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Middle-aged man goes on holiday with wife and 2 children - James Cove, Hautes-Pyrenees
Friday August 23, 2013 - Email this article to a friend

Normally our tales from the mountains involve high-octane adrenalin filled adventures, but not this time. Dull is OK and sometimes slightly better than that.

Our aim was simple.

We were interested to do a series of fairly un-spectacular activities spread over a few days while passing through the Hautes-Pyrenees in France.

We were keen on doing nothing terribly interesting.

Why do holidays have to be so busy?

We chose a small resort at the end of a valley in the Hautes-Pyrenees in France; Loudenvielle.

I had never heard of it before.

It is not exactly a well-known international mountain resort though there is some decent skiing in the region that I enjoyed last winter.

The drive in was nice.

The Pyrenees beckonThe Pyrenees beckon












As we arrived things looked promising.

There was a rather attractive floral display round the village sign.

Warm welcomeWarm welcome












There are just a couple of hundred people who live here year-round.

There is a small supermarket, a pharmacy, a tabac, a boulangerie and a shop selling sensible walking shoes and sticks. 

Nothing much to write home about, but there are plenty of postcards on offer just in case something of note happens, along with a few paper maps and cuddly toys.

Anything to say?Anything to say?












Myself, my wife and our children, 14-year old Max and 17-year old Natasha were aiming to get up, have a spot of breakfast and then potter about a bit all day. No white water rafting, paragliding or via ferrata.

I didn't want to be the envy of my friends, get my pulse racing or whizz round from activity to activity. I wanted nothing worthwhile to tweet about or post on Facebook.

This summer I have already been glacier skiing and downhill mountain biking; I don't need to do it again.

Now I just wanted to spend a bit of time in the mountains with my wife and children with hopefully very little interesting to say about anything.

There is sometimes too much emphasis placed on excitement.

What ever happened to dull?

After all most of the time all we ever do are things of no consequence whatsoever. Why not celebrate and embrace the banal and boring for a change.

We had arrived at the very sensible time of mid to late afternoon and as I settled down to a small beer at the local café I noticed it shuts at 21.00.

The nearby pizza take-away serves its last offering at 21.30.

I have chosen well - this does not appear to be a party town.

But as the sun sinks behind the mountains, like it does every evening, a van drives slowly by.

There is a large speaker on the back amplifying a man shouting about something. We have no idea what but there is a clue on the side - a somewhat frayed picture of a clown with a red nose.

The Circus is in town.

I leave a small amount of beer in the bottom of my glass, I don't want to drink too much too early after all, and wander along to watch the Cirque Zavatta prepare for its first night gala opening.

There is a Big Top, well more of a Little Top really as it isn't much larger than the lorry that transports it around.

But it appears there will be a zebra in the show and a small camel with a single hump.

Preparing to performPreparing to perform














We can't get in quite yet to see the last minute preparations as a llama is having its tea.

Tea Time for the LlamaTea Time for the Llama












The loud van returns and a tired looking man with a  sweaty brow gets out smoking a cigarette, his voice must be slightly hoarse by now, but in a few hours time he will no doubt be the ringmaster.

I resist the temptation of the Cirque Zapatta as I don't want to overdo it on the first night but I do opt for one more small beer before the bar shuts at 21.00. Just one though as tomorrow is a big day for the Cove family.

We are going for a walk.

For the spirit of the mountains

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