Our village this week
In common with the rest of Europe we have had a White Christmas. But I think we cannot be beaten as regards peace and tranquillity. We were happy to spend Christmas ‘snowed in’, that is, we take note of the ‘only drive if necessary’ advice and we have felt no compulsion to risk getting stuck on the hill or to skid into a ditch. The only traffic past our house has been the farmer on his tractor taking hay to the horses and cattle.
Horses in the snow
With the family not being able to get here this year my bank account thinks I’ve cut up my cards. For weeks we haven’t been shopping except occasionally for food and we started the winter well stocked up. No more being reduced to a diet of crackers and Marmite as last year.
We see on the UK news that the shops are already full of bargain hunters from the crack of dawn on Boxing Day. Not so here. In France the sales are regulated by the government and they don’t start until January 12 . Anyway most businesses and commerçants seem to on holiday until after New Year.
A peaceful walk through the wood
So here’s to hibernation. We’ll see you in March!
Pantomime in French is a faux ami. It really means mime show even though the village children were treated to a pantomine today in the lead up to Christmas. Les Aventures de Monsieur Theodule was a one-man show that kept the kids enthralled. By just changing his hat he could become a completely different character and his sketches were just so funny. French mime at its best. The kids were especially pleased to provide sound effects for a story about a train. There were no words so it was easy to understand for toddler and foreigner alike.
Today the snow is melting away as fast as it came. We went for a walk through the woods and the sun felt warm on our backs even though the wind went straight through. We are expecting the temperature in double figures by Wednesday, a welcome relief after being intermittently snowed in for much of December.
Due to snow on Saturday the attendance was very poor at Laizé so we combined classes to play Pony Games. We were given the small ponies which enjoyed dashing around playing tag. I must show you this picture of Chris on Epine. His feet are almost touching the ground!
We have not had weather as bad as in the UK but even here we’ve had a bit of snow, enough to keep us at home for a couple of days. But today the road over the hill was clear enough to drive to the Laizé Pony Club. I am very glad we did as we went off for a balade in the snow.
Riding in the snow
For this we rode the smaller ponies as they are more surefooted. Chris was very pleased as his feet nearly touched the ground so he couldn’t fall very far. Sometimes the ponies were gently sliding downhill on four splayed hooves. My pony enjoys rolling in the river but luckily today he must have thought that minus five was a little too cold for bathing and we crossed without incident.
Saturday afternoons means basket making in the foyer rural. At least that’s what I am doing but Chris is a little more creative and is busy weaving Christmas decorations. I sometimes think that if civilisation collapses we’ll be all right!
Snow, snow go away…… We are still getting light falls of snow but not enough to be disruptive. It was most spectacular yesterday as we set off in the sunshine to go to Cluny, and halfway there it was a whiteout. When we got home the sun was out again and the new snow on the hills looked most picturesque against the bright blue of the sky.
The village in winter is more active socially than in the summer when everyone is busy in the vineyards, with their gîte visitors and in the potager. The hub of activity is the Foyer Rural. This week we were treated to a talk about wolves in Burgundy given by the author Gilles Platret. He explained that wolves were living in this region until the mid 1950s. Some time ago an inhabitant of Cortambert was eaten by a wolf, and they were prolific scavengers during the war. You can be sure that we all looked around carefully when we went out into the darkness to go home.
To ex-townies like us many of the everyday country occupations are fascinating. On Saturdays we have started to attend a workshop where we are making wicker baskets. Most people use them for shopping at the Saturday market in Cluny. They are used for picking fruit and storing just about anything and come in all shapes and sizes. We are making the smallish rounded one particular to this region.
So we watched enthralled when Robert, the local vineyard owner, showed us how to strip lengths of willow and grade them for size. For the weaving of the basket the willow is split three ways to make it thinner and more pliable. These strips are also used for tying up the vines. We appreciated how expertly he worked when he showed us how to bend lengths around a form, cut them to size and anchor them with pegs and bits of bicycle inner tube. These will become the basis of the handle and the bottom of the basket. Our efforts are now drying by the stove to be ready for the basket making next week.
The last couple of weeks we’ve been without internet or phone as we decided to change our internet provider. During this time Chris has taken the opportunity to redesign this news site so we can illustrate the goings on I describe with photos. So hopefully next time I post it’ll be easier to see what I’m talking about.