Believe it not, there are enough things to entertain us in the vicinity of Trébry that our plans for today did not involve driving any significant distance away. Nor did they require an early start so we took advantage of the opportunity to sleep a little later and relax after breakfast for a while. Our plans were dependent on weather, which the forecast suggested would begin with clouds and clear later with little chance of rain.
Last Tuesday we had set out to walk the 5 km Circuit des Fourmis (ants) which passes by our cottage in Trébry. On our first attempt we lost the trail and had to find our own way home. Last Thursday we acquired maps of the local trails and some of us were keen enough to try again to complete the trail. Today we planned to walk the 6 km Circuit des Grillons (crickets) which starts and finishes at Mont Bel Air. The 2015 Tour de France came through here and featured the climb up to Mont Bel Air. I’m not sure if Majella had thoughts of emulating the Tour but she was keen to walk the trail at Mont Bel Air as were we all.
It was overcast when we set out soon after 9:30 am to drive to Mont Bel Air. We had not gone more than 100 metres when the first drops of moisture appeared on the windscreen. It was heavy mist rather than real rain so we pressed on to the top of the mountain, found the start of the trail, and set off. Soon after the trail crossed the road it disappeared down a dirt trail overhung by trees so that it resembled a tunnel through the woods. Occasionally the side opened up to give us a view over the misty countryside. At the end of the tunnel we stepped onto a rough vehicle track that wound through farmland where the cows watched us, initially with curiosity and then with ‘udder’ disdain.
We had started at the highest point in the region so the average direction of the trail for the first half was inevitably down with occasional minor rises and twists and turns around fields. From time to time we crossed a road but seldom had to walk more than a few metres on a road so there was little risk from traffic. At one point we passed close to some wind turbines. We could see their supporting columns but the tops of the blades were completely shrouded in mist.
About halfway around the circuit the rain became more serious and began to dampen us and our enthusiasm. There was some shelter under trees but we walked on. I eventually pulled my umbrella out of my backpack and used it for a while but it was soon doing more to keep off the sun than the rain. As the rain eased and the sun came out we saw a rainbow that hung very low, barely clearing the horizon.
Soon after that we passed through a little cluster of houses and then crossed a road and a creek at what would have been the lowest point on our circuit before beginning the climb back to the top. Much of that was along the edge of forest that would have provided welcome shade on a sunny day or shelter from light rain. We needed neither but enjoyed the greenery as we walked the last kilometres to Mont Bel Air. The round trip of 6 km had taken us near to 90 minutes.
We needed bread for lunch and decided that the nearest boulangerie was probably in Collinèe. Although we had driven through there on our way south last week we had not really looked at it so that seemed a reason to go. It is a tidy town with well kept houses and streets but nothing notable that we saw. We found the boulangerie, bought our baguette and a small loaf of bread with buckwheat, and headed for Trébry, stopping once on the way for John to get a picture at the La Carouge dolmen. Our walk had taken us within a 100 metres of it but it was raining at the time and we were not inclined to make the minor deviation.
Lunch was our usual fare of fresh bread, ham, cheese, and salad. After lunch we relaxed for a bit before John, Majella, and I headed off just after 2:00 pm to visit La Château de la Touché-Trébry. By that time the sky was largely clear and it seemed our third attempt to visit might be lucky. Pauline opted to stay behind for a rest and time to work on dinner preparations.
At the château we were greeted by the female owner. She and her husband have been there for about 10 years working on restoration and the garden. They have developed some parts of the building as long stay (4 or 7 day minimum stays) apartment accommodation and have been developing the gardens. We were able to see some rooms in the main building and spent an hour or so walking in the extensive gardens. We ventured out the gate in the rear wall to look for the old mill. We found what looked like it might have been part of a millrace but no sign of a wheel. We walked further downstream and thought the stone ruin we found was probably the remnant of the mill. We returned through the wall and walked around the rest of the extensive garden before exiting. Our successful château visit was worth the three attempts. On the way back we deviated to Saint Glen to buy ice cream to accompany the dessert Pauline was preparing. The best we could do was chocolate coated and on sticks but we reckoned that would do.
Back home we rested as Pauline worked on dinner preparations. Our plan was to attend mass at 6:30 pm in the church at Trébry and then return to eat. Shortly before 6:00 pm the power went out, probably caused by one of the strong gusts of wind we were experiencing. Power was out at the church when we got there and was still out when we arrived home. The choir master managed very well with his tuning fork and led his choir without the assistance of power. The church bells were also silent.
Pauline had prepared focaccia to accompany our regular nibbles with pre-dinner drinks but without power there was no oven to cook it. She managed to get it cooked in a pan on the gas stove once John was able to borrow a gas lighter from Debbie. That technique would not work for the pizza she had prepared for our main course but then we realised that the barbecue we used on Tuesday had a lid and could be used as an oven. We moved outside to do that and chatted with Debbie and Ian while our pizza cooked. We ate it inside and then enjoyed the crêpes-Suzette that Pauline had conjured up with the Cointreau we had bought in Angers and the addition of blackberries we picked yesterday. The dessert was a culinary triumph, especially in the gathering gloom with no electricity still.
We were off to bed soon after. There was still no power but we hoped that might be restored during the night. This has been written on my iPad and will be posted when I can. Photos are on my laptop and will have to be added later when I can get it online.