Monday, 26 September 2011


One way for us to integrate into our new community has been for us to volunteer to help out at the various events going on around here. This has not been as easy as we thought it would be, to say the least. There are different groups of volunteers involved in each event, each has their own clique and whilst they do need extra help from time to time, they are not screaming out for new regular people to join “their club”. Our attempts at volunteering have been hampered to some extent by our poor French (us misunderstanding what is being said and/or us failing to get our message across) by cultural differences in how things are done and organised in rural France compared to our previous manic Dutch world, but also by a natural suspicion within some in the organisations themselves. For instance when volunteering for one group we were told that we had to be paid-up members for at least a year before we could volunteer, the logic of that escaped me at the time, but the then president said “C’est normal”, well it may be normal in France but it comes across as pretty weird and unfriendly to two foreigners just trying to help. Not living inside the village of Chazelle itself and having no neighbours to
point the way and explain what’s going on, hasn’t helped either. So every two steps forward seemed to be met with one step backwards, but over the last 12-18 months all our chickens have come home to roost with a vengeance ! We now seem to have little time to ourselves as we have volunteered or been volunteered for everything going, from helping man the Office de Tourisme in St-Gengoux (OT) and being treasurer of the group that organises Cormatin events (the bingo, the old people’s meal etc) through to moving chairs and manning the entry at Guitar en Cormatinois concerts and building tents for any and every event in Cormatin that wants a 10m, a 12m or a 16m tent built (that one is Cees not me, when I helped out building the tents there was a tangible air of confusion – what is a girl doing this for, she should be preparing food). But now we are accepted into Cormatin life, when we walk down the main street we get stopped every couple of meters or so to kiss one or other acquaintance, complain about the weather (too hot, too cold, too dry, too wet) and talk about what’s going on (did you know a motorbike was clocked doing 140kmph down La Grande Rue in Cormatin yesterday at 5 in the evening and have you seen that ghastly pyramid [*] being built opposite Christophe’s house?) and I am happy to say I feel that at last we really belong here.

* That one is for another blog !

La Tuilerie Website

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Camping Season is Over

The season is over and so now all that rests is for me to announce the winners of the 2011 championship.

Before I do that, I must say what a successful season it has been this year, with summer starting early this year (at the beginning of April) we had a very long dry season, there was a little wet hiccup for two weeks in July but that didn’t dampen our campers’ spirits too much, which was good news.

For those new to this competition I will briefly recap the categories. Category 1 – the longest stay ever (longest number of consecutive nights); Category 2 – the most cumulative tent nights and Category 3 – the most number of single visits.

Category 1: We have a couple of cracking attempts at this awards in 2011. Sadly both attempts failed, but for different reasons, one misunderstood the difference between cumulative and consecutive and the other took one night out in a hotel just before reaching his target so his run of nights was broken (empty tents don’t count !) but even though both attempts were strategically flawed, it has shown us that with the right approach and with a lot of perseverance this record is definitely beatable. So Marilou and Niek have still managed to hang on to their lead at 25 nights and Cees and Bets remain second with 21 nights both attempts being in 2007 and third place is now shared by Coen and Marja (2009) and Thomas (this year) with 20 nights. Sadly Thomas could so easily could have had 25 or even 26 nights had he not made that serious error.

Category 2: We saw the return of Family H this year after one year’s absence and so in category 2 they are possibly becoming unbeatable, they work well as a team and they
all pull together to make sure that they clock up those nights in a most effective way. Hans and Joke do very well considering there are just two of them, but this year’s real surprise was Janine and Mijntje who charged ahead with great gusto at the beginning of May, they could have done a lot better, but they decided to spend their summer holiday somewhere else (how could they?). So the final score is Family H with a staggering 83 nights, Janine and Mijntje moved up into second place with 56 nights, just pushing Hans and Joke down into third place at 55 nights.

Category 3: Both Bert and Engelien and Kirsty and Angus returned after an absence of two years, so there has been some movement in this category as well. The placings are Hans and Joke at 7 visits remain the leaders, 2nd Janine and Mijnte at 6 visits and Dick and Marijke, Bert and Engelien, Kirsty and Angus share the third place at 5 visits each.

This year the first ever “Judges discretionary award for outstanding achievement in camping near Cormatin and Taizé” was awarded to Janine and Mijntje for their overall camping achievements, their valiant, if flawed, attempt at Category 1 this year and for their amazing leap from 8th place in Category 2 only two years ago right up to second place. So you see with the right effort these seemingly unassailable records can be broken.

The judges are looking for more categories to broaden the championships and to be more inclusive for newcomers, all suggestions are welcome.

Finally a big thank you to all campers past and present for your active participation and we wish you a good non-camping season and we look forward to seeing you again very soon.

For our website with more lovely pictures of the campsite and gites click here.

Thursday, 8 September 2011


It is quiet here, very quiet, yes we do have noises but they are of the birds in the trees, the frogs in the pond and leaves rustling in the wind. Everyone who visits is struck by the quietness of life here. I am woken up in the morning by the bells of Taizé at 08.15 when they start their 15 minute peel calling the faithful to the morning service. From my bed I look out at the forest of massive oaks and huge hornbeams. However, Saturday was
different. I was woken up at about 07.00 by the noise of mopeds and what seemed to be a dustbin lorry together with shouting Frenchmen clanging metal containers. Cees opened the shutters and I could see the trees and the blue sky, but they weren’t oaks, they were plane trees. Then I woke up enough to remember where I was, not at home at all, I was in Arles in Provence, one of my favourite French towns.

We had decided to go away for a few days and Provence seemed to be the logical place to go, not too far from here, good weather, excellent food and so much to see even if we have seen most of it before. So we went to Arles and from there we visited the Camargue, Avignon, Salon-de-Provence, Tarascon and Orange. We saw things we had never seen before (or couldn’t remember having seen before) and we saw some old favourites. It was nice to be back in that neck of the woods again and just enjoy being on holiday, something we rarely do.

I could never tire of the Roman ruins and beautiful cloisters, the wildness of the Camargue with flamingos and wild bulls or just sitting on a terrace in the Provencal sun soaking up the atmosphere. It was a great couple of days away from our surprisingly busy “real” lives and it recharged our batteries. But by the end of those few days, there was one thing I was longing for and that was - no noise. I had forgotten what life in a town was like and I now see that we sometimes take for granted what we have here. So last night I totally revelled in sitting in the garden, listening to “nothing”.

La Tuilerie Website
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