Our rector’s 5 minutes of fame!

For anyone who can read French, and who may be interested, here’s a link to a newspaper report about our Rector, here at Christ Church, Clermont Ferrand.

Sorry, I’m not doing a translation for you!

 

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Cheers in the early(ish) morning.

Every other weekend the youth football team of St Just go off to play an away match. They meet up in the car park opposite our house to car share, so there is always a hiatus while they wait for the last few players to arrive before they set off.

Nine or ten smallish boys need to find a way to entertain themselves while waiting, and their preferred method is to line up next to the road, and wave frantically at the cars that go past. If the driver waves back, this rouses an enormous cheer from the assembled boys. Often there is that mounting roar that is impossible to replicate using words…it starts quiet, gets louder as the climax approaches and then erupts into a cheer (or a groan, if the driver doesn’t respond)

Which is fine – but if they’re travelling some distance they do meet quite early for a Saturday get-up. There were cheers at 8 o’clock this morning….Still, it always makes me smile.

They quite often do the same thing when they get back and are waiting for their parents to arrive and pick them up. I’ll try and get a photo later.

Quelles temps!

What weather!

We knew that snow was coming – in fact, I didn’t go to church last Sunday, because it was forecast, but it didn’t arrive.

On Monday, Mr FD was worried – I had to go to Clermont to teach, but there was an Orange Warning for snow from midday onwards. I wanted to stay in Clermont to prepare for the week, but he wanted me to go home. I compromised by photocopying quickly what I thought I might need, before heading home. It was raining hard, but no sign of snow until I was almost home, and even that was only quelques flocons (a few flakes). It stayed grey and wet all Monday afternoon, but later in the evening it started to snow properly.

When we woke up – power was off! Our house is almost completely electric. Even though we have a granule burner it still requires electricity to feed the granules into the burning compartment, and to work the fan that blows out the hot air; we have a fireplace in our big salon downstairs, which heats bits of the house via the chimney, but that’s it. We had juice and bread for breakfast and Mr FD started digging the cars out, ready for me to go to Clermont in the afternoon for my planned lessons.

However, the motorways were closed – even in snow that’s most unusual for this region.I can only assume that some lorry breakdowns caused by the snow were the culprit rather than the snow itself. People were coming past Mr FD as he worked, asking for directions and saying they’d been stuck on the motorway all night. One of my students contacted me saying they were fine if I  wanted to cancel. As we haven’t yet got the winter tyres on the car, I thought this was prudent.

I was feeling quite caffeine deprived by now, so, knowing that our friends Monique and Michel have a wood stove and a gas cooker, I went across to beg a cup of coffee from them. I stayed in the warm, drinking coffee, while we watched Mr FD continue to clear the pavement and path, and remarked on how well he was working, considering he’d had a gastro the day before (!!)…then Monique suggested we might like to have lunch with them if the power was still off by then. I took a flask of hot water, so Mr FD could have a cup of tea, and we wrapped ourselves up in blankets and read until lunch time. When the power was still off. So we went across the road for tomato salad, and duck pot-au-feu. It was very welcome, as was the friendship and conversation.

Monique wanted to paint that afternoon, so we left at about 2.30, and went back to light candles, wrap ourselves up and read/draw. I really enjoyed the peace of it! Mr FD likes to have music, the radio, the TV on, whatever he’s doing, so there’s almost always sound going on around the house; not today. It was almost silent, erxcept for the swish of passing cars through the snow. At about 5 o’clock the fan on the granule burner started to whirr and we knew the power was back. The kettle went on for a hot drink, and Mr FD turned on the TV. The peace and quiet were over…But it was nice to be warm again!!

But here’s the weird thing – by the next morning most of the snow was gone, and by Thursday we were in bright sunshine and temperatures of 13° or more! Climate change is definitely happening…

 

The end of the week…

I am rather glad it’s Friday – I’ve had a tiring week. Although I should say I’ve got a busy weekend ahead of me too!

I had lessons in Clermont Ferrand on Tuesday afternoon, so I went down in the morning, stopping at Action in Thiers to buy a curtain. This is because all the churches going to Convention (next week) have been asked to bring their church banner. The closest Christ Church has to a banner is a felt-and-glue thing that the children made some years ago, with wobbly edges and horrid badly cut out letters. Rob, our Rector, asked me to take it to Convention, but I offered to “do something with it”.

Here it is with new letters, which I cut out and put onto white felt, before attaching to the background. Before, the red letters didn’t show up so well.

I’ve cut off the “vine” at the side to make it narrower; I’ve got “Clermont Ferrand” in blue letters on white felt, and I have bought a curtain, with ready made hoops at the top.

Friend Cathy is coming with her sewing machine tomorrow to attach the blue felt to the grey curtain; attach the “Clermont Ferrand” words and the vine along the bottom. Hopefully she’ll be able to shorten the curtain too, as it’s too long at the moment too.  It’s not great, all still being a bit wobbley, but we’re getting there.

ANYWAY on the way to Clermont I bought the curtain, and then arrived at ILS to do my preparation. However, we mustn’t call it ILS now, as the company has changed its name and is now known as “Bonjour World”

Personally, I’ve had mixed reactions to the name change, but it’s a done deal, so there you go. I did 3 hours teaching and was fairly knackered when I got home.

Wednesday was my day in Roanne, with 7 hours or so of teaching – strangely I didn’t find this as tiring as Tuesday: maybe I’d slept better the night before.

Then yesterday I had 3.5 hours teaching in Clermont again. I spent the morning at home preparing & doing other things. The lessons were fine, although I hadn’t actually got the right level of activities for one of the students. I managed to busk it, and hopefully will be better prepared next time. I was taking over frrom another teacher and he hadn’t really briefed me that well.

Today I’ve been home, getting ready for the next few lessons. I’m off to Convention on Wednesday, with the excitement of the elections.

Tomorrow lunch time, I’m helping serve meals for the Cycle Club Telethon event.

This is an annual event, rather like Children in Need – it takes place in December, but the Cycle Club got fed up getting freezing cold, or having to cancel because of inclement weather, so they moved their fund raiser to October. Basically any cyclist who wants to can join the ride and come along to the meal too, for a price. Also, anyone else who wants to can join in with the lunch too.

Organisée par le Club de Saint-Just-en-Chevalet, la randonnée est ouverte à tous. Tous les cyclistes (vélo de route à assistance électrique, VTT), de n’importe quel niveau, sont invités à participer à cette manifestation pour sillonner le Pays d’Urfé.

Au programme : 8h départ pour une boucle de 49 km (allure modérée, encadrée par une voiture ouvreuse et une voiture balai sécurisée par les motards de Saint-Germain-Laval) avec une pause à 10h à la Salle des fêtes de Saint-Priest-la-Prugne, 12h Repas partagé ouvert à toutes et à tous (cyclos, non cyclos, habitants), 14h départ pour une boucle de 42 km, 16h30 retour sur Saint-Just-en-Chevalet.

Inscription avant le 10/10. Tarifs : 15€/repas (bénéfices reversés à l’AFM)

Last year the weather wasn’t so good – lots of waterproofs in evidence!

In the afternoon Friend Cathy will help me with the banner. On Sunday morning I’ll be at Church, but I’m going to skive off the cleaning which is happening after the service, as in the afternoon I’ve got to pop over to Friend Mij, to collect some wood turning that her husband has done for Christmas presents. He does some beautiful things, and I’ll show you some of them when I have them.

Up early Monday morning – 6.30 at the latest (YAWN!!) as I’ll need to leave by 7.30 to get to Bonjour World office for 8.30 for my lesson that starts at 9.00!!

Now I have to go and get Pomme into her basket – she’s off to the vets for her injections. I don’t know how she will react…

 

 

Good things have been done!

I’m writing this on Friday. I think it will get published on Sunday.

Good Thing #1: I made some scones which I took across to Friend M. I made her a card a couple of weeks back, to encourage her while she was in rehab, and she came back home on Wednesday. We went to see her, and her partner, M, and it was such a pleasure to see her looking so much better. She looked brighter and cheerier, and explained a little about what she had been through. And she said firmly “Now I’m drinking nothing but water!” Good for her. We are hoping to re-start our card evenings, where we try to teach them cribbage and they try to teach us Tarot. (Don’t worry – it’s NOT reading tarot cards. It’s just the name of a card game.)

Here are the scones. I may have put one or two in the freezer for us!!

Good Thing #2: M, her partner, said he was driving down to Clermont today with someone from the village, to take clothes and shoes to a centre for refugees and migrants in Place 1ere Mai. I had already sorted out a bag of various bits and bobs, as I changed my wardrobe over yesterday…Autumn draws on and I’m thinking about fleeces! But Mr FD’s wardrobe is a mess.

Here’s a photo of the camp that is starting to grow in Clermont Ferrand

So I encouraged him to first go through the mountain of discarded shoes at the bottom of the coat wardrobe in the downstairs room. Some were too badly damaged to be given away, but there were five pairs that, although they were a bit battered, or rubbed Mr FD’s feet, were certainly good for a season’s wear. The really horrid ones have been set aside to go to the tip. Then he emptied his wardrobe upstairs and went through a pile of jumpers and tops that he doesn’t wear – they’re too short, or too small, or he doesn’t wear them…There were a few I was tempted to appropriate, until I remembered I had loads of clothes and these were going to people who were going to struggle to get through the winter. We took five bags of stuff across to M for him to take – including some hats and scarves which we don’t wear now.

Good Thing #3: While we were there M gave us an orange box full of peaches and one full of apples. To be honest, I think he was glad to be getting rid of them! So I skinned, chopped and sorted out the bruised bits from all the peaches, and made several freezer boxes full of peach compote/purée. Then Mr FD peeled and cored about half the apples – the other half were too damaged and bruised to be used. We could have gone through and picked and chopped the good bits but we already have boxes of stewed apple in the freezer and there’s a limit to how much one needs. But the leftovers are at least going to the composting bin at the tip.

Good Thing #4: I’ve prepared dinner for the Poor Cats. I fed them on Wednesday, and I’m due to feed them today as well. I used up some refused food from our Not-So-Poor Cats, plus a couple of tins of fairly cheap cat food. This gets mixed with hot water and a load of biscuits, which then makes a good mash for them to eat. Over the weekend I hope to also use some polystyrene sheets that Friend Richard gave me, to insulate their shed. I’m going to Emmaus with Friends Richard & Cathy, so I’ll see if I can pick up some cheap duvets/ blankets to help make the shed warmer for the winter.

Even though I didn’t get to do my ironing as I had hoped to do, we both feel that we’ve done Good and Useful Things today!

Are we sure they’re not Belgian…?

The Boring Old Farts decided to join in a little with the Fete Patronal last night. We had already arranged with Richard that we could stay the night with him, as Saturday night is always the noisiest and longest drawn out of the Fete, and he invited us and Friend Cathy up for a meal. It was very nice – we had mozzarella,tomato & avocado salad, with a green salad. Then a delicious vegetable gratin, breaded cod, new potatoes and peas, and then the Banoffi Pie that I took up. After this we decided to come back to the village to watch the Son et Lumière display and the fireworks. We were a bit late, so we missed the procession of stilt walkers – or so we thought! Actually, the stilt walker (singular) was a part of the S&L display.

He and his LED lit companions arrived in the square, and after a delay of about 10 minutes started their slightly surreal display – juggling and spinning sparkler-like fireworks, leaping on sprung stilts, skipping on stilts. It was quite amazing.

One of them was high up on a trolley affair, playing the role of the Queen, I think, as the other performers would bow to her and she appeared to be directing their actions. As I said, there was one stilt walker, on these sprung stilts, so he leapt, and bounded around at great speed; there were two other performers who span these firework/ sparkler things around with great alacrity and skill. It was, quite frankly, not what I had expected at all, but very good.

 

My photos are rather disappointing: I don’t have the knack of using my phone to take photos, so these really only give a poor flavour of what was going on.

We had to feed the cats and check that they were OK with all the noise, so we went back to the house to watch the firework display from the balcony.

While the display was very impressive (although my photos certainly aren’t) I copuldn’t help feeling very sorry for the Poor Cats (the feral cats that I feed) and wondering if they’d found a place where they might feel safe from the horrid flashy banginess that was going on not too far from their home.

Not our display, but a better photo. Not taken by me!

I may go aong to the Place this afternoon to watch the Waiter’s Obstacle Course – it might be quite fun.

By the way, the title for this post comes from our belief that Belgians are really rather weird. This stems from our trip to the Christmas Market at Brussels, where there was the most amazing carousel – not with ponies, or tea cups, or motor bikes, as you would find on normal carousels, but with wooden articulated caterpillars and huge spiders.

There was another, with a tiny rocket, with just one seat in it, which went directly upwards, as the carousel went round, through a hole in the canopy, and then down again, with the face of the occupant peering out through the window.

Not only that, but the nativity scene in the main square included lit up sheep (in blue, red and green), some of which had evidently escaped and set up their home on the balcony of the Town Hall… And, of course, there is the Atomium (I couldn’t remember the name so I googled “Brussels Ball Thing” Google knew what I wanted!!); it pleases me that in 2013 CNN named this as the World’s Most Bizarre Building! We visited – you can go inside – and yes, it is bizarre!

So, having watched last night’s rather strange and bizarre Son et Lumière spectacle, I turned to Mr FD and said “Are we sure they’re not Belgian…?” because all the evidence points towards it…!

It’s started…Boring Old Farts Unite!

No one told us about this when we moved here!

This isn’t “our” Fete but gives an idea of what it’s like

Every year the village has its Fete Patronal. We knew about that. What we didn’t know when we bought the house is that it sets up in the square outside  – a bumper cars, a mini roundabout, a mini dodgems, and RIGHT outside the house (so it’s a bit difficult getting out of the gate!) a huge Casino lorry that opens out to have slot machines and other arcade games. Round the corner is a shooting gallery, various crane-grab games and Hook-a-Duck, and a Wheel of Death ride.

In the past Mr FD has “had words” with the fairground people, which ended up with him getting threatened by a man weilding a metal bar, which wasn’t fun. Since then we’ve mostly just “sucked it up” as they say, and try to avoid the worst of it by going away on Saturday night…usually staying at friends’ houses out of the village. The Fete starts, on a small scale, on Friday, with the rides open, and then is full on for Saturday and Sunday, often not finishing until 2 am on Saturday night. You can imagine the noise with the bells-and-whistles-and-sirens of the rides, the music, the loudspeakers, the crowds… Sunday evening it closes about midnight – unless the weather is intemperate. You can imagine that we might just be praying for rain over this weekend… (because we’re boring old farty Killjoys!!)

This is this year’s programme:

It looks like a great time (if you like that sort of thing!) We’re not up for spoiling anyone’s fun, but it’s not much fun for us.

Actually, with the “Objectif Mars: Spectacle et animation” and the Course de garçon de café (a waiters’ race?) it seems to be getting bigger and more elaborate than in previous years. There are stilt walkers too!! (I’ve just looked up “Defilé de rue déambulation échassier“) Maybe we should go to the Vin d’honneur , get pickled and tryto enter into the spirit of things! It would probably make things better for us!

They’ve started the set up already (Thursday afternoon) with the big Dodgems going up on Tuesday. This afternoon they are trying out their sound system, so we have quite a lot of thumpy thumpy music going on. I think we must be getting old and grumpy, because I feel we should enjoy this as part of village life, and the programme looks exciting but it’s just not quite “us”. Added to which, I always feel terribly sorry for the Poor Cats whose territory gets invaded with the noise of fireworks and crowds. They must get terrified.

This year we’re decamping to Friend Richard’s house. He might be away, but he’s happy for us to stay in his house. The cats are OK with the fireworks if the shutters are all closed so we’ll be off. And locking the gate, as otherwise our courtyard is used as a convenient pissoire!

Grumble…grumble…complain…moan…