Monday, 27 January 2014

Sunny snowdrops

This morning there was a treat - sun! Something we haven't seen nearly enough of. There's been the odd couple of hours but then the grey skies have crept back and the rain has returned. Yesterday evening it bucketed down again for the umpteenth time. In fact, everything is so water-logged that the extra little streams and rivulets running off the fields have become semi-established.
View looking north

Our "ponds" haven't really gone away either. Sometimes they shrink a bit, at others they expand. Going out to the woodshed remains a squelchy affair. Doing any kind of work outside is on hold until things dry out at least a little. You can see in the photos that there are glints of the water in the grass. Here and there it is deep enough to reflect the sky. At the moment the "ponds" have shrunk a little, but much of the grass remains up to its tips in water.
Another view looking north over soggy grass
However, the snowdrops are out, the first little sign of Spring! Last year we took some photos of them on the 31st of January, so no difference there.
Snowdrops 2014
What is different this year is that we've had no snow or proper cold snap -- so far! We know February can still spring a nasty surprise, but by this time last year we'd had snowfall and frosts.
January 20th 2013
In fact, it has been so mild, albeit soggy, this winter that one of our window boxes from last summer is still going. The geraniums [or pelargoniums -- never know which is correct] have hung on and, although definitely somewhat moth-eaten around the edges, are still flowering away! To be fair the boxes are pushed up against a south-facing wall, which has helped.
27th January 2014
Here's hoping we don't have such a protracted wet chilly Spring as we did last year. We looked at the records and last year we were still lighting the wood burner long after we expected to. In the meantime, we'll enjoy the sunshine today. Sadly, we suspect the regular diet of grey and rain will be resumed tomorrow.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Views of Montrésor

In our last post we wrote about the wooden roundels and misericords of the collégiale de Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Montrésor.

Montrésor viewed from the south
The village is very pretty and is officially one of 'Les Plus Beaux Villages de France'. The river Indrois runs through the heart of it with the castle perched on a spur just above.
The chateau -- 11th cent ruins & 15th cent building
The original chateau was built by Fulke Nerra, Count of Anjou in the early 11th century and you can see the remains of that building on the right in the photo above. We wrote about Fulke Nerra and where he is buried here.

The newer building on the left is a late 15th century Renaissance re-build by Imbert de Bastarnay who also had the collégiale built. Imbert was a successful Renaissance courtier and served four French kings: Louis XI, Charles VIII, Louis XII and François I.
The collégial de Saint-Jean-Baptiste
Our weather has alternated between rain --our mini ponds are back-- and sunny spells such as we are enjoying today. The day we were in Montrésor recently was also one of the rarer sunny ones.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Wooden Faces

The Collégiale Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montrésor has some beautiful wood carvings, especially on its stall ends. The faces may be of wood but they are lively and each profile is different.
Door to the left of the altar with three faces in roundels
A collegiate church is one where a college of canons conducts the daily office of worship; they are non-monastic, or 'secular' clergy. The Collégiale at Montrésor was built in the first half of the 16th century and we have written about the church before here.
Decorative door roundel, the man has a lovely curling feather in his cap
Stall-end roundel of a soldier: the helmet has a great curving foliate swish at the back
It was founded in 1522 by Imbert de Bastarnay, Seigneur du Bouchage. Imbert wanted a fitting monument in which to house his tomb and to ensure prayers were said for him and his family. Therefore, he had the collégiale built and endowed so that a group of canons would conduct the daily services in which he would be remembered. He died only a year after work began in 1523. However, work continued and the church was finally finished in 1541.
Another stall-end roundel: the hair is tightly curled and the figure sports a large earring
The collégiale still has the 16th century stalls in which the canons would have sat and they have some lovely carvings. The faces, set in roundels at the end of the stalls, are individualistic as are the faces on the door to the left of the altar.
Three of the stalls with their seats raised
In addition, some of the stall seats have carved misericords which retain a more mediaeval style. These little ledges, under the flipped-up seats, would allow the canons to rest their bottoms during those periods of the service when they would be standing for a long time.

misericord: multi-winged angel

misericord: a skull
misericord: probably a devil

Sunday, 5 January 2014


Everywhere you look there's standing water on the fields, little streams have over-run their banks and the ditches run in spate the minute there's a shower. The ground is extremely waterlogged as a result of the rain we've been having courtesy of the bad storms which are taking such a toll in the eastern part of the US. Thankfully, by the time these storms get over here to our corner of central France they've turned into blustery, sometimes stormy, depressions with lots of rain; but mild temperatures.
Outside we have standing water dotted round in little "ponds" where the clay soil is forcing the water to take its time seeping down to the calcaire [chalk] which lies underneath. The number varies from day to day, depending on how much rain we've had, but we can see them, out beyond the terrace, from the living room window.

However, these photos are of the flooding caused by the swollen ruisseau de la Fontaine de Saint-Flovier taken last Thursday. It runs from Saint-Flovier down to L'Indre at Fléré-la-Rivière.