Monday, 29 April 2013

A few "firsts" to start the week

2009 organ
The Taizé organ
The alarm woke me at 06.30 - yes I know, very uncivilised, but it was a big day for me – and I was out of the door before 07.30 waiting for my lift. A detour via the boulangerie to get croissants which we ate in the car, then on to Taizé for my first ever early morning service. I have always said I should go, just to see what it was like, but well mornings and me don’t really go together. During the service came my second first of the day. I actually heard someone play the organ ! I have wondered what it sounded like since it was installed 4 years ago – it has never been played on a Sunday when I have been there for some reason. To be honest, it was not really worth waiting for, but then again, I have at least heard it being played.

The morning service starts between 08.20 and 08.30 and is simple and relatively short, similar to the lunchtime service but with communion laid on. The bread and wine are actually blessed in a separate service which takes place at about 07.45 in the crypt. Those who want to, can join in this service, but we were just a tad too late for that. Just an aside, I have heard that this service is held in the main church in the summer months, as the crypt is not very big. After the main service, no one hangs around as you have to queue for breakfast and eat it, in time to get to the Bible instructions which start at 10.00.

Breakfast - Taizé style
So my third first of the day was my first ever Taizé meal and yes, as everyone says, it was “simple”. A choice between tea (which my companions strongly advised against) or hot chocolate which was made without milk. We had a small bread roll, a pat of butter (real butter I might add, not margarine) and two sticks of chocolate. No cutlery - no one told me to bring my own – so I had to rip open the roll and squidge the butter on the surface, too bad it was so cold otherwise this method might have worked a bit better. I put the two sticks of chocolate between the chunks of butter and squashed it all together. Surprisingly tasty and enough for me for breakfast - maybe the croissant helped in that department as well. The “hot chocolate” was lacking in both the hot and the chocolate departments, but it was wet and I managed to drink most of it.

Companions for the morning
Then on to my fourth first of the day and to be honest, the real reason I had gone to Taizé at all this morning. I had heard stories from campers and people in the gîtes about the Bible instruction and I really wanted to see and hear for myself what it was all about and I wasn’t disappointed. We had a very small passage for the day Genesis ch12 v1 – 5 where God tell Abraham to leave and Abraham goes. On the face of it, not very scintillating stuff, but the brother in charge of the session, managed to get us (or should I say me?) to actually think about the words and the meaning behind the story. It is a very long time ago since I had any Bible instruction and my recollections of it are not all positive, but this morning, I was actually hanging on his every word, wondering where he was going with his talk. This is just the start of a week and the theme of “faith” for the week will be developed in the next five days, but I found the 40 minute or so talk very thought provoking and all other things being equal, I would have loved to join for the whole week, but on this occasion, work commitments decree otherwise.

Normally you join in with a discussion group at this point of the morning and you then spend the whole week with the same group to discuss what has been talked about in these sessions. As I was only there for one day, I left when the brother had finished his talk, leaving my companions behind. I then set off on my own and I thoroughly enjoyed my short walk home.

This morning has reminded me of Bruni who stayed in one of our gîtes back in 2010, when she told me that I should “treat myself” to a week of instruction in Taizé. I can now relate to that remark and who knows, one week when we have no one on the site, I might just do that.

For more details of the accommodation we have here at La Tuilerie click here.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

An excellent day out, courtesy of Clunypedia

Fresco, Berzé-la-Ville
There are some advantages to being a volunteer at the Office de Tourisme. The staff in the office receive invitations all the time to go to this meeting or that, to go to this exhibition opening or that and other such scintillating events, but sometimes they get invitations to some gem or other and these invitations are all offered around amongst the committee members. Being at a committee meeting the other night, the latest invitations were discussed and this time there was a tour of various Romanesque sites in our area, so I said I would be interested to go, to represent the OT. It turned out to be an all day bus tour with lunch included and I was beginning to get a little nervous that this was going to cost an arm and a leg to see things we have already seen, but wouldn’t mind visiting again, but no, it turned out to be completely free, to promote the new organisation Clunypedia, who are developing IT interface tools with the Fédération Européenne des Sites Clunisiens to improve the "visitor experience" to the Clunisien sites.

Paw prints in the floor
So off I went one morning this week, with Cees hiding in my coattails, to board the coach in Cluny, in the glorious sunshine. First stop, Berzé-la-Ville to visit the superb Chapelle des Moines. On arrival there were croissants and coffee and then for a guided “tour” of the chapel. I say tour loosely, as anyone who has been there will know you just sit in the chapel and look at the amazing frescos. The guide was very knowledgeable and interesting and we must have spent an hour just looking in detail at the frescos. The real bonus of this visit was that we were allowed to take photographs, something an ordinary tourist is not allowed to do. The chapel is a real marvel and a must for anyone even remotely interested in Romanesque art. Even the floor fascinated me as there were little cat paw prints in the floor tiles and I had visions of Fifi’s forefathers wandering over still drying floor tiles in a sechoir just like the one we have here in Chazelle. I would have loved to have lifted one of the tiles to see if they actually came from here, but I didn’t dare!

Wine tasting
Onwards to a vineyard, Domaine des Vignes du Maynes, which can trace its origins back to the days when Cluny was a major power in Europe. This was one of the Doyennés for Cluny. Doyennés were suppliers to the abbey, which were strategically placed in the countryside around Cluny to supply the Abbey with food and of course wine. Even Chazelle started life as a Doyenné, possibly also for wine, but the vineyards were destroyed in the late 19th century in the phylloxera plague.

We had a look round the caves and tasted the wine. The white wine was exquisite and for those after a very different red wine, they had some bottles well worth a try, I personally found the red a bit too overpowering in flavour, but more than one or two bottles were sold to the connoisseurs from Paris. They also had an amazing tool collection that the grandfather and father of the current owner have been collecting for years. If there is a tool for it, these chaps have found one, literally thousands and thousands of tools. They could do with presenting their treasure trove a bit better, but it was fascinating none the less.

Cluny Abbey
The coach then drove us through the countryside looking out at Brancion, Chapaize and Cormatin and then back to Cluny, fortunately dropping us at the car park so that we could load the wine purchases into our cars before we went to the Abbey for lunch. After lunch we, had a speedy visit of the museum and the Abbey and we left the Abbey via "the locked door” and in to the main street to visit the ongoing renovation of the Dragon House in the centre of town and for those without vertigo, there was the possibility to climb the Cheese tower.

All in all an excellent day out and so here is a plug for Clunypedia as a big thank you to them. Clunypedia Facebook page

La Tuilerie Website with details of holiday accommodation, conveniently located to visit the Romanesque gems of South Burgundy.
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