[With humble apologies to Mussorgsky.]
The main reason for our making this trip basically begin at Fanjeaux instead of the more normal end at Fanjeaux, was for Francine to investigate the mountain spring flowers in the Pyrenees. Mountains being what they are, such excursions must be planned to coincide with clear weather, of course. Today’s forecast was grand and looked like our best chance yet so we set off early to maximise our time at our chosen first likely spot and one of our favourites, the plateau at Soulcem.
After a 90-minute drive we arrived and parked. On the last 30 minutes of the drive climbing up the valley to the barrage [dam] we’d both been thinking, “don’t seem to be masses of flowers beside the road” but saying nothing. Once at the plateau and while we were getting our cameras ready, there didn’t seem to be masses of flowers either; how disappointing for Francine.
Neither were there masses of people, though there did seem to be a little activity around the loo area, the building for which seemed to have a large curtain affair draped over one side of it. I spotted something, some rapid movement, in the left periphery of my vision and then thought, “no, it can’t possibly have been”. After all, with a cataract developing in my right eye, visual acuity isn’t my strong point. As I was doubting my own 1½ eyes, Francine piped up with, “there’s a naked woman running down that hill over there.” I used my camera’s telephoto lens as a telescope and saw a woman return up the hill but she was wearing a gown. Shortly she removed the gown, threw it to an accomplice and, sure enough, ran naked down the hill again. My telescope became a camera again. 😉
Along with the disrobing assistant, whose job it was to deposit the robe at the end of the lady’s run, a short way down the hill were some chaps armed with a variety of cameras and microphones. There were other men standing around dressed in what appeared to be period mountain garb: knee-length leather boots, smocks, rifles etc. – and there was clearly some location filming in progress. I assume that the curtain draped around the small building served as a dressing room for the cast, though quite what a woman about to run naked in public would need with a dressing room eludes me. 😀
Streaking female actors aside, here’s what we really came here for. The flowers may not have put in a appearance en masse but the trip wasn’t a complete blank. After naked lady excitement, we wandered off up the valley to the high pasture and Francine was very happy to see several stunningly blue Gentians, probably Southern Gentian (Gentiana alpina). Francine’s other floral find was this rather delicate-looking Alpine Clover (Trifolium alpinum).