Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Washing-up Fairy is on Strike

I must admit I believe in anything that makes life pleasant or easy. Father Christmas is great; I learned to love Saint Nicholas when I lived in The Netherlands; the tooth fairy was a wonder when I was a kid and I soon would like to believe in her again. The Easter Bunny is a bit vague for my taste, but given enough chocolate, I am sue I can believe in him too. But in my life I have learned that there are other fairies too. For instance, since I moved to France I have had a washing-up fairy. Amazing, particularly as I HATE washing-up, all the dirty dishes of the day get stacked neatly by the washing-up area (by me I might add) and when I get up in the morning, they are all gone, washed, clean and mostly put away. It is only the complicated things like oven dishes that the washing-up fairy can’t cope with finding a home for.

When Cees was in hospital for three weeks, a couple of years ago, the washing-up fairy was so upset by his absence that she didn’t do her work, but hey, it was only me, I could cope. But since Saturday she has gone on strike. Now I realise that she is French and that this is the summer, but what am I supposed to do??? To make matters worse, Cees has a problem with his Achilles tendon and can hardly walk so he can’t do anything the kitchen either. So here I am stuck with washing-up, cooking, cleaning the toilet block (yes that fairy is on strike too!) and also doing my own chores.

If anyone knows of a fairy looking for household work, PLEASE send her here..

La Tuilerie Website

Monday, 23 July 2012

The Concert Series Comes to an End

After more than a month and five concerts, our music festival has at last come to an end.

The concert of Georges Brassens music was very well appreciated by the audience. During most of the second half and certainly by the time he got to "Les Amoureux des bancs publics", almost everyone was singing along and the artist Blahat really seemed to appreciate the interaction. The concert did though, leave me wondering what it was all about. If you read the programme, his aim was to bring the beauty of Brassens poetry and music to a new generation, but if you looked around the audience and you heard people talking after the show, these were all teenagers when Brassens was at the height of his career and whilst they may appreciate the poetry now, when they were kids, they liked the music because their parents disapproved of the lyrics! Not exactly bringing his music to a new generation.

What also disappointed me a little was that he didn’t interpret Brassens music, he played it as Brassens would have, but obviously not as well as the master himself. He kind of struck me as one of those Abba homage bands that sprung up in the nineties, but without the humour of it all. He was really was serious about what he was doing and talking to him (or to be more precise listening to him talk for hours) after the show, all he could talk about was anecdotes of when he met Brassens, and then anecdotes of what Brassens had done or said throughout his life and career. And talk he did, non-stop, for two or more hours. Not one bit of personal chit-chat, not one anecdote about his own life as a professional pianist and later as a music teacher, just anecdotes of Georges Brassens’ life and I was a left with the very sad feeling that he was living his life by proxy, but maybe that’s my psychology degree coming out in me.

In summary: a fun concert, good music, but I wish I had not spent so much time with him afterwards.

The last but one concert was Marielle Nordmann, an internationally renowned harp player. And boy could she play the harp - fantastic ! Cees has a hang-up about harps, saying all you hear is ripple, ripple, ripple and it is true, the harp lends itself to that, but coming from a Welsh background and having been to many Eisteddfods as a child, I knew the harp was much more than that. The title of the concert was “Homage to the Guitar” and she played many well-known and some less well-known guitar pieces from Spain and South America and they were quite beautiful. She used Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist” as a background theme to her set, quoting from the story and playing music she felt matched the various stages of the story. Not at all to my taste, particularly as I was very disappointed - when I read the book - at the apparent shallowness of its theme, but that’s just me I think. In any case, it was an original approach and the music and her playing more than compensated for that particular irritation.

The final concert was yesterday afternoon at the Plan d’Eau, Cormatin’s fishing lake and park and was a group of youngsters from Paris – OMMM. I am struggling to find words to describe them, but I’ll try. They had no instruments, so all the instrumental bits were supplied by their voices. One guy was the human beat-box (and very good he was too) and the others sang or made musical sounds, with the help of some clever sound mixing. The second guy in the group did a wonderful bagpipe version of "Ode to Joy" but sadly, he only did that during the sound check and not during the concert itself. Their music was very techo-ish/rap with some jazzy overtones, but I am sure that says more about my inability to define them, than that it gives a clear description of their music! The audience, at an average age of 60 – 70 and mostly locals, had never heard anything like it before, but rather surprisingly, the comments were positive. My feelings were that this group was out of place in our concert series, but having said that we did bring a different type of music to the population of Cormatin and that is one of our aims - so we succeeded there.

Overall the concert series has been declared a success, not one concert failed to bring a positive reaction from the audience. I am struggling to decide which was my favourite concert. It is a close run thing between the young Czech musicians in the first concert and Marielle Nordmann. I think I’ll plump for Marielle Nordmann - I really do love the harp when it is played well.

La Tuilerie Website

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Theatre in the Open Air

We were very dismayed this spring when we heard that the theatre company Studio Théâtre d’Asnières, who do all the performances at the Rendez-vous de Cormatin theatre festival during the summer, had gone into liquidation. That meant that the festival was cancelled. Many of us in town have a lot of work to do, to get the whole thing running smoothly during the summer and so the cancellation left a real hole in our little community. We are hoping that the theatre company can get over their financial difficulties (this is not the first time this has happened) and get back on their feet in time for next year. In any case all the members of the association who had paid their dues, were offered the chance to go to a little lunch time performance given by the company’s remaining actors.

We signed up for the play which was last Sunday, but there were so many people who wanted to go, they organised a second showing on the Monday. We duly went to the Plan d’Eau (the local fishing pond) where there is a covered area suitable for sitting. We arrived at 12.30 (after my bike had a puncture – good job I am excessively on-time for everything, at least I was still on time even after having to walk the last kilometre or so). After an aperitif of white wine and little biscuits, the theatre production started.

The performance was originally designed for the gardens around the Château de Rambouillet but it worked very well in Cormatin’s park too. The first part was under a beautiful, old weeping willow, the next on the bridge over to the island, then on to the island itself and then we followed the “faires” back to the last piece on the grass in the shade of a spreading chestnut tree.

The performances were quite exquisite, the actors to my mind performed much better than I had seen them perform on stage, perhaps it was the close intimacy of the pieces that gave them their charm. No props except some trees and a bench, really well done. I really hope it works out for them and I hope that we can have our festival back next year, Cormatin is definitely a lot quieter without it.

After all that culture, we started our pre-packed, picnic lunch not much before 2 o’clock and the dessert of a really yummy fruit tart from Delices de Cormatin was finally served around 3 o’clock. After lunch the two chiefs of the Studio Théâtre d’Asnières, had chosen some readings for us and they presented those - very entertaining. After leaving my bike with a friend to be collected the next day, we finally made it home not far short of 6 o’clock. An excellent day out.

La Tuilerie Website

Friday, 13 July 2012

Back in Business !

We have just received an email from a couple wanting to book for the campsite, they were concerned that our website said we were closed???

It took me ages to figure out they had read my blog. So to all you campers out there, WE ARE OPEN !!!

Well openish, you might not be able to park your car on the campsite if it rains too much in the next few days and we are down to three spaces because we can only accept as many cars as parking spaces that we have available off the site, but we have campers and we even have cars today and here's a photo to prove it!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

How to Cheer Yourself Up

This summer continues to be strange weather-wise. For the people in the gîtes, the weather has been quite kind, the rain is keeping itself to concentrated periods, with hot sunny weather in-between, but for the campsite, every drop of rain, whether it falls in the daytime or during the night, whether it is drizzle or in a downpour, is a drop too much. So, with a very heavy heart, we decided to close the campsite temporarily, because the ground is just too wet. We managed to find spaces for everyone in local campsites, not as quiet and secluded as here, but still within the area. The same day we decided to close up, poor Fifi was bitten by a vicious insect that looked to me like an earwig (I didn’t know they bit and hung on for grim death) and we had an emergency dash to the vet to get her sorted. So this last week hasn’t been all that great to be honest.

Sunday morning, feeling a bit down, after yet another night of thunder storms and rain, we headed into Saint Gengoux le National where a free glass of wine and little snacks were on offer to tourists. I do voluntary work for the Tourist Office and not having ducked quickly enough at the last general meeting, I have ended up as the head of the committee for holiday accommodation, arts and crafts and other commercial activities. Don’t ask me what I am really supposed to do, but we have at least had one committee meeting. At that meeting we decided to jazz up the “welcome to our region” drinks. The drinks for the last three years have been a spectacular flop. No tourist seemed to want to have a free drink and brioche (which I detest) at 5pm on a Monday and so we thought Sunday morning, just before lunch, might attract more customers. The wonderful Marilyn in the Office de Tourisme has managed to get some of the local food and drink businesses to donate their produce to offer to the tourists and this morning was the first event of the season.

Cees and I tried to arrive on time (French time that is) but we arrived just before 11 for an eleven o’clock start. Surprisingly the place was a hive of activity, dozens of volunteers crashing into each other, spreading pâté on toasts, cutting up goats cheese and generally flapping about. Even the local journalist had arrived. A table had been set-up on the pavement outside the office and the president of the Office de Tourisme was trying to stop the table cloth from flying away by finding little stones from here and there. I felt rather guilty at not helping, but it was so French in organisational terms, I felt it would be better to give everyone a wide berth.

Finally at 11.15 our President started the speeches and then he said that “La Responsable de la Commission Hébergeurs, artisans d’art et activités commerciales” would like to say a few words, yikes that’s me ! Thanks for the warning Monsieur C. I managed to stumble a welcome and a little description of the delicacies that were before our noses and then invited everyone to a get glass of wine, but no, Monsieur C - the master a long speeches - felt that mine had not been long enough and continued for me, telling everyone what he thought I should have said. We finally got to have a glass of wine just before half past.

The snacks were very tasty and worthy of a mention. Smoked salmon (not tasted by me because of my allergy to fish) and smoked duck breast smoked in St Gengoux by a Scotsman, goats cheese and goat terrine from La Trufière in Lys where we buy our cheese, some delicious bread from the baker Gelin in St Gengoux, jambon persillée (parsley ham - a regional delicacy which I am personally not too keen on, but most people love it) from the butchers Guillemin in St Gengoux, fruit juice from Parfums de Terroir just down the road from here in Taizé and the wine was from the Vignerons de Buxy, which runs the wine merchants in St Gengoux where we buy most of our wine.

All in all not a bad way to cheer yourself up and there were even some tourists who joined our little party as well.

La Tuilerie Website
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