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.

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.

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