Les demoiselles de Caraybat, daffodils and gentians: revisited

This hasn’t been a week for writing for fun, as while I was having a good day in London on Monday, Malcolm ended up dialling 999, and is now in Harrogate Hospital after a heart attack. I wasn’t told until well on the way home, which may have been as well, as there was nothing I could have done. He’s awaiting transfer to the much bigger James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough. But there’s every reason to assume that all will be well.

So I’ve picked out this post from six years ago, from our days in the French Pyrenees to re-blog. Who doesn’t love a good yarn, spring flowers and spectacular views? It cheered me up, anyway.

April 2013

Les demoiselles de Caraybat, daffodils and gentians

Once upon a time long ago in Caraybat, when times were hard, the men of this small village had to look far afield for work.  And they went to Spain, for the hay-making season.  Hawkers came to the village, and pedlars.  They found a village with no men.  They took advantage.  So did the women.

When the hay-making season was over, the men returned, and the women spied them returning over the distant mountains.  Suddenly ashamed and frightened, they fled to the hills.  God, in vengeful and Old Testament mood, was displeased.  As the women reached the summit, he turned each one of them to stone.  And there they are to this day, les demoiselles de Caraybat, a petrified reminder of a summer of sin.

A few of those demoiselles hide themselves behind the woodland trees
A few of those demoiselles hide themselves behind the woodland trees

We remembered this legend yesterday when I took our Laroquais walking friends to Caraybat and the dolomies to discover those daffodils I’d been shown on Thursday.  I was quite chuffed that not a single one of them had previously known this special spot, and we had a pleasant hour up on the rocks, picnicking and enjoying the last days of the daffodil season.

We followed the walk I’d learnt about on Thursday, and then we finished our day by going to the plateau above Roquefixade to see the gentians there.

Gentians above Roquefixade
Gentians above Roquefixade

Sadly, it was by then rather cold and windy, and most of the gentians had sensibly folded their indigo skirts about their faces and tucked themselves away to wait for a sunny day.  We’ll wait too.  And when the sun comes out properly, we’ll be back.

51 thoughts on “Les demoiselles de Caraybat, daffodils and gentians: revisited”

  1. Lovely to revisit this charming post, Margaret, but under challenging circumstances. What a shock for you as you travelled home. Sending all good wishes for Malcolm’s full recovery. Take good care x

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    1. Thank you so much. We’re a bit frustrated that he still hasn’t moved to James Cook, but I suppose his time will come. I’m sure it’ll all be fine in the end. x

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  2. Oh, no! Poor Malcolm! Poor you. I hope he’s going to be just fine soon–good that he’ll be in a large hospital and get really fine care. On the subject of the walk, you have lived in beautiful places! I’m glad you re-posted this–it’s from before I knew you, and I loved hearing the story about the naughty women and seeing the photos.

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    1. Thanks. At the moment he’s crossest about having missed an excellent evening listening to Lord Adonis speaking in Harrogate. A funny and motivating speaker, well received by a room full of Remoaners of (almost) all parties xx

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  3. The spring photos are lovely and cheering Margaret, but I am really sorry to hear about Malcolm’s ordeal. Thank goodness for 999 and it seems he got speedy assistance. Wishing him good care and a full recovery, and you take care too. With best wishes.

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      1. I am glad he is feeling ok. I hope the anticipated transfer to the other hospital happens soon and that travelling for you isn’t too far as that kind of travelling is stressful. Sending very best wishes to you both

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      2. Hope the transfer goes smoothly. How far will you have to drive to get the new hospital? Take good care and I hope Malcolm is comfortable and receives ongoing good care. Wishing you both well.

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      3. Hi Margaret – sorry to be reading this only now. 70 km is quite far, especially if there is traffic and even more so if one is not enthusiastic about driving. Good to know that Malcolm likes the hospital – hope all is going well.

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  4. Hope you saw my comment earlier. I picked this up on my phone and wasn’t able to comment here, but left very best wishes for a speedy recovery for Malcolm. Hope you have better news today. Take care, Margaret!

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  5. I join the chorus of well-wishers for your dear husband. What a terrible shock and HOW QUICKLY OUR LIVES CAN CHANGE…. You all have had your load of bad health problems over the past years and I sincerely hope and wish that only better and good news come our way. Give him and take for you my heart-felt wishes.

    On a different note – I always thought we, the Swiss, had a special right on having the Gentians in our mountains…. That‘s just me of course, I just assumed they‘d only grow in ‚my country‘. Anyway, we still have the Edelweiss too 😉

    Sending a big hug your way, Kiki

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    1. Thanks so much. You’re all being so kind. Now if wishes were cure-alls…… And on said different note Kiki, I too assumed that gentians were trademarked by the Swiss. It was such a shock, but a lovely one, to find them in France. And, um, I’ve seen edelweiss in the Pyrenees too…. sorry!

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      1. Oh that‘s quite alright Margaret 😉
        I like to share! 🙂

        MY personal gentian & Edelweiss story was a rather big parcel arriving during the time I lived in Toronto, many, many moons ago. Dear friends sent us a gift parcel containing ‚home baked cookies, a letter and personally picked gentians/Edelweiss‘ – sent from their tour in the mountains where they thought of us…. Can‘t ever think of a more touching and personal gift! And at what a high prize too. They are protected by law, AND they had to send them in an official parcel…. They were so gently and tenderly packed up in wet paper towels and lived in a metal buiscuit box that they arrived stunningly OK after their – at that time – very long trip by boat. Makes me all nostalgic for these sweet people, RIP both of them

        Still, always best wishes to Malcolm.

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      2. amazingly already, they were not dead (yet). But of course out of their habitat, they weren’t meant to be planted, but I still see how carefully and full of love they were bedded into that wet paper and sent over to the foreign, far away country.

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  6. I am sorry you had such a shock on Monday and very sorry Malcolm is so unwell. I hope he recovers quickly. You must be tired from travelling to the hospital and back each day; getting to Middlesbrough won’t be easy, either.
    I loved the re-visited post with the splendid views and the gorgeous spring flowers.

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  7. Fifteen years ago on April 17, I had a heart attack while biking a popular trail here in Missouri. I was in my late fifties, and I was terrified. But here I am, still hiking, not bicycling so much anymore, still causing trouble for those who want me to slow down, and still enjoying every single minute I have. It was a wake-up call, and to this day I wake up every morning with a smile on my face…just because I woke up. The best to Malcolm and to you!

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    1. Oh, thank you for that. Malcolm’s been out of hospital a week now, an in truth the first few days were a bit difficult. But suddenly he feels much better, and now feels able to build up his stamina slowly. And he feels so grateful that, compared with others in his ward, he’s spry and healthy with much to look forward to.

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      1. So much to look forward to! But one day at a time, and each day building strength…and then, one day you feel like it never even happened…well, most of the days! One thing about having gone through this kind of episode is that the doctors forever after believe they need to see you more often than they ever have before, test your ability to run in place though they never thought that you needed to previously, and constantly keep warning you to watch your diet, your weight, your physical activity, while at the same time telling you “Why, you have never looked better!” I have come to look at it as part of the aging process…as a friend of mine recently remarked…”I don’t mind getting old, it’s the maintenance that is irritating!

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