Well we are back at Les Courmettes after a very pleasant week in the UK. It’s an odd feeling to leave the UK mid-morning and be back in Nice, and what is now home, in time for a late lunch. We came back to a busy week. We have had a science team of around a dozen people carrying out laborious analyses on trees to work out exactly how much carbon they store. So some evenings we’ve had nearly twenty people round the table. Chris has been much involved in getting people to and from the airport and the rail station. We are pleased to report that we think we have finally mastered the maze of roads – some still incomplete, many mischievously unmarked – around Nice airport. Or we think we have.
The weather has been wonderful, clear with perfect blue skies. Although it was very warm last weekend (there were people swimming in the sea at Antibes last Sunday), the temperature has dropped and the nights are now getting very cold. Gove the toad has vacated his hiding place behind one of the public toilets and disappeared, presumably to hibernate somewhere warmer.
One more obvious marker of the coming winter has been the return of the sheep. Down here shepherds practice the time-honoured tradition of transhumance, driving the sheep up to the high plateaus to the north of us for summer and then bringing them back down to the relatively lower altitude of Les Courmettes for winter. So this week several hundred sheep and lambs bounded and strolled along the road to us in a noisy and spectacular line marshalled by a couple of very energetic sheepdogs. In the countryside some things do not change.
Chris in search of 3G
Communication problems continue at Les Courmettes because of trees interfering with the phone lines for something like 300m. It is clear we will have to have several days of specialist tree clearing work done, but getting hold of the suitable lumberjacks/ foresters/woodcutters is not easy. In the meantime we have been resorting to communicating on the Internet – absolutely vital in every area these days – either by phone or by connecting a laptop to a phone and trying to find a 3G signal. For some bizarre reason 3G comes and goes in a thoroughly unpredictable way here and some of us have resorted to walking halfway up the mountain with a laptop and wandering around to find the Holy Grail of a location that gives a stable, high quality signal. If all else fails we can walk down to the shepherds’ house where, for some reason, they do have Wi-Fi and (thanks, Didier and Valentine) connect to the web and the world there. Actually, even in the countryside, some things do change.