I’m well behind with blogs so here are a few photos to remind myself what we did in the first half of August.
We had a busy time with the family who came from Glasgow by train to spend ten days with us. Chris was surprised how much the girls had grown since he saw them last August.
Maggie & Jo watching the working horses in Cluny
Enjoying snorkling in our pool
and swimming at the pool in Cluny
Sharing ponies with our neighbours’ girls
Open day at the goat farm
At the escalade near Cormatin
and climbing at Lugny Acro
Having a pottery lesson in Chazelle
We didn’t have time to do everything we wanted but there is always next year to look forward to.
I’ve often thought it would be a good idea to take up art in our old age, particularly landscape painting as we live in such a beautiful part of the world. So today we joined the artist Patrick Balleriaud to learn how to sketch and use watercolours.
First step – drawing the horizontals
Patrick moved from Narbonne with Silvyanne his partner to take over the old family farm in Chazelle. Chazelle is both picturesque and full of history. Patrick is busy renovating the ancient farmhouse and has made the stables into a studio. He offers various courses on painting, portraiture and drawing (see www.studioballeriaud.fr).
We took our easels around Chazelle and produced five works of art. I wonder how many times the 11th century church has been sketched?
Learning to frame the picture
If it’s like a postcard it’s no good. It has to come from here, said Patrick thumping his heart as we painted the river with forests and purple hills in the distance. In the foreground stood the house where an advisor of Louis XIV once lived.
Chris hard at work sketching an old lean-to
Silvyanne came to see what we were doing
Our next challenge was to paint a pile of logs and various bits of rusty machinery in what was one of the first hydro-electrically powered cowsheds in Burgundy. A machine was used to pump out the slurry.
The last work of the day
We had a pleasant day and learned a lot. Silvyanne produced a lovely five course lunch for us and the subjects under discussion included English painters. I’m not sure that includes us just yet!
* Thanks to Silvyanne and Patrick for some of the photos. www.studioballeriaud.fr
Today our village walking group went on a balade which Chris and I often used to enjoy when we lived in Cormatin.
Map of our walk from Cormatin
If you leave La Maison du Curé and turn to the right you will find the agricultural track to Chazelle. It is not supposed to be for cars although this morning M.Bordet the mayor drove past us en route to his farm near Chazelle. But I suppose if you are the mayor you can do what you like. Generally though it is a good safe cycle ride for families with children.
Along the way you often see rare breeds of animals in the fields. Today there were llamas and some unusual sheep. In the past we have seen emus, deer, bison, Brahman cattle and miniature ponies.
The Romanesque church at Chazelle
At Chazelle you can visit the church, typical of the 12th century. A little further is a farmhouse with lots of ancient farm machinery such as horse drawn ploughs rusting away in the garden.
The Chateau d'Uxelles
You have a good view of the Chateau of Uxelles before arriving back at the top of the hill of St Roch with its salle de fêtes. From here you get a lovely view of Cormatin. Then it’s just a short steep descent back to La Maison du Curé.
We often think about the old parish priest of Cormatin who used to live at La Maison du Curé. His name was René Laheurte and he was by all accounts a kindly man who would sit and read outside the front door, greeting his parishioners as they passed by. In the early 1990s he retired and went to live in Corsica. He died in 1993 and was brought back to be buried in the graveyard of St Martin d’Ougy near Malay.
I don’t think that the old Curé ever left us. His calming presence is still felt throughout the house and our German guests have even seen him sitting by the fire in the dining room. I was so surprised to hear this I forgot to ask what he looked like.
M. le Curé by Patrick Balleriaud
Last autumn we met the artist Patrick Balleriaud who had just returned to take over the family farm in Chazelle. I asked if he had known the Curé. Yes, he said, he both baptised me and married me. He was tall with a good head of hair. He had a particular way of holding his fingers when giving out the wafers and wine…
I wondered if there were any photos. Patrick asked around and came up with two. From these he was able to draw a portrait which will soon have pride of place in the hall at La Maison du Curé.