Tag Archives: village

Back To Bayeux

In several previous posts, I showed you some glimpses of the glorious Bayeux Cathedral, the outside of the Bayeux Tapestry building, and some of the wonderful gargoyles and grotesques on the exterior of the very ornate cathedral.

Today we are just having a bit of a walk around the town itself. It is quite lovely, very walkable size-wise, and is blessed to still have rather a lot of the original architecture since it was less impacted by World War II than most of the Normandy countryside.

 

The charming streets of Bayeux, a very pretty, historic, and walkable town in Normandy, France.

The charming streets of Bayeux, a very pretty, historic, and walkable town in Normandy, France.


 
People walking down a small cobbled street in the shopping district of Bayeux in Normandy, France on a bright and sunny day.

People walking down a small cobbled street in the shopping district of Bayeux in Normandy, France on a bright and sunny day.


 
Looking down a narrow one way street in Bayeux, Normandy, France towards the 11th Century medieval cathedral at the end of the block.

Looking down a narrow one way street in Bayeux, Normandy, France towards the 11th Century medieval cathedral at the end of the block.


 
Close-up details of the upper third of the dark red doors of the Bayeux Cathedral.

Close-up details of the upper third of the dark red doors of the Bayeux Cathedral.


 
A poignant war memorial on a side street in Bayeux, Normandy, France. As a French soldier is shot and begins to fall, the young boy takes the weapon and will carry on.

A poignant war memorial on a side street in Bayeux, Normandy, France. As a French soldier is shot and begins to fall, the young boy takes the weapon and will carry on.


 

Apologies for the return of the slightly larger watermarks again. I discovered several of my images being used on a German website where the person in question posted 3 of my images and claimed that they were his vacation pictures from Paris! Obviously the fact that they were all watermarked (and he cut that part off) and there is a COPYRIGHT notice posted in both my side bar and at the bottom of each page or post made no difference to this man.

After making direct contact with the person and receiving no response, I notified their ISP about their use of my image without payment or attribution. I gave them a link so that they could see that they were indeed my pictures and I told them that I had contacted the person and suggested that they just pay the bill for using the images.

The person in question apparently decided to ignore the issue, even after being contacted by me and by the ISP. So thankfully the ISP stepped in and the man’s site is no longer active. Good! It’s rather scandalous that people continue to troll the internet and use other people’s images as their own — but I am VERY PROACTIVE about pouncing when I discover that sort of blatant theft!

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

Perhaps I should title this article “Life In A Tiny French Village — For Now”?
 

The Midi-Pyrenees village of Engomer


 
We arrived in the Midi-Pyrenees almost 4 weeks ago and have settled — temporarily — into a house that we are renting in a small village. It’s a pretty little bend in the road, I won’t deny that. But this particular village is so small that there isn’t even a village shop or bakery or any kind of amenities.
 

River bend in the village of Engomer in the Midi-Pyrenees in France


 
Pretty and quaint is all well and good, but you know a place is wee-tiny when the post office is only open a few hours in the morning, and only for 4 days during each week. The woman who runs the place was actually quite put out that I wanted stamps for cards and letters to Australia and the USA instead of to other locations in France. Sheesh!
 

Village post office in Engomer & it is only open 4 mornings a week!


 
The picture below is of our way-too-large house as seen across the village tennis courts. We rented this house sight unseen at the recommendation of a friend here since she knew we’d be arriving with no place to live and no time to search because Mark would be starting work a mere few days later. It’s charming and fully furnished, but thank heavens we have a month to month option!
 

Our rented house seen across the village tennis court


 
For those of you who have followed my writing for years and were familiar with our darling little eco-cottage back in Australia, you will know that a big barn of a place like this is not really our style. The ground floor of this house is as large as our entire little house back in Australia! We are firm believers in a frugal lifestyle with low energy consumption, and this house may be charming, but it certainly won’t be energy efficient. If we want to splash out a bit, we’d rather invest in a new piece of computer or camera or sports equipment — not an electric or fuel oil bill!

A plan is being formulated. Twenty minutes from here is the larger town of St. Girons and that is where I plan to aim my search. We are going to look for a house with a much smaller footprint and a lock-up garage for Mark’s tools and supplies. We are putting the wheels in motion for our household goods to be shipped from Australia as soon as the shipping company can pick everything up within the next week or so.

We had hoped to manage with only one vehicle. But Mark needs the van every day for work and there is no public transport in this tiny spot. In a similar way to our life in Australia, the distances between each village or town means that we are going to be forced to purchase a small car for me. We may have that sorted out in the next couple of weeks and then I can begin the search for another house to rent.

St. Girons is a lovely and old-fashioned market town, but it has quite a lot of amenities. There are narrow streets and tall old houses pressed shoulder-to-shoulder, market squares, and lots of cafes and pretty little shops. It’s the kind of place where you can get out and walk to the shops, the hairdresser, the bookstore, or to a cafe for lunch or dinner with friends. How fab would that be!

As always, I will keep my readers apprised of our progress as things unfold. And thanks for all of the charming off-site notes that you have sent to me privately expressing your happiness about our adventure in resettling in a new country.

Finally, enjoy a slideshow of more village scenes including two shots of the snow covered mountains as seen through our livingroom window.
 


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©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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A Lingering Vibe of Sadness in Eastern Germany

It caught me by surprise — that lingering sense of sadness, hopelessness, and anguish. But I was too busy trying to catch up on editing photos to focus on tuning into the first wave of the vibe. I certainly hadn’t intended to know the history of that place since all I thought we were doing was ‘parking’ ourselves for a week after our wonderful month in Berlin. But it happened nonetheless, washed over me, and it has taken me months to feel like writing about it.

Ferienpark Dresden main building with self-contained apartments upstairs

The biergarten (beer garden & exterior dining area) at Ferienpark Dresden

We had been enjoying our time in a self-contained apartment in the small town of Ortrand outside of Dresden. We were at the Ferienpark Dresden campground with holiday apartments that were surrounded by thick forests on one side and flat farmland stocked with dairy cattle on the other side. We could cook for ourselves or eat in the charming little restaurant downstairs. And the biergarten served such yummy dark German beer! The setting was lovely, all was well, and there was no reason for my psychic senses to go all twitchy.

But as we took a long walk one afternoon to put some movement into my laptop-obsessed-and-inactive-body, I spontaneously blurted out to Mark as we walked, “I wouldn’t want to ask any of the local people about what went on here during World War II.” Mark was accustomed to this sort of out-of-the-blue sensing from me, so he just looked at me and didn’t query my reactions as I continued to talk.

“I get the oddest vibe here — as if there was a concentration camp or a work camp or something even more dire related to the Nazis. It’s hanging around in the atmosphere all of these years later. And it would make the current occupants uncomfortable about what their parents and grandparents might have been up to 70 years ago. I’d never want to make any of these nice people feel ill at ease.”

Every single person that we had met thus far had been completely charming and both common sense and common courtesy meant that I knew that the German people were quite sensitive and aware of what an aberration those 1930s and 1940s years were under the Nazi regime. I read the English translation of the German newspaper online and I knew that both the government and the general populace were determined to never have a return to that kind of chaotic violence. But it was a hurtful period to reflect on for many of them, so I wanted to practice the utmost courtesy and simply not ask.

We had stopped to stare at a waterway and the cows in the field as we continued on into the town. Then I told Mark that I was going to do a web search when we got back to the apartment. I knew that we were in an area that had been in East Germany until the reunification in the late 1980s, but it didn’t feel like a Communist time period vibe — it felt like a 1940s vibe.

On we walked into the spotlessly clean and orderly Ortrand, looking around slowly, and we began to spot things that we had never seen when we had arrived three days earlier from the other direction and gone straight into the campground complex. Watch towers — we saw watch towers looming over two different places. And then we walked by the fences, fences that were quite a lot taller than I am, fences that spanned both sides of one of the roads on the outskirts — and my entire stomach just went all icky.

 

Fences with a lingering 'vibe' in Ortrand near Dresden in eastern Germany

 

“Why are those fences shaped like that?” I asked Mark. And he told me that they were bent at the top to keep things in, not keep intruders out. I didn’t have a camera with me and we had to return there a few days later as we were departing, but I thought I would share what we saw and what I discovered.

There were large concrete tanks and platforms and crumbling buildings behind those fences and I was just preparing to photograph those when the hair on the back of my neck began to stand up. I turned to see a man who appeared to be in his early to mid-90s who was absolutely glaring at me with an extremely hostile expression when he spotted my camera. We departed quickly.

Ortrand had been the site of a work camp — one of the “Arbeitskommandos (Work Camps) supplied from Stalag IV-D” in Torgau according to the website run by a man named Graham Johnson. His extensive research was done to honour the memory of his father who was a prisoner in one of these camps. If you scroll down that extensive list, you will find that Ortrand used British servicemen from Stalag IV-D to make cement for the German army. That certainly explained all of those moldering buildings behind the fencing which were grown over and only partially visible.

This Iron Cross and Eagle monument, pictured below, stands in the middle of a traffic round-about in front of the train station which is currently full of workmen and undergoing renovation. So yes, the past is still visible in several places around the village.

 

Iron Cross and Eagle on monument in front of train station under restoration

 

This is Ortrand today — a very peaceful, pretty, and tidy village full of pastel coloured buildings. Any feelings of discomfort that I may have had several days previously were dispelled by an afternoon of walking around, taking photographs, eating ice cream, and drinking a wonderfully strong expresso at a local cafe.

 

The main square in Ortrand near Dresden in eastern Germany

 

Pastel buildings in Ortrand near Dresden in eastern Germany

 

View down Bahnhoffstrasse from train station towards the village

 

Barista in Ortrand making a splendid expresso!

 

I am quite aware that most people aren’t as sensitive to lingering historical vibrations as I am, but it was an episode that I felt was worth sharing.

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