The story of Cat Friday, reported in Le Républicain

Cat Friday is now a media darling.

Sue bought three copies of the Le Républicain newspaper at the Netto store, and when I asked her why she flipped to page 3, pointed to the bottom right corner of the page, and said, “That’s why!”

It was a photo of Friday, the little black cat who I had been cat-sitting over the winter here in Lauzun, France.

"Friday chose her home" reads the headline in Le Republicain newspaper.
“Friday chose her home.” Ian Cook recounts how his cat Friday won his and Sue’s hearts in Le Republicain newspaper.

The article tells Ian’s story on how he and Sue didn’t think they could have a pet because they love to travel. But one rainy evening after the village’s monthly First Friday Folk night, they found a tiny black kitten trembling in a gutter. The kitten’s fur was matted and crawling with fleas and Ian and Sue said they would just take her home for the weekend.

They named her “Friday” because that’s the day they found her.

However, a year and a half later, Friday is still with them. The story ends with Ian saying that they are so attached to the little cat that when they decided to go for a six-week trip this winter, a friend (me) came to their house just to keep Friday company!

On a sad note, neighbours here in Lauzun tell me that abandoning a pet is all too common. People either leave litters of kittens and puppies in gutters or near public markets; or they move away and simply leave them behind. There’s a bit of a contagion of loving, house-trained animals coming home to find it suddenly abandoned—their owners have either left the country, or found it too inconvenient to continue looking after it.

Luckily, many of the people I’ve been in contact with adore animals, and—like Ian and Sue—have taken in an animal, or two, or three, that someone has left behind.

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Mimi, murals, and the MFR in Serignac-Peboudou village

Art, cycling, history, and a new biking buddy. Not bad for a Monday afternoon.

Before she left, my host Sue suggested I meet Mimi. “She’s a writer and blogger, she rides a bicycle, and she’s from North America, like us!” Mimi used to live in California, but she and her husband now stay here in the village of Lauzun.

The forecast for Monday was mild and sunny so on a whim, I phoned Mimi to ask if she felt like a pedal to the village of Serignac-Reboudou, 8 kilometres away.

Mimi Beck Knudsen of Lauzun France
Writer and blogger Mimi Beck Knudsen of Lauzun, France. Rumour has it on a clear day you can see the Pyrenees from this place.

Mimi’s lived in Lauzun for four years and she shares her enthusiasm for the region in a blog called Lot of Livin’.  She told me she tries to shine a light on events in different villages in the Lot-et-Garonne region of France. Mimi also told me that the blog’s parent site, AngloInfo.com, is a global resource for Anglos seeking nuts-and-bolts information about building a new life in another country.

As we approached the village, I was able to take a close look at a persimmon tree. These trees are bare except for their huge burdens of bright, orange fruit. This one reminded me of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

Persimmon tree in Serignac-Peboudou France
Persimmon tree in Serignac-Peboudou, France.

At the village’s centre, we discovered a newly-painted mural. A neighbour told us it was done by local artists, and portrayed various aspects of the local culture: the agriculture, farming, church.

Church in Serignac-Peboudou France
A new mural portrays the village’s church in Serignac-Peboudou France.

Both of us were quite taken by the beautiful cow.

Cow mural in Serignac-Peboudou France
Lot of Livin’ blogger Mimi Beck Knudsen photographs a newly-painted mural in Serignac-Peboudou, France.

I was intrigued by the vertically-mounted sun dial, and promised myself I’d ask someone about how to read one.

Sundial in Serignac-Peboudou France
A newly-tiled sundial recently added to a mural wall in Serignac-Peboudou, France. Can you guess what time it is?

Around the corner, a new sculpture and posters mention the Maison Familiale et Rurale (MFR).

Maison Familiale et Rurale sign in Serignac-Pebaoudou France
Maison Familiale et Rurale posters in Serignac-Pebaoudou, France.

I’d seen signs for Maison Familiale et Rurale and had translated them to mean they were some kind of gîte, or country guest house.  I asked Mimi about it and she shook her head and told me that in fact this village of Serignac-Peboudou was the birthplace of a movement to educate rural youth on farming as a profession. According to the Wikipedia.com page (translated from French),

…MFR is an establishment of status of associations that has the objective of training and education for youth and adults, as well as their social integration and professional…

We finished taking photos and rolled out of Serignac-Peboudou, through twisting forests (where Mimi told me she once saw a wild boar), and back into Lauzun in time for the weekly English-French conversation club meeting at the Floc ‘n’ Tea cafe.

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Cycling to Villebramar village

It was tough packing a decent ride into a busy weekend here in the village of Lauzun, but I pulled it off.

Friday: Bang drums with the Lauzun Morris dancing troupe at the monthly First Friday Folk. Saturday: shop at farmers’ market, then join fund-raising dinner and quiz with the Lauzun cricket club. Sunday: drop by the vide grenier market in the morning, and then cycle as far south as I can before it gets dark.

Saturday performance in Lauzun, France
Local children dance the zumba and then pass the chapeau for a fund-raising event at the weekend market in Lauzun, France.

My goal for this half-day ride is the delicious-sounding town of Tombeboeuf, a mere 15 kilometres south of Lauzun, one-way.  In the village of Montignac-de-Lauzun, I roll up to a fork in the road and choose the road less-travelled.

Crossroads at Montignac-de-Lauzun

The day is mild, sight lines are good, and traffic is non-existent.

Pastures north of at Montignac-de-Lauzun
Pastures north of Montignac-de-Lauzun, France.

When I intersect road D227, I navigate a zig-zag to stay on barely-there minor roads. I discover that I am on a ridge, and vistas of orchards and valleys roll out below me for kilometers.

Orchards north of Montignac-de-Lazun
Orchards north of Montignac-de-Lazun.

A short, steep climb rewards me with a beautiful hill-top village called Villebramar. The village draws travellers with a funky bistro called Les Ganivelles with an outdoor deck. Unfortunately it’s closed, but I make a mental note to ask my hosts Ian and Sue if we could return there for a nice, sunset dinner.

Les Ganivelles bistro in Villbramar, France
Les Ganivelles bistro in Villebramar, France.

I lean the bike against a pole and take a look around. There’s a water feature with big, healthy-looking gold fish. It really looks like a nice place. I have to laugh when I see the chickens looking very relaxed at the bistro’s kitchen door.

Chickens at kitchen door in Villbramar, France
Chickens at the kitchen door to Les Ganivelles in Villbramar, France.

I follow increasingly-obscure side roads until I pedal what looks like a farm’s drive way. But once again, what looks like a private lane is a through-route. This one drops into a lovely valley surrounding Loubet lake. The climb back out of the valley is steep and loose, but my cyclocross bike has a triple chain ring up front, plus I’ve climbed a few logging roads—fully loaded with touring gear—back home in Canada.

Rough road west of Lac du Loubet, France
Rough road west of Lac du Loubet, France.

The shadows are getting cold and the sun looks lower, so I pass on Tombreboeuf and instead make a beeline back towards the village of Laperche. I’m worried about running out of light on these tiny roads.

Out of Laperche it’s another fantastic ridge ride, and it feels downhill most of the way back into Lauzun (even though I know it’s not).

Treeline near Laperche, France
Treeline near Laperche, France.

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Cycling to St-Sauvetat-du-Dropt village

This Sunday morning when I look at a map of all the rides I’ve done so far, I notice my routes have been mostly to the east of my home base of Lauzun village. Today I would remedy that: I’d loop into the unknown territories west of Eymet and Miramont.

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Winter flower garden, with cat toy

A window-paned door in our kitchen opens to a sunken stone patio with a winter garden of flower boxes. I notice Cat Friday has added her own little orange flower to the collection.

Cat Friday and the pellet stove

I moved a big, comfy chair next to the pellet stove in the kitchen so I could enjoy a cup of tea while the 800-year-old house heats up in the morning. Cat Friday also thinks this is a great idea.

Cycling from Miramont to Lauzun village

It was time to do my first solo ride in the French countryside.

Ian needed to do some errands in nearby Miramont-de-Guyenne, including getting winter tires installed on his car for his and Sue’s road trip into Morocco. Why winter tires for a drive to Morocco? Because the Pyrenee mountains separated them from the sands of the desert.

He offered to load my bike into his car and drop me in the village. I could enjoy a leisurely 12-km ride back into my home-base of Lauzun.

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