Thursday, 19 October 2017

Walking from Cussay

On Tuesday we wrote about a walk we did a couple of weeks ago, today we are catching up with a walk we did last week.

Last Thursday was a typical October day - started with very light drizzle, and ended up quite warm and very sunny, which made the afternoon perfect for a walk. We met up in le Grand Pressigny and drove to La Bosniére, a hamlet just outside Cussay (There's a link to the map at the bottom of the page if you don't know where these places are).

The main excitement on this walk was a number of roe deer we disturbed.



If you want to do this walk, the map is here.

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And talking of weather... It has been unseasonally warm here of late. On Monday the temperature reached 27c, almost 10 degrees warmer than average for mid October. It has cooled down slightly since, but daytime highs are over 20c for the next few days, then we're cooling down for a few days of showers. Next week we're up in the 20s again.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Cardinal Richelieu

One of our favorite television shows of the past ten years was the first season of the BBC production of Musketeers. It is a modernisation of the story of Louis XIII's musketeers, using Alexander Dumas' characters but with a modern twist. All the usual suspects are there: a mysterious lady, Cardinal Richelieu, Louis XIII, Anne of Austria, and four butch blokes and their boss.

Besides the Musketeers themselves the most important characters are Cardinal Richelieu, played in a most chilling pantomime way by Peter Capaldi, and the costumes. The following video shows what I mean.


If you haven't seen the show, and have a couple of hours to spend knee deep in intrigue, violence and slightly kinky (admit it) costumes, seek it out.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Walking From Chambon


A recent walking club outing was a circuit from Chambon, going up the hill, through the forest, overlooking the Creuse valley then back around, past picturesque cottages, hidden vineyards and mature oak trees. Here are some pictures from the afternoon in late September.

A very old house in Chambon at the start of the walk.

Bolete type fungi right on the edge of the road.
You wouldn't want to eat these mushrooms, not because the species is toxic -- it probably isn't. But the mushrooms will be covered with substances coming out of the exhausts of passing vehicles, and they will have absorbed similar substances from the ground as they've grown.

Fabrice stripping off in the heat.
It was unseasonably warm the day of the walk (in the mid-20s) and we were all a bit overdressed. Fabrice thought he'd take advantage of zip-off trouser legs, but then found he couldn't get them over his boots.

An early autumn view over the Creuse Valley.

Walking through a parcel of forest.

A farm track.

The chateau of Rouvray.

Turning to go back up into the woods.

On the edge of the forest, looking over a small valley.

A fine specimen of a mature oak tree.

A well by the side of the track.
The above to photos were taken from where several forest trails meet. We chose to go right, past the oak tree, but we could have gone straight ahead past the well.

By the end of the walk the sun was low in the sky and the shadows were long.

A picturesque cottage.
We passed through several hamlets with picturesque cottages. This is just one of them.

The chateau of Chambon (more of a medieval fortified farm).

If you want to do this walk yourself, here's the map

Monday, 16 October 2017

Monday is Queens Day: 4 Anne of Austria


Anne of Austria was born in Spain in 1601 and was the eldest daughter of King Philip III of Spain. Her titles included Infanta of Spain and of Portugal and Archduchess of Austria.

When she was 11 she was bethrothed to Louis XIII of France, as part of the 1559 treaty that ended the war between the two nations. She and Louis were married in 1615, on the same day that her brother (later Philip IV of Spain) married Louis' sister (Elisabeth of France). It wasn't a particularly happy marriage as Anne was constantly in conflict with the woman who saw herself as the real queen of France, Louis' mother Marie de Medici.


A later palace coup meant that Marie de Medici lost her power, to be replaced in turn by Charles d'Albert, Duke of Luynes (with whom Anne had a good relationship) and then Cardinal Richelieu. Once again Anne found herself in conflict with her husband's chief advisor, a position not helped by France declaring war on Spain in 1635.

Although she had a series of stillbirths, in 1638 Anne gave birth to an heir (later to become Louis XIV) and then in 1640 a spare (Philippe de France, Duke of Anjou). In 1643 Louis XIII died, and Anne contrived to have herself created regent for her son (against the late king's wishes). She remained regent until Louis XIV came of age, and then was the power behind the throne until 1661 - at which stage she went and did the nun thing. She died in 1666 and  is a central figure in Alexandre Dumas' "The Three Musketeers".

The Jardin du Luxembourg has statues of 20 French Queens and Illustrious women. The subjects were chosen by  Louis-Philippe I  in 1843. This statue was created by Joseph-Marius Ramus in 1847. To see Anne of Austria you have to go here.

Eventually all 20 statues will be featured here.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Gus Beutel Lookout



This is the view over the Lockyer Valley from Gus Beutel Lookout in Ravensbourne National Park, south-east Queensland. The lookout is named after a local early 20th century landowner. One of his two wives and two of his twenty-one children are buried nearby.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Bus Shelter


When we were in Paris in September we stayed in the 14th arrondissement. Round the corner from our hotel, near Denfert-Rochereau station and Montparnasse cemetery was parked a large decoratively painted bus. We photographed it because it looked bound to be interesting. And so it was.

It is owned by Les Enfants du Canal ('the children of the canal'). They are a charity working with homeless people. The bus offers coffee, a place to rest or somewhere they can seek support.


The focus on homeless people tends to be when winter starts to set in and the public are reminded by charities such as this to think of those sleeping on the streets. But les Enfants du Canal have realised that summer throws up its own challenges for the homeless. First of all, in France it is illegal to evict tenants in the winter so the newly homeless appear in droves in the summer. Also, more homeless people die in the summer than they do in winter (124 in winter compared to 143 in summer in 2014 for example).

As a result les Enfants du Canal have created this day centre in a double decker bus, known as le Bus Abri (literally, 'the bus shelter'). Their idea was to have something on the street, very informal. The bus has been parked in the 14th arrondissement in boulevard Arago since the summer of 2015, just around the corner from the prison of la Santé. It's always in the same place and homeless people can come and have a coffee, rest, talk and meet the on board social worker. Also on the bus are travailleurs pairs ('peer workers'), people who have been homeless in the past and who now work to help others in their former situation.