africa.
Yes, you can imagine I was a tad upset and Yes a few expletives popped out… fortunately though in the confines of my apartment Butera28 in Sicily, as he was a reason for my trip abroad. I was hoping to come up with cool things to do in Bordeaux…
Once I had calmed down, I checked my emails and the latest house sitters email popped up. Taking this as good omen, I quickly scanned the email and a Maubourguet house sit was advertised. I quickly answered and then had correspondence with Catherine, a lovely English lady who has lived here in rural France for 15 odd years. May I suggest to you to check out site www.trustedhousesitters.com should you be on a budget like me but still wanting to travel – it is amazing! Let’s face it animal lovers are lovely people!
Church in Maubourguet
I must admit Maubourguet or the Pyrenees have never been on my radar. Still hard to comprehend in Australia temperatures have been in the 40’s and I have been sashaying about wearing long johns, jumper, beanie, gloves, scarf and jacket! But, the countryside is truly beautiful and the people charming. My French totally sucks but I have managed to survive and enjoy …
Pyrenees – view from village (left), ski fields (right)
My charges pictured have been great company and very entertaining … I’m sure the many scratches on my hands from Mini (a loving kitten who on a whim can become psycho kitten) will heal in time…and Clochard – the good looking darker dog (Clochard in french means tramp) will be remembered for his enthusiasm and good looks and holds the record for most widdle stops on our walks….!
Whilst I have been here I have managed to slip out during the day – Catherine loaned me her old postie van (loads of fun traveling incognito and passing as a local) so have been exploring local markets. Vic-en-Bigorre being my favourite plus many small villages, the larger towns Lourdes, Tarbes and along the way i have met some lovely people…
Roaming the countryside in a postie van!
One treasure is Allyson Gofton, a passionate foodie and cookbook author in New Zealand www.ecook.co.nz who is here for a year researching and writing a book about the people here including recipes. I was fortunate enough to meet her husband Warrick at the Maubourguet Market (he nearly passed for a french man with beret, scarf and fresh baguette under his arm) alas his kiwi accent gave him away :)))) or maybe it was my Aussie accent ….
So we chatted beside the Local Wine stall which was near an English pork pie stall and another stall selling English sausages and English bacon (I was somewhat surprised about this but there are many English retirees here wanting their own food). This saddened both Warrick and I, as when we are in another country its their culture and their food which we wish to embrace…
But on another note I do love the ‘multiculturalness’ of Oz And yes I will be going to my favourite Indian Karma, My Thai, Vespa Pizza, BrewBakers, and Sunny Coast’s Berardo’s on the Beach, Spirit House and other faves when I return home.
Anyway! I gave Warrick my card, an email soon arrived inviting me for cuppa …. a coffee date with Allyson at a local bar. Since then we have been bestest of mates and I have had a few catch ups with her, Warrick and their lovely children. I also have been lucky enough to see and taste some of the recipes going in her book ….yum!
I’m sure it going to be well worthy of picking up a copy.
Joaquin and Virginie Figueiredo
A dynamic husband wife team who run Hotel de France in Maubourguet.
Joaquin is a very good Chef from Portugal and his menu offers great food from his upbringing plus local Pyrenees favourites of foie gras , duck confit and magret.
So now I’m leaving Catherine tells me about murder, a hanging, red stains on the wallpaper when she removed the top layer and Nazi’s taking over house during the war and torturing French Resistance in the cellar …aha! now i know why she asked me my thoughts on ghosts ;)))))
One can stay in her Gites at Le Camelia Chambres d’hotes http:/www.haute-pyrenees-
Next stop Rome…. London ….then Home!