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28 July 2014

June/July 2014 at Chậteau

Our neighbour and long time friend Madame Suzanne Laforêt passed away in her 99th year in early June.  We gathered to farewell her at the local church where John spoke some thoughtful words about our long friendship and her kindness to us. She was buried in the family tomb.  What an interesting and long life - her years during the war sheltering the Resistance fighters from the Germans made many a great tale.  Even in her latter years, she loved to sing and often would break out into an old song while telling us a story. 

Spinning and Weaving day at Marizy:

It took me about 35 minutes to drive due west to Marizy along narrow winding roads through beautiful countryside unfamiliar to me, for the day long session with the regional Spinners and Weavers group, Guilde de Filage en Bourgogne.  It was a dyeing day, and amusing that they had chosen to dye with Kool Aid – a powdered drink very popular in the USA.  The powder seems to be simply sugar and dye, and I hate to think what it is doing to children’s insides.  It is banned here and in England for use as a drink.

A very pleasant day with lots of dyeing in a micro wave, or boiling in a saucepan – such bright colours, a big change from the natural dyes I am used to.  Had a lovely lunch and got to know some of the members – about half of them French, and the rest a mixture.

Randonne at Jalogny
Randonné at Jalogny – the next day we started early because of the heat, picking up Alain at 8am.  We had the option of a 24 km, a 13km or a 10 km walk.  Needless to say we chose the 10km and were provided with a map, coffee and snack to start us off.  What a magnificent walk around the countryside on the small country lanes and to my surprise the 10kms passed easily – not at all difficult.

I love to walk here, the views are always stunning, and the season changes continually.  My weekly long walk with Katia, always a pleasure.   We walk through woods and always along country lanes les petits chemins.    Although most farmers have finished making hay and have had several crops already, there are still some fields with big round hay bales waiting to be collected.  A contrast on the background of rich green fields after lots of rain and storms.

On our regular daily walks we pass an area called Nanton where we descend into the valley using a country lane passing an isolated house.  The owner has decorated the lane near his house with all sorts of interesting odds and ends which he has picked up at flea markets.  He has wrapped some of the trees in colourful shawls, placed small animals, mirrors, and nick knacks in small holes in the rocky wall. 

I decided for fun to knit a hat for one of his animals, and to knit slippers for a pair of legs which he had set into the ground.  Although it was a mystery to him he was surprised and delighted to see the addition to his display, later John dobbed me in, so no more surprises!

There have been a lot of strikes here, protests against various cuts, and how difficult it becomes for those trying to get to work. One day we drove to Geneva to pick a friend up from the airport on a flight back from Scotland as she didn’t want to risk taking a return flight to Paris in case she was stuck there without a train to get home.

Midsummer's night
John Budd and Lindy Magoffin came over from Geneva to celebrate midsummer weekend with us.   We had a great picnic on the high plateau in front of the ruined windmill and watched the sun go down gradually, very late.  A small fire kept us warm as the evening got cooler, and we could hear faintly the sound of music coming from Cluny – it was the midsummer night music festival.

During the week Joelle and Bob appeared on their way back to Australia – they were flying out of Geneva and find it convenient to stop overnight on the way passing through here.

Oscar Wilde tomb
Our next adventure was a trip to Paris to visit Stewart and Lesley Maclennan.  We booked a hotel at Bercy near to where their Barge is moored, at least within walking distance.  It’s also very close to Gare de Lyon where our TGV arrives, so very convenient for us, as we could walk from the station to the hotel.  That evening we walked over to the barge and had an apero with Lesley and then dinner in a local bar.  It was good to catch up and hear news of Stewart who at the time of our visit was in the American Hospital, for treatment, but also waiting to be transported back to Australia.   We arranged to visit the hospital the next day.  An interesting trip across Paris to the north west and Lesley had very kindly brought a picnic lunch which we all enjoyed together on the balcony outside Stewart’s room.    This has been a very tough and worrying time for both Lesley and Stewart, and I am very glad to say that at the time of writing they are both back safely in Australia and Stewart is being treated at Royal North Shore.   He is improving gradually and hopes to move to a rehabilitation centre shortly.
We managed to visit famous Père Lachaise cemetery and paid our respects to Oscar Wilde - we walked our feet off on the steep cobblestoned paths - exhausting.  Also the graves of Edith Piaff,  Colette, Jim Morrisson, Maurice Thorez and many other famous people are buried there, but difficult to find.

Another favourite in Paris was the Gobelin Factory where we visited carpet weaving and tapestry workshops - unfortunately they would not allow photographs!  The guide was excellent - very knowledgeable, she went into a lot of detail, all so interesting.

The July holidays have arrived and sadly the end of the breathing, stretch and relaxation course for the summer holiday period.  We had very pleasant drinks afterwards at the instructor’s house.

Marcia, Dougal and John at the lavoir
Our next event was a visit from Marcia and Dougal.  How lovely to see them, as I had not seen Marcia for nearly four years.  Although we keep regularly in touch, now that they are in Queensland it’s a bit harder to meet up. We had a lovely few days with them including a delicious dinner at the local restaurant at Mazille, before they set off to Paris to continue their round the world trip, and visit Marcia’s grand children in Canada on the way home.

The garden is always a challenge, if mostly a pleasurable one.  I am ignoring the weeds appearing in hordes after some heavy rain.  However, it has been a fantastic year for fruit, there is so much its difficult to know what to do with it, as everyone local has heaps already for themselves.   Well a rainy day prompted me to make marmalade and jam, and now the pantry shelves are lined with neat jars that I guess will do us for a year or so!!

Dinner at Château d’Igé
We celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary on 13th July, by having a superb dinner at the Chateau d’Igé with Rachel and Alain.  A boutique hotel set in an ancient château, with stone towers and a small river running through the grounds.  We had our apero out in the garden, and moved inside for a delicious long evening, finishing up with grand marnier soufflé, always our favourite. 

Mike and John at Blanôt
The next day our best man Mike Bingham, arrived to help us continue to remember our anniversary!  He lives in Hobart, but was visiting his daughter and grandchildren who now live in Brussels.   It’s a fairly easy TGV train ride to here, although he had to make a change in Paris.  We chose a lovely summer evening to do a small tour around the countryside stopping at Chapaize for an apero, and continuing on to Blanôt for dinner to the l’Auberge du Prieuré.  A very simple country inn, with good honest food.  We sat outside and passed a most pleasant few hours there.  On discovering their wine list, and that the wines were local, John and Mike set off the next morning to the nearby winery to stock up on some really good local wines. A very good pinot and chardonnay.

I finished spinning and knitting a beanie for a local farmer who gave me some of his wool.  The problem is that Charolais wool is very short, so it wasn’t easy, but I had to take it and give it a go.  In the end the beanie turned out well and I will give it to him before we leave.

It's time to catch up with the dentist and we both had our annual check ups, we are fortunate to be able to do this here in France - so much more reasonable than at home in Australia.

Fête des voisins:   Each year we celebrate in our immediate neighbourhood with what I guess would be called a street party.  We all take it in turns to be hosts and this year it was Rachel and Alain’s turn. Everyone contributes to the meal, and we were appointed to make the main course -  chicken garam masala and pork curry, both seemed to be very popular.  The food was delicious and a great variety with one course after another.  There were 20 adults and 6 children and a gorgeous evening all round.  We sat at a long table outside – we had some anxious moments as a storm was forecast, but managed to get through a very pleasant evening which went on until all hours.  Don’t know when we have been up so late, it was so warm it just seemed to flow along gently until we suddenly realised it was 2am!  Needless to say some of the children were asleep by that time.

Picnic at Vergisson
This past week we had a visit from Bill McLeod and Pauline McGuire at the end of their French/Italian holiday.  We managed to climb La Roche de Solutré, and have a picnic on Vergisson despite the uncertain weather.  Although  the view was great, it was a bit hazy in the distance towards Switzerland, so Mont Blanc was not visible.  What a gorgeous scene - the sweep of vine covered hills, interspersed by tiny villages with clusters of tiled red roofed houses around a tall church spire - always delightful and something to remember. 

View towards Vergisson

Life passes along quickly, this is holiday time in France, we are content to stay at home and avoid the very busy autoroutes.   Our next visitors - August!

Selection of photographs below - not always in order...

We are starting to plan our trip to New York on the way home.

Roses and honeysuckle

Roses for the house - beautiful perfume

Cherry cordial

Madame Laforȇt farewelled and covered in rose petals

Randonné at Jalogny

Last of the red currants - what a year for fruit

Weaving around a cardboard box

Favourite Lombard church at Mazille

midsummer night - the sun goes down at our picnic

washing and drying wool preparing for spinning

Memorial at Père Lachaise

Edith Piaf at Père Lachaise

Pompidou Centre - "Let us hope, dear friends"

Pompidou Centre exhibition

Pompidou Centre exhibition

A walk at Nanton - scarf by Marcia

Marcia drawing a flower at Nanton

lots and lots of jam made on a rainy day

enormous lilies

Dinner at Blanôt

Aliya cutting the vegetable in jel starter - street party

Alain holding our youngest neighbour

strange plants along the roadside

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