We took advantage of the continuing spell of glorious weather last weekend to do one of our favourite walks, along part of the Viaur Valley. I mentioned this in my previous post. It’s a walk that’s best done on a fine autumn day. The colours are magnificent, chestnuts litter the ground and there’s hardly anyone else around. The only sound is the river rushing over the rocks not far from the path. We don’t get there often enough (it’s a 45-minute drive). The last time was in autumn 2011.
Lagarde Viaur, remnants of a former township
Apart from the lovely countryside, there’s historical interest, too. The walk passes through the village of Lagarde Viaur, stationed high up above the valley, formerly standing sentinel over the river crossing. Since our previous visit, the commune had put up helpful historical plaques around the village, so we found out rather more about it.
Lagarde Viaur had its share of turbulent history during the Albigensian Crusades and was much more densely populated at one time. Up until the 1960s, we learned, the villagers grew fruit that they sold not only in regional markets but also to the UK. And chestnuts were once a staple crop, from which people made flour, as well as being exported throughout France.
Now the village is almost a ghost town. Some of the houses are dilapidated but sport hopeful “à vendre” signs. At least one of the more imposing buildings, with impressive colombage (timber facings), is being restored. The SF and I sat on benches by the fortified church at the top of the village, munching our sandwiches, enjoying the view and musing on the decline of a once-important township.
On Sunday (2nd November), we were in shorts and T-shirts. Today, the weather has reverted to a more seasonable temperature and the rain has returned after a long gap.
Weather assessment for October
A quick reminder of our subjective weather assessment: we assign each day a plus if it’s fine, a minus if it’s bad and a zero if it’s indifferent or we can’t decide. In October, there were:
Pluses – 25
Zeros – 4
Minuses – 2
The graph shows the percentage of plus days each October for the past 17 years (the line is the trend). This is the best October over that period by some margin.
This year the weather has gone from the ridiculous in July and August to the sublime in September and October. We frequently get a warm and glowing Indian summer, but this has been the best ever.
This is reflected in the rainfall. Our rainfall stats go back to August 2004. In October we had only 34 mm of rain, about half the average we would expect (70.5mm). It rained only on 4 days, again about half the average of 8.5 days.
The overall rainfall for the year to date is still above the average, though, thanks to a wet winter and spring. We’ve had 750.5 mm to date, 7% above the 701.5 mm we would normally expect.
We’ve heard rumours that the winter might be a tough one. Apparently, the climatic conditions this year have exactly mirrored those of 1985, when the temperatures dipped to minus 25°C. So some farmers are saying that this is in store for us this winter. I sincerely hope they’re wrong. Our house would be uninhabitable.
Let’s see what my trusty dictons (sayings) source has to say:
Octobre ensoleillé, décembre emmitouflé [Sunny October, December all muffled up].
Let’s remain optimistic (while making sure the gas tank is filled up, the wood is stacked and the woolly pullies are to hand).
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