It seems that Cluny is a good place for cat lovers as well as equestrians. At the Griottons today was a show organised by the Cat Fanciers’ Association, originally an American institution which has recently arrived in Europe. The hundred or so cats in the competitions were groomed to perfection and very much admired by the various judges. But many of them have those ugly flat faces which seem popular nowadays, or so much fur that I doubt they could live a normal life. Many of the owners had travelled from Germany and Switzerland, and the judges were from all over Europe. The judge in the photos below was an American who lives in Finland.
Examining a Cornish Rex
The proud owner of a prize winning Persian
Funnily enough we found that some cats looked just like their owners, as above. I find it a bit unnerving the way the cats did not object to being hauled out of cages and passed around by strangers. Learned helplessness?
On leaving we were given free samples of cat biscuits which were wolfed down by our cats tonight so I assume they’d like us to go back to the Griottons tomorrow and get in a supply.
Seeing those unfortunate show cats makes us appreciate our four. A trip down the road to the vet is traumatic enough never mind travelling to another country. They are spooked by anybody who isn’t us, are quite often rather dishevelled and have an ongoing battle with fleas. But at least they seem to enjoy life.
The boys, Kitten and Benedict
I wonder whether if they had more impressive names like the cats in the show they would be a bit more glamorous. Instead of Mother perhaps Ivy Cat Nitro of Snomyst. Benedict could be Suavere’s Dark Secret of Penobscot. (Actual names of a couple of the show cats). Or perhaps not.
The market in Cluny was very busy this morning and the fine weather seems to have brought out the protesters as well as the shoppers.
Our favourite stall in the market for plants
It was quite noisy as La Fanfarrosoir were parading round the market as part of a protest about Centre Parks. Two have been proposed in the forests of Rousset and Pologny, one not too far from Cluny and the other in the Jura. Environmentalists made a big fuss in a big public debate in 2015 and then it all went quiet.
Leaflets and dancing in front of the Hotel de Bougogne
And off they go to another venue
At the other end of town we met our friends from Benin who sang for us last weekend. This time they had their instruments with them and made a great deal more noise.
Olaitan from Benin
Rather overlooked in this cacophony were the Silent Protesters who are in Cluny most Saturdays in the summer. I don’t know what they are protesting about as they never say.
The Silent Protest
Of course the protests in France that affect most people are the train strikes. The trains were running today but the strikes are affecting two days in every five and continuing on Monday and Tuesday. Also various unions are protesting, Air France pilots, rubbish collectors, energy sector workers, students…
Good new though, it’s another big weekend for the Equivallée. It is the 40th anniversary of the Grand National. The best international show jumpers will be in Cluny, the grand final being tomorrow afternoon.
Show jumping this weekend in Cluny
Lovely weather, beautiful horses…nothing to protest about there.
We spent a very enjoyable afternoon at a private concert in Blanot. Two old friends from their days at the Conservatoire at Dijon have recently formed a duo, David Aubret on accordion and Bertrand Di Leone on saxophone. Readers of the blog will know that David used to be the choirmaster for Cant’Azé. They call themselves Parole d’anches. David showed us where the anches were on the accordion, and how the sound is produced, and Bertrand explained about the reed on his sax. There was plenty of discussion about the music they played, some from classic films.
Parole d’Anches (www.facebook.com/paroledanches)
As is usual here everybody took along a dish to share and we had apéros. We enjoyed the company of a group of Africans from Benin who we were renting the house next door. In the pause between the savouries and the sweets they treated us to an impromptu concert.
Apparently they arrived earlier in the year during the freezing cold weather in just their cotton shirts so they were enjoying the heat of the sun this afternoon. They are performing in various local venues and we will look forward to seeing them again in May.
This morning we were surprised to see on entering Cortambert that the nameplate had been wrapped in plastic film and sprayed with the words “A VENDRE”. It was part of an ongoing protest by farmers who say that our local villages will soon die if the government goes ahead with its plans.
Protest on entering Bray (photo JSL)
Trouble has been brewing for some time. The government want to reduce the number of agricultural areas that qualify for subsidies from the EU to support agricultural activity in areas of low potential. There was mayhem in February in the southwest when the motorways around Toulouse were blocked with burning tyres and straw, and Montauban was completely cut off. The situation was likened to a civil war.
It seems that the government will not listen to people unless they resort to force. Farmers are especially well equipped with tractors to block motorways and tons of manure mixed with dead rats to dump in the centre of Paris. Also potatoes to block the streets, and rotten apples to throw at the police. Last September there was a protest about the proposed ban of glyphosate weedkillers and the farmers blocked the Champs-Elysée with hay. In a protest about food labelling the farmers paraded around Carrefour releasing scores of pigeons. These shows of strength are relatively frequent in France.
The president of the Young Farmers Union said that Mr Macron wants to be the World’s Mr Clean but he is the gravedigger of agriculture. These words were repeated this morning by our mayor, Pierre-Jean Bardin, who has threatened to resign if this reassessment goes ahead. With him would go Jean-Luc Delpeuch the president of the community of communes of Clunisois, and the mayors of Berzé-le-Châtel and Bray. “We do not do it cheerfully but this is the last card in our possession to denounce an absurdity”. The mayors of the other five communes affected will give their support and will press the Prefect of Saône-et-Loire to come to see for himself the difficulties in farming this area.
From the left the mayor of Blanot, Pierre-Jean Bardin mayor of Cortambert, Jean-Luc Delpeuch and the mayors of Donzy and Chissey (photo JSL)
The final decision will be taken in May. We sincerely hope that the proposed declassification will be dropped and that Pierre-Jean remains our mayor.