This times highlights would be best illustrated by a cartoon however I lack the knowledge of technical wizardry and thus the wherewithal to provide said. So I’ll make do with what I can manage:
Ok I’ve given into formatting problems and changed it…
You two – What you been up to? Me – I’ll tell you!!
Our first trip since the last update was to Crozant a wee place at the very top of the Creuse. (In New York years ago I confused a woman by pronouncing croissant correctly while she said it Cro-zant!) Anyway we went from the south of the Haute Vienne to the north of the Creuse briefly dallying into the Indre. S was interested to visit as a number of Impressionists had lived there inspired by the setting and as was the habit others visited too. It was a very sociable period in art it appears. The village sits on the Creuse and Sedelle rivers and unsurprisingly there was a Chateau build on the rocky outcrop above where they meet.
Up the hill is the nice wee village and we arrived as the market was shutting up for lunch. Accordingly we had lunch, I Menu de Joured a nice wee salad with potato and little fishes and S had the same, not that was what was discussed so on finding a fish she stopped eating it. (It’s the first time that has happened and wasn’t a plot between me and the charming waitress for me to get more salad!) I then had pork which was rather good while S had a rustled up plate of veg type things (sans/without fish). Pudding was coconut and strawberry sorbets with fruit salad and the best of the three courses – that would have been a time to plot getting S’s as the sorbet de maison were superb.
We then wandered around the village in the sunshine. There’s a wee museum place which is only open on Satuday’s but there are pictures of pictures if you get the picture detailing where the orignials are and who done them. There is also a massive palate too big even for my hands.
The Pompiers had an Open Day in Saint Yrieix la Perche. Pompiers are the combined Fire Brigade and Ambulance Service over here. There were old fire engines, a demonstration of the search dogs and various other bits and bobs. In Place de la Nation a rather broken looking Renault 5 was clambered into by a young Pompier and soon after a red ambulance arrived ‘stabilising’ him and then a larger red vehicle arrived also with its lights going and the guys on board cut the top off the car with the pneumatic cutters going through the metal easily. The lad was removed on a stretcher. The event was well attended and interesting, we bumped into Phillippe and his son from the fitba who we had a word with.
Another pic pending!
The next few days summer kicked in, not Scottish “sun’s oot, taps aff” summer but 30 degrees for five days on the bounce French summer. I broke out my shorts as in wore them (not as in they exploded due to much duck being eaten or other more off colour reasons) and have gone from Peely-wally to Beige on the Scottish Tan Chart. My arms are already getting Mocha which some gentleman’s outfitters refused to confuse with brown.
Mainly we pottered about around our wee rental, sitting in the shade. Mitzy she still has the wee bit shaved fur from her injury so may wonder why part of her is cooler. Archy took to staying out the sun during the day but popped around each evening to see if there was anything he could be wildly excited about – he always finds something to be cheery about.
I got my hair cut and S went to the hair dressers for the first time. A nice English lass called Pip had been tending to her coiffure type requirements until now.
On Saturday we had an impromptu trip to Pompadour. Our final rental is between there and Lubersac, we drove through L and onto P past the next hoose. It was market day and an impressively huge shoe stall was attracting some attention. Pompador is known for its equine bits and bobs having a Hippodrome (race track) and a centre for dressage and all that goes with it. We wandered about and had a look at the track, it’s got a grass with jumps loop, a sandy flat horse/wee horse and cart racing loop and a cross country loop all in one. Sitting nicely across the road from the chateau, helpfully there were a four horses being exercised so I got the camera out.
We then wandered over towards the other horsey bit where there is a wee show jumping arena. Some well dressed riders were doing the trotting about moving sideways stuff so we watched that for a while. Some of the women had an unusual riding position which they would enjoy rather more than any male counterpart who copied them… I’m sure it’s all very technical but to the untrained observer (namely me) it looked a bit weird.
We lunched on a very generously proportioned sea food salad (salmon, cray fish & three large scallops) for me and a wild mushroom omelette for S. We had ice cream for pudding neither of us opting for the brilliantly named Barde a Papa flavour (candy floss). Having popped into the Tourist Information we’d been reminded that we were near le Pont Lasveyras where the museum was open on a Saturday. The small museum is on the site of a mill that sits in a beautiful spot by the Auvezere river. The winding tree lined road has been improved to a rough single lane and we arrived walking down towards the building. A couple of people were sitting outside in the sun and another fishing on the river. All we could hear was birdsong, the noise of the water going over the weir and rushing down the mill channel. It’s an idyllic spot to fish, bird watch or to doze gently with a book in the warmth of the sun.
The large metal notices detail what happened there on the 16th of February 1944. Forty Maquis were living in the mill buildings. The Maquis were full time Resistance fighters hiding out and causing problems for the Germans rather than the more part time activities hinted at by things like Allo Allo. Avoiding the sentries and probably lead by two Frenchmen a large force of German troops attacked the mill. The Maquis often had lots of weapons, old rifles, shotguns and revolvers the problem they tended to have, despite supply drops from the UK, was a lack of ammunition. Outnumbered and facing gun and mortar fire the defenders fought until they had used their few hand grenades and ran out of ammo. With no option they surrendered and were lined up outside the buildings, the cook who was wearing an apron was shot. As was a man who’d been born with a deformed arm. Divided into three groups one was used to carry the German’s kit back up to the road, the mill was inaccessible at the time. The other two groups were shot in cold blood. The ‘lucky ones’ who had shifted the stuff were deported to Concentration camps. A small number of Maquis were able to mount a mini counter attack after the atrocity and the local Doctor was barred from going to help the injured despite more than ten attempts to do so during the battle.
Thirty four men died, twenty four of them shot in cold blood after the fighting ended. Two were able to escape during the battle, one wounded. Another was left for dead badly wounded being saved when the Doctor eventually got to the site. Of the twelve deported only seven returned. No doubt there were German losses during the attack and after but they are not recorded.
As was the way the word had got around that troops were in the area and at least one set of parents were trying to get to the Mill to warn those there, finding their son’s body later that day.
The information that surprised me was that most of the men were about twenty years old, one of the groups commanded by a twenty two year old, they were barely adults.
A local Gendarme organised the funerals on the 19th and an SS Colonel who arrived with a large number of German troops insisted only one mourner per victim be present. The Policeman, to his enormous credit, successfully argued that mothers and fathers were as one and relenting two mourners were allowed per body. It’s a beautiful spot tainted forever by the daftness of man.
We had a few more days pottering about locally. Archy often appears and gazes longingly at us or maybe Mitzy. She however does her best to remain aloof as these pictures taken within seconds of each other show.
The local farmers have been working much harder than we have cutting hay, stirring it so it dries and baling it. I watched a large bird carefully scrutinising a field as it was cut looking for a meal. Soaring for three minutes hardly beating its wings the clear blue sky it’s playground. S’s quest to photograph one of these birds of prey sat on a bale continues fruitlessly – we see them doing that all the time when we are driving about… We wandered out one afternoon camera in hand to see if we could get the shot as one of the fields sloping down from here was being baled. To our amusement the farmer released a round bale from his bale-making trailer-thingy and it rolled off happily down the hill in a bid for freedom. The farmer sprang from his tractor cab dashing off after it shouting and waving his arms – you couldn’t make it up. It happened again as we watched trying not to laugh too obviously and again he sprang lithely out running after it, his shouts just audible on the breeze.
Our trip this week was to Angouleme which is 100 K’s west of Limoges. We made good progress in the car, which is better for such trips and having had a neb via the interweb were aiming to go to the Gare (station) where there was parking. Unfamiliar with the place we missed the best turn and arrived via a less direct route, helpfully the old part of town is up a hill which gave us something to aim at. Next came the quest for somewhere to park, which was unsuccessful until we happened across the Gare where the area is being done up! At last managing to park in a neatly proportioned multi storey – a disadvantage in a bigger car!
Visiting the Tourist Information to get our bearings we then had lunch, a plat de jour (chicken) for me and a veggie dish created for S. The old town is surrounded by ramparts atop a hill over the Charante river we’d driven along some of them not really appreciating the view when failing to find a parking space! We wandered about enjoying the artwork dotted about the town. It is not uncommon for gable end’;s of building in cities to be painted as if they are actually more and there are some like that here too. However Angouleme is the Capital of Cartoons and lives up to this title well with things that have no good reason for not being beautified being improved.
There are lots of other examples which we took pics of. As S was taking photo’s outside the Museum and as I stood waiting a smartly dressed, slim young woman walked past. S didn’t really notice but I was a little startled to see that the skirt of her beige two piece suit had alternating stripes of normal and see through fabric. Thankfully she was hearing medium sized pale, silky pants which set off well what was visible of her buttocks! This step in the world of fashion is yet to reach the Greggs in Muirhouse (thank goodness) and must lead to some intriguing tan lines… The Museum was interesting and S was surprised to discover she didn’t have a pen in her handbag as she tried to note the name of an artist. Thankfully we managed to remember it, Felix Ziem, I liked the Edouard May pics.
We decided to head for the Cartoon Museum and walked down the hill towards the river. Lots of people whiz about urban areas on mopeds over here so it was no surprise to hear one whining up the road at the head of a line of traffic. A young woman was making good progress up the hill into the wind and seeing us reacted. This caught both our attentions as she looked down and moved her skirt which was blowing back revealing her fishnet tight covered thighs, thankfully the long strapped handbag was well positioned across her avoiding further exposure.
We paused for a drink then crossed the river going to the Cartoon Museum. It was interesting and well laid out, the Moomins exhibition was sadly not open. There was no mention of The Broons but Dan Dare did feature. This is a field/genre that I know not a lot about but from the size of the museum shop and in other places it’s pretty huge with some. Adult cartoon books numbering many hundreds, probably thousands were available at the Museum not just the Silver Surfer and Snoopy. A wide range of themes not just what I’d expect namely satire, super heroes and sci-fi, also historical, modern day and lots of others as well as manga ones that open the wrong way. I suspect that some are for a male audience with scantily clad young women featuring on the covers, opening one – in the pursuit of learning – I was a little taken aback by the content and put it down again moving quickly on in an embarrassed British way!
Just after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, there was a Cartoon Conference no doubt in the same building that had a massive Police and Security presence… 😦
We wandered back towards the station and happened across more street art. It really does liven up buildings and areas that could be an eyesore. In fact it may be case that such works prevent re-development!
On the way home we stopped the Memorial de la Resistance, Necropole Nationale which you can’t fail to notice from the main road. It’s unsurprisingly the largest of its kind. Here lie about 2,000 people killed fighting with the Resistance in WWII. It’s a striking place and I’m sorry but my pictures don’t do it justice. I was a little surprised to see reference to a couple of German’s who found and died with a local group. More surprising was the large number of headstones indicating that the occupant was a muslim. A quick glance at the alphabetical list showed that 18 people buried on the site, nearly 1%, had the surname Mamadou. Not what most would define as typically French name seventy plus years ago.
It is all too common for the history of WWII to be coloured only white, relegating the contributions of the hundreds of thousands who contributed to victory across/from across the globe. I knew, for example, that the USA fought fascism with racially segregated units but am embarrassed to admit that I’d never realised that the diversity of the Resistance fighters would of course match the diversity of France. Lesson learned you can both have that one for free.
In other news we saw our first tick! It was having a wee walk on my naked leg but thankfully hadn’t settled down to make a meal of me. We also had some very nice new potatoes with fresh mint that had the lowest number of food miles we’ll manage for a long time in that John gave us them having grown them just over the fence. It rained yesterday and a bit the night before which will do the lawns no end of good, otherwise the weather continues to be generally superb, sorry.
Until next time…