Tag Archives: rural

Photo Of The Day — The Carrot Carrying Man in Normandy

Just in case you wondered about those HUGE sacks of carrots in my Monday Market post, here’s a man hefting one of them across the square towards his car.

So when I wondered aloud if they’re for animals or people — Mark commented, ‘One would think that he’s a man with a horse or two!’

Carrot sack toting man at weekly market in rural Normandy.

Carrot sack toting man at weekly market in rural Normandy.

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From AU to the UK to the EU in 5 weeks!

I’m tired just thinking about it — but we have gone from Australia to the UK to France in the very short space of 5 weeks. Seriously — whew!

We don’t bounce back energy-wise as fast as we did 20+ years ago — so we were well into Week 2 in England at Mark’s parents’ house before we started to shed SOME of the jet-lag. But even when we first arrived in France in the 3rd week of November, we were still exhausted.

Once we had the shopping and car insurance and ferry reservations and so forth sorted out, we drove in the wind and rain to Portsmouth to take the night ferry to Caen. I had booked a cabin so we could get some sleep, but the staff hadn’t finished cleaning the rooms when we arrived, so we ended up getting very few hours of shut-eye.

Waiting in a long and very slow line to board the ferry.

Waiting in a long and very slow line to board the ferry.

Waiting for our cabin to be cleaned in the blue-light disco.

Waiting for our cabin to be cleaned in the blue-light disco.

Arriving in France, we drove through persistent rain towards Caen and then south to the town of Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives and onward to the nearby village where we will be living for the next several months as Mark does a large renovation project.

The house was built over several centuries — but the oldest section is from the 1400s. And the part we are living in — the red brick section — is from the 1800s. We even have a resident mouser named (badly!) Caramel who SHOULD be named Rocky because he’s such a sturdy bruiser of a cat. However (ahem!) — he has now adopted Mark and he follows him around like a puppy. So much for the cat’s stand-offish reputation!

The Normandy renovation project.

The Normandy renovation project.

Mark inside the renovation project.

Mark inside the renovation project.

Mark's new playmate -- the cat in residence.

Mark’s new playmate — the cat in residence.

The town of Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives is quite stunning and given the fact that they were occupied by the German army during World War II — a remarkable amount of truly old and lovely buildings are intact.

Every Monday morning, there is a large local market that takes place both inside the medieval market hall (another post about that coming soon!) and in the nearby street and huge parking lot. The range of fresh produce, cheese, wine, meat, seafood, and more was a wonderful surprise.

The packed Monday market in Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives.

The packed Monday market in Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives.

Inside the historic medieval market hall at Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives.

Inside the historic medieval market hall at Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives.

Rooflines show the overlapping time periods of the town.

Rooflines show the overlapping time periods of the town.

Leaning against a wall of the cloister, a statue awaits restoration of the abbey in Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives.

Leaning against a wall of the cloister, a statue awaits restoration of the abbey in Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives.

And finally — a hello from our next door neighbours on ALL sides — the lovely cows of Normandy. I’ll be back with more slices of life-in-France in the next few days. Enjoy!

The pretty cows in the fields next door.

The pretty cows in the fields next door.

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World War II History In The Fields of Norfolk

It’s always a bit stunning to realise how much history has unfolded over the centuries in the UK within eyesight of what now appears to be a ‘normal’ village or town.

We have driven by this particular object for year after year and I always meant to go back and take a picture of it — but I only got around to doing it within this past week. It was a direct follow-on from a visit to an old World War II airfield that is now the museum dedicated to the 100th Bomber Group. And both the museum and this structure are less than a 5 minute drive down the road from my husband’s parents’ home in Norfolk.

As you can see, this machine gun emplacement on the edge of Dickleburgh is standing in a field that has just been plowed for Spring planting.

Nothing like a bit of of history sitting in a field that you pass every day to nudge your memory into recalling what went on there a mere 75 years ago.

 

Machine gun emplacement from World War II sitting in a rural Norfolk field


 

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A Beauty Break in the Midi-Pyrenees Of France

Life in France is frequently centered on quiet village and rural lifestyles. As a result, the scenery is often quite splendid even if the instant gratification of 21st Century amenities are somewhat lacking.

This charming view was taken on a roadside in the Midi-Pyrenees somewhat near the picture in a previous article about the Cathar ruin that we passed whilst driving back to France from Spain — “Slivers Of History On The Side Of The Road In France.

 

View of a rural village & countryside in the Midi-Pyrenees region of France from the D117 roadside.


 

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A Year After A Near Disaster in France

Really??? 12 months??? Where did a year go?

Last year at this time, we were quite literally saving the house of our friend Polly up in Normandy from burning down after an electrical fault in her freezer out in the storeroom set the garage and storeroom ablaze. Mark and I were very happy that we happened to be housesitting for her whilst she was in the UK for Christmas week with her two darling girls.

She mentioned us this week in a post on her own website — “From The Ashes Of Last Christmas — One Year On!”

What Polly didn’t remember was that I always sleep with earplugs, but I had felt uneasy all afternoon and evening. As I was headed off to sleep, and Mark was already soundly asleep beside me, something told me to pull my earplugs out and listen. I did and I heard a “Bang-bang-boom!” sound. Thinking someone was breaking into one of the gites, I awakened Mark — and then Polly has told you the rest of the story including the fact that Mark stumbled into electric fences as he raced next door to the neighbouring farm.

And what was the sound that I heard? It was the racks of chutneys and wine and champagne in Polly’s storeroom exploding!

The firemen — pompiers — arrived quickly and came from several towns all around. They were brilliantly efficient and they stayed until the wee hours of the morning to make certain that every last spark was out.
 

Firemen on the job in France


 

So here we are, 12 months later, and dreadful insurance ‘surprises’ notwithstanding, Polly’s project is well and truly under way and she’s bound to have a wonderful new garage, storage room, and loft back in working order by this time next year.

Merry Christmas to you and the girls, Polly!

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Autrefois Le Couserons: The Grand Parade Of Tractors in St. Girons, France

A sunny Saturday was perfect for the annual Autrefois Le Couserons celebration of rural and traditional life here in the Midi-Pyrenees of France.

The barricades went up early and people began lining the streets, sitting in fold-up chairs (including right beneath our front windows!) or standing anywhere that there was a small patch of available space that was not on the road itself.
 

Parade spectators at the Autrefois Le Couserons parade in St. Girons, France


 

Parade spectators sitting beneath our windows in St. Girons, France


 
For just over two hours, they paraded through St. Girons — tractors, carts, bands, singers, dancers, vintage firetrucks, you name it! And all of it went right beneath the windows of our apartment where we each stood, camera in hand, taking hundreds of pictures on that bright and clear day.

I am dividing the coverage of this event into several articles and slideshows so that it isn’t an overwhelming amount to look at each time.
 

Vintage tractor on parade at the Autrefois Le Couserons festival in St. Girons, France


 
Now for all of you ‘tractor geeks’ (Ooops! Tractor ‘enthusiasts’ was what I meant!) — Enjoy!


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The ‘Teaser’ Parade for Autrefois Le Couserons in St. Girons, France

The light was thinning as we left the house on Friday night. We hadn’t realised that there would be an opening night parade — a teaser — prior to the multi-hour Autrefois Le Couserons spectacle that was scheduled on Saturday morning. But we were fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time once again.
 

Three generations of a French family watch the small opening night parade for the Autrefois Le Couserons festival in St. Girons, France


 
Up and down the streets of St. Girons, people gathered in the windows overlooking the small parade and they followed it on foot in some cases. The night was fast approaching, the temperatures were thankfully dropping, and there was an air of excitement all along the route of the parade.
 


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Come back soon for another slideshow from the hundreds of photos that I took over the weekend.

Coming up next? Tractors and farm vehicles from all eras!

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©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page.
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