Sunday, 30 June 2013

Church on Sunday...

Well more accurately 'Church on Saturday' as that's where we were for the marriage of our French neighbour's daughter Gina.yesterday,here in Barrou. It was interesting to experience the difference between the French ceremony and what we were more accustomed to. The bride marched up the aisle to  Seal's version the Curtis Mayfield  song 'It's alright' with the guests clapping along - quite uplifting actually - almost gospelesque!

The vows and exchange of rings were done to the backdrop of 'Loving you' by Minnie Riperton                                        

They left the church, with Joan watching over them, to Rolling Stones' 'You can't always get what you want' (?) which I thought was an odd choice as I assume they just had!Gina and her new husband Olivier are both members of the 'Compagnons du Tour de France' and fellow members gave them a guard of honour.

Our little church was looking great for the occasion and it was good to see it full.


Or should that be headnote? There were only two ladies with hats on - one a charming English lady who is married to a local Frenchman. She didn't want to miss the opportunity!

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Friday, 28 June 2013

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Beating the drum slowly...

We have had a sad few days, a friend of ours, Nev Cheetham, died on Saturday morning, following a long illness.  His funeral service was held at the church in Le Grand Pressigny on Monday followed by a cremation yesterday...all very difficult for his wife, Cally, who had nursed him at home for many months above and beyond any call of 'duty'. 

Nev and Cally started their new life here in France the same day as Pauline and I - and only just down the road, a coincidence that brought us together initially, followed by a mutual interest in music, however different. 

We will remember Nev sitting behind his drum kit and doing what he loved...playing music and yet, as sometimes happens you only learn things about people after they are gone. Only weeks ago Nev and Cally received news that a hospice they had started many years ago has recently received funding for new premises and in honour of their hard work and early efforts it is to be named the 'Cheetham' centre.. a great legacy. 


It was an early start yesterday with a rendezvous at Descartes at 7.30am...perhaps too early a rise for Mrs.Craig, as you can probably tell from her footwear...which we only noticed once we got there!

It did have the effect of 'lightening' the moment and as Cally said, Nev would have had a good giggle about it!...and yes she has another pair just like them at home!

Monday, 24 June 2013

Re-cycling to a fine art...

When we visited Saumur on Friday they were preparing for their 3rd annual Anjou Vélo vintage weekend  a weekend of celebrating the bicycle and all things 'vintage'. Many of the local shops  had window dressings to support the theme. 

There was also an art 'installation' utilising one of the many tanks from the nearby museum and old bike parts 

It was still work in progress with the 'artists' selecting items from a pile of old bikes and then tossing them on the eh!

Here is the promotional video they used for the event ...quite charming.

 We couldn't attend due to 'changeover' on Saturday  and a trip to Tours airport on Sunday to take our son Paul for his flight home. There's always next year!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Church on Sunday...Saint-Nicolas Saumur

This week we head over to Saumur and the 12th century church of Saint-Nicolas. 

It is the side chapels that again feature the mosaics with collages featuring a variety of religious events including the 'flight into Egypt' and the 'Assumption'.

 ...including the massive supporting pillars

 What I have come to love about many French churches is their ability to give little clue externally to the pleasures that await you Saint-Nicolas.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

I feel it in my fingers...

Norman and Margaret, friends and neighbours here in Barrou introduced us to friends of theirs over dinner last summer. Mike and Judith have a  property in a hamlet outside of La Roche Posay and it was obvious that Mike was a man who had to continuously have a 'project' on the go . One such project intrigued me - one thing they didn't get when  they bought the house was a cellar. So what did Mike do - he dug one out under the floor of his barn ...of course he did...wouldn't anyone?  

One of the the things that I have noticed about my wall building and other projects here is the effect they have on my hands and fingers, with my age probably also contributing a lot, stiffness and light pain after a day of lifting and chipping.(hence the post title,appropriately enough from a 'Trogs' song)

Well, just the thought of starting a project like Mike's cave has my fingers tingling!

 Unbelievable, and apparently mostly done by a cheap hammer drill he bought on 'special' from Lidl!

  It has lighting, air circulation and more importantly wine!

Not content with this project he has also made a lovely gite in the neighbouring property they acquired. He is offering it for rent this year for the first time at a very competitive rate so if you want a quiet location in the countryside with good access to La Brenne nature reserve you can contact him through us. 

Mike had a slight problem with his hammer drill near the end of his project and had it repaired under the guarantee, ' fair use' clause obviously didn't apply! Me? I would have buried it with full military honours!!

Friday, 21 June 2013

Just like Azay...

Was going through some pics from last year and came across our visit to Chateau de l'Islette just outside Azay-le-Rideau which reminded me that I had not added it to my list of chateaux on  The chateau is privately owned and is similar in style to its more famous neighbour in the town.

The chateau sits in beautiful, relaxing grounds with its own lake.

The other thing I remember is that the house is still used by the owners out of season and there was evidence of this as you pass through the rooms, although it did not spoil the visit - would recommend it!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Changed days indeed...

At Abilly on Sunday an item on one of the stalls caught my eye as it featured Scotland's national bard - I had seen whisky advertised using the great man and could understand the marketing strategy but cigars and cigarillos? I'm sure he may very well have chewed on tobacco but would he make you want to smoke a particular brand?

The other thing that struck me was why the abbreviated (always think this word could be abbreviated by removing one of the 'b's) first name? Wouldn't have thought there would be any copyright issues!
Anyway apparently these 'Havana machine rolled' cigars and cigarillos were very popular in the 50's.

Don't think the old commercial for them would pass the censors (on many levels) nowadays!

 Wee sleekit thin tobaco beastie
Whit damage do you cause my breastie
Thou seem ta start away so tasty
with smoke and fire, the gentle crackle
I wad be lath ta quit this habit
but for me now it’s a battle. 

(With apologies to Mr.Burns)

Monday, 17 June 2013

My attempts at re-cycling...

Yesterday was the annual 'Fête de la confiture' at nearby Abilly. As usual there were a number of clashing 'events' here in Southern Touraine so we had choose wisely.

The 'jam festival' includes a 'vide graniers' and this years had the usual suspects along with some interesting items...wanted these but Pauline wasn't having it! There was a couple of bicycles that I nearly got her interested in at 15 euros each though the logistics of getting them home proved to be a deal breaker,even though our friends who had brought us here did offer to make a special return trip - how kind. I also enquired about a couple of smart bicycles I spotted on the way round only to be told that the owners had just cycled here and were hoping to return using them!!!

There was the usual mix of items and stalls,which did include some jam...

with this years street entertainment was provided by a drumming juggling combo...preferred last years.

This years judging panel sitting as ever in their lofty position...with as ever, no one paying any attention to them!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Church on Sunday...Saint-Hilaire-le Grand

We return to Poitiers today to visit the Romanesque Saint-Hilaire-le Grand. Not the obvious first choice monument perhaps on list of visitors to the city but in our opinion it is a 'must see'. 

We knew as soon as we entered that here was something special.It was only later we discovered that the church is in fact a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it is part of the Route of Santiagode Compostela in France.It is dedicated to the city's first bishop and dates from the 11th century.

 It has a glorious apse surrounded by chapels.

As you wander around you are stuck by the seemingly inappropriate number of pillars inside the church, this is explained by the fact that its 11th century wooden roof was changed to a stone roof in the 12th century ...think they wanted to be sure it would stay up...but it makes for a great feature.

There is an interesting spiral staircase and a fine organ in the church...

and perhaps my favourite 'Joan' so far!

Carved on the base was 'Andre Besoueut  salon 1912' but cannot find who or what  this refers to.

A walk around the exterior throws up an interesting array of features

Including this decapitated statue of Mary and the baby Jesus from 1871. 

The church's history is filled with rampaging enemies(Saracens and Normans) and disasters (partial collapse) but it has survived them all to be the fine building it is today. The majority of the restoration work was carried out in the 19th century.

 If you visit Poitiers you should make a point of adding this fine example onto your list.