Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The cherry pickers at Le Pre Vert ............

The exceptional weather in the Indre et Loire (and indeed all over France) this year meant that our cherries were ripe when we last visited at Whitsun. Last year at this time they hadn't ripened, and by the time we returned at the end of July they were long gone! I wrote about this, and what I did with this year's cherries, in an earlier post.

However, we did wonder who or what had been eating the cherries. We suspected birds, so Tim conducted a surveillance operation ................

** from Google images**

** click to enlarge**

No wonder the squirrels are red!!!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Monday music .......... my desert island disc collection part 8

It's a busy time of year, so this the track this week will be one to remind me of my roots. I am very proud to be Welsh and as they say 'you can take the girl out of Wales, but you can't take the Welsh out of the girl' - or something like that!

On my island I would want something Welsh and have chosen this Richard Burton reading Rev Eli Jenkins poem  from Under Milk Wood. It would also remind me of my late father, who wasn't an academic, but loved to read and write poetry. I regret not having many of the poems he wrote over the years.

Dylan Thomas was born in Swansea in 1914, and died in New York in 1953, at the young age of 39. Like Burton, he was a heavy drinker.

Under Milk Wood is considered by many as his greatest ever single work. He had a home, the Boathouse in Laugharne, south west Wales, where some of Under Milk Wood was written in his 'writing shed'. The Boathouse, together with his writing shed, have been turned into a museum.

The Boathouse, perched on a cliff overlooking the estuary.

The interior of the writing shed, as it was left by Dylan Thomas.

Dylan Thomas is buried in the churchyard at Laugharne, and has a plaque dedicated to him at Poets'Corner in Westminster Abbey.

I spent 4 very happy years living a few miles away from Laugharne, and have great memories of this beautiful part of Wales.

This is also the time to own up and say that I am 'a bit of a fraud'. When I started my Monday Music I had no intention of sticking to the Desert Island Disc rules of just 8 tracks. I figure that in MP3 format I could take thousands of tracks stored on something even smaller than the original  recordings.

Listen on ..........

Perhaps sometimes I might ask some of you to choose a track for me!

Let me know if you have one, and why it is important to you, and I'll see what I can do......

Sunday, 26 June 2011

A very special visitor ...........Célestine.

During our last visit to Le Petit-Pressigny, we were gardening when we heard the gravel crunch as a car drove over it. A very special visitor, Célestine, had arrived. Simon and Susan, her friends, had driven over from Preuilly sur Claise to collect some bits and pieces we had bought from the UK for them.

Célestine is a 1953 Citroën Traction Avant 11B. You can find out more about Célestine, and Susan and Simon's business, Loire Valley Time Travel ,by clicking here and here.

 If you are visiting the region Simon and Susan offer a range of tours in  Célestine. We were taken for a ride around the local area and had an absolutely wonderful time! They are interesting and have vast knowledge about the region, from the many chateaux to the flora and fauna.

It reminded me of a similar car I  photographed a few years ago in the beautiful town of Yvoire, on the shores of Lac Leman. Our friends John and Maureen, who live near Chatillion sur Indre, had driven across to visit us when we had a home at Thollon-les-Memises. I think I remember that the photograph was taken in 2005 close to their 30th wedding anniversary, so I think the link is apt.....

Friday, 24 June 2011

Château de Dissay ...........

A few weeks ago I posted a blog about our visit to Brico Dépôt near Chatellerault. You can read about it here. On the way home we stopped at Dissay to look at the château. As we were there around lunchtime we stopped at the local boulangerie to by a sandwich (baguette jambon sec to be precise), and decided to eat it in the shade of a beautiful tree just outside the moat. As we were munching away we heard a terrific noise which Tim went to investigate.

If you read Niall and Antoinette's post earlier this week, in their Chez Charnizay blog, you will have guessed both where the noise was coming from, and the animal making the noise.

Either my eyes are getting old, or the photograph isn't as clear as it could be because I can't spot a frog! Perhaps you can? 

Dissay is in the department of the Vienne (86). The château rises high above the bank of the Clain River. It was built in the 15th century by Pierre d'Amboise, Bishop of Poitiers, and then enlarged in the 18th century. A water-filled moat surrounds the château and is home to an army of frogs. We could only make out a handful camouflaged as they were by the plants.

As is usual for us we arrived when the château was closed for lunch, and as we had been invited to visit friends later in the afternoon, we didn't have the time to wait. The château and grounds deserve a longer visit so we plan to return and properly explore the town and local area.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Au Fil de l'Aigronne ..............

When we last visited Le Petit-Pressigny at Whitsun, we noticed some new signs advertising chambres d'hôtes in the centre of the village.

Au Fil de l'Aigronne is run by Valérie and Loïc Bobon and the rooms look stylish and comfortable, and the prices very reasonable. It is situated just opposite to both of the restuarants in the village,  La Promenade and Le Bon Coin. The restuarants are very different, as are their prices, but we have had an excellent meal at each one.

Check out their website by following the link above  - it is in French and English.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Monday music .......... my desert island disc collection part 7

James Taylor, what a legend! We have just about every James Taylor album, many on both CD and vinyl and now all on MP3 as well. We're really looking forward to his next concert at the NEC Birmingham in July.

I would be happy with any track from any era on my island. If I had to choose, and it's nearly impossible, it would be this.

James Taylor then ...........

and now ...........

Can you choose between them?

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Looking forward ................

Work is really busy at present with reports, finishing off of this year and planning for next.

At this time of year I usually feel a bit tired, fraught and stressed and my thoughts turn to the forthcoming holidays. This year our holiday will be a bit fragmented by circumstances, and it means that I/we will travel out to Le Petit-Pressigny a couple of times during the school holidays. 

We have so many things that we would like to do when we are there. Some are simple like enjoying the sun, terrace and garden, we want to explore the local area and venture further afield. So many of my blogging friends have flagged up, through their blogs, places that are really worth visiting. Some are on the tourist map and others are just beautiful 'ordinary' places with a tale to tell.

Then there are the jobs that need to be done! When we had our apartment all of the outside paintwork and common parts were looked after by our syndicat. Each year there was a meeting, and it was decided what should be done and the cost was split amongst the apartment holders. Now we are 'on our own'!!

So we have decided on a rolling programme of tasks to be undertaken each year. Some we will have done for us by local workers, as our way of contributing to the local community, and others we will do ourselves. So this summer we will make a start on windows and shutters. As we have 11 sets of french windows/doors, it will be a bit like painting the Forth Bridge!!

Just some of the windows and shutters!

But do you know what? I can't wait.............

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Who am I?

We found this present on our back door step here in Staffordshire.

Does anyone out there know  what animal is likely to have left us this present? If so, please let us in on the secret.......................

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Oradour-sur-Glane, - the village of martyrs ................. part 2

Oradour is a sad and sombre place, with very little about it which could be considered to be uplifting in any way. Unless you subscribe to the idea that it is in remembering the atrocities of the past, that we steer a different course in the future.

If this is true, then the massacres in Bosnia, Libya and Syria, alongside countless other places which are less high profile, would never have happened. Something to ponder about………

Here are more of the images I took on the day. I have also included a link to Diane’s blog My Life in the Charente. Diane reminded me that she posted about Oradour last year, and you can read her post and view the excellent photographs she took here.  Diane has managed to capture the scale of the place.

George Santayana said, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Throughout the world, the kind of ideals and politics that led to the second world war and the atrocities that accompanied it, are on the rise.

 Lest we forget’ is a quote we see on cenotaphs throughout the world. This is also is a warning against ignoring the past.

I have many more, but feel that I have included enough. The sad and dangerous time comes when we are no longer shocked by what we see………

To finish, the new Hôtel de Ville in the new Oradour which was built alongside the old village…….

Monday, 13 June 2011

Monday music .......... my desert island disc collection part 6

On my iPod for this trip to a desert island I would make sure that I have a recording of Hallelujah, and perhaps you can help me to decide which version to take.

From Google images

There is the original Leonard Cohen version, written and rewritten by Cohen over the years, it has come to be regarded by some as one of the greatest songs of all time. It has been recorded and performed by more than 100 artists in a dozen different languages, including versions by Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Bono, KD Lang, Il Divo, Rufus Wainwright and, most famously, Jeff Buckley. It has featured on the soundtracks of dozens of films, from Shrek to the dark satire Lord of War. I think Simon Cowell did his very best to ruin it when he chose it for the X-Factor winner to sing!

So, here goes

Leonard Cohen........

Rufus Wainwright........

Il Divo.........

or this Jeff Buckley version.......

I would usually choose the original artist version, but the version on my iPod would be by Jeff Buckley. It would remind me of the hundreds of times Tom has played this on his guitar. He once sang it at Tim's sister’s birthday party, and it was very special.

Fire Byrd........ the Jeff Buckley version is for you too .......I wish you peace, contentment and good fortune as you continue your journey.........

Which, if any, do you prefer?  

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Oradour-sur-Glane, - the village of martyrs .................

* this should have posted automatically yesterday
 Friday June 10th 2011 - 67 years on.....*

Last summer Tim needed to fly to the US in the middle of our holiday in France. I took him up to the station at St Pierre de Corps to catch the early morning TGV to Charles de Gaulle airport, then dashed down to Limoges airport to pick up Tom. Tom had spent 4 months in India doing some volunteer work for Christian Aid, so this was the first time I had seen him since May. He came through passport control over 2 stones lighter!

On our way home to Le Petit-Pressigny we decided to visit Oradour-sur-Glane again. Our first visit was in 1998, when Tom was 8, so he saw the village through very different eyes.

The story of Oradour is well known, so I'll only write a very brief explanation here, and include some of the many poignant images we took on the day.

On June 10, 1944, 642 people, nearly the entire population, were murdered by the Waffen SS, and only a handful survived. The soldiers ordered the town’s women and children to gather in the church, and led the men into barns. Once they were certain that the entire population was accounted for, a slaughter began. The regiment attacked the church and barns with machine guns and burned them to the ground. Then they set about destroying the village.

After the war ended, General Charles de Gaulle declared the village a national monument, a testament to the violence suffered by the French during World War II. It was to remain as it was left, burned and empty, and a new village was constructed nearby.

Whole families died and there are memorials in the cemetery.

It is possible to walk around the old village, which has been preserved as it was after its destruction in 1944. There are no guides for the village; visitors can wander through the ruins and see for themselves the devastation caused to a whole community. It is expected that visitors will be quiet and respectful during the visit, so the whole place is virtually silent except for hushed whispers.

There is a museum at the underground entrance, and the whole site is a moving and powerful reminder of what happened that day.

There is an excellent article by David M Thomas which you can read here  which explains the circumstances of the massacre so well.