Monday, 21 December 2015

Staying local - Saint Ferreol and Saint Jean Pla de Corts

Despite our Spanish excursion earlier in the week, we don't
Iron cross en route to Saint Ferreol 
actually need to go far for amazing sights in this corner of France. We enjoyed an eight mile hike recently - yes, another from our Little Guide of Hiking - and traipsed from the Devil's Bridge in Ceret to the Saint Ferreol Hermitage above the town. The Hermitage was first built in the late thirteenth century as a sanctuary. It has undergone many changes since then and I don't think its hermit took up residence until the eighteenth century. There isn't one in situ now either. The site has a lovely peace to it and fabulous views out over the valley and surrounding countryside. We weren't able to see inside the church as it only opens at weekends, but from photographs we learned that its sober exterior decor is continued indoors with remarkably restrained gilting.

Saint Ferreol 
As you can see from the deep blue sky in my photographs,
Mimosa flowering 
we picked a gorgeous day for our walk! It certainly did not feel like December and we even passed by mimosa in full flower which apparently shouldn't happen around here until late January. Definitely another sign of screwy happenings in our climate and I have my fingers crossed that the recent historic Paris agreement actually does result in some real action, not just empty political posturing. It's a shame our Tory government doesn't understand what they signed up to though. I hear they are now investing massively in fracking but have stopped all investment in solar energy and other renewables. Isn't that the wrong way round?

We took a stroll into our nearest town of St Jean Pla de
Wall plaque in St Jean 
Corts on Saturday, ostensibly in search of tamarind paste for another curry. We couldn't find it in the Intermarche, but staff at Ceret's Bio shop suggested trying the pharmacy and there is a huge pharmacy in St Jean - where they did have tamarind, but only in capsules as a digestion medication. Hmmm!

The town centre is nice. We discovered its huge, out-of-place brick chimney is a kiln for brick-making and there's a range of social amenities that look very new - medical centre, mairie, visiting library, community centre. Street art includes the sculpture pictured below which is entitled Timidite and was created by Francis Aggery, a local sculptor who lived in Maurillas. The greengrocer and bakery-tearoom are open seven days a week which surprised me. It seems that more and more French shops are opening on Saturday afternoons and on Sundays. They still keep their long lunch breaks though!

Timidite by Francis Aggery, St Jean 
Apologies for any bizarre formatting or broken links in posts at the moment. Amazon decided to unexpectedly release an upgrade of the Silk browser to my Kindle Fire without ironing out all the bugs first! Photographs are repositioning themselves, plus I am having to type out all the links and their html by hand because the paste button doesn't work. 'Customer Services' operatives for the UK refused to accept that the new software had any problems and insisted on 'troubleshooting measures' based around me repeatedly turning my Kindle off and on again! Fortunately an email from American Amazon admitted the pasting issue at least and gave hope of a fix within a' few days'. In the meantime, if you spot broken links or other weirdness, please holler in the Comments below.

And on a happier note, here's an excellent Christmas song to finish:

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