Chris’s family is over at the  moment and this afternoon Ruadhri, Caiti and I went sightseeing with them. Chris had to stay home and tackle shower repairs, and Benj had an assignation with his petite amie.

We went to the wolf park – les Loups de Chabriere – just outside Gueret. This is a great tourist attraction for the town. And it was our best visit yet. We must have been three or four times now. Our last visit was the day of the Christmas Market a couple of years ago. The mulled wine was a lot stronger than we realised and we giggled our way round to see the wolves afterwards. Not surprisingly, in the depths of winter, they were curled up keeping warm. And when we’d seen them in the summer they were hidden in the undergrowth to keep cool. But today we got up close and personal with them. It was fantastic! We were there for feeding time, and at one point, the wolves in another enclosure all began howling. It was a scary sound. I can see why people got so freaked by wolves in the past.

There are wild wolves in France, around 200, but much further south, in and around the Pyrenées. They are thought to have moved into France from Italy. Environmentalists want to protect them, but local shepherds aren’t so keen on the idea. However, if sheep are properly protected then wolves won’t take them.

More controversial is the scheme to release Slovakian brown bears in the Pyrenées. There are currently 20, but no more will be introduced unless any die ‘accidentally’. A few bears have been found dead in suspicious circumstances. It seems that having wolves and bears on your doorstep has been a bit much for some Pyreneans.

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.The last one isn’t of wolves, obviously – it’s the Dagg cousins Sam, Nuala, Ruadhri and Caitlin with Auntie Sue at the far end!