With Carolyn's absence, we all knew in advance that Easter 2001 would be very different. When the Foot and Mouth restrictions were imposed at the start of 2001, closing the Cumbrian fells and most of the UK's public footpaths, the Fallan pilgrimage north had to be abandoned. Alternative Easter entertainment had to be sought in an entirely new location outside of the UK. Various suggestions were made (Barbados? Mauritius?), but arranging suitable accommodation and transport at short notice for a party of 12 proved a difficult task. Luckily, some friends of Geoffrey's, the Bucklands, came to the rescue by kindly offering us the use of their house in the Pyrenees. We were told it was in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by vineyards - it sounded perfect, so how could we refuse?! Flights to Carcassonne were hastily booked, a fleet of cars was hired, guidebooks and French phrasebooks were purchased and, on Good Friday, the team travelled north to Stanstead Airport.
The trip prompted several radical changes to Fallan Easter traditions. For one thing, the weather was better than usual - not exactly hot and sunny, but mostly cool, windy and bright. The Foot and Mouth epidemic meant that dairy products could not be exported and our Easter eggs had to be left behind. Porridge was abandoned at breakfast in favour of delicious croissants/pain aux raisins/pain au chocolat and we had lamb on Easter Day instead of our usual turkey. With so much new terrain to explore, we didn't walk every day as we would usually have done, but also visited castles, went wine tasting, wandered round Perpignan and Carcassonne, spent a day on the beach and played boules in front of the house. Some Fallans even went skiing in Andorra!
2001 was also a record-breaking year. Our Easter Day ascent of Bugerach was the highest peak ever conquered on Easter Day. 2001 will also remain infamous for the greatest number of late nights, the largest amount of alcohol ever consumed by a Fallan party and (for some) the worst breakfast-time Easter Day hangover on record. Kate's Comedy Hour featuring "pray silence for the clock" and the two Hear'say disco extravaganza nights (all captured by Wendy's video camera!) will easily rival Jonnie's classic "shut up Hoover" diary entry and legendary "Daffodils" poem for cult status in the Fallan history books...
A very different, but wonderfully entertaining week! Thanks to all those who made it possible.
The team: Easter 2001
LàR: Wendy, Jo A, Geoffrey, Jon, Jo L, Mikel, Andy, Diana,
Richard, Emma and Jeremy. Picture taken by Kate.
Further photos from Easter 2001 can be viewed in the Fallan Photo Album.