Saturday, 27 June 2009

Changes in Taizé

 The church of Reconciliation in Taizé had a monstrosity of an organ mounted on the wall on the left-hand side when looking to the altar end of the church. Tall pilgrims could hardly stand beneath it and I have seen one man hit his head. Frère Roger thought that the organ was too big, pompous and loud for the community. Taizé’s music is simple and requires little or no accompaniment, so the little organ, played by one of monks within the “garden”, that usually sounds like a guitar, suits the whole service. New organ in Taize church During the refurbishments of two years ago, this ghastly thing was thankfully removed which did wonders for the simple beauty of this end of the church. The orange curtains draped at the altar end church and the small stain glass windows are the only adornments in the church and they achieve the right effect.

So what has happened in the last two weeks? Suddenly a new organ has appeared, at the same spot as the old one and as big and as ugly, just a little bit more shiny and maybe with a bit more head room underneath. It could even be the old one polished up and returned, I don’t know. It looks like it could blast out music and drown the singing. At the service today it was not in use, so I will have to wait and see whether it is as loud as it looks. What would Frère Roger make of this?

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Friday, 26 June 2009

New Café - L'Annexe

Real excitement has hit La Tuilerie, the guests in one of the gîtes has notice a new café. Not just any café but one on the Voie Verte, the cycle path that runs through Burgundy on old railway lines or along old tow paths. The guests in question, Jan and Eric, have been here for two weeks and have cycled extensively along the Voie Verte north to Givry and south to Mâcon and they have done many of the “boucles” off the Voie Verte that take you up into the countryside and small villages around here and range from easy to do up to seriously difficult.

L'AnnexeThey have been watching the goings on in a little house on the Voie Verte very near here. The house in question has been in the throws of renovation ever since we came to live here. The last two weeks, under Eric’s watchful eye, there have been strange comings and goings at that house. Firstly a large upright fridge with a glass front arrived, then a huge chest freezer and then (most suspicious of all) a large box, that Eric was convinced was full of parasols, arrived yesterday. On Eric’s outing this morning, the truth was revealed, a gravelled patio with tables chairs and parasols and a sign saying that L’Annexe was open for business! Now all those thirsty cyclists that travel up and down the Voie Verte can stop and enjoy a hot or cold drink and a snack.

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Thursday, 25 June 2009

Repeat Offenders

They are back again, our most prolific repeat visitors! Hans and Joke (pronounced yoker), a Dutch couple, came to our campsite in 2006 just to see if the campsite was OK intending to stay only one or two nights. In 2006 they stayed for nearly two weeks, 2007 for one week on the way to their “real” holiday destination, 2008 for one week with some of their grown up children, 2009 for a week on the way to their “real” holiday destination and now for 3 nights on their way home. I think they like it here!Hans, Joke, Simon, Ans and Cees

We have a number of people like Hans and Joke, who come back again and again, they have all become friends. What is so nice is that when they arrive at the campsite and say “it’s like coming home”. For us it is really gratifying that we have “got it right”.

We built the campsite to suit ourselves making it the campsite we would like to stay on. No electricity on the site so no blaring TVs or radios. We have included a small fridge in the toilet block so that you can keep your beer or white wine cool or to enable you to buy in for breakfast without worrying if your pâté will have gone rancid before the morning. We keep the showers and toilets spotlessly clean, unless some anti-social people come and wash their muddy/grassy boots in the shower, no only making it disgustingly dirty but blocking the drains in the process, which happens every so often but we have learnt to deal with that type. Above all we have peace and quiet and I mean quiet. Most of the time you cannot hear a man-made sound (unless I’m mowing of course). At 08.30 the bells of Taizé ring out calling the faithful to the morning service, at 12.15 again and in the evening I know I am late with dinner if I hear the bells (20.30) before I have food on our plates!Taize, Taizé

Many of our visitors come for Taizé, some to really get involved in the discussion groups etc, others out of curiosity (“what is this place we have heard about?”) and still others who want to go to one or two services. Many walk or cycle from here (how they get up or down that hill on a bike is a mystery to me) and others go by car.

Anyway, back to Hans and Joke, the only negative thing is that now we won’t see them for another year as they will be leaving on Monday. It’s sad saying goodbye to your friends but hopefully some of our others will be turning up soon to fill their gap.

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Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Cormatin Guitar Festival

The first concert was a couple of weeks ago and as usual the season was started off by a concert from Emmanuel RossfelderEmmanuel Rossfelder. His playing is superb and he always enchants the audience not only with his playing and his presence but with his stories about the pieces he includes in his programme. A concert with Rossfelder wouldn’t be complete without “Recuerdos de la Alhambra” by Tarrega which when he plays it you can hear the water trickling down the fountains and over the walls in the Alhambra’s beautiful gardens. This year, unusually the first concert was in the lovely Romanesque church in Malay. I wasn’t convinced that the move from Cormatin church would be good for the event, but the acoustics were much better in Malay and we managed to get comfortable seat as well!
On Saturday might we went to the second concert in the 2009 series. Yet another new venue, this time an open-air concert at the Plan d’eau at Cormatin, rather a chilly night, but it was a nice idea. The group Zancle from Lyon, played mainly folk songs from SicilZancley, the two singers were from that region. They had an accordion/guitar player, flute player/singer, the leader who played the mandolin and a number of different types of guitar as well as being the lead singer and the percussionist who rattled his different types of tambourine with great precision and seriousness. On the whole they were not of the highest standard, the leader of the band certainly had difficulties hearing that his strings were not always in tune, but what they lacked in that department they made up for in enthusiasm and they created a wonderful atmosphere of southern Italy even though it was probably below 15 degrees! I think they were supposed to have a pause in the middle so that we could all sample the food and drinks being sold by the committee members, but they obviously wanted to get home at a reasonable time and just played through. The poor ladies behind the bar were shivering by the time we all arrived to eat their hot waffles and sandwiches!

We will be going to the violin concert in Chazelle church, just a little walk down the road for us, in a couple of weeks. We’ll be taking cushions as the seats are a bit hard there.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

How we got here

La TuilerieSeptember 2005 the huge removal lorry containing all our worldly goods arrived in front of a barely habitable Tuilerie with lots of potential and very little dry storage space. Unbelievably less than a year later our brand new campsite had completed a very successful season and the two gîtes were ready for tiling, painting and furnishing to accommodate our first guests in April 2007. When you hear all the stories of nightmare rennovations, ours had gone very well indeed, but we had a clear goal in mind and nothing would stop us getting there. We were supplying simple but roomy and comfortable accommodation to people who wanted to visit this beautiful area of the world.

Burgundy, in particular this part, has so much to offer, beautiful rolling hills ideal for walking and cycling and you can choose your route from flat (along the Voie Verte) to seriously steep Mont St-Romain or Mont St-Vincent and everything inbetween. The are numerous Romanesque churches to visit and chateaux in abundance. Many of our visitors come to experience the religious orders near here, Taizé a Christian ecumenical monastery order that attracts thousands of young people througout the summer or La Boulaye a Tibbetan Buddhist monastery, the first in Europe. Other people come here to visit Cluny and Beaune with both Dijon and Lyon (two magnificant cities) being easily accessible too.

Life in Cormatin can be exciting, just watch this space!
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