The Fountains of Bergerac

It hadn’t been a good idea to sit up half the night watching the general election which resulted in a hung Parliament. Not when I had to make a start on putting together accounts information for my accountant. Not when we received a surprise visit from a prospective buyer for the house next door to discuss a boundary issue. Not when I had to deal with correspondence and phone conversations on that subject with the seller’s solicitor. Not when I was engaged in on-line communications of various other natures including reading and responding to followers’ comments. Not when all these activities were being juggled together.

I was beginning to wonder how I was going to summon the energy for photography when Sam came to the rescue.

When my son and his family left us in Portsmouth a couple of days ago they were en route to France where they spent the night in Caen and visited the Bayeux tapestry before going on to Sigoules to our house in that village. Because of the early morning trip to Southampton Hospital we managed to send them off without the keys. This necessitated my having to arrange for the estate agent out there to provide Sam with a set of keys, and to contain my anxiety until the handover had been accomplished. That had also interfered with my sleep the night before the election.

This morning the family explored Bergerac where the children enjoyed the fountains.

Malachi, Orlaith and friend

This one, where Malachi and Orlaith soon engaged with a little friend, is in the medieval Old Town. I have myself enjoyed many an ice-cream from the kiosk opposite while seated on that little wall.

Malachi and Orlaith 1Malachi and Orlaith 2Malachi and Orlaith 3Malachi and Orlaith 4

These further fountains must have been installed in the newer environs some time after my last visit.

In e-mailing these images, Sam had unwittingly saved my bacon. Given that Malachi’s new raincoat was also left behind in Downton it is just as well that they are clearly enjoying good weather.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s excellent beef casserole, new potatoes, carrots, green beans, and cauliflower cheese.

Villeneuvette

Today we completed the weeding of the rose garden, and Jackie cleared out the potting shed, to which she adapted a set of shelves to fit.

This afternoon, I scanned a batch of colour slides from a French holiday in September and October 1981. We shared a house in Cabrieres, Languedoc with Jessica’s friend, Sue Sproston. The house belonged to a colleague of Sue’s who was in the process of renovating it, but hadn’t been too bothered about fixing potential leaks in the roof. Trust us to experience the worst thunderstorm locals could remember.

Jessica 9.81Jessica and Sam 9.81Sam 9.81

Here, Jessica and Sam see me off on a trip for the obligatory croissants from the boulangerie.

Garden 9.81

I found the local gardens fascinating. Some were carefully tended;

Truck in garden 10.81

others seemed to be spaces to park trucks

Trike and crocuses 10.81

or trikes.

Cacti 10.81 1Cacti 10.81 2

Cacti were in abundance. It seemed to me that, if the barbed wire had been designed to deter inquisitive fingers, it was probably somewhat superfluous.

Jessica, Sam and Sue Sproston 10.81

Here Sue joins Jessica and Sam in investigating the local lake.

Grapes and fountain 10.81

It was clearly the time of the vendanges, or the grape harvest.

St Guilhem 10.81

We drove around the area and visited a number of villages, like the beautifully kept St Guilhem,

Sam at Villeneuvette fountain 10.81

and the almost abandoned Villeneuvette, where Sam sloshed in the fountain, a little less elaborate than the one in the grapes picture.

Wikipedia, currently has this to say about Colbert’s social and economic experiment:

‘Villeneuvette is a commune in the Hérault department in the Languedoc-Roussillon region in southern France.

It lies close to the town of Clermont l’Hérault.

Villeneuvette is a small village made up of a group of buildings initially erected in the 17th century to create a royal clothmaking factory and provide accommodation for its workers. Apart from a hotel and restaurant, the buildings are now restricted to residential use, many for holiday purposes.

Creation of Villeneuvette was promoted in 1677 by Jean-Baptiste Colbert the noted finance minister of King Louis XIV. It was one of his many initiatives to develop France’s industrial base. Power for the factory was hydraulic with water supplied via different water courses from existing basins. The factory was privately owned and produced cloth for the king including uniforms for his armies. The factory was in existence until 1955.

Since 1995 the village has been classified as a “Zone de Protection du Patrimoine et du Paysage” recognising the originality and importance of its heritage.

The original inscription above the gateway was “MANUFACTURE ROYALE” but was later rather crudely changed by the Republic to “HONNEUR AU TRAVAIL” – Honour in work.’

When we stumbled across the commune most dwellings were unoccupied, except for a few people who, to us, appeared to be squatters. We were able to amble around and marvel at the higgledy-piggledy nature of the accommodation, often with one family’s upper rooms above those of the residents below.

Clermont-de-Lodeve001In 1982, J.K.J. Thomson published ‘Clermont-de-Lodeve 1633-1789’. Since it contains an erudite history of Villeneuvette, I had to buy it. It was, in fact, far too academic for my taste, but I did struggle through it. Interestingly, the book jacket shows the changed inscription mentioned above.

I was, perhaps fifteen years later, rather pleased I had, when one of my consutatiion clients told me that a couple of her friends had bought one of the residences which were now being sold on the open market. I was able to describe what we had seen, and to hand over the book. I didn’t expect to see it again, but, it was eventually returned to me by the  wife, who happened to be  a committee member of another agency client. Even then, before we were all overtaken by the Web, it was a small world.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious lamb jalfrezi, savoury rice stuffed with goodies, and vegetable samosas; followed by apple strudel. We both drank Kingfisher.

Rabbits And A Slow Worm

The wind still raged after a stormy night. I walked down to the Spar shop and back for strawberry jam to accompany scones for the visit of Michael, Heidi, Emily and Alice. They didn’t have any so I settled for blackcurrant.Choppy breakersPeriwinkleFountains
Choppy breakers on the Solent, a good mile away, could be seen from Downton Lane, where plants such as periwinkle, even in the shelter of the hedgerow, quivered precariously before the blasts.
Droplets from the otherwise uninspired fountains in Shorefield Country Park sparkled in the occasional bright sunlight as they were blown across the disturbance of the surface of the pool.
Clematis montana and lilacAccording to the poet Alfred Noyes, Kew, which ‘isn’t far from London’, is worth a visit at lilac time. We are quite a way from London, but we have a few lilacs in the garden, as well as various clematis, most of which are entwined among trees and other shrubs. One such is the montana shown here.
Jackie put on a splendid lunch for us and our visitors. Broccoli and Stilton soup was followed by pizza and garlic bread, before an array of cold meats, cheeses and various salad ingredients.
Michael, Heidi, and the girls accompanied me on a walk to the beach.Slow worm A slow worm slithering across the tarmac on the path to the rookery caused some consternation. It looked so much like a snake.Alice, Isle of Wight & The Needles
After descending the steps from the cliff top we continued along the shingle to the Hordle Cliff car park where Jackie met us. Heidi joined Jackie on the return in the car and the rest of us walked back.Rooks & nestHeidi, Michael, Emily & AliceMichael, Derrick, Emily & Alice
Like the rooks, battling against the buffeting wind, we struggled to maintain our line. Guess who took the pictures.
Alice photographing a rabbitAlice stopped on the way back to photograph rabbits scuttling about among the static caravans in the country park. When she got home she e-mailed me some of her pictures:Rabbit by Alice 1Rabbit by Alice 2Rabbit by Alice 3Rabbit by Alice 4
After a quick cup of tea and scones I accompanied Michael and his family to New Milton railway station where we deposited Emily on a train for her journey back to Nottingham to rejoin her university. The rest of us then returned for more tea at our leisure before my son, daughter-in-law and younger granddaughter set off back to Sanderstead.
I had forgotten to give Michael his belated birthday present, so telephoned him and he returned to collect it and continued on his way.
This evening the remainder of the super soup sufficed for our supper.