Bon Anniversaire Normandie – Happy Birthday Normandie

This year is the 11th centenary of the founding of Normandie.

In the autumn of 911 the Treaty of Sainte-Claire-sur-Epte was signed by Charles the Simple, King of France, effectively signing over a vast part of the north-east corner of France to Rrolf Gongu (“toutes les terres de l’Epte jusqu’a la mer”), a viking leader. After years of viking raids and pillaging along this coast, there came a time of peace and rebuilding by the descendants of those raiders, and the “Kingdom”(actually a duchy – self-governing, but owing allegiance to France) of Normandie was founded.

This year there are major celebrations of the 1100th anniversary. For details why not visit http://www.happybirthdaynormandie.com/

For the summer, the vikings make a welcome return to Surtainville – see our posting last summer; and there are many events within the regions listed on the website above.

Happy Birthday Normandie

Bob & Marjory

Will it? Won’t it??

… be a White Christmas, that is.

The snow of a fortnight ago vanished almost as quickly. Christmas lights are going up in the local communes.  “Christmas” events, like the “Marche de Noel” at Pierreville that had been cancelled have been programmed in again –

As the snow melted, there were some surprising survivors

Not sure of their name; but I’m told that they’re not edible. Quite striking as they emerged from the melting snow. Also emerging, though showing some signs of frost damage were the chrysanthemums

Even some of our vegetable garden came through virtually unscathed

Last Sunday we were at the Surtainville’s “Marche de Noel”; and then Tuesday was the Pierreville Club “Buche de Noel”, so Christmas began for us this week, in quite balmy daytime temperatures of getting on for 8 degrees.

The tables were set

 

 … the room laid out, and the tree decorated

… and even Santa put in an appearance

… the buche, amongst other things, was eaten

… there was drinking, and singing

… and so the first celebration of Christmas is done.

Within the last 24 hours the cold air that has brought snow to England has also reached here; at present with just a smattering of snow this morning. The local forecast is for it to hang about for a couple of days before warmer, wetter weather establishes for next weekend.

We’re keeping an eye out to see whether we do get to spend Christmas with family in England. Whatever your plans, and whatever the weather, we wish you a very enjoyable holiday season.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
 
from
 
Bob & Marjory
 
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Le Poulailler

Interesting place to visit – called in by chance last week on our little camping tour – “le Poulailler”, a small, but very interesting bar close to the cathedral in Coutance. It changed it’s name in 2002 to

with artwork inside and out by Paul Martineau

In 2008 it was extended, and the interior made to look even more like a chicken shed, and with further artwork by Paul Martineau

Even the sign for the toilet continues the farmyard/chicken shed theme

A couple of “1664”s and a very palatable rose wine made for a very enjoyable apero. Well worth a visit.

Bob and Marjory

Hirondelle Holidays goes mobile

Went away last weekend in our new toy –

to the site and hooked up, ready to begin

First was to get the caravan level

as we’d already discovered that the fridge doesn’t work unless level! What, no chilled white wine?! Not quite so important to check the level of the glass though – unless to guard against spillage.

 Next was to get the awning up –

no instructions, and the first time we’d tried it – very much trial and error. But we got there and just in time for the apero !!

So, all sorted, and ready for our first night –

Just one last thing before bed –

coming in dark, and Marjory not willing to use the shelter of the hedge, or the bucket (with lid!!); or even to walk the 50 metres across the site to the bloc sanitaire; we had to get to grips with the chemical toilet

Always useful to read the instructions, just to check we’ve got it right

OK, so we were only 55km down the road at Agon-Coutainville; but it was a good 4 day break, and we were able to do something that we’ve not managed to do for a good few years now – be tourists. Coming up – some of the things we found around Agon-Coutainville. But we leave you with the site we stayed at – a lovely, quiet, family-run site – mostly mobile homes, but ten pitches for tents/touring caravans; showers, sanitary block, washing machine; some small recreational areas, but overall a good place to get away, be quiet and unwind.

Bob & Marjory

English invade Surtainville !!

After the vikings last weekend – and perhaps previously –

it was the turn of the english at the Mare des Laguettes –

Jaguar, MG, Morgan, Triumph – all English makes – even (for fans of the original “Prisoner” series) two Caterham “Super 7” –

All english cars, but look again at the registration plates.

All owned locally by members of the “Roadsters Owners Club” of Normandy. Preserved in excellent condition and driven with pride –

We visited with French friends, who asked if there are similar clubs in England for French cars !!  but then went on to admit that the French have never built cars like these – but we did remember the pheneomenon of the “2CV” clubs in England.

Has any nation other than England, or Italy, built cars like these? Not only stylish and sleek, but winners of races like Le Mans year on year, as many of these cars boasted –

Bob & Marjory

Vikings invade Surtainville!!

 

The Viking flag was hoisted over the Mare des Laguettes last weekend. Camp was set up, and the invasion began –

They’d brought with them their weapons –

but also their household items, as if for a long stay –

Not only that; they were accompanied by their workers in wood and bone –

and in metal –

They set up home in Surtainville; but of course, it was just for the weekend. For these Vikings were members of a re-enactment society, of which a search of the web reveals many in Normandy. They brought with them traditional artefacts, games, and music, many of which are still to be found in derivative form in the region.

The Viking kingdom of Normandy was established in 911 A.D. by permission of the King of France, in order to try to curb the power of the invaders from the North, but also in recognition of their advanced state of civilization, under Rollon (Hrolf Gongu). 100 years later it had become a Dukedom within France, but was to blossom again under William, Duke of Normandy who in 1066 established the Kingdom of Britain and Normandy.

Many Normans revel in their Viking origins, and for the 1100th anniversary of the Kingdom of Normandie are planning on linking with countries of Viking origin throughout the world, and organising events and spectacles in celebration.

More information can be found on the website –

www.911-2011.fr

and the links to Viking and Norman heritage given there. ( www.Normandie-heritage.com is one example)

Bob & Marjory

Midsummer’s Day – Fete de la Musique

No need to travel far to celebrate Midsummer’s day and the start of the holiday season here in France. Every major town and city, and many, many smaller towns, villages and communes celebrate the summer with the Fete de la Musique. From the spectacular celebrations of Paris, Toulouse, Marseille, Bordeaux and the like; to Caen, to Cherbourg and other smaller cities; it will be a night of celebration of all kinds of music – medieval, folk, classical, pop, rock, indie, techno; you name it, it will be there somewhere.

Not to be outdone, smaller towns and villages started the celebrations early. Last Friday saw the choice of three local villages – Surtainville, Le Rozel and Benoistville. As I was singing with “Dynamique” of Pierreville it was to Benoistville that I went.

The village centre was packed by 2030hrs

Entertainment included choirs; small groups with guitars; a large group of musicians who came together for a jamming session; a group of singers who concentrated on songs in the local language – patois; a group of musicians and dancers with traditional instruments.

One highlight of evening was “La Chanson de Rue” – a mass sing-in of “Les Copains D’Abord” by the assembled visitors led by most of the musicians and the choir “les Marins de Cotentin”.

For me, a real find  was the group Ars Nova performing medieval songs accompanied by medieval instruments in the church. If you’re interested you can find out more on their website – www.arsnova-consort.com

I missed the “Danse Country” at Surtainville on Friday, but managed to catch some of it on Sunday in Les Pieux; part of their Fete de la Musique – not that I’m enamoured of American line dancing, but it does seem to go down well over here. No the reason I wanted to go to Les Pieux was that Mask Ha Gazh were once again playing outside the Hotel Les Pieux

– always a pleasure to watch, and join in with the singing (and dancing – you can’t keep still to their brand of “Rock Celtique”). Their website – www.maskhagazh.com

Once again the town was packed and people were entertained by a wide variety of acts –

And yet another “find” for me. Playing beside the Mairie was the (locally based) Folk group Eridan

Once again you can find out more, and listen to their music on their website – www.eridan.folk.free.fr

So the season begins – after a long time without blogging  I hope to get organised and bring you up to date on events in the area for the summer season; and just to tantalise a bit  – ‘what are the Vikings doing in Surtainville this August?’

Best wishes for a great season

Bob