These have to have been the fastest holidays ever. It really only seems like five minutes since we were collecting Caiti from Chateauroux station, but this evening I dropped her back there for her return journey to Canada. It hasn’t started smoothly. SNCF have decided to be awkward and introduced a ‘mouvement social’ (kind of solidarity industrial action as far as I can make out) 2-5 January to obviously inconvenience as many inoffensive people as possible – mainly students going back to uni/lycee and holiday visitors. Caiti’s original train was affected so she had to change to a later one. That one was packed so poor Caits had to stand in the corridor for two hours to get to Paris.

Rors’ two weeks of school hols are nearly over and we’ll soon be back in the usual term-time routines. Accompanying Rors to and from the school bus in the dark every morning and evening isn’t much fun, but at least the days are slowly lengthening now. We might not need to take the torch with us in a few weeks’ time.

The weather hasn’t been great so we didn’t do as much walking and geocaching as we usually do during school holidays but we managed a few outings. We had a really lovely food-filled Christmas, complete with a wonderful selection of Canadia treats from Cait and some truly delicious Swiss chocolate from author/friend Paul, and a peaceful New Year – well, the latter for four of us anyway. Benj went up to Paris to join in the jubilant celebrations there on New Year’s Eve.

swiss choc

The rest of us went for a walk around Etang des Landes on New Year’s Day, one of our traditional winter walks. The lake was frozen this time, but it was a beautiful sunny day, if chilly.

And since yesterday, 2nd Jan, was forecast to be nice in the morning, Chris, Rors and I set off for a quick geocaching session in the Gorges de Vouieze, not too far away. It was a lovely walk through the deep gorge next to an energetic river.

2jan15 vouieze walk river

And there were interesting things to see…

An abandoned traction engine

2jan15 traction engine

A disused lorry and factory

2jan15 derelict lorry mill

And Bluebeard’s Castle!

2jan15 bluebeard castle

Rors told us the legend of Bluebeard. Apparently Bluebeard got married but had to go away on business. So he left his new wife in his castle. He gave her the keys, but told her to never go into one particular room. But of course she did, and found the bodies of all Bluebeard’s previous wives. And there was blood on the door handle, which was magical blood which could not be washed off. Bluebeard’s wife tried everything to get it off her hands but with no luck. So when Mr B got home, he knew she’d disobeyed him and he sentenced her to death. Fortunately her mother/cousin/brother (Rors was a little vague as to which relative it was exactly) was due to visit and Mrs B played for time by saying a lot of final prayers until her family member arrived and rescued her. So now you know!