Our Life in Burgundy

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October 19, 2011

At four months – kitten update

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Mary @ 10:25

I’ve just discovered it’s quite difficult to take photos of the cats at 4 months because they are either asleep or dashing about. We are surprised to have got them to this age without them being run over on the road, eaten by our neighbour’s mastiff or lost in the drainage tunnels.

Benedict is still the clever one. Quiet but cunning. He’s the one who is fitted with the battery which keeps going when the others have stopped.

Benedict

Benedict

Blanche is the pretty one. Petite like her mother with a tiny miaow. She has dark almond shaped eyes and, although independent, has started seeking out Chris’s lap.

Blanche

Blanche

Smudge is the big one, quite thick set and fluffy. She is the domestic one. She finds the dustpan and brush fascinating, and always comes to help with cleaning or gardening. She has a very loud purr and throws herself down in front of you to be stroked.

Smudge

Smudge

Claude is the nice but dim one. He has an incredibly loud miaow. If you shut the kittens outside he will sit on the terrasse looking pathetic and howl to be let in. When you open the door a crack the other three rush out of hiding and force their way in.

Claude

Claude

I had always wondered how they could all be so different until I read that when the female cat is in season she will go round every tomcat she can find. With each she will release an egg so by the time she has finished  she might have a litter of kittens that each have a different father. This genetic variety helps their survival. I have seen a tom that looks like Benedict, and another like Claude. And a local feral cat which is black has also produced two white kittens so there must be a white tom around.

October 16, 2011

Village Activites

Filed under: Village Life,Weather — Tags: , , — Mary @ 23:43

There is a lot more going on in the commune in the winter than in the summer. In the summer we are busy with visitors and our gite guests, gardening or sightseeing. We make litttle progress with learning French. But in the winter we enjoy the activities at the foyer rural and we have the opportunity to learn new skills and enjoy conversing with our neighbours.

It’s been a busy weekend. We both ride on Saturday mornings, getting on very well in our respective classes. The horses are wonderfully schooled. This week I rode Muscade, a pretty grey, who understood and obeyed the instructions from the monitrice before I did.

Muscade de Givry

Muscade de Givry

Vannerie has resumed on a Saturday afternoon. By chance Chris and I are both making bird feeders. We are using prepared materials at the moment but soon we are going to switch to the natural willow and hazel to make the more traditional baskets. I think it is clear that my talents lie outwith basket making so I’ve been given the opportunity and the materials to try some cross-stitch and begin making cards for Christmas.

Chris begiing a new project in vannerie

Chris beginning a new project in vannerie

In the evening we were treated to a film made by a couple who travel to exciting places around the world in their campervan. We chose to hear about their trip to the volcanos of Italy. The footage of Stromboli erupting was incredible. Apparently to get the shots the couple camped for the night on the side of the volcano. This is no longer allowed. On Mount Etna men were scooping up molten lava into moulds to make souvenirs for the tourists.

Games morning at the foyer rural

Games morning at the foyer rural

This morning was the monthly games session at the foyer rural. There is always a game of Scrabble going on which gets you familiar with all sorts of obscure French words. Today we played another game with tiles and numbers which, although simple, took a great deal of cunning.

Weatherwise it has been a beautiful weekend and to take advantage of the sunshine we went walking this afternoon. We did a circuit taking in some of the voie verte and met some of our neighbours on the way.

A Sunday afternoon walk on the voie verte

A Sunday afternoon walk on the voie verte

It’ll be another nice day tomorrow but later in the week it will be wet and much colder. Last chance to get the garden tidied up before the bad weather.

October 13, 2011

The Last Curé of Cormatin

Filed under: People,Places,Village Life — Tags: , , — Mary @ 22:59

These days Cormatin does not have a priest of its own but one who rotates around four or five villages and visits about once a month to take Mass.

The Church at Cormatin

The Church at Cormatin

The last parish priest of Cormatin lived at La Maison du Curé until the 1990s when he retired. Until recently we knew very little about him except that he liked to sit by the front door and greet the passers-by. Over the years the house fell into disrepair and after the Curé retired it was left derelict. In 1996 a group of church people from Plymouth renovated it to provide a comfortable base for themselves and their friends to visit Taizé.

This September our friends from Holland, Rob and Deirdre, arrived to stay at La Maison du Curé.  They were curious to find out about the priest and did some research. They began by talking to the Maire and his staff who were most helpful. The neighbours too. M.Bacherot, the retired farmer who lives opposite, remembers the priest as being a charming man.

The priest was called René Laheurte and he was born in 1910. He was called up in 1940 but returned to France in 1944. He was in Cormatin until his retirement at the beginning of the 1990s, then went to live in Corsica where he died in 1993. His body was repatriated and he was interred in the cemetary at Ougy, near Malay, about 5km from Cormatin.

The grave of René Laheurte

The gravestone of René Laheurte

The grave

In the cemetary in Ougy

Rob and Deirdre went to find the grave. It is in the cemetary of the Church of Saint-Martin d’Ougy which was built in the 12th century. In size and structure it is very like the church at Ameugny which was built at the same time.

The Church of Saint-Martin at Ougy

The Church of Saint-Martin at Ougy

Saint-Martin is remarkable as it hasn’t been altered since the day it was completed. There is a fresco of St Philip painted when the church was new.

The interior of the church

The interior of the church

This is a church quite close to home that we previously knew nothing about. I am very grateful to Rob and Deirdre who told us about the church of Saint-Martin and about our Curé.  Thank you Rob for sending the photos.

Many of our visitors remark that there is a sense of peace, calm and warmth in the house. I suspect we are feeling the spiritual legacy of our old Curé.

October 9, 2011

Taxe de séjour

Filed under: Places — Tags: , — Mary @ 11:23

A letter came from the Maire of Cormatin last week to remind all us gite, B&B and campsite owners to fill in the forms and send a cheque for this year’s taxe de séjour.

This is a tourist tax levied by the Communauté de Communes entre Grosne et Guye between the months of May and September. Each adult guest is charged according to how many nights they stay. To reduce the hassle many of us just pay the tax ourselves as it is easier to work it all out at the end of the season.  For tourist information purposes you also have say where your guests come from. There is a scale of payment according to your rating and you send off a cheque to the Trésor Publique.

Taxe de séjour is levied by some communes but not others. It was devised in 1910 by the French Government who realised that France was not attracting enough tourists because the facilities could not compare with those in Germany and Switzerland. It seems a strange idea to tax tourists who already support the local area by paying for accommodation, meals and entrance to tourist attractions. But this tax is used to make the tourist experience here even better.

All the centimes add up and last year about 20,000€ was raised from Cormatin and district. It is good that all the money is spent in this area and often we see  new maps showing the walking routes and improved signposting, both on the forest trails and the Voie Verte.

Construction of climbing walls in the quarry at Ameugny

Construction of climbing walls in the quarry at Ameugny

The Maire’s letter explained about one project in particular and photos showed ongoing work in the old quarry by the voie verte at Ameugny just south of  Cormatin Station. Being curious we went to have a look last week and found the area was being transformed into a parcours acrobatique for the kids. It looks like there will be several climbing walls of varying difficulty, and some baby climbs for the little ones. There is also a rope slide which looks fun.

I hope it’s finished by next summer when the grandchildren come. I wonder if they’ll let me have a go?

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