Saturday, 26 December 2015

Christmas time again

Christmas full moon through trees
It is Christmas time again. How quickly it seems to come around each year.

We had Christmas at home this year.  A real Christmas dinner - roast turkey and all the trimmings, I know it’s boring but it just isn’t Christmas without it!

With the lights twinkling on the tree in the living room and a full moon outside shining through the trees, it was a perfect day

A proper Christmas dinner
In the morning I made my final visit to the Taizé crib for this year, baby Jesus had been shoved in behind the sheep, but at least he was actually there. The real sheep had gone back to their farmer and the whole place was deserted. Even though the dream catchers from last year had been stuck on the walls of the church to brighten things up and there were Christmas trees in front of the stable itself, it all seemed rather bare and incredibly sad.

Oh no, not turkey again...
This is a little plea to those planning to be permanents next year, I really love my weekly visits to the crib during advent, so please do something a little bit more exciting than this year’s lot and do something about M and J’s miserable faces - moan over.

So it's onwards and upwards towards the new year and I've only got one week to come up with some resolutions....

Thinking about next year's summer holidays in these cold and dark days? Don't forget to click here for details of a wonderful location in Burgundy!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Pig Racing

A quick visit back to the UK to deliver presents and get in a last bit of shopping and we were delighted to see that Ickenham had its annual Christmas fayre while we were there. All the usual stuff, mulled wine, roasting chestnuts, Santa’s grotto (although I do object to this Americanism – what’s wrong with Father Christmas?) stalls for the local associations offering tombolas and lucky dips and of course, where would a Christmas fayre be without pig racing?

Yes Ickenham hosted a pig race this year of grand proportions and we had to be in the thick of the action of course. My mother and I each bet on a pig, mine was no2 and Mum’s was no 1 and what a piece of thrilling action it was. The pigs were rounded up behind the starting gate and they were off, no 4 made a great leap forward followed by the others, then no 2 dashed into first position, but no 4 was determined to make the end gate and shot ahead again. Much to the annoyance of the little girl who had bet on no 4, it stopped just a hair’s breath from the finish and refused to budge that last millimetre thus allowing the others to catch up.
Under starter's orders
They're off - no.2 leaps out ahead

It was a photo finish. How no 2 was declared a winner is still a mystery to me but who cares I walked away with the prize of a box of English chockies which was great because Cees doesn’t like them so I can scoff them all by myself. Hooray for pig racing!

No 4 stops just short
Photo finish

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Light show in Cluny?

Scary start..
A couple of weeks ago we saw a piece in the newspaper that said that there would be a light show in Cluny on Thurs 3rd Dec at 18.00. Not wanting to miss anything, we put the date and time in our diary. Low and behold, last week we saw another notice saying that the aforementioned light show was to start 1 hour earlier than we had previously noted. Don't you just love French organisation? We decided (against our better judgement I might add) to visit the Office de Tourisme in Cluny to ask.

The fire begins
What a waste of time that was. Despite there being 4 staff in the office 1) they only vaguely knew that there was “something” on and 2) they had no idea what time it was. On the other hand they were VERY friendly. They said that they would receive the flyers the next day (BTW it was already the 1st , who receives flyers the day before an event?) and they would phone me with the time. I gave them my email address as well and they promised faithfully to contact me either by phone or by mail. Yer right..

Weds came and went and no contact. Thursday arrived (the day of the show) and it was foggy to the extent that we couldn't even see the hedge at the bottom of the garden by 5 o'clock, so we aborted mission.

Juggling with fire
Friday, Cees found a link to a video on the internet page of the local paper and we watched the superb show that we had missed the evening before. Strangely, in the video, it was not foggy and to be honest it didn't look like Cluny at all. We then read the article and found out that the show was not Thurs 3rd but Tues 8th and this was a video taster of what would happen. To cut a long story short we eventually found out when and where the show would be (no thanks to the OT) and we were there at the barriers long before anyone else, to make sure that we had a good view.

Fireworks and more fire
After waiting about a quarter of an hour, the locals started coming and coming and coming until there was quite a crowd. Then the noise began and smoke and fireworks and finally the “actors” arrived on stage at 7 o'clock and the show began. Wow!

We are often disappointed with things that happen round here, they are always sold as enormous and spectacular and they turn out to be small town and frequently very, very small scale. This was none of those things. It was an acrobatic, fire show par excellence. I wasn't too keen when they dangled loops of fire dripping petrol over my head into the crowd behind me, but it was certainly exciting.

An explosive finale
So marks out of 10 for this one? 15 out of 10 for the show, the actors and the town of Cluny for organising it, but it is 2 out of 10 for the Office de Tourisme and they only get that high a mark because they were very nice. Just in case you are wondering, they still haven't contacted me to tell me when the show is. I'm glad we didn't rely on them or we would have missed it and that would have been a real shame. Oh and why did we have the wrong date to start with? I won't mention names, but someone in this household who wasn't me or the cat noted down the wrong date, but at least it was him who found the real details in the end, so all's well that ends well!

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Christmas is coming

Now that Sinterklaas is over, we can talk about Christmas and think about decorations. Getting into the spirit of things, at sundown this afternoon, we decided to get out and about and sample what the local villages have to offer in terms of decorations this year.

Chazelle - looking very Christmassy
I must say that Chazelle looks lovely. It is understated and sophisticated. It doesn’t look too impressive in daylight, but when the sun goes down and the lights come on, I think it looks the best ever.

A good show from Cormatin -
I couldn't resist a bit of long exposure
Cormatin as usual has a superb display of white fairy lights all along the high street which I always like. Those and the different scenes around the village make it all very festive. It is a pity Mary and Joseph have disappeared, but some revellers took a fancy to them a couple of years ago now and they have never been returned.

Taizé has started its annual progression with its nativity scene, but it didn’t look any different to last week, so no photo of that one today.
Taizé could learn a bit from this nativity scene - smile it's Christmas!
However, this year’s prize for sheer silliness, goes to an unnamed village not too far from here. Mary and Joseph have been relegated to a side street – I mean what do they have to do with Christmas anyway? The village’s usual display of penguins, igloos and wigwams have all been relocated to a position even further out of sight than Mary and Joseph. The main attraction this year is – wait for it……. a bunch of Smurfs on a roundabout!

Spaced out Smurfs
Can someone enlighten me about how Smurfs fit into the story of the birth of Jesus please because it is something I must have missed in Sunday school. Not only do these blue things appear on this spaced out Magic Roundabout, but they appear in at least three other villages’ decorations.

So there you have it, Christmas is Burgundy or is it now Burgundy Franche Compté after today’s elections? The times they are a changing my friends...

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