By Veronica

Pique-nique sur l'herbe

Something a little different today. During the master class yesterday someone mentioned they'd been lying in the garden the previous night watching the Perseid meteor shower. Previously we've hiked up Alaric and slept under the stars to watch it. I really didn't fancy the slog up the steep scree path in 30C heat though. So over breakfast today I suggested we just went somewhere well out the village where there was no light pollution, and we could go home and sleep in our own bed when we'd had enough. Then S had an even better idea: the shepherd's hut in the pasture where M used to keep her sheep. It has a little plateau in front of it with a clear view over the plain. Deal!

For lunch we went to Lagrasse. The car thermometer read 39C. We sat on a shady terrace and had fish and chips. Yes, really! It was good actually: a nice piece of perfectly cooked cod in crispy batter with home-made chips and mustardy mayonnaise. The service was not terribly efficient; we were there for close to two hours. Early on, the waiter assured us, "You're safe here! When you order something you know it's going to arrive." Yes, well ... the bare minimum surely? We skipped dessert and went to the ice cream kiosk by the river instead. Back home for a preparatory siesta.

We set off uphill just before sunset; another advantage of this spot is that you can drive part of the way and then it's an easy 15-minute walk up a wide track. Even at dusk it was still 29C. We were quite prepared to just sit on the grass but it turned out that A, owner of the hut, meant it when he said he always leaves the door unlocked in case passing walkers need shelter. So we were able to borrow a couple of chairs for our makeshift table. Rosé, tomatoes, toast, goat's cheese and red pepper spread. It's so quiet and peaceful up there, with faint sounds drifting up from the village below.

It was a hazy evening to start with, and as it got darker a thin veil of cloud started to creep over. Our friends had said they only saw shooting stars around midnight, so we ended up going to sleep for an hour (handy -- if somewhat shabby -- clic-clac sofa in the hut). When we emerged just after 12, it was very cloudy and we could hardly see any stars, let alone meteors.  We lay on the grass for 20 minutes anyway on the off chance, then put head torches on and back down the track. Home at one. A tiny adventure ... a different way to spend the evening!

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