Thursday 29 November 2012

Nothin' much changes....

They say that nothing much changes in French villages and often as you drive swiftly through you could be forgiven for thinking so. However, appearances can be deceptive.
Charnizay has undergone a few since we moved here in August 2010.
Former Post Office
First the Post Office moved from the front part of a house opposite the Mairie into the Mairie proper. The house it once occupied is now for sale and has yet to find a new owner.

Mairie cum Post Office
Then we were presented with the plans for our new Salle des Spectacles, to replace the old and dowdy Salle des Fetes; you can read about it here and here. This is still an ongoing project. Originally due to open in time for 'le Quatorze Juillet' last summer it will now be ready, we are told, by the Spring of 2013. Meantime the Salle des Fetes continues to host village events. We are told that the library will eventually move into the Salle des Fetes.

Salle des Spectacles: coming along nicely
Then in August the village café/restaurant Gargantua closed. The people who had taken a two year lease with a view to taking on the licence from the then owner perhaps found they had bitten off more than they could chew. In fairness they were up against some stiff competition. Just up the road in St Flovier, the Auberge de la Source offers super home-cooked food on their daily 'menu ouvrier' at €11.00 and the Gargantua's cooking could not match up. Trade was thin and they left. Happily the owner ceeded the licence to the village and the Mairie has supported a local village lass who has now taken on the management of the re-named Relais du Dolmen. It re-opened at the start of the month. We've popped in for a coffee and to buy newspapers several times and the place now has a much more welcoming feel. The Relais provided an excellent spread to go with the vin d'honneur at the recent Commémoration [Remembrance Day] so we are going have lunch there soon and see what it's like.
Relais du Dolmen
Then sadly, our little village shop closed. The husband of the lady who ran it is seriously ill and sadly things continue to go steadily downhill. They also run a small shop in Bossay sur Claise and for her to continue to come over to Charnizay and run our shop was too much. It closed on the 31st of October. She hasn't found a buyer so we're not sure what will happen in the future. There is talk of, in time, incorporating a slimmed down shop with the Relais du Dolmen. We'll see. At least we still have the butcher and the Relais functions as a depot du pain and sells newspapers... oh, and take-away pizza!

Desolé c'est fermé

Thursday 22 November 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is Thankssgiving Day in the US so a lot of turkey, pumpkin pie as well as large quantities of cranberries will be consumed as families gather together from all quarters of the country to celebrate.

We took this photo of a well known lady on November 7th, the day the result of the US presidential elections. She stands proudly in the Place de la Liberté in Poitiers. She may not be as large as her better known sister but she has been gracing the Place since 1893.

We also thought you might enjoy a few more views of Poitiers taken yesterday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday 17 November 2012

Bags & Beaujolais

On Thursday we went and did our weekly shop. We mostly shop at SuperU although an equal distance away there's a LeClerc and an Intermarché store. From time to time we also shop at these stores, but mostly the default choice is SuperU. On Thursdays those with loyalty cards for said supermarket get double points and as a Thursday often works for us this is a bonus. We aren't really into loyalty cards, but we do have one for this supermarket.
Free little and large shopping bags
Sometimes there's even a thank-you gift for loyal customers. Not too long ago we got a nest of very practical plastic storage boxes with vented lids so they can go straight from the freezer or fridge into the microwave -- handy!  This week we were rewarded with a, quite tasteful, bag for life -- again something useful. When we got home we found that there was a second 'baby' bag inside. To be honest, as we shop for two, these recent gifts have turned out to be more useful to us than many of the super-sized, buy-one-get-one-free offers so often seen in supermarkets in the Netherlands or UK.
a nice bottle of Beaujolais-Villages
Thursday was also Beaujolais Nouveau day. It's always the third Thursday in November. The quality can be pretty variable from year to year and often we don't bother. This year we thought 'why not?' and decided to give a bottle a try. Perhaps we were lucky, but our choice turned out to be very nice indeed! A votre santé!

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Kitty play circuit

When we left Edinburgh recently Shona, Niall's sister, popped a cat toy into the car--when we say toy we really mean a large-ish box with a self-assemble sinuous race track.

The ideal
She'd bought it for her cats, but despite the manufacturer's enthousiastic illustrations, it was not a success. One of her cats hissed at it and fled; the other studiously ignored it. As it was sitting around gathering dust and taking up space she thought our cats might like it. We raised a questioning eyebrow but agreed to give it a test run.

Shadow fled the moment we started opening the box having concluded it would be more peaceful outside. Katinka ignored the assembly noises until the point where we put an orange ping-pong ball into the contraption. Said noise caused her to leap onto the kitchen table--where she is NOT allowed--all agog to investigate further. For ease her humans had assembled the track on the table intending to put it on the floor. Good intentions....

Oh look there's something moving!

The manfucaturers would have been proud!! Katinka was mesmerised and we deployed the camera ....

Goody! I can stick my paw into the opening!

Here it comes!!
Gotcha ... I think!!
Nope ... not quite

Take that!!

Sunday 11 November 2012


Things are done slightly differently here to what we have been accustomed to previously. There is no 2 mins silence on the dot of 11 am. Rather, at 11 am people will begin to gather in front of the mairie and about 11:15 a wreath will be laid under the plaque commemorating the deportation of two Charnizeens during the Second World War. Then all those who have gathered walk down to the graveyard. Here at the war memorial the names of all those lost will be read out, wreaths will be laid and small candles lit. The children always play a part.
Despite its more relaxed, almost organic format it is just as moving as the more structured format we know from Remembrance Sundays in the UK.

People stop and spend a moment or two thinking of all those who lost their lives in these conflicts--each had a story, each had a life which touched others, each left a gaping hole in the family they left behind. Here in a village this is brought home rather forcefully as the majority of the names on the monument are the same as those who stand and remember them; descendants all.

We'll go down to the village for 11 am wearing our poppies and adding a little 'bleuet' [blue cornflower] sticker which is the French symbol. Poppies and cornflowers, both flowers of those fields in Flanders and symbols of so many lost in WWI and in all the wars that have followed.

Thursday 1 November 2012

The mother of all fan lights

While in the Derbyshire Dales we had a quick look round Buxton and Bakewell--yes that Bakewell, the home of the Bakewell tart or pudding; opinion on the correct name is divided. You can find a recipe for making it here.

Buxton is an old spa town with a lovely Regency era crescent which easily rivals those of Bath. After years of neglect it is now being restored. We didn't see much as there was still loads of building paraphernalia around and weren't able to take a nice photo.

Forgotten splendor
A little further on though there was an exclaimation of delight from Niall. We'd come across a restored remnant of a Victorian railway station! He is fond of all things to do with old [steam] trains and railways; indeed anything to do with steam. He can still wax lyrical about the Croften beam engines which he visited about 12 yrs ago. I declined that honour and sat happily reading The Guardian newspaper while he looked round. Evidently, according to him, I missed a real treat back then!

Information on the restoration of the fan light
Sadly the weather wasn't all that good, so our photographs don't really do it justice, but it is a most beautiful fan window. It has been carefully restored and stands as a testament to Victorian railway architecture. Just behind the window is the modern terminal station.
Buxton's modern day station behind the window