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

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“Thrones” of the world

A little stroll along the “Boulevard de la Bastille” at the moment, and you will see the latest photographic exhibition mounted on huge placards, and dedicated to “thrones” of the world.

From the desert of Morocco

to the arctic circle

From the Mekong Delta

to one of only 2 of its kind left in the suburbs of Paris

And just who is this emerging from a tin shack in the outback of Australia? and what is he doing?

And these photographs in these urinals in Iceland we are told are of the bankers who led the country into the financial meltdown!

The pictures are an eloquent social commentary; but also have their serious side in reminding us of the UN statistics showing that well over half the world do not have proper sanitation.

This final speaks for itself

and well deserves the title “throne”

Bob

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

La Foire Internationale de Caen

Managed to get there on Friday afternoon. Expo this year was  “The India of the Maharajas”

India of the maharajas

a history of Rajasthan, that told us of the importance of the elephant in Indian society

elephant

of the importance of the tiger in the life of the maharajas 

tiger

and of the religion of hinduism in the life and culture of India

ganesha

And at the end of the expo a chance to buy spices from India

spices

and to visit the bazaar

bazaar

Of course, the fair is more than just the expo. 1000 exhibits, 50 countries, 30 restaurants; and much, much more.

Well worth a visit, even if just to the websites –

www.caen-expo-congress.com

www.indedesmaharajas.com

Had to visit Friday, because last weekend was the “journees de patrimoine” and this weekend is of course, the first day of the Chasse. Our friends are involved in the Chasse, and today were doing the meal for the chasseurs! We ourselves were awakened at 0900hrs by the noise of the guns around us. Next week is the Foire de Brix (St. Denis). We will not be here, as we are setting off on conges (annual holiday). Summer’s over, but still lots of things happening locally.

Bob & Marjory

Plants and Flavours of Autumn

This coming weekend at Omonville-la-Rogue, an expo organised by the Hague tourist board

PSA2009_mini

Expos in the garden and courtyard include ornamental plants, fruit trees, ancient and forgotten vegetables, garden furniture, and food and other products derived from gardens and plants.

hague expo

Also in the Manoir du Tourp and its grounds are the on-going exhibition dedicated to Alexandre Trauner, cinema set designer who worked with Jacques Prevert (his house in Omonville-la-Petite well worth a visit );

trauner

the photographic works “Regard sur La Hague” of Philippe Mauger; photographs of gardens; books about gardens, and particularly in the Cotentin; and photographic books of local history and culture, such as “Paul and les Autres”.

Also a bonsai exhibition, and a chance for youngsters to create and play their own musical games.

Plenty of fun and things to do for all the family. Visit www.lahague.org or www.letourp.com for more details.

Bob

La Foire de Lessay

Just had a very busy weekend – school’s back, the season’s over, but still things happening. The Fair at Lessay happens each year on the second weekend of September; and for the past few years we’ve tried unsuccessfuly to get there. Established in the 12th Century by the Benedictines of the Abbey of Lessay for the Feast of the Holy Cross, but also ‘pour favoriser le developpement du commerce’ (!), the fair has a long history, and every year has in the region of 400,000 visitors.

busy

Always busy, the fair today is a mixture of traditional elements, from the trading of animals to the reconstruction of the past, to modern farm machinery, and of course the foire forain (funfair) of modern celebrations.

agriculture

foire foraine

There were recruitment campaigns for the armed forces, and the gendarmes; but the highlight of the fair for me was the “Battous du Cotentin”, a reconstruction of traditional flailing of the wheat – using ancient forms of wheat

tradition2

from the separation of the grain from the chaff

tradition 1

to the grinding to make the flour

tradition3

and then serving up the proceeds as crepes for lunch.  A busy, but very rewarding day. Too much to see and do, so we’ll definitely be going back, all things being equal, next year.

Sunday we spent with the “Association Attelage en Cote des Isles”, in a cariole for 4 hours between Pierreville and Le Vretot.

 

attelage

 

In company with a dozen horse riders and a similar number of  chariots, carts, and other horse-drawn vehicles, we travelled a circuit of lanes

 

Lanes

and bridal paths

bridal paths

around Le Vretot, finishing with lunch, which in the usual Norman fashion took most of the afternoon. A busy and enjoyable weekend; and more to come next weekend with the “Journee de Patrimoine”.

More next week

Bob & Marjory

Summer in Surtainville

 

 

surtainville

It’s official then – summer’s here; and Surtainville began it’s celebration of summer last weekend with “Surtainville en fete”. Saturday was the summer Loto (Bingo); followed on Sunday by a Vide Grenier in the morning, afternoon INTER-JEUX (Surtainville/Pierreville), and various other events, including a display of country (line) dancing. The evening saw the annual Souper Normand followed by a Bal Populaire and Feu d’artifice. A good way to kick off a whole range of summer events publicised by the Mairie. And don’t forget the weekly summer market –

marche_estival

Talking of the Mayor (in a roundabout sort of way) – saw her on Saturday afternoon directing traffic!! Huge wedding in Surtainville, and after the church ceremony, the taking of pictures of the bride and groom blocked the main way through the village as friends and relations crowded round the church door. There was the mayor in the middle of the road, helping traffic through the village. Then again sunday evening, she was amongst the group of women serving up the souper normand. Real hands on stuff this being  mayor of a commune in rural France.

For details of summer events in the area visit the local commune and tourist office websites.

All the best for the summer holidays,

Bob and Marjory