EEC 3, 8th March 2005

Sometimes, you get mad with your computer. Just now, or rather, a little while ago, it crashed, and took all of this report with it. Although I'd saved it a few times there was no trace in any of the folders. I dug deeper, inside the raw index files which luckily I had not compressed, and found most of the words I'd written, in a sort of random order, I just have to edit, check, and add the pictures. Just, I said. I've now done it, it took almost 2 hours. Would have been quicker to start again...........

I forgot to mention last time, I had an update on Little Cat. He is still a super cat, loved by the family, but not now, apparently, not so little. He's getting fat Oren tells me. Oh well, I always told him I would take him away from being a starved Mexican cat and he would become an American Fat Cat. I just didn't expect it to happen so soon though. Or so literally. As a reminder of his younger bouncy ways here's a little program, about 300 Kb, which is rather fun Little Cat.exe. Download it, probably with a right click and select save, then run it.

Daniel's balloon passed the pull test on the fabric so he's OK to fly for another year. Not that it's been flyable of late. Apart from my cold, which lasted a week, and turned out to be one of the worser varieties, when I wasn't mopping my nose I was falling asleep, well, apart from all that, it's been very cold outside and snowing most days. Here's a view from my bedroom window.

I did some internet searching for houses, not terribly successfully. To many sites, too badly organised and generally with too few houses.

But I'm on the road again. Big thanks to Daniel and Nany who welcomed me to their house in spite of my cold. In view of the weather I'm not heading directly to Toulouse, that would take me back over the Massif Central, and temperatures there have been dropping below minus 20C. Not exactly appropriate temperatures for a camper van with no central heating. So I'm heading straight south in the direction of Marseilles then will head off west towards Toulouse.

Already, and even 10 miles south of Daniel's, the snow started disappearing from the fields, and now, about 50 miles further south, there is almost no snow, the sun has been shining.

I've paused to look at a few old towns and towers but I'll probably get more enthusiastic about walking around when it's warmer. Just now it's night and about bearable in the van, I don't need huddle down wearing scarf and outside jacket. It's much warmer outside, also the insulation I put on the van is helping.

It was cold in the morning. Not unbearable, just cold. Of course, next day's clothes were in my sleeping bag for a while which helped the getting out of bed procedure. I had found a nice little spot next to a river, I couldn't have risked dropping down there if there had still been snow on the ground. Soon as I was dressed I started driving, I'll catch up on the morning wash, teeth brushed, cup of coffee, etc, just as soon as the van heater has pumped some warmth into the van.

Before I had chance for coffee a super little village turned up. I stopped, took a photo, then drove back over the other bridge, then left. On the way out of the village I looked back and saw a ruin above the village, it looked liked an old chateau, so I turned around and drove about the village a touch more.

I found a little road over a pass. At the top there was a sign "The places where the sky touched to the earth". It showed a map, with the
places where the sky had touched the earth. There was a story about how this happened, a charming story.This is the view from there.

I returned, back the way I had come, and found the first place noted, with a sign "To commemorate this event the area council has placed a marker" At the place was a marker with a bottle, of essence of lavender.

The valley is a producer of lavender, here you could imagine that with the view and the blue fields of lavender, that the sky could touch the
earth. Here is a field of lavender, in winter, which still smells of lavender, I tried it.

I stopped a while in Nyons, nice town. I took some photos,

I visited the museum of olives, and bought more wine at the local wine co-operative. I found an internet connection by the tourist office then continued south. I looked at batteries for the van in a supermarket. Too expensive. I had originally been thinking to fit the 2nd battery something like the American system, which charges like the regular battery, with all the interior van lights etc coming from the 2nd battery, which is a different type to the regular battery, and is especially rated for long life, not for lots of power to start the engine.

But I only have one light, that's fluorescent, and my mp3 player uses very little power. So I'll just get a battery to hold in reserve. Then if my van battery goes flat I'll jump start from my reserve. I can easily wire in the reserve battery to charge when the engine is running. Now all I need to is sort out my cooking stove, and my washing systems. My big stove works fine on the floor but my small one tipped over tonight and a few fried potatoes hit the bin so that small stove is not adequate.

I am now parked in a free camping car site, sampling the high power home brew hooch Daniel's crew man Robert gave me. Actually it's the
second bottle he has given me, the first exploded. It's superb hooch, really superb, and my interest in writing this email is dying rapidly.............


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