Yesterday, 14th July, was a public holiday in France – or at least, it would have been, had it not been a Sunday. I do think the British bank holiday system is better: fixed days, usually on a Monday. And if it’s a moveable feast (for example, Christmas Day & Boxing Day) and it falls on a weekend, days get added after the weekend. Splendid! Here in France if the bank holiday falls on the weekend, well, tant pis!, you lose it!
Anyway, there were celebrations going on all over France, to commemorate the storming of the Bastille in 1789. which is recognised as the beginning of the French Revolution. Wikipedia gives you more information about this, should you be interested.
We did no storming of anything however. Our friends who own a restaurant in the next village were having a Mechoui (a spit roast). I had a photo of their poster to put here, but the picture of a spit-roast pig was a bit graphic, and I’m aware that there are some vegetarians who read this, and may not appreciate such photos. Here, however, is a cropped picture of people tucking into the meat
We met up with someone we’ve not seen for ages, and caught up with news on her and her daughters – they came to France 12 years ago, speaking no French at all, and now one of the girls is working in a help-centre for UK customers in France, after 3 years doing languages at University, and the other (who struggled at school) is working as a chef in a hotel kitchen – both loving it! It’s always good to hear about young people doing well.
We had our meal – which was enjoyable, and quite filling – while chatting to a Dutch couple. They had cycled over from St Just, having seen the graphic poster for the meal. They were having a rest day on their epic ride from Holland to Spain! The woman had left her job, and the guy was self employed so had stopped working; they had taken 4 months out to ride to Barcelona (I think) from their home in the Netherlands. It was interesting talking to them & finding out more about their trip.
Then, Jean-Luc (the owner-chef) and his band played into the afternoon…
…the music was good, but the lyrics (all in English) were mangled. If you didn’t know what they were supposed to be singing you wouldn’t know what they were singing! If you see what I mean.
We sat in the sunshine, drinking our Perrier and enjoying the sounds of the 70s and 80s!
Take it away, Jean-Luc! Guitar solo time! (J-L is on the right)
Dire Straits, Beatles, Status Quo, Rolling Stones…all the oldies were there!!
We left about 5.00, but I’m sure folk were there well into the evening, but Mr FD wanted to get home to watch the end of the cricket world cup final, which England won after what I was assured was a nail-bitingly exciting ending.
An enjoyable, relaxed day.
We had had to choose, unfortunately, between this event and the Fete des Voisins meal, which was happening on the same day. We went to this event last year, and it was good fun, but this year we chose to go to Jean-Luc and Traudel’s event. And next year, who knows…
A couple of weekends ago Mr FD and I went away with the Cyclos de St Just (the local Cycle Club, of which Mr FD is the treasurer). We stayed in a VVF Holiday Village in Ayen, not far from Brive, in the SW of France. The Holiday Village is a little dated now, but each couple had a chalet each – there was even a bedroom for the bike! – and the food was good school dinner / canteen standard.
We arrived at lunchtime on Friday, and had our picnic in the dining room of the village. We had all brought our own picnics, but after we’d eaten, Yves produced a huge box of cherries from his garden, Marie-Claude had made an enormous box of bugnesand someone else had made a nutty-crunchy-biscuity thing, all of which were passed around the table for us all to eat. The plan was for the cyclists to ride on Friday afternoon, but it was pouring with rain, so we decided to go to Lascaux 4.
If you don’t know much about the history of Lascaux, this site tells the story of the discovery of the caves, and what happened afterwards.
It was amazing! Although it’s not the “real” Lascaux caves, it is as near as dammit. Everything was really well laid out, and the guide was knowledgable. We had visited way-back-when, about twenty five years ago, but now the Visitors’ Centre has been expanded. It’s fascinating, with lots of interactive displays that even I, a complete techno-idiot, could manage!
While you can’t take photos in the caves, you can take photos in the exhibition hall.
I particularly liked the “fat ponies” as I called them. The markings on this one remind me of the markings on Przewalski ponies, the prehistoric breed of pony that can still be found on the Causses of France and in Mongolia too.
This poor pony appears to be falling to his death. It is a remarkable painting, as it is painted “around the curve” of the rock, so the painter couldn’t see the whole picture as he/she was painting it.
Here are some more paintings of bulls and cattle.
I really enjoyed my visit, and found the exhibition to be really well put together. It wasn’t cheap, but you could easily spend a good half day there. We didn’t see all the exhibitions. If you are in the area I’d definitely recommend it – but remember, you need to book your place on the tour! There’s no “free” visits, they’re all guided tours.
When we left, it had stopped raining, and the sun was starting to come out, which gave me the chance to take a couple of pictures of the outside of the Visitors’ Centre
We got back quite late, so dinner took until about 9.30 to eat. We started with a rather thin, watery soup and then had magret de canard with peaches, together with sautéed potatoes. There was cheese and salad, and then a rather miserly slice of raspberry bavaroise. For Louis, one of the cyclists who usually has 3 or 4 desserts, this was a bit of a disaster!
A short organisational meeting over coffee in the bar, and we felt it was time for bed. Cycling tomorrow! (for Mr FD…)
You can have the next installment soon…What did we do on Saturday?!
A few weeks back I was stuck, not knowing what to write about, and Mags suggested that she’d like to hear more about Christ Church, the Episcopal church I attend in Clermont Ferrand. I don’t know much about its history, so I did a bit of digging, and found some information, including a text from someone writing about the beginnings of the church…
So, here is this small very “Anglican” chapel in the centre (well, on the outskirts) of a suburb of Clermont…How did it get here?
It’s actually in Royat, which used to be a seperate Spa town, until Clermont grew and swallowed it up. Royat was popular with Brits – possibly on the Grand Tour (although as it’s not very well known, it may have been on the not-so-grand-tour) but possibly just for those who wanted to “take the waters”. There are several spa towns in the surrounding areas – Volvic, Vichy, St Galmier… So in 1886, an Anglican chapel was built here
This plaque inthe church commemorates Amie Brandt who was obviously very involved in the founding of the chapel. As far as I can find, her husband, Dr GH Brandt was carrying out research of some kind on the waters at Royat-Les-Bains (to give it its full title)
The chapel was handed over to the Eglise Reformée (Protestant church) of France, and specifically into the care of the Eglise Reformée of Clermont Ferrand, but they had built their new city centre church in the 60s, to replace an older building, and weren’t too interested in using this small chapel
The inside of the Eglise Reformée Clermont Ferrand
Here we are, with a small unloved chapel needing an occupant…and in elsewhere in Clermont Ferrand, a seed was starting to germinate…
Using the words of a member of Christ Church, the story unfolds:
In the mid-1990’s, a small group of Michelin employees expatriated from the U.S. began to talk about start an English speaking worship service. They found that there were several American and British families living in the Auvergne looking for a church to call their own. The Convocation of American Churches in Europe in Paris was contacted for advice and help in starting a new church in France. With the support of the Episcopal Church, the first service was held in front of the fireplace at the home of Blake and Nadine Redding on May 29, 1996. The Bishop in charge, the Rt. Rev. Jeffery Rowthorn led five families in that first worship service.
Periodically, services were held in the home for several months, but it soon became apparent that the group did not want to limit the number of worshipers, so a search began for a larger worship space. The leaders of the small congregation knocked on the doors of the Eglise Reformée in Clermont Ferrand to ask their advice. The Eglise Reformée had a chapel in the spa town of Royat – a village five kilometers from the center of Clermont Ferrand. They only occupied the chapel in the summer, so they were willing to let the new congregation use the chapel.
So the fledgling group had a five families and a place to worship – now to secure the services of a priest. It was obvious Bishop Rowthorn could not lead services on a regular basis, so the Reverend Joe Britton agreed to come to Clermont Ferrand for a short period of time. Father Joe led services two times per month. He would get on a train in Paris in the morning, have lunch with some of the congregants in the afternoon, lead services at 5:00 PM, and take the four hour train back to Paris at 7:00 PM Sunday evening. Father Joe remained faithful to this “short-term” arrangement from 1996 until December 2002.
Soon after the chapel in Royat was located as a home for the congregation, news began to spread about the availability of English speaking worship services. Although started by Episcopalians and adding a British family of Anglican tradition, the expatriate community in Clermont Ferrand comes from a variety of Christian denominations. Everyone arrives with their idea of how worship should be held; what it means to worship, how we pray, and how we relate. In spite of these differences, here in the Auvergne, these individual perspectives are laid aside in favor of a communal worship experience.
The church expanded and contracted depending on the economic constraints and needs of the employer of the majority of the congregation. The mission was surviving with the help of the convocation.
Then, after nearly six years, Father Joe accepted a position in U.S. and was no longer able to hold services in Clermont Ferrand. So the Bishop’s Committee at the church was asked to consider options about how to proceed. Could the small mission, whose viability to that time had relied on a particular population, hire and maintain a full-time pastor? After much prayer, a plan was laid to hire an interim priest. In January 2003, after a great deal of preparation, we welcomed our first resident pastor, the Reverend Karl E. Bell. Father Karl’s appointment was as an interim priest – meaning he would be leaving in the near future. This concept wasn’t heavily factored in to the equation of hiring a priest. More mundane issues such as finding an apartment, paying utilities, furnishing an apartment, and setting up bank accounts took priority. All of those tasks that individuals do for themselves, in a non-English speaking environment, now needed to be done for someone else. With Father Karl available, the church began holding services every week rather than twice per month. Since most of the congregants are expatriates, a lot of families take the opportunity to travel in Europe on weekends during their short stay. So, many in the congregation believed that weekly services would reduce the number of people in the pews. Oddly, the opposite was true, and the congregation began to grow.
Due to Rev. Bell’s retirement, Christ Church began a search for its second resident minister in spring 2004. Father Tony Clavier and his wife Pat moved to Clermont Ferrand to take services as an interim priest. Now the small but growing congregation had a priest and a pastor’s wife. The chapel is in the hills outside of Clermont, is a summer chapel, and the winters are cold. Other than an unreliable (and later proven dangerous!) gas heater, there was no heat. From December until late March, congregants dressed warmly and we could see our breathe during most services. So, thanks to a grant from a women’s outreach club at the Cathedral in Paris, we installed infrared lamp heaters. Also during this time the Bishop’s Committee decided to change services from 5:00 PM to 10:30 AM. Again, many in the congregation believed that weekly services would reduce the number of people in the pews. And again, the opposite was true, and the church continued to grow.
After a long and far-reaching search, the Bishop’s Committee sought the help of the Holy Spirit. After much prayer, the committee discerned that Father Luk DeVolder was called to shepherd our church. Father Luk and his wife Tiffany accepted the challenge, in July 2005, the Reverend Dr. Luk De Volder took to the pulpit. And the church continued to grow.
Through a series of true “Leaps of Faith” the congregation has grown and thrived. It is funny what a bit of success can do for a group. People who in their “home towns” that would not think of attending the same church, worship and fellowship together. Willingly. Happily, Faithfully. I often hear from former members who have returned to their lives in the states. Overwhelmingly, one of the main things they miss is the fellowship of the church.
The church has grown from being a mission relying on the Convocation for support, to a mission that supports itself, and contributes to the Convocation. We have members that participate in every area of the Convocation; on the Council of Advice, the Finance Committee, and participation in Youth Events.
Some of our ministries include Sunday school, prayer chain, women’s bible study, men’s bible study, couple’s bible study, youth group, outreach to college students, lots of music, and lots of fellowship. Starting with five faithful families, the support of the Convocation, the vision of Bishop Jeffrey, the continuing support of Bishop Pierre, the commitment of Father Joe, the numerous members of Bishop’s Committees, hundreds of congregants come and gone, until today, our church has been blessed.
After Father Luk left, a new Rector, Rob Warren and his wife Caireen came from Scotland. He led the church for 6 years, with Caireen doing tremendous work with our young people.
Caireen leading Lunch Bunch – our “Sunday School”, held on Friday lunchtime.
Their last Sunday with us, before setting off for a new adventure in Rome, was a bitter sweet occasion….but as the note says: regular services continue, even though Rob and Caireen have left us.
And now we are in a period of interregnum – deciding where we are going next. As the congregation has grown smaller, as Michelin’s policy on ex-pats has changed, we find ourselves unable to support a full time Senior Rector, so we are looking at different possibilities. We have had tremendous support from the Convocation of the Episcopal Church in Europe, and look forward to our first visit from Bishop Mark Edington, the newly elected Bishop, at the end of June. He has experienced bi-vocational ministry in action, and we hope that he will be able to give us advice and encouragement.
Archdeacon Walter Baer, Deputy to the Bishop, preaching a couple of weeks back. Thanks Walter for visiting us and encouraging the congregation with the Word of God!
For the moment, we have Eucharistic services, using reserved sacrament, which I lead, plus morning prayer led by other talented members of the congregation. We have some visiting priests too, but generally, I think we are thriving under this temporary regime. I rather like it, as I’m getting plenty of opportunity to preach!!
Here is the congregation last Sunday, at Pentecost. I’m there, slap bang in the middle, wearing my Reader’s robes, as I’d just led the church in Communion (using reserved sacrament) It is missing some key members, who are on holiday, or visiting family.
We are particularly proud of one member of the congregation, who is away at boarding school in the UK. From our FB page: After a long essay style application and a thorough discernment process, Caitlin Mahoney, one of our youth from Christ Church has been invited to serve on the Planning Team for the triennial Episcopal Youth Event (EYE 2020). The event will be held in Washington D.C in partnership with the Washington National Cathedral, Howard University and the Diocese of Washington. She will be required to attend 3 planning weekends in the USA and EYE 2020 – all in her A level year! She will be representing not only Christ Church but also the Convocation at this large event with 1400 youth. Caitlin says, ” I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of this Youth Planning Team for this wonderful event, where so many young, diverse young Christians come together to strengthen their faith and worship the Lord” Well done Caitlin.
So, there you are, Mags, a potted history of Christ Church, Clermont Ferrand. If my readers are so minded, some prayer for the future of our small but lively congregation would be gratefully received.
From one end, and the other!
Not sure what to blog about, but feeling I should write something, I delve back into my photo archives to see what I can find!
MAY 2010 – I used to do more walks when I had time between or after lessons. Here’s a little garden I found on a walk above Royat. Obviously a beautiful day! I really enjoyed these walks…I wonder why I don’t do so many now. Perhaps I’m too busy!
May 2010 was when I held George for the first time – our lovely cuddly George cat. He went missing almost three years ago, and although we have Jasper now, George is still very sadly missed. He was the most placid of cats, loving nothing more than a cuddle.
MAY 2011 – For a few years we had a Fete de Cheval here – it was, rather sadly, mostly a place where knackers came to buy old horses which were then taken to the abbatoir. It changed for a couple of years when our friends, who keep a livery stables and breeding stables took over the organisation, but that was too much work for them, so it stopped happening a few years ago. Here however is one of the animals that wasn’t a horse – there were some llamas one year!
MAY 2012 – The plant seller is out…I always buy my balcony plants from the same guy: he comes to the market in May/June but his plants are always good value and I’ve never had any complaints. The balcony is looking very sad at the moment, so I need to get out there and tidy it up. Because I’m working on Thursday mornings now I may have to ask Friend Cathy to buy my plants for me this year!
MAY 2013 –Here are Mr FD and our friend Louis, on the top of Mont Ventoux, having cycled up. I was the designated official photographer, but due to becoming too interested in the market in Bedouin, I very nearly missed their triumph! I drove up the mountain rather too hastily (there were hundreds of cyclists!) and caught up with the two of them no more than 3 km from the summit! Luckily I managed to get one action shot of them both, as well as this one.
MAY 2014 – A card made for my friend’s “Christian birthday” – I think it may have been one of my first “Celtic style” crosses, which are now one of my favourite things to draw.
MAY 2015 – I’m looking a bit blown about! This was taken when we went out for the day on our 30th wedding anniversary. We had a picnic and visited Mont Dore in the Auvergne. It was a lovely day out. I think this was taklen around Puy Marie, but I may be making that up!
MAY 2016 – an appropriate picture for today. Why, you may ask… Well, another blogger, Elizabeth, who used to live in France wrote:
I’m working from home today – preparing next week’s lessons, and catching up on admin. It’s good to have this day with only one lesson, as it gives me a chance to breathe. Mind you, I had a lesson cancelled yesterday, so I was kicking my heels at the office from 1.00 through to 5.00. I guess I should have gone for a walk to clear my head, but instead I sat around rather aimlessly. I should use these moments better I think.
And so to today’s Act:
33: BIG DEAL
PROMPT: You’ve seen the videos: fights over bargains in shopping centres, Black Friday riots, Christmas brawls over best-sellers. Deals don’t always bring out the best in humanity. So, flip that instinct. Today, buy every deal that you reasonably can, and then give it to whoever you can. Make your bargains work for someone else.
REFLECTION: Link here
ACTS: Green: See some food marked at 50% off? Buy two – one to give away.
Amber: Find a deal on your favourite food, drink, or clothes brand. Give it away to someone you think might love it.
Red: Bulk-buy a necessity – toilet paper, cereal, underwear – and give it all away to a charity who can give it those in need.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good…” (Psalm 34:8 NIV)
Sigh. Today’s Act is another Spending Money Act…although, to be fair, it does say “buy every deal that you reasonably can,” we are still being asked to spend more money. I guess it’s really hard for the lovely people at 40 Acts to come up with40 Challenges that don’t involve money, and we are able to think for ourselves and come up with our own ideas, but my monetary generosity is definitely starting to wear out!
But as I read the reflection again, there’s less emphasis on monetary outlay: A door held open is a sample of welcome and a sense of belonging. An unexpected gift is a hint of loving grace. A coupon towards some chocolate demonstrates that celebration and a well-deserved treat is within our reach and our budget – for which we can be grateful! Offering glimpses and tasters might seem insignificant, but what a difference a deal can make. Let’s reach out today, connecting the people around us to the goodness of God.
It’s talking more about how our small offerings of generosity can make a difference – whether they are monetary or not. That makes me feel better. Those little actions that I’ve been trying to do through Lent – and beyond – they are “tasters”. If I can get a chance to say why I’m doing them (as I did in the Post Office!) then that’s opening the door to God’s generosity a little wider for someone. A Ninja Note that makes someone feel a little stronger, or more loved, is a word from God. A touch or a word spoken to a person without a home, an offering of a sandwich, can show that we believe this person has dignity and is worthy of respect. Each small thing can actually make a big difference, and who knows? They could start a butterfly effect to a tsunami of kindness and generosity across this world.
So no, I’m not spending money today. But I will make some cookies to take to the family of the student (5 year old Raphaelle) I teach today, and give them a card with the 40 Acts sticker on. It’s a small act of generosity, of love, as I give up a little of my time, and a little of my baking stash, to give pleasure to someone else.
No, I didn’t eat it! They’re all for you!
And the other thing I will do is try to be more regular in my buying-and-giving to the Food Bank collection in church. An extra tin or two of something on the weekly shopping is perfectly manageable finance-wise, and will make a difference each month to those in need.
I enjoy reading these photo-an-hour posts on other people’s blogs, but I always miss what ever is the “official” day, so I decided to do a photo-a-day on a random day.
Thus, it was last Tuesday: I wasn’t working, as one of my students was away on business, another company had cancelled all their lessons, and I wasn’t travelling 80 km to teach one lesson of 1.5 hours – so I cancelled that one. As Mr FD is now in full time training, and I’m in practically fulltime work, the housework has slipped down the list of things we do when we have time, and I knew that on Tuesday I really had to buckle down and do some…
But first things first: 8.00 am
Cats required feeding. Here are Millie and Bib sharing a bowl – which doesn’t happen very often! They obviously both wanted the same flavour cat food!
Straight after feeding the cats I set to, and cleaned the bathroom. After I had finished Jasper came to inspect my work!
Mid bedroom clean-and-tidy, Jasper is back to see how I’m getting on. Just before this shot he’d been outside the bedroom window balancing on the window sill – 3 stories up!
Extra photo, taken at 10.30
I had a sitdown with a coffee and a couple of mini Snickers bars filched from Bonjour World offices. They had an intensive course for young people going on, so chocolate had been provided. I just happened to be passing the plate…
Back to the cleaning! My study got vacuumed and tidied and then the stairs and landing were swept, and washed…
Actually, it was a bit later than 12.00, but never mind! Time for lunch! A bowl of vegetable soup, a chicken rillette and lettuce sandwich and some sweet chilli crisps. Also a large glass of water.
Yes! Back to the cleaning!! Huzzah! This time it was the kitchen floor getting swept and washed.
Cleaning finished, I had to sort out my bill for Bonjour World – they do their accounting from 27th of one month to the 26th of the next. Luckily, Mr FD, who designed my billing system, was able to organise the system so it can generate the bill at theright time – as long as I put the students’ lessons in! Which was one of my tasks for this afternoon.
Deciding what to have for dinner – this is an old recipe from a Good Housekeeping magazine. And here’s the tomato sauce being cooked (extra picture!)
I sat in the living room and read my book (which reminds me, I need to write a review for Net Galley!) The fire had come on – although it’s been unseasonably warm here, as in the UK too, the house still gets chilly in the evening. Well, it is only February, after all!!
Bib comes to join me. “Isn’t it time you got on with preparing dinner?” she suggests. “Preferably my dinner!”
Dinner is served. Mine, not Bib’s! With a glass of something red and fruity from Italy!
Watching “Endeavour” on catch up. I have to say I have really enjoyed all the “Morse” programmes, and its spin-offs. “Morse” was in the 80s/90s, there was “Lewis”, a short series of “Hathaway”, I believe, and then “Endeavour”. I will be sad when Endeavour comes up and meets the beginning of Morse, as it were! For those who don’t know, the Endeavour series shows the early career of the policeman who featured in Morse…so somewhere along the line the timelines will have to meet up!
Cats required feeding. Yes, I know feeding them on the worksurface isn’t very hygenic, but they do get wiped down. The work surfaces, not the cats!
We watched an episode of the US sit-com “Community” before bed – although I think I missed some of it, nodding off. With a glass of wine and the warmth of the fire, together with my cleaning efforts, I zizzed my way towards bedtime!
11.00pm I was fast asleep!