65th Anniversary D-Day celebrations

A whole weekend of celebrations for the 65th Anniversary of D-Day is underway; and this lunchtime reached us here a good 3/4 hour from the nearest landing beaches. Wave upon wave of military planes banked and turned over us heading to the parachute drop at St. Mere-Eglise.

They appeared from the west – over the Channel Islands and the West Cotentin coast

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they banked and turned

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coming so close

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then away south east towards St. Mere-Eglise

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then they were back again

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more and more

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circling and banking for about an hour

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even the dogs next door were trying to see what was happening

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Bob and Marjory

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Fete des voisins (neighbour’s festival)

Today, apart from Pentecost, is the festival of neighbours. It’s a holiday weekend here – tomorrow is a jour ferie ( bank holiday)” lundi de pentecote” (what used to be in England, Whit Monday). I remember from my childhood in Yorkshire the whitmonday walks (a walking race round the West Riding, as it was then, of Yorkshire). Also, the “beating of the bounds” – traditionally a walk around the boundary of the parish to mark where these boundaries are (accompanied at times by the beating of the chorister at the four points (compass) of the parish).

Strange customs these English have!?!

Links with “John o’the green” and other May and early summer rites. But then the French are the same – for a supposedly secular society they still celebrate many religious festivals.

However – back to the fetes des voisins. In an increasingly divergent and secular society, the government here, like the English government, have decided to encourage community action and neighbourhood events.

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For the neighbour’s festival we organised a barbecue with our neighbours, and invited friends both French and English. We began at 1200 and finished at 1800. Tomorrow we recover, perhaps !?!

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Look out for news of upcoming events in and around the area.

Bob and Marjory

Celebrating the start of summer

Last weekend saw the start of some traditional summer festivities with the local commune of St Germain-le-Gaillard celebrating its Foire Saint-Urbain. Traditionally a livestock fair, it began with a concours de mouton; and then through the day an animation inter-commune; including courses en sac, tir a la corde, lancer de charentaise, course a l’oeuf – recognise these from English village fairs?

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There was , of course, the modern aspects to the fair, with a soiree couscous, a vide-grenier (literally an empty attic) or car boot sale, and a moto-cross.  All-in-all a good time was had by all; and the weather, though not as sunny as the previous few weeks was good. Not like now as we have traditional English Bank Holiday weather!!

But then there was the more modern start to summer. Last year it was the fishermen protesting at the price of fuel and blockading the ports. This year the farmers blockaded the supermarket carparks. In an on-going protest at the supermarkets’ lowering the price paid to the farmers for milk, old tires, fumeur (mucking-out from the cowsheds) and agricultural vehicles are used to block entry to supermarket carparks. To do our weekly shop last Friday we had to park in a nearby street, and walk to the supermarket. Super-U was quieter than we have ever seen it! The protest continues, and there are rumours of a shortage of milk and dairy produce. We wait for further news.

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Meanwhile however, the summer season slowly begins – watch this space for upcoming events and new, or refurbished summer attractions.

Hoping the weather continues to improve after this Bank Holiday setback. (We have our fourth bank holiday within a month next Monday – Lundi de Pentecote (Whit Monday, the [religious] forerunner of Spring Bank Holiday).

Bob and Marjory

St. George

How did you celebrate St. George?

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The highlight of Les Pieux’s celebration last weekend appears to have been a Lotto (Bingo) session!! a far cry from last year’s national box-cart competition. Though there does appear to be a big event happening this weekend at the Centre d’Hippique – temporary stabling set up in the municipal fields below below the Equestrian Centre, and horse boxes of all shapes and sizes arriving over the past few days. Have a look at the Centre website for what’s happening later in the season – http://pagesperso-orange.fr/equitation.lespieux/topic/index.html

Meanwhile the commune of St-Georges-de-la-Riviere (just south of Barneville-Carteret) celebrates its patronal festival this coming Sunday with a sung mass in the Church, followed by a “Vin D’Honneur”; and then in the afternoon various cycling events for all the family.

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For me ? the best I can do for the moment is a glass of English beer !!

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Bob

And the cuckoo, too …

has been heard in Pierreville, and in Surtainville. Along with the swallows, which now seem to be arriving in profusion, another sign of the arrival of summer.

Francis, our next door neighbour, told me of some old country lore about the cuckoo when I told him I’d heard them at Surtainville, and he’d said that they were in the fields close to home too. He asked how much loose change I had in my pocket at the time I’d heard them. To hear the call of the cuckoo is auspicious in annnouncing the summer, but if you have money in your pocket at the time, then that’s better; and the more money you have, the better the year will be. Let’s hope he’s right !!

Bob

One swallow might not make the summer …

but many swallows suggest that summer has arrived!!

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Last Sunday the familiar shape passed over the road as we drove down to Portbail; but it was such a fleeting glimpse that it was not sure. However Tuesday was a very definite sighting of two over the bridge at Portbail, and then yesterday definite sightings of groups over the roads between Portbail and Surtainville.

It’s taken us so long to report these sightings because for the past week, as you probably can guess, we’ve been in Portbail. We’ve travelled in early morning, and not returned till late evening. 13hour days working with a group of French schoolchildren from just north of Paris on an immersion English course, including a daytrip to Jersey!! We’re exhausted, but just about ready for the season as it begins.

So summer is officially here, and all signs are that this is going to be a good one. A little cool today, Easter Sunday, but it’s only early April yet. Time to look forward to those long lazy days of summer holidays on the beach at Surtainville.

Bob and Marjory

What a week!!

Just over a week since we arrived back from England, and what a week it’s been.

The weather is glorious, so the grass and the hedges are growing apace – we’ve spent a day starting the first major grass-cutting of the year.

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The Club des Aines had its assembly (AGM) last week; which is a full day out starting with the meeting and elections, then lunch at a restaurant for all members, which went on till almost 5 o’clock. Add to that I was pressurised into joining the bureau (committee), so had to return the following morning for the first meeting for election of officers, and planning for a day’s activities in May and a day out to St. Malo in June.

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Saturday  we had a delivery of wood for the fire (ordered over a month ago), so began work sorting and stacking that. Then the evening was the “Premier Samedi-Gras” in Surtainville, where we went for a dinner dance/ fancy dress ball. We feasted on chou-croute and danced into the early hours, followed by a night-cap with friends. (I thought it was mardi-gras before lent, though I suppose there is some justification for not counting Saturday evening into Sunday as part of the season of abstinence!!)

Sunday was the open-day to start Jacqueline’s exhibition at Flamanville (see the preceding post), so after a lie-in and some work in our own garden, we were away there.

Monday/Tuesday making the most of the weather stacking wood, pruning and cutting bushes, cutting grass.

And the enquiries for holidays beginning to come in; and beginning to prepare work for an english experience for French schoolchildren (including today booking Fish and ships (chips, I think) in St. Helier for a one-day visit there.

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Looks like it’s going to be a busy summer. And the best is, we’ve been told that as it’s been such a hard winter, we are to expect a glorious summer!

Bob and Marjory