The last wee while has been a bit more local than the last far flung update with our time hereabouts.
I know you were both disappointed that I didn’t detail my two match weekend last time but you need wait no longer…
Saturday May 2nd saw Limoges FC hosting Vendee Fontenay in what the local paper described as ‘cup final’ as to have any hope of maintaining their CFA (4th tier status) they had to win. I arrived in the rain and spotting Alain from the previous trip wandered over to say hello. He asked me to join him and we settled down among a rather larger crowd than last time to see Limoges rightly awarded a penalty after only two minutes. The visitor’s keeper however dove to his left and saved well much to the disappointment of the locals.
The game was tight but the crowd were for me surprisingly quiet. Anyway the visitors scored when a ball into the box was well cleared but it fell to a Fontenay chap he rifled a shot home for 0:1 in the 13th minute. The home support remained quiet. Despite the lack of encouragement Limoges tried to get back into the game hitting the bar but a goal wouldn’t come.
In the second half Limoges continued to battle as the visitors tried to sit on the lead which suited them fine being as they were just above the relegation zone. In the 73rd minute Benoit Bisson – LFC’s best player over the two games – was played in by Azouz and scored a good goal. At last it was 1:1, game on. In the 74th minute it was almost over, defending that would be complemented by the term sloppy saw the visitors score after a decent block by the home keeper.
In the 79th minute the game was killed. A corner for the visitors saw only three of them loitering at the edge of the 18 year box as the rest of their team sat back. Limoges positioned themselves then as the ball was sent into the danger zone they all ignored the few visitors meandering into the box one of whom scored an easy, easy header. It was school boy defending, 1:3. The home side lost heart and didn’t manage anything in the last ten minutes despite throwing four men up front. Their chances of staying in the Division ended not so much with a bang but a whimper.
Sunday the 3rd saw me pootle up the D704 again hoping for a better result for Saint Yrieix who were playing Moyette Limoges at a sports facility at Boisseuil in the north of the city. The Limoges rugby team play there and three sides are being developed – it looks like it’ll be pretty impressive when it’s done. Limoges FC are going to play there too when it’s finished which is unfortunate considering their pending relegation. There’s also an athletics stadium, outside pool and a number of rugby and football pitches.
My game was the clash between 2nd place Saint Yrieix and 4th placed Mayotte. There were a few other of the regulars there on the away sideline, five rising to nine as the game went on. The Captain scored a good early volley on the turn. The home side didn’t seem to be helped by at least four guys who insisted on shouting advice and instructions from around the pitch no doubt confusing rather than assisting their players… The host’s best player was a decent looking number 9 who was quick and skilful but his attitude was sadly lacking. He kept the ball when he shouldn’t and tried to score every time, unsurprisingly his head dropped and his contribution with it.
It was a good competitive game well controlled by the best referee I’ve seen over here. Ricardo the SYlP striker scored late in the second half making it 0:2. The home side got a penalty soon after the second goal and my former spectator colleague was unlucky not to get enough behind the shot to block it. The home side tried to push for a very late equaliser but it didn’t come. In injury time one of the home players tried to take out the player coach who’d come off the bench. The referee let the players stay on for the last few seconds and the game ended with the result going the right way. End of fitba bits
Otherwise we’ve been pottering about locally in our usual fashion. We confused a lass in a local Boulongerie when she gave us 50c more change and I struggled to point out her error. My French was better than her arithmetic but that’s not saying much! I should have kept quiet and pocketed the money – daft git that I am. We had a thunder storm park over us for a while one day which was loud and didn’t scare the cat as much as we feared.
Trip wise we went into the Perigord Vert heading for Brantome which is a village which grew up because of a monastery that was built into cliffs on the Dronne river. We parked and wandered through the village which is surrounded by a loop of the Dronne and a channel widened by monks. We went to look at the caves that had been further hollowed out by monks over generations and the bell tower of the church is France’s oldest. There are carvings in the walls largely of, unsurprisingly, religious themes and a spring which helped the place be occupied for thousands of years. With the caves came access to an exhibition of pictures by a locally born artist, Fernand Desmoulin. He did some nice pictures and a few odder ones when he spent a couple of years ‘under the influence of spirits’ good angle if you can get away with it we thought.
After lunch of duck and chips for me and an omelette for S, we wandered along the river and bought tickets for a boat trip. Climbing aboard I discovered the boat wasn’t designed for tall folk like me. Much to the amusement of the other passengers my head banging exploits, not once, twice but thrice, ended when I took my seat. Even S hit her head once! There had been a shower but much to my relief the automatic roof was closed as we moved along the river hearing about (or in our case reading about) Brantome and its sights. The electic boat was quiet making the trip rather more sedate and it was easy to hear the birds which would have been scared off or drowned out by normal outboard motors. I thought at one point I saw an orange flash of a Kingfisher. The boat was turned with some clever polling and we drifted gently back down stream in the sunshine, it was a very pleasant 50m minutes. Returning to dry land we found rather more people waiting for the next trip.
We paused and bought what looked like macaroons but they weren’t they had a crisp flavoured shell and a nice chocolaty inside which was lovely. We’ll be getting them again at some point, hopefully I’ll remember what they are called next time!
Brantome is well worth a visit and don’t just take my word for it apparently the Vikings also went, perhaps for different reasons, some eleven and a half centuries ago. To be honest that was rather a surprise to me not realising that they got this far south and its fair distance from the sea. I bet one or two of the Scandinavian raiders must have been pining for the fjords by the time they got here…
We had a wee wander back to the car then headed for Bourdeilles further along the Dronne. Spotting a few clifftop/hilltop chateaux en route. Bourdeilles has a bridge over the wide river and a double chateau. An old Medieval wall with a high tower alongside a more modern Renaissance bit (ok, modern in comparison) two for one equals bargain! From the top of the tower the view is pretty impressive not just down to the kink in the river to the bridge, weir and old water mill but also across the surrounding countryside. There are a lot of steps to climb to get there but it’s more than worth it. The newer bit is a bit more spacious having period furniture and the like which was interesting. The gardens are pretty good as well. You can walk down through the village to the river and around the square there are a few places for a fortifying drink or nibble as you climb back up.
Driving back S managed to get pictures of some of the chateaux and also as we passed thru Brantome again of a couple of the houses that are built into the cliffs.
A couple of days later we retraced some of our steps going to St Jean de Cole – one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France – where there was a Floralies (an annual flower market). It was very colourful and busy with people carrying their purchases from a single pot to medium sized trees! Some enterprising young lads with wheel barrows were taxi-ing purchases to people’s cars.
Also there were a range of artisans flogging their wares, the wicker doing chap had loads of chairs, tables, planters and stuff but no men, (perhaps you order them on the quiet but more likely they don’t need them here as the Front National didn’t win the local elections). It was very colourful but as we are gardenless at the moment for us not that tempting. Fran and Mike were there too and introduced us to a few people who asked what we thought of the election results. We made clear we were disappointed because as we can count we aren’t Nationalists. Stressing it seemed to their relief that rather fewer Scots than they feared are like Salmond, et al.
Afterwards we headed towards Villars to go to the La Grotte de Villars. We stopped for lunch at a wee place where S’s vegetarianism was met with no reaction and she had a pudding while I had a starter. The first time we’ve been in that position since we arrived in October.
La Grotte de Villars is a number of caverns of stalactites and stalagmites which is about 150 million years old. There’s apparently 13 kilometres in total but unsurprisingly not all of it is open to the public. It was very impressive and interesting – mother earth seemed rather keen to drip no doubt mineral rich water on my head and one perfect drop went down my neck! Perhaps it was meant to be therapeutic, word had got around locally about my head banging only days before… Surprisingly despite me gazing open mouthed up at various rock formations no drips went in my, how can I best put this, erm, big mouth!
There was also some above ground stuff about the folk from ancient times – so long ago an apple was a fruit – who used the caves and painted on some of the walls. We meandered home in the sunshine after another good day.
Another Fitba bit
Sunday past was the top of Haute Vienne Fourth Division Poule E clash at St Germain les Belles – I don’t think any of the details made it to Sky Sports News so these details may be an exclusive! Second placed SYlP faced league leaders Occitane. John the neighbour had said he wasn’t going to go but changed his mind. We set off in warm sunshine in his car, at his insistence, and arrived to find the parking full. There was a Yoof rugger game going on that would have cost us 6e’s to get into but having made clear we were there to see the fitba we were waved in for nowt. The rugby started before the fitba it was apparently a Final of some sort and some fans had flags, a hooter and such. The fitba fans however had a little more decorum and the regulars had been bolstered by a few others making the away support about fifteen, if you count players kids! I’d seen one regular guy in a supermarket during the week, then striker Ricardo and his girlfriend in another the day before. All three were there.
The referee was as you can see from the pic perhaps not the most athletic. Ok, he was the fattest I’ve ever seen however to his credit he kept up with play well on a hot day not that he got much right… Early on SYlP got a corner and a good ball in was headed home by the big number 10 for an early lead. The dangerous front man Ricardo was soon sussed as being too quick for the home defence and was taken out by a guy who was booked as was his victim to the bewilderment of us all and John who refereed for many years…
That pattern of at best curious decisions continued with the home side being able to foul without much action being taken and two SYlP players were booked for moaning about being fouled without their assailant being penalised… To sin was fine, top expect to be allowed to play football it appeared was not… The SYlP number 11 was getting particularly rough treatment and kept being penalised for trying to win the ball back after being fouled once, twice or on one occasion three times. John was not amused as were the other visiting fans but the two to three dozen home ones didn’t seem to mind the Referee one bit.
A long range free kick went over the SYlP goalie and in, making it 1:1. It was a soft goal to lose and the sun may not have helped but he looked pretty down hearted about letting it in, hurting his hand trying to stop it. He politely declined my offer of a lend of my hat a half time. The home side won another free kick and this time the Guardian de But did better blocking it but the defence hadn’t tracked back leaving an unchallenged striker able to prod the ball home making it 2:1 to the home side. That was certainly not the plan.
The SYlP player coach put himself on at half time and Les Rouges were out early. The Occitane players followed and eventually the referee toddled out to join them. SYlP continued to play well and look more dangerous despite being behind. The referee continued to annoy John and the rest of us… Despite their 12th man mainly helping the home side he did award the odd free kick to the visitors and with the player coach on that was braw. He ain’t mobile but he can fair hit a dead ball. With his first attempt he hit the bar with their keeper struggling. Then as the game went on and the home side failed to test the SYlP keeper another tempting free kick was awarded. Even with his curious decision making the large chap in yellow couldn’t help but award a few free kicks to SYlP as they had more of the play and were pushing forward. This time the free kick was right in front of the home fans. The coach stepped up and fired the ball home from about 24 yards, scampering away grinning at the temporarily silenced locals.
With the score 2:2 the home side sent a shot flashing across goal but it was well wide. The SYlP defence were doing well as the home side became more and more ragged. Despite not taking on as much water as Occitane the SYlP guys managed to maintain a good pace in very warm conditions. A couple of the home fans were having a go at Ricardo’s girlfriend – both of them in their late fifties or early sixties – she’s about twenty. She was however responding in kind as her man kept being fouled. With about eight minutes left another free kick was awarded by the comedy ref. Up stepped the coach and he put the ball across the goal into the top corner – which led to some celebrations both on the pitch and beside it amongst us travelling fans. That very pleasingly reduced the volume of the locals to next to nothing.
As time ran out there was a horrendous two footed foul by the home number 10 – who’d been booked earlier not that he’d altered his overly, erm, assertive play – the foul was so bad the home fans didn’t even complain, remaining oddly quiet! He wasn’t shown a second yellow card while John and myself knew fine well it more than deserved a straight red.
The final whistle saw the lead at the top of the table cut to four points. Occitane can’t be caught with one game left – remember you get one point per match no matter what – but SYlP should be second unless they blow it against Eymoutier B in their last game. John, who has rather more expertise than I, was appalled by the big Ref’s performance but like most heading back to SYlP happy that the team who deserved to win did.
End of fitba bits
Otherwise we have pottered about and S finished reading her first French book, a novel for teenagers which had you may not be surprised to hear had a happy ending. She’s already started her next one, with a dictionary by her side. We’ve also been preparing for the first of a few visitors over the next couple of months with the pending arrival of my Aunt. This was not hindered by a couple of properly glorious days of sunshine and 25+ degree temperatures, (sorry). I’ve even had shorts on but you’ll be pleased to hear that pictures of my knees are no doubt against some International Blogging rules and probably also the Geneva Convention!