Our Life in Burgundy

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December 31, 2016

Roll on 2017!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mary @ 18:05


To borrow a quote the Queen’s speech in 1992, 2016 “is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. It turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis’. I suspect that I am not alone in thinking it so”.

This photo of Benedict sums it up for me.


Benedict - life can’t be that bad?

I for one won’t be sorry to see the back of 2016. Let’s hope that 2017 is a better year with no more illness and no more accidents (Anne Marie!). Let’s hope Chris’s mum gets better from her stroke and Chris has a good trip back to England to see her.

Happy New Year !



December 18, 2016

Scuffs, stomps and cowboy boots

Filed under: Events,People,Places — Tags: , , — Mary @ 16:11

Our latest craze is line dancing! We’ve joined Country Dreams, an incredibly friendly bunch of people. We’ve been three times this week, to the usual débutants class, to the end of term party and on Friday night to the Christmas Ball at Bussières.


At the Christmas Ball

Our lovely teachers Marie Claude (front) and Christiane (behind) with rabbit ears

And yours truly

Line dancing’s great, like gym but without the pompes. The music is lively, it’s easy to learn and you don’t need a partner. It’s a social form of exercise and a lot of fun. And it’s easy to practise at home in front of youtube videos.  The names of the dances and the steps are in English which we thought would be an advantage but we are having to adopt a French accent. In answer to a request for a dance we might call ’Little Wagon Wheel’. Comment? LITTLE WAGON WHEEL!  Ah! Leetell Vaggo Veel!

You would think from the all the cowboy boots and stetsons that line dancing started in the wild west but it is quite a recent thing. The madison started us off in the 1960s and films like Grease have a lot to answer for with dances like Go Greased Lightening from the mechanics’ scene. But the term ‘line dancing’ was not coined until the 80s with the craze for  ’Achy Breaky Heart’ and Dolly Parton songs, hence line dancing’s connection with Country & Western.

After the millenium line dancing tended to drift away from C&W with new dances choreographed for pop or classical music. I love the ones with Irish music as I always feel I’m in Riverdance! But France, with its love of all things American, still keeps very much to the western tradition and the cowboy boots.

Meanwhile the new line dances become faster and more complicated. The early dances seem so easy. We are still at the novice stage but, you never know, one day we will be up on the stage making an exhibition of ourselves at the music festival or the apple fair. Yee-haw!




December 11, 2016

La Fête des Lumières

Filed under: Events,People,Places — Tags: , , , , — Mary @ 10:11


The Fête des Lumières in Lyon attracts millions of visitors. It grew into a major cultural event from small beginnings, lighting candles in the windows to thank the Virgin Mary for saving the populace from the great plague of 1643. In 1852 her statue was installed high above Vieux Lyon next to the Basilica of Fourvière, and each year, beginning on 8th December, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, she is feted with processions and dramatic entertainment based on lights.

Cluny has begun to stage its own Fête des Lumières on 8th December. There was an astonishing turnout on Thursday night considering it was perhaps the coldest night in a week of below zero temperatures and freezing fog. It started with a procession through town with a band followed by an inflatable giant, a firewalker on stilts and a girl climbing ropes on a frame which had to be lowered to get along the street under the illuminations.

The band led the procession along the main street..

to finish in the market place in front of the abbey

Then began a tightrope show by Underclouds with their Funambus.  This was a weird act and a little scary as this huge old bus was pulled onto the marketplace by a woman with a rope round her neck, and then was driven quite fast in a circle surrounded by a huge crowd, trying to run over a man on foot who was attacking the bus. There was a ghastly moment when the bus chased him towards the crowd and stopped within feet of them. What if the bus had skidded on the icy cobbles??

The bus on fire

and tightrope walking

There were some good effects when the bus was set on fire and the couple did their tightrope walking across the top, but there was far too much prancing around while everyone was getting colder and colder. Even going round the indoor Christmas market, shuffling together like a group of penguins keeping warm in a snow storm, did nothing to alleviate the frozen feet.  A cup of cocoa and a warm fire beckoned and we left Cluny before the illumination of the abbey and the equestrian show with Sabrina from Equinoctis in Cormatin. She also puts on rather weird shows but to her credit she uses horses that she has rescued.

I think the photographer from the Journal also left when we did as the next day he had posted nothing of the later events.  But it was a brave effort in freezing cold weather although, as is usual for entertainment here, a little bizarre.



December 5, 2016

Update on Glasgow

Filed under: People,Places,Weather — Tags: , — Mary @ 17:27


It was the third time this year I’ve been to Glasgow. Jennifer was away both weeks on courses, one in London, and I went to take care of the infants. They are not so wee now as Maggie is 8 years old today. I thought I would be missing her party but it was brought forward a week so as not to clash with her friends who have birthdays the same week.


Maggie left and Jo centre at her birthday party

It was a stress free experience for us grown ups as we went to the Laser Park and the kids were taken off to play shooting at each other and negotiating the laser maze. The party tea was also provided and all we had to do was to bring some cake.

Maggie blowing out the candles on her caterpillar cakes

The weather was probably better than the wind and rain in France but the dampness made it feel colder than it was.

You needed to wrap up warmly in the mornings

Any paving was like an icerink and Maggie had a spectacular fall off her bike outside the Transport Museum. Despite the screams she recovered to enjoy her afternoon on the tall ship.

The Glenlee on the Clyde with the Armadillo in the background


and the ship is reflected in the windows of the museum


It is amazing how many activities the children have. What a complicated timetable. After school club twice a week.  Maggie goes into town Mondays to sing with the Glasgow Philharmonic choir. French and music after school, ballet on Saturdays, church and drama class on Sundays. And every week there seems to be a party for somebody in their class to which they both get invited.


Maggie and Jo with Bobby going off to school. Note the scarf that Jo has knitted

There wasn’t a lot of free time at home but we started doing a bit of knitting and sewing. Maggie made me a circular scarf and I helped them make drawstring bags. They wanted to copy the bag their mother had made when she was at school.


Doing a bit of sewing

It’s not much use asking me to teach them handicrafts but they didn’t do too badly. Back at home it seems very quiet and I will look forward to my next visit in the spring.

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