Cambs/Beds Hardy Plant Society

For his second visit to the Group, Alan Moores from St Ives talked about Green in the Pyrenees, following a holiday he and his wife Jane had taken in May/June 1999. Jane is a botanist and Alan a keen bird watcher and they are both very keen on gardening,

For his second visit to the Group, Alan Moores from St Ives talked about Green in the Pyrenees, following a holiday he and his wife Jane had taken in May/June 1999. Jane is a botanist and Alan a keen bird watcher and they are both very keen on gardening, besides being able to take very good pictures and so a week with Green Tours which offered opportunities to use all these skills was perfect for them. They left Luton by EasyJet and arrived in Barcelona by midday. There were only six in the party plus two drivers, which was ideal for sudden stops when something exciting was seen. They were heading for Tremp Province de la Riva where they would stay and very soon after they had started out on their journey, found plants, birds and butterflies of interest. As it happened, two of the party were members of the Butterfly Conservation Society ands so between them they could muster up some quite impressive credentials. Their destination that night and for several others was an old fort called Casa Guilla, a charming guesthouse/hotel run by an English couple which provided in Alan's own words the most amazing food. It was equipped for the sort of people they were and included a comprehensive library of books on the flora and fauna of the region. It was in an almost inaccessible place, high up with a gravel track which needed a special vehicle to climb it and then some complicated manoeuvres to turn it to go back down again and, of course, this brought wonderful views. The country around the old fort was full of wildlife including pine martens, red squirrels and wild boar and all sorts of birds of prey, which circled around the roof terrace. A walk before dinner presented them with glimpses of many birds we never see in Britain such as the crested lark and the brilliant hoopoe in a black and white coat with an orange crest. Alan and Jane were away from their amazing food for one night when the party went on a visit to the nearly new National Park where, as well as wonderful wind flowers, they saw chamois, fallow deer and lizards. The only hitch on this particular day was that there had been a landslip in the hills and so had to make a rather tedious return to their vehicle. The next day, they were taken on an old smugglers road to Andorra where they saw a stallion led behind a Land Rover who was travelling around to serve the local mares. Eventually, they went back to Barcelona to rain and lush meadows full of flowers. Between them they took 1,000 slides in a week and are now going digital. The next meeting is at the Weatherley Centre, Biggleswade on February 3 when Sally Petit talks about Fritillarias and Tulips, it starts at 2pm, £2 to visitors, or ring 01767 313564


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