Our Life in Burgundy

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The Blog: Our life in Burgundy

April 14, 2013

The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears

Filed under: Events,Places,Village Life,Weather — Tags: , , , — Mary @ 21:19


The wind certainly has changed for the better and gone round to the south so we’ve had a lovely sunny weekend. Perfect for the final two days of showjumping at Cluny. The first two days were grim so I don’t suppose that the icecream vendor setting up in the pouring rain on Thursday ever envisaged the never-ending queue for cornets by Sunday.

The show is part of the Grand National where France’s top riders compete in teams of two at various venues during the summer in jumping, eventing and dressage. At the end of the season the points awarded to each team are added up to find the champions of 2013.


The jumps were enormous, higher than the horses’ heads. So there were plenty of  thrills and spills. We met our riding instructor there who asked if we could guess what we might be doing for our next lesson!

 One way or another we’ve had quite a horsey week. Our grandchildren from Scotland have been with us and one of their favourite occupations has been to come and help feed the horses which we are looking after for our neighbours.


Maggie in conversation with Gwendy


Last Sunday we went up to the stables at Laizé for the circus day. For a while we watched the children learning tricks on the horses then took ourselves off for a walk with our favourite Shetland pony, Blondie.

Talking Blondie for a walk with Maggie and Jo

The children seem to like our life in the country with the animals. We hope that when they are old enough they will be able to spend their whole summer holiday with their Mamie and Papi just like the French kids do.


January 13, 2013

Riding: The art of keeping a horse between you and the ground.

Filed under: Village Life — Tags: — Mary @ 17:37


“Horse back riding as a sport has been shown to bestow a multitude of therapeutic benefits on the riders..….No man-made health machine on the market today has been able to duplicate all the physical, emotional, mental and social skills that develop and are put in constant use from riding a horse.” New York State Horse Council

I was amused to come across this just now as we went for a session of jumping this morning and I was treated to an extra therapeutic benefit – a mud bath! Out of the three of us only Chris managed to stay aboard.

A clear round for Chris

The third rider ended up both muddy and wet as she managed to land in a big puddle. It’s not such a good idea to fall off as, besides everyone laughing,  you have to bring a cake next time you go.

But not for me (don't copy this technique!)

Riding is an ongoing passion with us, not just the riding but the grooming and feeding too. This morning we were pleased to help out by helping to give the horses their breakfast, dishing out the oats and spreading straw in the boxes, quite an operation with getting on for a hundred horses.

Where's lunch?


After the lesson we went around again, this time with the hay.  I probably enjoyed that more than risking life and limb going round those jumps. Is it too late to become a stable girl?

May 26, 2012

You can take a horse to water……but you might end up in the drink

Filed under: Events — Tags: , — Mary @ 23:17


Horses are curiously ambivalent about water, which causes endless amusement. In competitions water jumps cause more problems than any other obstacle. We have stood and watched horses wide-eyed with fear, their legs flailing, jumping over water only a foot deep. In the cross country the jump into the lake and out again causes more refusals than the biggest obstacle.

An obstacle in the lake at Laizé

An obstacle in the lake at Laizé


The horses at Laizé often cross the shallow river not far from the stables, and enjoy a drink and a paddle when coming back from a trek. Today it was very hot and after a hectic gallop past the vineyards we stopped at the river. Chris’s horse Damwer decided the water was so inviting he would go for a little swim. Luckily Chris was able to jump off so only his feet got wet.

Damwer goes for a swim

Damwer goes for a swim


Coming up next weekend there’s a big international competition at the Hippodrome in Cluny.  The cross country competitions take place on Saturday and Sunday. If you watch by the ford you will see what I mean about horses and water…..

April 2, 2012

Coming back….

Filed under: Events,Village Life,Weather — Tags: , , , , , , — Mary @ 11:27


Apologies for not having contributed anything to the blog or life in general for some time. The pneumonia is almost better but my ‘get up and go’ has got up and gone….

We are late in planting up the potager but I’m not too worried as last year I was too early and the onions and potatoes suffered during a late cold spell. You find that things soon catch up. I found it a bit dispiriting to find almost all of the daffodils in the garden had been killed by the cold in February. But the wall to wall sunshine in the three weeks since I got back has started to revive many ‘dead’ shrubs. The moral of the tale is to use plants local to the area, rather than bulbs and shrubs imported from England.

The tulips are up but no daffodils

The tulips are up but no daffodils


We have missed some events lately, but we have gone back to riding on a Saturday morning.

End of a ride at Laizé

End of a ride at Laizé


Last Saturday afternoon we enjoyed a salsa afternoon in Cluny. We learned a routine and videoed it so we could remember it afterwards. There were nearly as many men there as ladies which we found astonishing. They were pretty good too!

Yvette and Pascale learn salsa

Yvette and Pascale learn salsa


Yesterday in the foyer rural it was the games morning, held the first Sunday of the month. Scrabble is the most popular game. I’m usually allowed to peek in the dictionary but yesterday I forgot to take one. Looking at the board you would think we were playing in English as many of the short words in French are the same, but without looking them up I never know which English words I can use!

A Cortambert en camping car

A Cortambert en camping car

In the afternoon the foyer rural at Cortambert hosted “Traversée de l’Afrique en Camping Car”, a film and discussion with Annik & Frédéric who travel around the world visiting out of the way places. In Kenya they were treated to a display of the Masai jumping dance and in the villages they were subject to much curiosity by people who rarely saw strangers. The gas stove and the running water in the van aroused a lot of interest.

Annik & Frédéric had travelled down the east side of Africa and then realised it was too dangerous to go back via the west side. So in South Africa they put their camping car aboard a boat bound for France. This cost more than the whole trip thus far.

Frédéric & Annik's route in Africa

Frédéric & Annik's route in Africa


We are now looking forward to greeting our Easter visitors. Taizé is getting ready for their visitors too. There are lines of tents and the huge dining marquee is back. Chris is getting on with building a new pump housing for the swimming pool. I can’t imagine going swimming yet but we will be ready for when it gets warmer. Not long now, I hope.

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