Sunday, 28 June 2015

Xi Xi Hu in the park.

Call to actioon
For a number of weeks, I have been following a course in Xi Xi Hu. What is that? I hear you say, well it is a Chinese “walking for health” technique, based on Qigong principles. On demonstrating the technique to Cees, when I got back from my first lesson, he said it looked like the Monty Python sketch “ministry of silly walks” and I must say, I tend to agree with him!

Whilst you do look a bit daft when you do it, the technique is proven to have many heath giving benefits and besides that, I am not adverse to making a bit of a tiddlywink of myself every so often. So when the call to action came to do these walks in public in the Parc Abbatial in Cluny, I was prepared to be there.

Here we go - heart health
Last week, just about to set off for the first event and we had a flat tyre. Changing tyres is not one of my strongest points and neither is it one of Cees’, but we set to, book in hand trying to figure out how it is done. It all looks so simple in the pictures, but where the heck is that dimple the jack is supposed to go in, or even before that, where the heck are the jack and the spare tyre? Three quarters of an hour later, tyre changed, and filthy dirty, we headed off to Cluny to get the puncture repaired, non-reparable, great, now it is two new front tyres - ouch. Undeterred we headed for the park only to meet a friend coming the other way. Game over. So we went for the only other healthy option we could think of and we had a kebab instead.

The liver next - all hu-ing in time
This Sunday was the second public display, fortunately on a Sunday morning, less chance of spectators than on the previous Saturday with the market going on just below the park. It was a beautiful day and whilst the five different walks are all very daft, they are fun to do and it gets you out, about and moving. Cees sat on a pole in the park taking photos and laughing his socks off, whilst the rest of us tried to remember which was a Xi and which was a Hu and try to keep in time with our “leader” Sabrina. I did feel a bit self conscious when a busload of tourists stopped and started taking pictures, but for the rest it was good fun and great to be outside on such a lovely sunny morning.

Looks daft, but this one is great for your kidneys
Sabrina has threatened to organise more of these events, so for all of you out there interested, keep an eye on the website of her Qi Gong and Tai Chi school where they will be announced.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Art comes to Chazelle

Our village
I have mentioned the numerous artists and artisans that have congregated round here, making it one of the most densely populated areas for such people in the whole of France - so they say. But up until recently our little village was not one of those locations. The silk and textile painter Pascale Ponsard, did live here for a while, but her studio has always been in Cormatin. This time last year an artist opened a studio just up the road from us and he has been giving lessons and working in his studio ever since. He was born and brought up in Chazelle, but has been living away and has only recently returned to his native soil.

The official opening of his studio was last June, but as we had a concert that evening we missed out on the fun and he has been asking us ever since to come and see what he has to offer. So while we were out distributing the flyers for the Guitares en Cormatinois concerts last week, we decided it was now or never.

He and his partner share a studio which he has created out of the stables of his family farm in the centre of the village. He paints and she makes creations out of wire and both of them run courses in their respective arts.

Arts courses this summer in Chazelle
Patrick does courses and themed painting days all year round. When the weather is nice, we see his students in the village painting the river or the lavoir and now we have seen his studio we know that the students will be very cosy in his warm and extremely light loft when the weather is not so good. This July and August he is giving courses on how to start/create a painting, really concentrating on the basics of composition. If you are interested in any of his courses (too numerous to mention here) check out his site.

Sylvyane, his partner, is running introductory courses in “wire writing” every Tuesday this July and August. I spotted this on her Facebook page so why not check it out if you are interested.

Local artisans market - Sunday just outside the chateau.

Last but not least, every Sunday morning during the summer, a number of artists and artisans display and sell their work in the “High Street” in Cormatin, just outside the chateau.

For information about holiday accommodation just next door to these artists and a lovely stroll from the centre of Cormatin on a sunny Sunday click here.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Vézelay and crochet

The narthex at Veselay
So what has been going on these last couple of weeks? - I hear you say. Cees had his birthday and then his daughter came the following weekend to celebrate it all over again, so I seem to have been rather occupied.

For Cees’ birthday this year we went to Vézelay. It is a fair run from here, but well worth the trip. We set off early Sunday morning and arrived just before the morning mass. All the services in the church are fully sung by the monks and nuns of the two orders that are resident in Vézelay. It was really something special. The nuns voices were absolutely perfect and the whole services chanted in Gregorian style, was a very special experience. This is what the building had been built for and I am so glad we had arrived on time. Having experienced a service like that and comparing it to the sung parts of the service in the Taizé Sunday morning services, I can well imagine why some of the older members of that community greave the passing of fully sung services everyday.

After the mass was over we spent some time looking in detail at the church. The columns and carvings are quite spectacular and I was amazed at how light the church was. Sadly the choir/apse was closed off for restoration and so there was no access to the crypt, I asked at the information desk and it was due to re-open the following week - pity Cees’ birthday was not a little later! We will go back again, but as it is rather a trek, it probably won’t be this summer.
Strange heads to find on a church!
After a wander around the charming little town, which included visiting a small chapel just outside the fortified ramparts and of course a wonderful lunch, we slowly headed home, satisfied with a lovely day out.

Relaxing in the shade of the cherry tree
When Cees’ daughter and son-in-law arrived it was getting too hot to do anything, so we spent most of that week-end under the shade of our cherry tree where I managed to snap a family photo of us all, even Fifi stayed still long enough to be in the shot!

So there we sat, crocheting away for a couple of days. Cees’ daughter managed to master the basics of crochet and she made a very sweet little flower – well impressed, more about what I was making in another blog – that’ll keep you all on tenterhooks!

How cute is that?
Our weekend ended with a visit to our new found “favourite” restaurant La Terrasse. Sadly they didn’t live up to previous experiences, my poulet à la crème was good and the salad starters were excellent, but the duck breast has a seriously overpowering sauce on it and the steak was rather tough - let’s hope it was just a glitch and that they will go back to their previous excellent rating.

It remains hot here, but not oven temperatures, at least we can get on our bikes and get out and about, including a ride into Cormatin to check out the snack restaurant at the campsite, very good value and the chips were excellent. We may well be visiting them again!
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