On the outskirts of Boulogne sur Gesse is the village of Thermes-Magnoac where we are next due to house sit. It’s home to Rob, G and their 5 dogs, Gus, Guy, Gay, George and Jules.
We pass through the town before coming to the sign for Thermes – Magnoac. Soon we are aware of a car behind us so John pulls over to let it pass, as we are not sure how far done the road we need to go. It stops just in front of us and a lady gets out and asks us if we are the “ babysitters” then introduces herself as G. We follow her further down the road turning into a narrow lane where chickens are roaming freely and 5 lively dogs greet us.
It’s a lovely house set in 4 acres of land surrounded by fields, trees and great views towards the mountains. Our nearest neighbours are Thierry just across the field and Fatima 600 metres down the lane, we wave and say Bonjour in passing.
We spend the first few days with Rob and G getting to know the dogs routine, feeding, walks and even a trip to the vets with Guy who has hurt his leg. Each morning we put the dogs into the car and drive to either one of the walks Rob as shown us. There are several locations where we can walk, the canal deL’arrant is one of them. I’m sure when the weather is nice it’s a more pleasant walk. Sadly, the Weather as followed us once again storms, strong winds and downpours of rain, turning fields into ponds is becoming a daily occurrence. So after I do a spectacular fall and get stuck in the mud on our first walk, we have to buy wheelies, something I never thought we would be buying.
We walk roughly 4/5 miles each day. It’s a quiet, peaceful walk that the dogs clearly love they bound across the canal and into the forest. The wildlife here is amazing we spot an eagle, heron, wild boar and deer over the month. Of the few people, we meet there is an older man foraging. He shows us what he as found, it’s an array of mushrooms, nature’s garden at its best.
One of the main reasons for us being here is to look after the dogs, so we only venture out to other parts of the area a handful of times over the month but who needs to go far when you have 4 acres. John spends time in the garden practising his golf or on the tractor cutting the grass which keeps him busy for a good couple of hours.
There’s always something to do or see around the garden, the dogs love a shower, bats come out of an evening from the shutters and birds nesting in the old barn. Across the fields, there’s Larry the pony who we feed carrots and apples and sheep with their bells ringing down the lane.
At night it is pitch black and the only sounds you can hear are the sheep’s bells and the odd dog barking. So when a helicopter with no lights on hovers above the house for what seems like ages it’s rather scary. We find out the following day that it’s the Mont de Marsan, French air force either training or looking for an escaped prisoner they have lost!
Our month here is nearly up we have walked miles, stumbled a upon a cycle race and I have even convinced John to get rid of a T-shirt that belonged to James when he was 15, he is now 23. There’s only so many photos it could appear in, it ’s been around the world more times than Phileas Fogg! We have enjoyed exploring this diverse area that provides something for everyone be it hiking, skiing or cycling, even the Tour de France passes by. Hopefully one day we will return to witness this wonderful landscape in a different season.