Sunday, 28 June 2015

Xi Xi Hu in the park.

Call to actioon
For a number of weeks, I have been following a course in Xi Xi Hu. What is that? I hear you say, well it is a Chinese “walking for health” technique, based on Qigong principles. On demonstrating the technique to Cees, when I got back from my first lesson, he said it looked like the Monty Python sketch “ministry of silly walks” and I must say, I tend to agree with him!

Whilst you do look a bit daft when you do it, the technique is proven to have many heath giving benefits and besides that, I am not adverse to making a bit of a tiddlywink of myself every so often. So when the call to action came to do these walks in public in the Parc Abbatial in Cluny, I was prepared to be there.

Here we go - heart health
Last week, just about to set off for the first event and we had a flat tyre. Changing tyres is not one of my strongest points and neither is it one of Cees’, but we set to, book in hand trying to figure out how it is done. It all looks so simple in the pictures, but where the heck is that dimple the jack is supposed to go in, or even before that, where the heck are the jack and the spare tyre? Three quarters of an hour later, tyre changed, and filthy dirty, we headed off to Cluny to get the puncture repaired, non-reparable, great, now it is two new front tyres - ouch. Undeterred we headed for the park only to meet a friend coming the other way. Game over. So we went for the only other healthy option we could think of and we had a kebab instead.

The liver next - all hu-ing in time
This Sunday was the second public display, fortunately on a Sunday morning, less chance of spectators than on the previous Saturday with the market going on just below the park. It was a beautiful day and whilst the five different walks are all very daft, they are fun to do and it gets you out, about and moving. Cees sat on a pole in the park taking photos and laughing his socks off, whilst the rest of us tried to remember which was a Xi and which was a Hu and try to keep in time with our “leader” Sabrina. I did feel a bit self conscious when a busload of tourists stopped and started taking pictures, but for the rest it was good fun and great to be outside on such a lovely sunny morning.

Looks daft, but this one is great for your kidneys
Sabrina has threatened to organise more of these events, so for all of you out there interested, keep an eye on the website of her Qi Gong and Tai Chi school where they will be announced.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Art comes to Chazelle

Our village
I have mentioned the numerous artists and artisans that have congregated round here, making it one of the most densely populated areas for such people in the whole of France - so they say. But up until recently our little village was not one of those locations. The silk and textile painter Pascale Ponsard, did live here for a while, but her studio has always been in Cormatin. This time last year an artist opened a studio just up the road from us and he has been giving lessons and working in his studio ever since. He was born and brought up in Chazelle, but has been living away and has only recently returned to his native soil.

The official opening of his studio was last June, but as we had a concert that evening we missed out on the fun and he has been asking us ever since to come and see what he has to offer. So while we were out distributing the flyers for the Guitares en Cormatinois concerts last week, we decided it was now or never.

He and his partner share a studio which he has created out of the stables of his family farm in the centre of the village. He paints and she makes creations out of wire and both of them run courses in their respective arts.

Arts courses this summer in Chazelle
Patrick does courses and themed painting days all year round. When the weather is nice, we see his students in the village painting the river or the lavoir and now we have seen his studio we know that the students will be very cosy in his warm and extremely light loft when the weather is not so good. This July and August he is giving courses on how to start/create a painting, really concentrating on the basics of composition. If you are interested in any of his courses (too numerous to mention here) check out his site.

Sylvyane, his partner, is running introductory courses in “wire writing” every Tuesday this July and August. I spotted this on her Facebook page so why not check it out if you are interested.

Local artisans market - Sunday just outside the chateau.

Last but not least, every Sunday morning during the summer, a number of artists and artisans display and sell their work in the “High Street” in Cormatin, just outside the chateau.

For information about holiday accommodation just next door to these artists and a lovely stroll from the centre of Cormatin on a sunny Sunday click here.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Vézelay and crochet

The narthex at Veselay
So what has been going on these last couple of weeks? - I hear you say. Cees had his birthday and then his daughter came the following weekend to celebrate it all over again, so I seem to have been rather occupied.

For Cees’ birthday this year we went to Vézelay. It is a fair run from here, but well worth the trip. We set off early Sunday morning and arrived just before the morning mass. All the services in the church are fully sung by the monks and nuns of the two orders that are resident in Vézelay. It was really something special. The nuns voices were absolutely perfect and the whole services chanted in Gregorian style, was a very special experience. This is what the building had been built for and I am so glad we had arrived on time. Having experienced a service like that and comparing it to the sung parts of the service in the Taizé Sunday morning services, I can well imagine why some of the older members of that community greave the passing of fully sung services everyday.

After the mass was over we spent some time looking in detail at the church. The columns and carvings are quite spectacular and I was amazed at how light the church was. Sadly the choir/apse was closed off for restoration and so there was no access to the crypt, I asked at the information desk and it was due to re-open the following week - pity Cees’ birthday was not a little later! We will go back again, but as it is rather a trek, it probably won’t be this summer.
Strange heads to find on a church!
After a wander around the charming little town, which included visiting a small chapel just outside the fortified ramparts and of course a wonderful lunch, we slowly headed home, satisfied with a lovely day out.

Relaxing in the shade of the cherry tree
When Cees’ daughter and son-in-law arrived it was getting too hot to do anything, so we spent most of that week-end under the shade of our cherry tree where I managed to snap a family photo of us all, even Fifi stayed still long enough to be in the shot!

So there we sat, crocheting away for a couple of days. Cees’ daughter managed to master the basics of crochet and she made a very sweet little flower – well impressed, more about what I was making in another blog – that’ll keep you all on tenterhooks!

How cute is that?
Our weekend ended with a visit to our new found “favourite” restaurant La Terrasse. Sadly they didn’t live up to previous experiences, my poulet à la crème was good and the salad starters were excellent, but the duck breast has a seriously overpowering sauce on it and the steak was rather tough - let’s hope it was just a glitch and that they will go back to their previous excellent rating.

It remains hot here, but not oven temperatures, at least we can get on our bikes and get out and about, including a ride into Cormatin to check out the snack restaurant at the campsite, very good value and the chips were excellent. We may well be visiting them again!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Camera cleaning

Blobs in the sky
I took over Cees’ old camera (Nikon D50) when he upgraded a few years ago. I have used it on and off (more off than on if the truth be told) until I joined a photo group back in January. Since then I have learned a lot about taking pictures, about composition, about apertures and exposures and how to combine them to give different effects, not to mention learning about some fun things to do with Photoshop. So since then I have become quite attached to my camera. I may not be very good at making photographs, but I am having fun.

No, they are not UFOs, I've just marked where the blobs are
A few weeks ago, when I was photographing something with a predominantly blue sky, I spotted some marks on the photo. Any decent editor can get rid of those marks, but it is the sign that the sensor in the camera has dirt on it, so I took it off to be cleaned. Cees had it done a number of years ago, so it is no big deal.

Into Darty, near Mâcon, and as we always go there during lunch hour when virtually no one else goes into the shop, we had the sole attention of two very friendly and competent young men who decided to try and clean the camera themselves, for free. Filter off, clean the lens, lens off, clean the inside, on and on they went, with me popping in and out of the shop to take pictures of the sky to see if the blobs had gone. They finally admitted defeat and agreed to send it off to the service centre for cleaning.

I had to pay 40 Euros up front, then it will take a month to prepare a cost estimate for the cleaning. I would be contacted, to agree the price of the work and then it could be another two to three weeks to do the work. I would receive the difference back or pay the extra when the camera came back to the shop, but I was going to be without my new found friend for possibly two months!

Darty - Crêches-sur-Saône
Having said that Darty are always very pessimistic with their timing and things usually go a lot quicker. They did go a lot quicker, within a week I had a phone call from the service centre. From the story he had to tell me, the camera was full of broken bits and Nikon no longer support such an old model so spare parts were not available - bye bye camera. I was stunned, I had only sent it in for a clean! I managed to persuade the guy to clean it while he had his hands on it, which he reluctantly agreed to do, saying it would do no good. The only bonus was that he would only charge me ten Euros, so I would get a thirty Euro refund.

I was so upset by the conversation that I forgot to ask what was wrong with the camera, so I had no idea what to expect when I went to collect it from the shop two days later. In the shop, they had no idea either what was wrong with it as the only comments from the service centre were that spare parts were not available, so I got my refund.

Blobs gone!
I carefully unwrapped by "dead" little friend, steeling myself for what I might find, but it looked OK to me. I went outside and took a photo of the sky, low and behold the camera worked just as always and what’s more, the spots had gone!

That was several weeks and many hundreds of photos ago and it is still working. So thank you Mr Darty a camera clean for only 10 Euros! I am keeping my fingers crossed it will stay working for many more photos to come. I suppose I will have to face the inevitable one day - just not yet I hope.

For holiday accommodation where the skies are (almost) always blue click here.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Poulet à la crème – to order or not to order?

Oh no - not chicken in cream sauce
As I have mentioned before, after every wreath laying (of which Cormatin celebrates five every year) one or other of the bars/restaurants organises the vin d’honneur. This 8th May (VE Day) had a massive turnout, more than 50 people joined our little band as we walked down the middle of the road to the war memorial.

We have our preferences as to which place to go to for the vin d’honneur and we had our fingers crossed that La Terrasse would get the job this time. So we were not disappointed when the Mayor announced our wine drinking destination. The snacks that La Terrasse provide are quite delicious, not just a bunch of peanuts, real yummy delicate delices. Sadly the town hall had only thought 25 people would turn up, so there was not so much to go round, but what there was was excellent.

Huge turnout for 8th May
After a glass of wine and chat, we usually stay in town for lunch and as Cees and I last ate at La Terrasse when it first opened, and I had only eaten there once again with a work group made up of representatives from all the regions tourist offices, we decided to see how they were doing now that they had extended the restaurant into the next-door building and they had to cope with more customers.

I ordered chicken in cream sauce - a Burgundy classic. Actually, I don’t know why I order it in restaurants because it is rarely done well, the last time I had it on the Tourist Office day out, it was a specatacular disappointment. Despite being a simple dish, poulet à la crème is difficult to get right. There is a balance to be had between nice and creamy on the one side and not too sickly on the other, few places manage that balance.

La Terrasse on a sunnier day
It is a bit like boeuf bourguignon, another supposed local speciality. A lot of restaurants put it on the menu because they think a Burgundian restaurant should serve it , but most fall way below any reasonable standard. I suppose we were spoiled by Monique, the previous owner of La Terrasse, her boeuf bourguignon is the gold standard to which all others are compared - most come up lacking.

So I waited for my poulet à la crème with a little bit of trepidation, would the cream balance be right, would the meat come off the bone without me having to hack it off?

We ate our meal and then we went to pay. As I handed over our cheque, I was asked by the owner/chef if I was the person with the blog on Cormatin. Fame at last, even the French locals have found my blog!

I then had a momentary thought that I had better be careful what I write about restaurants and businesses round here from now on - it was only a momentary though, because I have always and I will always tell it as I find it.

So how did I find La Terrasse?

I can safely say that the new owner of La Terrasse receives my accolade for the gold standard poulet à la crème, even better than Hotel De Bourgogne in Cluny, at a fraction of the price.

In summary La Terrasse is excellent and I don’t care if I offend anyone with that remark!

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Missed 100th birthday party and Cluny in Flames

Frere Roger in the 1960s
Late last year I heard that Taizé was organising something for the “locals” to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Frère Roger’s birth. The 10th May has been in my diary ever since. Yesterday (Saturday the 9th) I went to find out the details and came away with a leaflet telling me to be there to register and choose a workshop in tent R at 15.00. I was there. Tent R on the other hand was dedicated to volunteers organising a day out for under privileged kids in June. On searching the premises I found a notice saying that registration was at 09.00, the Eucharist was at 10.00, discussions with the Bishop of Autun, some brothers from Taizé and some sisters of the St Andrew order in Ameugny were all held before lunch.

The workshops were arranged for 15.30, but that was the only thing that actually agreed with the information I had picked up the day before. The service at 17.300 was not mentioned and neither were the original activities after the service and before dinner.

The "locals" waiting for the workshops to begin - not in tent R though
I was miffed to say the least and as the workshops were the least interesting part of the day, we decided to abort mission and go to Cluny instead to see the pony games.

Roof gone and firemen dousing down the flames
Arriving in Cluny and the towers of the abbey were hidden behind a screen of smoke. As we got closer we saw that the vast building that contained the hay and the carriages for the National Stud was well ablaze - the roof mostly gone.

We were reassured by the spectators of the pony games, that the final would still go ahead, so despite the presence of the firebrigade we managed to take a few pony photos. They moved a bit quicker that I was expecting, hence this terrific shot of a pony’s rear end!

And there it was - gone..
Now home and writing my blog it’s 17.20 and the bells of Taizé are ringing out to announce the start of the service that I thought had been cancelled as it didn’t appear on the poster I had seen on the wall, earlier this afternoon.

So it has been a double miss for the birthday party and a photo miss for the pony, but at least I captured the firemen in action!




For information on holiday accommodation just around the corner from Taizé and Cluny click here.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

New potters in town

It stuns me how many potters there are in this area of France. How do they all survive financially? The vast majority sell wonderful stuff, but just how many bowls and plates do the locals or the tourists actually want to buy?

It must be difficult for them to get to their potential markets and that is most probably why, not just content with selling from their own studios, a group of potters have got together and are now selling from the old Musée du Vélo or Musée du Poilu, depending on how long your memory is.

We saw the sign a few weeks ago and went to visit, and I must say the layout of the place and the quality of the pottery is well worth the visit. Last Friday was their official opening and we received an invitation, a lovely warm evening with wine and nibbles to celebrate the opening of yet another attractive asset to our village.

The display area is light and airy and they have put a lot of effort into displaying their wares in a way that you can see what they have to offer, not too cluttered and yet not to sparse. All in all, well worth a look.

So when you go to the bio market, or when you are taking a ride on the Voie Verte, why not pop in to see the pottery and don’t forget to visit the upstairs, the bigger and more artistic pieces are up there.

Good luck to our local potters, I hope the venture works out for them.



Saturday, 25 April 2015

Free accommodation for the right couple.

Empty
Most people will know that we started renting out our two gîtes in 2007, but most people won’t know that also since 2007 we have had another little house available for the right couple at no charge at all. This one has been rather more difficult to market, how do you really get to your target market? How do you find the right couple who will love this little house, settle down and start a family, because that is what this one is - a family home.

This looks like a nice place to live
We have had several couples visit to look at the property, but none of them have wanted to stay there, why? I have no idea. Cees’ daughter had put in a lot of effort to make this the ideal house for a little family and it is in a lovely location, peace and quite on the edge of the woods, lots to do and see in the area. 

It seems a crime that it has been empty for so long.

Moving in the furniture
Just last week, it seemed that the right couple had come along. I was so excited and thrilled when I spotted them moving in their furniture.  In and out they went, all day long, busy little creatures, excited to have their first home, dashing back and forth, hectically preparing their little house in time for the arrival of their offspring.  We watched them for hours, keeping safely out of their flight path so as not to disturb them.

Not guilty...
Our angelic cat, Fifi, has been ill and locked up for the last 4 weeks and maybe that has helped, it has kept us distracted and her out of the way giving the new residents a sense of security. However, Fifi is finally back on the prowl and since then we haven’t seen our new lodgers, have they moved out? Was that bundle of feathers Cees found a couple of days ago the remains of one or both of them?

We haven’t seen any movement in and out of the property for the last few days - let’s hope our worst fears are not founded.



Saturday, 18 April 2015

Cuds and a tour of a medieval town

Medieval house in St-Gengoux-le-National
It all started a couple of years ago. I was in a meeting at the tourist office and there was an argument about whether we should have "fleshcuds" or "kooaircuds" or not. The only cuds I know are the ones that cows chew and being vegetarians, I could not begin to think what a fleshcud could be. Not having the faintest idea why we would want such things, I kept my mouth shut. All I could figure was that they seemd to be expensive, but essential and modern and that was what the argument centred around.

Saint-Gengoux-le-Royal
When I finally admitted I didn't know what they were talking about, everyone laughed because they were using an English word and I was the only one who hadn't understood it. Still baffled, they kindly explained what they were. They turned out to be QR or flashcodes, those funny square shaped designs that vaguely resemble multi-dimentional bar codes. These magnificent things would cost us 2k Euros a pop and we were debating whether to get about 20 of them. As the office doesn't have that kind of money, the discussion seemed a little futile to me, so I let them coninue and I switched off, resting my brain for the next subject.

A short time later, I was contacted by the office to translate some stuff together with another Sue - it helps that all the English women here have the same name, only one foreign name to remember. We duly did the translation and before we knew it, we were told that our wonderful translations would be appearing on signposts in Saint-Gengoux-le-National, complete with "cuds".

Now three years down the road, the signs have finally been made and installed and last Friday was the inauguration. Off we went to see what had become of all this work and money. The evening would start with small groups touring the old town and a look at the plaques, then back for the glass of wine and nibbles, that we would only get after listening to what would be seemingly interminable speeches.

Church with peculiar towers
We know a lot about the town and have followed the brochure tour, not to mention the numerous things I have translated with Cees' help on the architectural and medieval terms, so we thought we knew it all, but the tour we followed had a few surprises for us. There was really cute little alley that led to a view on a tower we didn't know existed, we found a hanging sign that proudly proclaimed the ancient name of the town "Saint-Gengoux-le-Royal" back from when there was still a king who it paid to be loyal to and it was fascinating to hear the numerous stories our very knowledgeable guide had to tell.

We got back from our tour but there was no wine, nothing to eat and no one to give a speech. One intrepid member of our group searched around and found glasses, wine bottles and gougères (delicious choux pastry cheese balls) hidden in a back room, but said we had to wait for the speech givers before tucking in and so we waited and waited. No one from the other two tour groups joined us and after half an hour's wait we aborted mission and went home and had our own wine and cheese balls in the comfort of our living room, with no speeches. I am convinced that the other two groups ended up at a different destination, had listened to the interminable speeches and were tucking into their cheese balls and wine whilst wondering where we had got to and that the cheese balls and wine we had found were for an altogether different party to be held later in the evening!

Just one of the many new plaques
Despite missing the wine, it was a great tour and the plaques have turned out to be very professional and are an attractive addition to the old town.

Just in case you are wondering, the signs did have flashcodes, so when you take your own tour of the town you can use your smartphone and check out more information than is displayed on the sign itself. I asked about the cost and in the end the "cuds" were as free as a cow's cud, so all that debating had been in vain.

For information on holiday accommodation near a lovely medieval town with flashcodes click here.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Day out with the Office de Tourisme

Beautiful day
Every year about this time, the gîte and B&B owners, who are members of the Tourist office in St Gengoux, have a day out. We visit gîtes and B&Bs and various artisans in the area, normally have an excellent lunch and generally have a good chin wag.

It helps us feel more of a group rather than isolated service providers. We may be competitors to an extent, but we are also co-workers and this day helps to boost that side of things, we pass on clients from time to time, when we are full or if we feel a potential client would prefer a different type of accommodation and these visits help us to assess if we would want to pass on customers and to be able to stand behind any comments on the quality of accommodation provided.

Spinning disaster
When visiting the artisans in the area, we are treated to demos, something you would be hard to have if you visited alone and it lets us see what is on offer in the area, so we can pass on that information to visitors.

And last but not least we generally have a good meal and can put another restaurant on our list of places to recommend. I never recommend an artisan or a restaurant that I haven’t visited myself, I like to speak from my own experience, that way I can be confident about the information I am giving.

We were blessed with a sunny but cold day this year. Our day started in a large gîte (for 16 people) in St Gengoux, where we had coffee and brioche and then we moved on to the Weber’s new venture, cloth making. Apart from being able to buy the lovely hand made cloth, you can also have lessons in weaving and spinning. My attempts at spinning were hopeless, hence the almost hysterical look on my face. Magrit was very patient, but in the end she had to undo all my efforts to disentangle the whole mechanism - better luck next time..

Cappilati's designs
Sadly lunch was a disaster and I won’t give the restaurant any more publicity, but the rest of the day was very interesting with a lovely visit to Kathy Cappilati’s brand new studio where she does leaded glass designs, bronze sculptures and spectacular calligraphic ink designs.

Wine to end the day
It wouldn’t be a Burgundian day out if we didn’t finished up with a glass of wine or two. This year we were treated to pink crément or red or white wine and gougères at the cave in St Gengox-le-National.

I can’t wait for next year’s offerings.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

More Food Changes in Town

The butcher is open for trade
The new butcher in Cormatin has finally opened its doors and so off we went to try it out earlier this week. We bought two different types of pâté, some celeriac salad for lunch and some steak for dinner. The pâtés and salad were very nice indeed, but the steak was absolutely divine. Cees said he could not remember having such good meat ever in his life before - I am tempted to agree with him and it was at a price comparable to, or cheaper than, the local supermarkets which do not deliver anywhere near the same quality. I am sure that we will be making many return visits to this shop.

Change of ower and style for the grocer
The new grocer has opened too, pretty much the same as the old one, but much brighter and more room to move around inside, letting you see the merchandise without knocking jars off shelves. We didn’t meet the new owner, but all stories point to a younger more vibrant approach to running the establishment whilst still stocking the products that everyone loved so much – fresh-ground coffee, ham to die for and hot rotisserie chickens. The only complaint I have heard so far is that she cuts the ham too thin, funnily enough my only complaint about the previous owner’s ham was that it was cut too thick – each to their own.

La Terrasse doubles in size
Another change on the food front is that La Terrasse, the restaurant opposite the chateau in the middle of town, has been extended into the building next-door, doubling its internal seating capacity as well a consolidating its extended terrace in time for the good weather.

Talking of restaurants, we went out to lunch on Thursday, with a group of people from the Office de Tourisme, to the Auberge de Malo in Etrigny, a village nearby. They were going to show off their culinary skills to our group of gîte and B&B owners, so that we could recommend their restaurant to our guests and I was hoping to dedicate a blog to them. I won’t bore you with the whole sorry story, I will just sum up my experience in a few words: too expensive; tasteless; cold and amateur; some people find this charming – I don’t. We will be recommending that our guests go to La Terrasse which is quite excellent or Les Blés d’Or which comes in at a close second, right here in Cormatin - few people are disappointed in either of these places.

New chique look for the baker
There is yet another change on the culinary front in our village. The baker Delice de Cormatin has upgraded its shop and it is looking very swish and professional, to match his superb patisseries.

All in all, with the new deli, the organic food market and the pizza parlour, not to mention the second baker (Roi), a wine merchant come semi-deli and the food section at the Filaterie (a place that sells handicrafts) Cormatin is creating a reputation for itself as being a foodie heaven in these parts. Long may it last.

For holiday accommodation, a short walk or bike ride from all of these gastronomic delights, click here.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

A Week in Paris

The metro's free if there is smog
We have just returned from a short week in Paris - a city I absolutely love. Cees and I like to go there once a year if at all possible, we rent a flat and just enjoy being Parisians for a few days.

This year our flat was a tad on the small size – won’t stay there again – that’s the problem with booking last minute, the ones we have stayed in before had all been booked. We’ll have to be more on the ball next year!

Le Pantheon
After breakfast of croissants (fresh from the bakery Le Coquelicot) and espresso in the communal courtyard, we headed off each day to soak up the atmosphere. Sadly, for the second year running, there was a little more “atmosphere” than we would have liked - Paris was drenched in smog, but at least the metro is free when that happens.

We enjoyed ourselves visiting places we hadn’t seen before - Pantheon, Hotel de Cluny, Museum des Arts et Metiers and going back to old favourites – the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Petit Palais and of course Galeries Lafayette. All well worth the visit. We even steeled ourselves for the huge queue at the Louvre and paid that a visit too.

Eiffel Tower
The Louvre is exceptional value and you can spend days in there. The signposting is abysmal which makes navigating your way around a bit difficult at times, but that doesn’t take away from the incredible collection of art and artefacts that they have in there. It only took us about 20 – 25 minutes from leaving the metro station to getting into the museum and that was only achieved by buying our tickets from a rather dubious looking tabac in the station ie not waiting in the one hour queue for the official ticket office and then accidentally getting in the wrong queue at the entrance. A big thank you to the obnoxious Chinese visitors who had a blazing row with the man checking that particular entrance as we walked past him enabling us to miss the 45 minute queue if we had gone in the correct way. Goodness only knows how long the whole process would take in the height of the tourist season and if you were to do it properly. Once inside, apart from the scrum at the Mona Lisa, it was pleasantly empty.

Galeries Lafayette
We found a fantastic new (to us) restaurant in Rue des Trois Frères - Le Jardin d’en Face, which was just down from our flat, where the food was exquisite and the prices very reasonable indeed.

So that’s our holiday over with and now we are gearing up for a full working season - roll on summer!




For information on holiday accommodation one and half hours from Paris click here.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

The mystery of the wonky candles

St Claude's wonky candles
On one of our many church visits we managed to get into the church in St Jean de Vaux. Not an easy task as the thing is normally locked and the town hall is only open once in a blue moon.

This is a nice church and I am sure Cees will be able to fill you in on all the architectural high points, but I was fascinated by the candles. It had wonky candles, not just little a bit either, I mean REALLY wonky.

In the north chapel (for St Claude) I noticed that all the candles were leaning. As anyone will be able to see, they are leaning away from the window, so I thought that the sun had been shining through the window and melted one side slightly and the things had started to wonk.

Thinking about it now though, as this is the north chapel, no sun will come in through those windows, but we’ll put that aside for the moment.

Mary has them too
On to the south chapel (Mary) and interestingly enough, all the candles wonk TOWARDS not away from the window. However the candles are wonking in the same direction as St Claude’s - top towards the south. Not quite as dramatic as St Claude's, but a definite lean. The sun could come in through these windows, but would that bend the candles towards the light?

The church is full of them - what's going on?
In yet another chapel (not sure for whom) where there was no window at all, the candles all wonked the same way as well, less than Mary's and definitely less dramatic than St Claude, but the tops were happily displacing themselves towards the south. For completeness, the nearest window would probably have been to the west in this case.

Strange goings on I must say. All the candles wonk top towards the south no matter the direction of the nearest window.

Any ideas why?

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Stars

Praying for clear skies
One thing that surprises people who stay here is just how dark it is at night and you can see millions upon millions of stars. I just love looking up at the stars, something I could never do, in most of the places I have lived.

When the theme for my photo group a couple of weeks ago was “sky”, I decided to get out there and take a picture of a beautiful starry night.

Never having taken a photo of the night sky before, I did a bit of research. It all looked simple enough and out I went on what turned out to be the only starry night that week. It was a total failure.

I couldn’t get the camera to see what I was seeing, no matter what I did to the settings, not helped by the fact that you can’t see anything on the blooming camera in the dark! Back to the drawing board, or should I say - more research and a proper set up of the camera in daylight.

Orion over the forest
Then of course the rain set in and not a starry night to be seen.

While photographing miserable skies I came across the little angel above, who must have sent up a prayer for clear skies to return and I managed to capture Orion over the forest opposite our house, but too late for my sky-week photo, besides the moon was too bright anyway, not to mention the settings that still need some tweaking.

Stars over the house
A clear night was promised for last night, so I was out again and managed a view of some stars over our house, not a brilliant photo, but the settings on the camera are starting to be approximately right and at least you can actually see some stars, even though I haven’t a clue what they are called. The moon was full so there was a lot of light pollution – note to self to do this kind of thing next time on a new moon night.

I never realised there would be so many problems being a star photographer..


For information on holiday accommodation where you can see millions of stars at night with or without a camera click here.
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