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

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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

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

Les Journees de Patrimoine

Didn’t get to the Expo at Caen this last weekend. Instead on Sunday we went for a “walk down memory lane” with our neighbours, visiting the chateau at Briqueboscq, and then the water mill at Belle Fontaine – in process of  being restored.

chateau

Francis spent his childhood around the chateau, but had never been inside. Unfortunately this was not possible on Sunday either. But the exterior was well worth a look, and the history of the place as told by the present owner, though somewhat repetitive and dry at times, was interesting.

chateau2

 More interesting was Francis’s memories of the German occupation of the chateau; and the factory in the grounds producing rocket bombs to be aimed at London. 

(On the way back through Les Pieux Francis pointed out the foundations of the Post Office, saying that in the war it had been a German block-house (the foundations still visible) with guns trained onto the road coming south from Cherbourg.)

gite

We were allowed a look inside the gite that now takes up one section of the house. It has many of the original features – the fireplace, the doorways, the beams – plus some items of historical interest reworked as furniture, or simply for decoration, placed there by the owners. Will take up to eight people, but we didn’t get the price – probably much more expensive than ours! 

mill expo

The mill at Belle Fontaine is under process of restoration – with a long way to go yet. So far, one of two water-wheels has been restored and is in working order.

waterwheel

 The millstones are in place, but the cog mechanisms are in need of much work, as is the whole of the interior of the buildng. An enthusiastic band of volunteers, sponsored by, amongst others, EDF – have done the research, and begun the process of restoration.

mill workings

For the journee de patrimoine they were there to explain the workings of the mill, and raising money by selling craft works, and crepes cooked on the open fire of the mill. It appears to be part of a whole movement of restoration and revival of old traditions, alongside the windmill at Fierville, and groups like the Battous de Cotentin, and the folklore group St. Ergouffe at Surtainville.

EDF is involved in researching alternative, renewable energy sources. Is its sponsorship of groups such as these part of looking for these renewable sources?

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

“Le Mois des Parcs”

In September we are invited to discover the “regional natural parks”  of the Basse-Normandie Region. The nearest one to here is the Park of the Marais – based around Carentan and stretching out to St. Saveur-le-Vicomte, north to St. Mere Eglise, and south to Perrier and Lessay. The salt marshes of this low-lying area of land are home to many species of birds and animals.

heron

seal

From the centre at Les Ponts d’Ouve

marais centre

you can explore the Marais in many different ways, including by boat

marais

either by yourself, or as part of a guided tour.

More information is available on the site

www.parc-cotentin-bessin-fr

as also about the ongoing exhibition of building, using natural materials in the region

terre cru

building

builders

Well worth a visit, if not in this month of parks, than at any other time, to discover more of this region’s fascinating ecology and history.

Bob and Marjory