The music stopped suddenly at 2am. But then the patriotic singing started. What with the sound of drunken men bonding, and the festival day stalls being dismantled, there was no possibility of sleep for me even with my super dooper earplugs, so I kept reading until 4.20am when peace finally descended. At which point I realised that the church bells continued to toll through the night, every friggin 30 minutes. Rich of course was oblivious to it all, and slept soundly. Still, he’s used to dealing with a crotchety sleep deprived wife.

Whilst I snoozed Rich nipped out to the local mini-market across the square and returned with a breakfast fit for a king – fresh apricots, yoghurt, magdalenes for him, rice cakes for me, and eggs. We’ll not go hungry here, that’s for certain.

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We then thought we’d try and walk to the nearest Intermarche, to buy supplies for the rest of our stay. Unfortunately, as walkers, sometimes we assume wrongly that everyone else likes to walk too, and that the local infrastructure accommodates this. Realising a little too late that the D118 is a very busy road running the length of the Aude Valley, and that there’s no footpath, I try not to panic as we walk along the verge with cars and lorries whizzing by. I’m not worried about myself, just about Rich’s balance, as having no cochlears means that sometimes he’s a bit swervy. Within 20 minutes we’d reached the safety of the car park though, and decided that we’d get a taxi back.

Fortunately the Intermarche was quiet, and very well stocked with gluten free produce. When I asked one of the checkout clerks for a taxi number she very kindly called one for us, and within minutes we were being ferried safely back to Esperaza. After a late lunch we followed the example of the locals and headed off for a siesta in what we’d already started to call ‘our little house’.

By 6pm it was still 28 degrees C outside as we headed out for an evening stroll along the river. The Aude is very beautiful, and surprisingly fast flowing in places, hence its appeal for kayakers. Walking past lots of gardens and allotments it’s clear that self sufficiency is taken far more seriously here than it is in the UK, where sadly gardening is still seen as ‘uncool’.

After 4 miles of walking in hot sun the house felt wonderfully cool on our return, like a little cave. Houses here are designed for comfort in all weathers, whereas back home we tend to suffocate on very hot days as houses just haven’t been built with global warming in mind.

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