Monday, 30 June 2008

Wendy Ann II becomes a chameleon

Wendy Ann II begins the transformation from the steely raw metallic pink and blue hues to the colours she will wear when she enters the water.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

The Fire for the Feast of St John

The brushwood for the tall Fire for the Feast of St John is placed next to the church which is next to the Mairie, whilst at the Salle des Fêtes the villagers share a buffet meal of bread, charcuterie, pickles, cheeses, and fruit, all provided by the commune. We pay for our drinks and it is not expensive.We also watched a diaporama created by Claude. The carousel of photographs depicting the year's events was shown on a huge screen during the convivial evening.
Several hours later the children collect their paper lampions and process to the square where the fire is lit. Everyone walks sedately in an anti-clockwise circle around the fire in homage to the past. One senses the traditional and probably pagan roots on this the longest day and shortest night of the year.

It is interesting to note that this celebration is obviously a Christian celebration in Europe and Catholic countries. Midsummer recognises the birthday of Saint John the Baptist. I find this pertinent because I received instruction that in France the Church and the State are separated and therefore it is inappropriate for anyone, including me to display the Nativity crêche at public meetings organised for the villagers!! So on this French feast how is the Church separated from the State?

Of course it can be explained because the celebration of Midsummer's Eve arising from ancient times was linked to the summer solstice. People believed that mid-summer plants had miraculous and healing powers and they therefore picked them on this night. Bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits which were believed to roam freely when the sun was turning southwards again.
Here is the lovely Chantal, with her camera. She is always cheerful, positive and energetic!

For the third year Sweetpea was invited to play her accordion. Last year and the year before that she played her small accordion. However, it has been about 5 years since the medical problems resulted in an operation three years ago, when she was not able to stand, and therefore unable to carry the very heavy weight and thus play her big accordion. A small back-ache the next day was but a small price for her pleasure of playing the 50 year old instrument once again and of playing a privileged part in an important annual ceremony which is part of the French way of life! She gave pleasure to others and hopefully it has made a difference to their lives and their memories. She wonders what happened before Sweetpea arrived with the accordion!

Initial efforts at making Websites

This is a list of websites we have made. One set of clients were "over the moon"and thought we were stars, but that was after our first efforts.

NOTE that at the start of 2010 Captain Sensible has made significant progress!

Baby Big Feet

We have just borrowed the siège (car seat) for Francesca but Big Feet thinks it is for herself!

THIS IS the Swallowtail Caterpillar

Look at the following website for information about lepidoptery with professional photographs for the life cycle of this beautiful butterfly which lays it's eggs on wild fennel growing in our meadow and garden. In previous years we have watched this butterfly fluttering in our garden, not knowing what it was, as it never settled sufficiently for us to identify or photograph it!

Midsummer sun shines on us

It must have been a temporary blip in 2008 but the sun shone and the temperature reached 30°C on the longest day and then came the start of the long downhill slide and the clouds set in but not to damage our barbecue with friends. Goat cheese and onion tart and then pork brochettes but the most brilliant marinaded lamb and the rest of the meal, the cheeses, the apricots and the Victoria Sandwich for tea/ supper did not get to the camera!!!! Forgive me.... the company was too absorbing! We played Boules and the day just disappeared, as did the food and our friends!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Ron Hacker and the Hacksaws

Going to the Paulmy Bar .... and all may be History in a few months. Rumour has it that this is the last year as the "propriètaire" may retire soon. Is it true? Unfortunately we do not have a video for you to hear the quality music from US of A. Ron "just loves us all at Paulmy" and always deviates from his European tour.His favourite guitar was patched with duck-tape!

Dix neuf juin deux mille huit

Le double vitrage a posè et ce soir nous avons apprecièe le premiére dîner dans la nouvelle pièce - la verandah !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Whoopeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bravo Capitaine le Sensible ou le Folie!!!!!!!!!!!

Recennement, il y a quelque temps quand il dit a moi qu'il trés ennui et "fed up" avec le ou la verandah mais aujourd'hui nous avons celebrèe avec une bouteille de la meilleurs Cahors -- wait for the price!!!! 1.15 euros!!!!!!!!!!!!!! about one pound fifty pence sterling!

We are approaching the final developments ....... when he and I can settle down into our rocking chairs (which we have not got yet) ........ and appreciate the vista and the warmth, away from the Village de Vaux vent!!!!!!!!!!! and share all this with Big Feet and toast Little Feat who would have just loved the drama, the panorama, and the diaporama.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

A French man and garlic

Pascal brings a bunch of Garlic for Sweetpea as today she is identified as "le patron"! We invite him for an aperitif, offer whisky but as he doesn't drink that he says he would like some English beer!! Fortunately, there are a few bottles of Adnams beer squirrelled away! He chooses Explorer, says it is like a stronger Kroenenburg and is quite appreciative!! It was the first time he'd imbibed the English beer! So he said! Then his brother passed the house and he was invited too! Neither drink much at about 6pm! We discuss the weather, the effect of too much rain on the crops, the sheep (did they make too much noise for us?), the amount of traffic down our lane (so many tractors!!!), birds, ( the noisy nightingales!!!), the peace and tranquillity of our hameau, Caroline the goat who now has twins, and President Sarkozy, who they were very disapproving of and then they went!   These two brothers have always lived in the hameau and have been so very helpful to us and without whom we would have been in some pickles!!   I love the garlic!

Tomates Surprises

Last week I spent two hours weeding the potager plot. Not only did I remove lots of "mauvaises herbes" (weeds) but also I rescued almost 100 tomato plants which had self-seeded from last year. They were growing between our onion, shallot and garlic sets! We do not know what kind of tomato they will be so we have named the variety as "Tomate Surprise". Captain Sensible re-planted at least 6 out in the meadow in a nifty system invomving plastic sheeting and grass cuttings to reduce digging and weeding. Photo later!
I tried to give away packets of 10 plants to various friends but I still have about 30 left!! Maybe we will have to extend the Captain's system in the meadow but we just don't have time!!

He is now on hands and knees laying the tomettes, NOT the tomatoes. He was unhappy with the tiling in the verandah and is going to try a different system for the porch. The tiles are old. They have come from a Cafè in Paris and are covered in dirt, and are of different thicknesses and slightly different sizes, which makes laying these floor tiles so difficult! I am trying to keep the house and garden tidy and organised, cooking, playing the piano, failing to keep up with the paperwork and working at the computer designing web sites for friends and discovering how little I know but how much I have learned!

Back to the tomatoes...
We gave some to Huguette, Garth and Liz, and Jean-Louis!

We gave some to our dancing friends . There was much discussion after our dancing lessons and we think we understood the jokes and laughter as being that we should have a tomato competition!
Muriel, Stephane et Oona, and François each took 10. Jeannine would only take four. Pierre took one because he said his dog would destroy them! Our French friends are just "kindness "itself" and we love them all. They bring us such pleasure and happiness.

This is the very kind e message we received from François:

J'ai planté quelques plants d'amitié dans notre jardin-
que je compte bien cultiver - et partager ... merci, François.

and from Jeannine we received the wonderful message and photograph at the heading of this post! Thankyou friends! Hey ... they're not ready to eat yet!

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Window sills and tomettes

Captain Sensible has been working hard and I just can't catch up....... Coming soon ....latest progress on the progress of the veranda and porch!!!!!!!
Editing this on 1st August 2008 ... He built window sills for the outside and then laid tomettes for the window sills on the inside.

The 16 km multi-randonnée at Leigné-les-Bois

Well ..... this post has now been updated with some text and photos of the 16km effort on Mother's Day ....and the masculine cycling legs! (see below)

We all set off at 9am after coffee and breakfast in front of the church!
About halfway having walked through very wet grass
we arrive at heavily laden tables, groaning with charcuterie,
cheeses, breads and fruits!
Horses eat grass!
These are the promised legs!!!
The new mayor studies the map. Yes he is not lost!
Back at base more drinks and nourishment!
The stragglers arrive late!!
The Mayor and Sweetpea before the Lunch for the Fête des Mères when roses were given to all mothers and children after the 16km walk! It is now about 2pm!

Four hands for the piano duet

Laurie Clement, centre, plays Dolly Suite by Gabriel Faurè with her pupil Sweetpea. Note the concentration!! Only one or two very minor errors for Sweetpea who managed to complete her first public performance in about 25 years and her first piano concert since she played the Dolly Suite with Jean at Winchester 40 years ago! This time she felt very very proud and received lots of nice comments afterwards! It was the annual "audition", the end of year concert of Laurie's pupils. Again the standard was quite remarkable! Sweetpea was even promoted to turning the pages for Laurie and nearly jumped out of her seat as Laurie played the Chopin Etude no. 12 opus 25 to open her concert showing us what can be achieved with talent and practice!

Not just clowning around

It looks like the circus stalls. But it's not a bit slapdash!Posted by Picasa Captain Sensible plasters the ceiling and makes more progress with the verandah!

Homage to Marguerite

This is a scene that has not changed for many a year. Marguerite died this time last year aged 92 but her chickens live on, chooking in front of her front door. She lived here in the 21st century with no electricity and no running water! She read the daily newspaper every day and disliked Parisians because they always complained about her cockerel! Posted by PicasaRecently her daughter-in-law who feeds the chickens and the cats brought us about 3 kg of strawberries.

Monday, 9 June 2008