Wednesday, 22 June 2011

A promenade around our village - and goodbye to our school.

This is a reproduction of two old photos from la Belle Epoque ie turn of the 19th/20th century. Taken just outside our house - the women of the village seem to be split into two camps. The first is the clog wearing, always in black peasant stock, and the other is the elegant, picture hatted all-in-white of the gentry or middle class. The little inserted photo seems to be taken at a religious festival - easter I think. (The bee is explained later)

This sign outside a little pond tells the story of how chanvre - linen - was made here. The raw fibre was harvested, then left to rot in the pond where the outer fibre softened. It was then thrashed to remove the outer fibre, rinsed in the stream and left to dry. The resultant linen fibre was spun into thread then woven into the cloth you see for bedsheets, tableware and clothes. When I first started selling vintage linens, I didn't know my village had this old chanvre pond. Strange how things turn out...

Little more explanation about linen

This is also quite famous - it is a carving of a knight in his coffin - it is on the entrance to our cemetery. A bit grisly, but this is the 14th century and then, death was as common as life I guess.

A shot of our fig tree by our back door - it's enormous this year, I think because we put our wood ash underneath it and of course figs love that. I just hope we get just enough rain to make the fruit swell without cracking, and enough sun to ripen without shrivelling the fruit.

Our evening walk starts here - very long shadows in June. I say walk, for my daughter it's the bike, for my son it's his skateboard - even if he is now 18! Our neighbour has grape vines growing on the right hand side wall - difficult to see in the twilight.
Here, our son has persuaded his dad to pull him along with the dog lead - just like they did when son was a titch...we often see woodpeckers and hoopoes, as well as many birds of prey. The black blob is Charlie our poodle. I can never get a full picture of him - always just a tail, or a bottom down a rabbit hole - he never stays still long enough!

Our neighbour's wisteria - taken a few weeks ago at its best - this is the house in the larger photo, the one in the middle behind the carriage.

Our well - we use the water for the garden and the animals, but OH is trying to be frugal so he is mending it for the umph time so save the expense of a new pump.

Our village is famous for a honey fair in September, and we have many hives dotted around the area. There is a 'honey walk' where many plants and bushes have been planted to attract the bees, and each has a small slate name label - we get many visitors doing the 'randonnée' or walk.

We have these boulders of local granite with these little bees painted on - you just follow the bees which takes you round the walk.

A little garden near the school - love the old tree trunk

A garden has been made from nothing - clever use of old beams. The kids at the school have a little garden, and when my kids went there, there was a gardening club. They planted bulbs and shrubs, and learned about vegetables - mind you, most of the kids have family potagers - vegetable plots - and most of the kids learn gardening from the day they can crawl!

A neighbour's garden for her chickens - now all long tucked up in the late evening light. She kept goats until very recently when she was widowed. Mind you, she also recently chopped down a rotten apple tree and used it for her winter fuel. She has got to be over 70 at least...

Our school - that local blue paint again! I love the school bell - we can hear it over the field between us.

Our school is only days away from being permanently closed - despite fighting for years to save it - at least 9 years to my knowledge, all the time we have been in France.. I remember standing in the snow with the other parents, placards in hand, hissing at the big-wigs from the education department - couldn't speak much French then, but we could hiss along with the others... All in vain.

The mayor in the next village is the head of the education finance committee and a GP, plus head of the fire brigade and therefore a lot of power - far too much in my opinion - and he has deemed that our little school of only 2 classes is not worth saving. He has, however, allowed nearly half a million euros to be spent on his school and village hall - it does look rather splendid with its curved ultra-modern walls and new car park.

Bitter? Yes of course I am - it could be the death knoll for our village - the shop provided food for the school lunches and now Sylvie will lose this business and therefore the shop is now in peril of closing too.

Anyway, here are a few pictures of our little paradise - hope you like them!


  1. I saw 'save our school' signs all over France (well in the midi Pyrenees)last month. And thanks for the linen lesson.

  2. Well, I suppose in this financial climate, many more schools will go...such a shame.



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