Our Life in Burgundy

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August 28, 2011

The Repas du Quartier

Filed under: Events,Village Life,Weather — Tags: , , , — Mary @ 22:05

One of the highlights of life in the village is the annual repas du quartier. This is a communal picnic where we spend a convivial afternoon with our neighbours and partake of a wonderful variety of food. Everyone brings their speciality so it is an opportunity for us to sample local dishes which we wouldn’t have at home.

A meal with our neighbours

A meal with our neighbours

We chose a wonderful day for it, blue skies and sunshine but not too hot. After a leisurely lunch we had a spot of entertainment with a rendition on the cornet and a bit of singing. It’s nice that folk here make their own entertainment rather than putting on a CD.

Music for afters

Music for afters

August 14, 2011

The Wood-turner of Sigy-le-Châtel

Filed under: Events,People,Places — Tags: , , , , — Mary @ 18:17

It was an interesting experience to go to a one-man show performed by Philippe Dyon, the wood-turner of Sigy-le-Châtel. Sigy is near Salorney-sur-Guye, just to the east of Cormatin.

The show was entitled ‘The History of Wood Turning’. M. Dyon is an excellent narrator who told the story from the Stone age via ancient Egypt, the invention of lathes, the use of robots for mass production, to the art it is today. At each stage he wore amusing costumes and there were interesting effects with a stroboscope and flying ribbons of shavings. During the story M. Dyon turned some chair legs, a cup which became a lampshade, and a spinning top for which he is famous. He made it look so easy!

'Inspiration'

'Inspiration'

The wood-turner was adamant that photographs should not be taken as he wants his work to convey an emotion and if a camera gets inbetween you and the work then the effect is lost. Having thought he just meant during his performance I did take a couple of photos in his exhibition room afterwards and was thoroughly admonished for it. So I would doubt you will see many photos of his work.

Exhibition of wood turning

Exhibition of wood turning

Friday night was also the big Night market at St Gengoux. This is held twice in the summer, in July and August. There  was a carnival atmosphere with music, wine and food,  enjoyed by families, locals and tourists alike. There were stalls with all sorts of decorative work, painted containers, wooden plaques and jewellery, all made locally. As usual we stood entranced watching this fellow making glass animals.

The glassblower at St Gengoux nightmarket

The glassblower at St Gengoux nightmarket

There is a lot of artistic talent in this area, an amazing number of potters. Often there are  exhibitions in Cluny. And of course if you can visit La Filaterie, the old textile mill down by the river in Cormatin, to admire and buy the work of many local artists.

I can’t go without showing you the latest picture of the kittens, now 8 weeks old! They spend their days running about on the woodpile while White Cat tries to keep an eye on them all.

8 weeks old!

8 weeks old!

August 12, 2011

The Sator Square

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Mary @ 15:25

People occasionally ask me about the painted tile outside the front door of the gite. It’s a Sator Square consisting of five words in Latin which can be read up or down, from left to right or from right to left. Indeed it can be read boustrophedon like a plough going up and down a field, the first line left to right and the next right to left and so on.

The Rotas Square

The Sator Square

This symbol has been found in many ancient sites in Europe and in Syria.  The earliest was found in Herculaneum, a Roman town near Pompeii, which was buried by ash from Vestuvius in AD79. Ours is actually a Rotas Square, written the other way round, similar to one found in Cirencester.  Another sator square dating from the second century was found in Manchester and is thought to be the earliest evidence of Christianity in England.

The words of our Square are  ROTAS (wheel),OPERA (work), TENET (holds), AREPO (a person’s name) and SATOR (sower or farmer). So roughly translated it could mean “The farmer Arepos works with the plough” or perhaps “The Great Sower holds in his hand all works”.

Interestingly the letters are an anagram of PATERNOSTER in the form of a Greek cross with two ‘O’s and two ‘A’s left over, the alpha and the omega.

The Paternoster Cross

The Paternoster Cross

The letters are a four times palindrome, immune to being tampered with by the Devil who would be confused by the repetition. By the way have you noticed that Cormatin Church has two clocks that show different times? That’s to confuse the Devil too.

The Sator Square was thought to have protective properties so long as it was written on a particular material. For instance in Germany it was engraved on silver to put fires out without water. In France farmers wrote it on parchment and fed it to the cattle to protect them from witchcraft. It will remove jinxes and fevers and combats fatigue when travelling. I was told that ours outside La Maison du Curé protects the people and animals within. I am convinced it does.

La Maison du Curé

Outside La Maison du Curé

August 9, 2011

Vide Grenier at Donzy le Pertuis

Donzy le Pertuis is our sister village which nestles into the side of the hill just as you go over into the next valley towards Azé. It  looks rather Alpine with its church spire, pretty stone houses and winding streets. I always feel sorry for all the previous generations of women in Donzy who, until the 1950s, had to descend a long steep hill to the lavoir in the valley bottom and then trudge back home with their heavy load of wet washing.

All sort of treasure for sale in Donzy

All sort of treasures for sale in Donzy

The vide grenier at Donzy is considered one of the best in the area. Sunday’s event was spoilt by heavy rain in the morning. But in the afternoon the sun came out and there were plenty of stalls selling absolutely everything you could imagine. We came back with some snowchains for the van so now it will never snow again! Chris also added an old France Telecom van to his collection of Renault 4 miniatures.

The book stall of the Foyer Rural from Cortambert

We also asked for books by Marcel Pagnol (Jean de Florette etc). Next day we were delighted to find in our letterbox a copy of Le Temps des Amours inscribed with messages from all the helpers on the bookstall!

To add to the occasion there were rides on the calèche, a little carriage pulled by two wonderfully turned out white horses. They were from Ecuries du Devant, the local stables in Donzy.

Rides on the calèche

Rides on the calèche

We’re having what the French friends call ‘English weather’, showery and cool. Hopefully it will improved this week and we will see a return to the hot weather we expect at this time of the year. To think that at the beginning of summer severe drought restrictions were put into place and we thought it would never rain again!

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