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04 August 2012

July 2012

It must be just about a month since I published the last post about our life in Château.  Hard to believe that we are beginning the month of August already.  The weather has changed for the better, and I can now safely say summer is here at last.   

There have been some wonderful, gentle, warm days, leading up to very hot afternoons and evenings,  hot enough to force us to close the shutters on the front of the house to protect us from the western sun in the afternoon and evening.   The galerie has been so warm, we have had to wait each evening to have dinner outside, until the sun has gone over the hill, around 8 - 8.30pm.   

As the sun disappears, everyone emerges, and there is that lovely sound of the creak and groan of the shutters being opened and fastened against the stone walls, as it echoes around the valley.  Then its all business, voices chattering, plates clattering as families prepare to eat.  

There have been several local events this month, starting with the Fêtes de Voisins, held at a neighbour's house this year, a really great occasion.   I guess it would compare to a street party.  In this part of the village we take it in turns to host it, and this year it was Patrick's and Fabienne's turn.    You would never know from the photograph - we are all sitting at a very long table in their - luckily large - garage.  We had just started sipping our aperos when the sky went black and a fearsome storm, hailstones included, bucketed down on us!!  Despite the storm we had a great evening and wonderful food.  Everyone made an effort to prepare something delicious. The main course was le lapin a la crème. The oldest participant was 92 and I guess the youngest about 12!

The garden has started producing well, and we are able to eat fresh salad every day, the tomatoes just turning colour at last. As always courgettes are plentiful - and I suppose we will soon be eating stuffed marrows as they get away on me.

The month continued with several visitors.  Mike Bingham from Tassie, who was best man at our wedding 44 years ago, appeared early in the month and we had a great time catching up on every kind of gossip imaginable. Politics, footy.....
Mike bravely subjected himself to a very local French evening, the Repas d'étè, our annual local village dinner, held in the hall at the Mairie. Unfortunately the weather was too unpredictable to hold it in the courtyard.  Some of the village spent most of the day preparing - two large lambs were roasted on a spit, and consumed enthusiastically by the noisy, happy crowd of around 80 people.

We managed to find some English speakers for Mike to sit amongst, so it wasn't too painful for him, in fact he reassured us that he had a good time.

Its always a pleasant occasion, and a good chance to meet new people who have arrived in the village.

One of the new arrivals is a baker - he has opened a new Boulangerie in Cluny, amazingly painted purple - he provided the delicious desert.

A view from Daniele and Alain's
winery in Beaujolais
After a quiet Sunday, with just a leisurely walk around the valley paths, we planned a trip to Beaujolais the next day to visit our favourite winemakers, Daniele and Alain Germaine, at Charnay amongst the countryside of 'la pierre doré', the golden stones.  All the buildings, the walls, houses etc are built from beautiful golden rosy stones.  When the sun shines on them they are especially beautiful.

Danielle invited us to lunch - it was a perfect day, and we ate produce from her garden.  Relaxed and beautiful.   We loaded the car up with our wine order - we are now well prepared for the festivities at the end of September, and returned home through gorgeous countryside.
Beautiful bouquet - a surprise gift

 A few days later, Irish/French friends arrived from Paris, including their nine year old daughter, Madeleine.  We visited our local goat cheese farm to buy some cheese, and Madeleine love the two bucks with their magnificent horns.

Friday was 14th July and a day of big celebrations in France.
We went into Cluny for dinner in the evening, and continued on to a fun fireworks display beside the town.  Madeleine adored it, so at least we kept her happy!

Bread oven
The next day, a visit to the market in Cluny in the morning, and in the evening a delightful jazz concert at a friend's house.  About 30 people were invited, they put on a great meal, and we listened to music out of doors as the sun went down.   It was a beautiful home, and the owners had managed to repair and preserve their magnificent ancient bread oven.   Sunday Madeleine and her mother went to a magnificent puppet show in Cluny, illustrating the history of the Abbey in a very amusing, but educational way.

 We have been taking some great long walks at the weekends.  Its perfect to walk in the woods on a warm day with a slight breeze, shaded by the whispering trees.  Our first attempt was a long walk around the western side of the valley.  We set off climbing up above the valley on a small track beside our house.  The track is covered in wild mint and thyme, the perfume wafted around us in the warm air as we walked.   There has been so much growth this year because of all the rain, but that isn't always good, as the paths are also thick with nettles.....

As we climbed we stopped to watch a pair of buzzards gliding around the valley, and listened to their gentle weird cries, like the mewing of a sad cat.   From time to time their huge wings created a shadow as they passed over us swooping low, while hunting for a mouse or perhaps a lizard, or a young bird.

Continuing into the woods, and appreciating the shade at last, we were surrounded by a massive carpet of wild flowers.

Wild flowers are prolific this year, and so colourful in the rays of sunlight flickering through the trees and alongside the edges of the tracks where they get a bit more light.
a monster....

I love this weird fallen tree covered in moss, it conjures up fairy tales with long legged monsters crawling along through the brush.

The following weekend we walked around the east side of the valley.  We climbed up to the top of the hill, crossed over and descended into the village of Jalogny.  To return we took another path, this time a steep climb to the top of the plateau and passed the old ruined mill and descended via the hamlet of Borde and continued into the centre of our village.  Both walks took about two hours, the second one about half an hour more.

There is almost a full moon at the moment... I wonder what weather it will bring?