Friday, 13 April 2007

Le Pont Chretien-Chabenet, Eguzon and a night on a bare mountain!

We whizzed through Nantes and Poitiers and as we are quite close we deviated towards Argenton sur Creuse and the area where we spent a holiday three years ago. We knew there was a little campsite near le Pont Chretien and headed for there but it was closed. We had a look around Pont Chretien but there was nowhere to stop. So we headed for the nearest camperstop in the book which was at Eguzon. Failing to find the camperstop we found a pull-in near a small river ( La Claviere) that had plenty walking through woods and meadows, and spent a lovely night there.

These plants were all from around the area where we camped up near Eguzon.

Cowslips Primula veris meaning pensiveness or You are Divine! The heady scent of cowslips is said to calm the nerves and the wine that is still from them today, noted for alleviating insomnia.

Germander Speedwell Veronica chamaedrys In the language of flowers the Speedwells represent Semblance and female fidelity.

Wild Strawberry Fragaria vesca - a natural remedy for digestive problems and diarrhoea can be made by infusing 2 teaspoonsful of the chopped leaves in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drink three cups daily.

Lungwort Pulmonaria officinalis- it is a so-called ‘signature plant’ because in ‘the Doctrine of Signatures’ –that stated that the shape, colour etc. of a plant gave an indication or ‘signature for its beneficial properties or uses. Because of the blotched lung-like leaves it was seen as a remedy for chest complaints. The leaves and stems are, however, diuretic and expectorant; so an infusion can help soothe sore throats and coughs!

Sorrel Rumex acetosa – The leaves of sorrel have an acidic, lemony flavour and can be added to salads for a ‘zing’! Sorrel soup is a country favourite now gaining popularity through ‘The Covent Garden Soup Company’

Greater Stitchwort Stellaria holostea called ‘pixies’ in Somerset – anyone picking it is likely to be ‘pixy-led’.

Maidenhair Spleenwort Asplenium trichomanes – growing up to 15cm on walls and rocks.

Wood Anemone or Windflower Anemone nemorosa

Burnet either Greater or Salad Burnett, probably Greater Sanguisorba officinalis – The name comes from sanguis (blood) and sorbere (to absorb) and refers to the plant’s ability to reduce bleeding.

Ground Ivy Glechoma hederacea- formerly used to clarify and flavour beer and known as ‘alehoof’.

And finally… an odd one –these low growing purple flowers that I have never seen or heard of! I think they are parasitic and will have to do some internet investigating!!

These caterpillars were in a meadow and the warm sunny day had brought them out of hibernation. They are caterpillars of a Fritillary butterfly that spend winter in a silken tent.

We saw these butterflies in a wood just before Argenton where we stopped to walk the dogs.

A Camberwell Beauty Nymphalis antiopa this must have just come out of hibernation as it was a wonderfully warm day, the warmest since our arrival.

And this Large Tortoiseshell Nymphalis polychloros now extinct in Britain.

We studied the map and decided to head for Riom es Montagnes which was up in the mountains of the Central Massif to see what this area was like. We passed through Aubusson, Ussel and Bort les Orges (a lovely little hillside town as a lot of them are).

As we drove through this area where it took us through hillier terrain, it took on a distinct look of Scotland with pine forests with lots of moss and lichens and blue hills.

Looking at the France Passion book, we saw that there was cheese farm that sounded as though it was nearby and looked like it was on the map. Little did we know that the apparently short distance was up, and up and up round and round little roads up a mountain. We eventually found the farm high up in the mountains, introduced ourselves and settled in for the night. We were a bit taken aback when we woke to this scene!

It continued to snow all morning and we were worried we would not manage to get out, but with Peter at the wheel of our trusty truck we slowly wound our way back down the mountain when we were able at last to breathe out a sigh of relief!!


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