La descent du col Festes

A crazy festival we attended last Saturday. It was so much fun! We shall make a push-cart for next years one! The video has the story written into it. I will only add that it is a real family day out. There were loads of kids running around. The air was heavy with vegetable oil exhaust burning out of old utility vans. There was some Brasilian capoeria musicians. An easy third of the people were British so not the best place to practice my French but great fun all the same.

The Festival is every year on the Saturday of armistice weekend. The race starts at around 2ish but is always late in getting off (late by over an hour), for no reason other than everyone is having too much fun up on top of the hill lobbing flour at each other. Best is to park on top of the hill to see the race start off. Then walk the 6km down to the village (or drive down once the carts have all moved off). Getting back to the top of the hill is easy by hitching.

By 5pm the race was over.
In the village of Festes et Saint Andre there was music, a crepe stall, tea, coffee, booze. Usually there is a party afterwards but this year that did not happen in order to keep the cops happy. Nevertheless, the gendarme still closed off the road for a few hours, then breathalized every driver and made passengers get out if there were more than three in the back – it was pouring with rain that night 🙁

Wood to chop

It is autumn now in Saint Julia. We just had Halloween. Here in Republican France, everyone being closet Catholics, they prefer to celebrate Saints Day. That was last Friday. A day to go down to the local cemetery and clean up the headstones of loved ones. As such Halloween never really took off here. No abundance of pumpkin in the supermarket. Funny enough, the shops are only now beginning to get in the Christmas decorations.
As in the picture below, we celebrated American Halloween. I was a nightmare. Anika was a tooth fairy and Mara was a geisha. We all piled into the Quillan brewery, host to the party. I danced till the last tune, 2am. The owner gave Anika his bed when she crashed out. Jackie, Dylan, JP, Dorro, everyone seemed to be there.

Alex Jones take note: a  nightmare and tooth fairy were seen to haunt satin Julia.

Alex Jones take note: a nightmare and tooth fairy were seen to haunt satin Julia.


One piece of sad news is that the micro-brewery, which makes pretty decent craft ales, is shutting down. The guy is going on a very long holiday. Its been Quillan’s underground party venue for a few years now. Well, as underground as one can get in a provincial town. Fingers crossed that someone is thinking about where to go next.

Elsewhere, I have been felling trees with Jess. It was not easy felling my first tree. Not because it was my first time on a chain saw, but just killing that beautiful 60 year old beech. French forest management seems to have not heard of coppicing. So these forests get cut down and we must wait another 60 years (fingers crossed the beech will grow back and not invasive pine) for another forest.

One 60 year tree gives me about 2 ster (1 ster is 1 cubic meter). I need 5 ster per winter for a modest heating arrangement. That is two and a half trees a winter. At 60 years a tree I need 150 trees minimum to complete a life cycle of wood for heating. That is alot of trees and alot of land to heat one house! If I was building my own house I would seriously consider alternative heating sources, passive solar, passive thermal.

Other good news – I think I have found a garage to fix the Zil – I need to go back and confirm – then see what the cost is. The garage is in Quillan and just opened. It is a specialist in agriculture and forestry vehicles. It is called ‘Garage Julia’ – I take the name to be a positive omen.