Saturday, 23 October 2010

Marinca Plage

When I went out walking this morning in my scarf and gloves, who would have thought that by lunchtime I’d be skinny-dipping on the beach!

Of course I should have been packing as I had to leave at 3pm but as I am a hopeless packer and find the whole thing very stressful, I tend to prevaricate. Plus I knew that within a matter of hours I’d be wearing my thermals to cope with the change of climate, so it would have been rude not to take advantage of the warm autumnal sunshine.

I’d only intended to sit and read for a bit over lunchtime, but with no wind to speak of, it felt much warmer than the actual temperature of 18 degrees. At this time of year, the hotel above this stretch of beach is closed, so it is almost deserted which meant that I could swim and sunbathe undisturbed.

I was only there for just over an hour, but it’s amazing how relaxing it is just lying and listening to the water lapping the shore, so by the time I got back I felt fully motivated to pack – probably just as well as there was only an hour left by then!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Plage de Cupabaia

Despite my love of cute baby animals, I draw the line at cows which is probably why I tend to avoid Cupabaia outside of the summer season because there is a resident herd that live on the beach – only in Corsica!

Cupabaia is a huge stretch of fine golden sand backed by dunes, so it can be a killer tramping along the beach so I generally find myself a nice spot close to the water and the car park. However, today we had other plans and headed to the far end by the rocks.

Although the beach was virtually deserted, the one spot that I wanted for the best photos was already occupied by a gaggle of fashion-challenged tourists in speedos and some very fetching swimming caps. Lovely!

It was amazingly warm for mid-October and even I was tempted into the water (that doesn’t happen often because the water has to be like a bath for me to venture in) but there was hardly a ripple and only a very light warm breeze – absolute bliss.

After a couple of hours, we decided it was time to start the more energetic phase of the afternoon’s activities and find the path leading up to the Genoese tower. We’d interrogated a couple of slightly unfit looking walkers, so we knew roughly that the path started behind the rocks.

We also found a random dog as often happens, and I now have a gammy elbow to match my gammy knee where I was guilt tripped into flinging half a tree branch for it to ‘fetch’.

The path wound along the coast and up into the maquis so we had some fabulous views down over the beach. Sadly, we took a wrong turn and ended up miles from our destination, trespassing through a residence at Serra di Ferro! A gappy-toothed local did give us some directions, but in the end we had to admit defeat and head back down the way we’d come, just in time for a spectacular view of a sailing boat in the bay.

My first attempt was ruined by the ‘Mafioso’ wannabe sitting on the beach fully clothed in his back dress trousers, black shirt and obligatory sunglasses (in the dark), but luckily he got the hint and moved eventually!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Corsican sheep (Brebis / Pècuri)

I am an absolute sucker for cute baby animals, so I can’t tell you how excited I was this week when the first lambs were born, and I was allowed to go into the field and pet them when they were less than a day old!

The Corsican Brebis (A pècura in Corsican) is a very ancient race of sheep, and are remarkably adapted to their environment. They are comparatively small (35kg on average) which is probably why I am not struck dumb with terror as I am with other larger animals, as I could stamp on one in an emergency.

The brebis have a high resistance to weather, including drought (probably just as well!) and an amazing capacity to sustain themselves from the maquis which covers a huge percentage of the island. However, brebis are a bit like goats and they will eat pretty much everything in sight, so we often see the farmers moving the herds from one field to another where they have stripped it clean!

While taking photos, we spotted a little black dot lying in the field and were worried that one of the newborns hadn’t survived, but as we watched, he struggled to his feet and started bleating for his mummy. Sadly, she wasn’t interested, so as he’d heard us chatting, he realised we’d be the next best thing and wobbled over to us. Ahhh!!

This little white one also got a bit confused – don’t think he’ll have much luck there!

The Corsican brebis are the only European breed with such a variety of colour in their fleeces, and as well as the little black and white one which looked like he was wearing one of those collars they give dogs at the vets, there was a gorgeous little brown one that looked just like Bambi. I nearly had him under my jacket, but I was spotted – drats!

This herd is kept primarily for milk which is turned into cheeses. Here in the south, the average herd is 100-150 sheep producing milk from October to late July which is then turned into ‘Brocciu’ (popular with Corsicans who consider it their National Cheese), and Tome which needs to be matured for a minimum one months to transform itself into a full-bodied cheese.

I have heard of chicken in a basket but when the shepherd put two lambs into a bucket I was slightly worried that they would find themselves in a different type of pot before very long! Fortunately, it was because they’ll be raised by hand. What a shame it won’t be by me :-(

The cheeses are made in the traditional way on the premises as well as olive oil and all sorts of other yummy stuff, and you can buy them direct from the producer at the Bergerie de Monaca, Route de Baracci, 20110.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Sunset over the Plage d'Arena Bianca

In Corsica, the police don’t seem to have a lot to occupy their time because whatever you ring then for, they ask ‘is anyone hurt?’ and if you say no, they don’t come! Tonight, these seemed more interested in what I was doing with a paparazzi camera than the bloke doing an illegal u-turn right in front of their van without his seatbelt on!

Of course, the simple answer was that it was such a fabulous evening, that I was taking photos of the sunset. I wasn’t the only one enjoying the moment and I have to admit that these two had chosen a plumb spot to watch the sun sink behind the hills. All together now, ahhh!

I hadn’t really taken much notice before, but once the sun starts to set, it really disappears very quickly, so it wasn’t long before I was heading back to the car and my woolly jumper. BBRR!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

EDF (Électricité de France) or the SAS?

I am as deaf as a post so coupled with the fact that when I walk I listen to music through headphones, it’s rare that I hear anything going on around me, but this morning I was convinced that we were under attack!

The helicopter was flying so low over head that almost as soon as I’d heard it, my hair was flapping around like the wild woman of borneo and I was huddling into my walking jacket where the down current from the blades was so cold. It took me a while to work out what was going on, but it seems that despite a fleet of brand new 4x4 all terrain vehicles, EDF find it easier to work on the electricity lines by helicopter! That’d be why my bills are so high then...

All I can say is that working for the electricity company in Corsica must be much more fun-filled than elsewhere as they were delivering chainsaws on the end of a wire, and then depositing men onto the pylons in the same fashion before flying daredevil style between the trees and landing in a field. All they needed were some balaclavas and it could have been an SAS style mission!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Plage du phare

I don’t often come to the Plage du Phare which is silly because it one of the easiest beaches to get to by car as you virtually park on the sand!

Today I was actually in the town to run a few errands, but the weather was so glorious that since I always have a camera in my car, it wasn’t long before I found myself wandering down to the beach at the bottom of the main street

The water was as flat as a mill pond and hardly a ripple, but it was the colours that really caught my attention. This section has a huge stretch of sand leading up to the Lido, but I like the little bit near the lighthouse where there are all sorts of interesting rocks.

Last time I was here I nearly fell off the retaining wall trying to take photos from above in the wind, so it was a bit of a relief to see that the local commune have tried to save me from myself (either that or some daredevils have been riding motorbikes along there!) by cementing rocks right along the middle of the wall.

This didn’t stop me of course, because the shot that I really wanted was looking out over the harbour towards the huge stretch of sand at Baracci, and the red-hued mountains at Martini beyond. For me, this just about sums up the Valinco.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Walking in Corsica - Altagène to the Punta di Serradu

Thanks to my neighbours who sent me this most amazing photo that they took whilst out walking from Altagène to the Punta di Serradu – absolutely stunning!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Plage de Capoloroso

One of the great things about October is that most of the summer visitors have gone home (they don’t know what they are missing), so on days like today, you can nearly always find a spot of beach to yourself.

Well, when I say to yourself, you do have to share with the local wildlife, but as that consists mainly of cormorants sunning themselves on the rocks and various little fishes swimming around your legs, that’s not really a hardship.

During the winter, this is the stretch of beach that I normally torture myself with because you can extend a perfectly good walking circuit with about 1km of ‘escalade’ (up and over the rocks) and sand walking which is an absolute killer!

Today my activities were vastly less energetic as it really doesn’t take much effort to lay on the sand and soak up the rays and then paddle your feet from time to time. Ah, the joys of autumn in Corsica!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Vitricella Plage

I’m slightly obsessed with temperatures (even to the extent that I chose my current car model because it has the best temperature gauge!), so once the thermometer on the balcony hit 27 degrees, and I had finished all my urgent work, I decided that it was time to go to the beach...

I didn’t fancy the town beaches so I decided to take a drive round the bay to Vitricella. This is another of my favourite spots out of season. During the summer, it’s popular with small children because the collection of little coves are so shallow.

At this time of year there was hardly a soul so I found myself a gorgeous spot right at the waters edge. I had fully intended to finish my book, but the sun and warm breeze were so lovely that I found myself having 40 winks.

What I particularly love here are the colours; the red hued rocks against the golden sand which gives turns the water all shades of turquoise from blue almost to green, all with the backdrop of the velvety green hills of Baracci – what more could you want?

Friday, 1 October 2010

Sunset over the Plage du Lido

I’d been out to Baracci to do my usual evening walk, but the sunset was so impressive that I found myself heading down to the Plage du Lido to watch it instead of going straight home afterwards.

This is why I always have a camera in the car, as you just never know when a fantastic photo opportunity might present itself!

There were about 10 people on the beach taking photos, and one bloke actually told me off because I left before the sun had completely disappeared below the horizon – that’s obsession for you!