Today was VE Day, the second of the four jours de fête in May. As it is Ascension Day tomorrow many people manage to make the whole week a holiday.
At the memorial for VE Day
To commemorate VE Day the good folk of Cortambert met at the memorial for a service with the Maire and the pompiers. All were invited back to the Mairie for the vin de l’amitié and some excellent cake, the French savoury kind with ham and olives.
We didn’t stay long though as we were due at the stables at Laizé to help judge the cross country competition. The concours complet is like a three day event with showjumping, dressage and cross country.
The weather was a little unsettled, hot and sunny one minute, cloudy and humid the next with a few spots of rain inbetween. Our friend Axelle came prepared for whatever the weather might be.
Ready for the cold, the rain and the sun
We were posted to watch two obstacles. One was called the Coffin which was a jump down into a dip where there was something akin to an open grave. After this was a steep slope out with a fence at the top. The other jump was the Toboggan which was an obstacle at the top of a steep rise.
Approaching the Coffin
The judging was easy, the afternoon peaceful and a perfect day finished off with a meal with our pony club friends and our instructors in the clubhouse. This time not typical French food like in Lyon on Sunday but a very welcome chilli con carne!
You feel that summer has arrived at last when you can sit out until it gets dark and you catch the odd waft of barbequed steak. And there’s the heady prospect of high days and holidays. May 1st the Fête du Muguet, 8th May Victoire 1945, 9th May Ascension, 19th May Pentecôte….
And the unveiling of swimming pools. Ours was aired this week and Chris very bravely took his first plunge.
And the peach blossom. And fields of dandelions with young animals enjoying their first weeks of life.
The warm weather has also brought out the lizards which sun themselves on the stones. And the snakes who entwine in a graceful pas de deux on the warm tarmac in the middle of the road. These are normally the Aesculapian snake of medical symbol fame which grow surprisingly big, up to 7 feet in length.
This Western Whip snake was on our neighbour’s wall.
You can tell a snake is harmless if it has round eyes. If it has vertical pupils it is probably an adder or viper. But first you have to get close enough to look it in the eye….
What a difference a day makes! On Friday and Saturday we were marking out the circuits for the Cortambert Randonnée in blazing sunshine. On Saturday afternoon it was far too hot to be doing anything.
Marking the routes for the randonnée
But after a terrific storm and heavy rain during the night we awoke to grey skies. Perhaps we would be lucky and the rain would hold off? Unfortunately not. Soon after the first walkers left Cortambert the skies opened and the day became ever colder and wetter.
This little chap enjoyed his walk in the rain
And so did Joe!
A bit of rain and mud did not put off the serious walkers and runners, but the families who normally enjoy the shorter routes very sensibly did not turn out so numbers were down on last year. But those who did brave the weather enjoyed the randonnée, particularly the warm welcome at the foyer rural and the lovely food and drink that was offered at the rafraîchissement stations.
Ruth and Pascale ready with refreshments for the returning walkers
We are already planning a new walk for next year, the Randonnée des Roses. We’ll try and aim for some better weather too.
The roses are wonderful this year
This headline is taken from today’s Journal de Saône et Loire. Burgundy has been under orange alert for a week. There are three states of warning; yellow means not so bad, orange is getting serious and red means to batten down the hatches. I’m never sure what you are expected to do for an orange alert. Stock up the larder? Fetch in some more logs? Dig out the thermal underwear?
The frozen river Saône at Mâcon - from today's Journal
To be honest compared with the UK and some parts of France we have been lucky. A little snow last week on the hills and temperatures fairly steady at -9°or -10° at night and -5° during the days. Having said that we went out riding on Saturday it was -12° with a wind that whipped up the sand in the manège and I was beginning to worry about frostbite as I couldn’t feel my face anymore.
Chez nous - not much snow but very cold
This morning it was reported that the electricity consumption in France had reached a record high of 100,500 megawatts. Thank goodness for the wood stove to save our pompe à chaleur from working too hard. I don’t know how the pompe can still extract heat from such cold air. But then I don’t know how the telephone works either, or the internet, or the TV!
The Météo forecasts warmer temperatures with snow for next week. Sounds like we might need to prepare for that whatever colour it might be.