mardi 30 janvier 2018

Funeral of Georges Touchard

   Yesterday at three o'clock , we went to Loubille Catholic Church to take part in our friend's funeral. We have attended several ceremonies in France over  the years and were somewhat prepared. We dressed very warmly, expecting the church to be cold but in the event, it was quite warm. People in France dress less formally than in England many of the congregation were wearing jeans...
  We all waited outside for the arrival of the funeral car, a very shiny grey machine with the coffin and loads of wreaths. The funeral director took immediate charge, the coffin was unloaded and wheeled in on a trolley, the family, who were formally dressed, were marshalled in first, followed by the other worshippers and we were ushered into our seats. The order of service was printed on small leaflets, with various hymns. The church was quite full, Georges was well-known locally.
  The singing was a bit pitiful to ears accustomed to the lustier singing of the non-conformist
churches... Typical of Catholic Churches though the people won't sing if they are not sure of the tune. Actually, most of the people are not regular churchgoers, only attending for Christenings, weddings and funerals! Two ladies were in charge of the ceremony, there didn't seem to be an officiating Priest.
  After a normal Catholic Mass, the family first, then the other worshippers were invited to file past the coffin to take their final farewell to Georges and to sprinkle the coffin with holy water with a bunch of herbs. Then everyone filed out and stood almost blocking the road until the coffin was carried out by four bearers from the funeral director's. It was loaded onto the vehicle which drove slowly off , followed by the family and the congregation in a slow procession, to the cemetery, where Georges will be interred in the family plot. The coffin was installed over the pre-dug grave. After a short service, everyone filed past the coffin to take a final farewell.
   Everyone then left the graveyard and assembled outside to greet friends and have a good gossip. We went into the cafe to enjoy a much needed coffee with several friends .
  Bye for now, it's next morning, I've lit the stove and will start to feed the flock.

lundi 29 janvier 2018

Noah's progress--latest

  I have to report a set-back to my recovery-- yesterday I was trying to load a large log into the log-burner when I lost my balance and fell forward into the hearth, hitting my ribs a painful blow against the stove, as I was unable to save myself as the stove was hot.. I thought at first that I'd broken a rib, luckily I hadn't but the pain was agonising . The soreness prevented me from excercising my poorly arm and I went to bed early with a hot-water-bottle applied to the sore part. This morning it was a bit better and continued to improve throughout the day but Kim had to drive herself to Zumba, at Sauze Vaussais . I did succeed in driving the car this afternoon but found walking the dogs painful, and cold really affected the ribs. I'm hoping a further nights sleep with a bottle and a paracetamol may do the trick . One step forward, two back...

  Bye for now, going to sort some tea

dimanche 28 janvier 2018

End of an Era Death of Georges Touchard

  On Friday, Claudie, Phillipe's wife came down to tell us of the sad news of Georges death. He passed away on Thurs afternoon at his home, after a long illness. His health recently has been poor, he suffered agonies from a back destroyed by a lifetime of literally back-breaking work on his farm. When we first arrived in Mort Limouzin , we often saw him and his wife, Blanche milking his herd of 80 goats in his little veg patch opposite the farmhouse or carrying the pails of milk into the dairy to put in the cooler. We would take down our bottle to have it filled with the still warm, frothiy goats milk, delicious on cereal or in a rice pudding. No comparison with the pasteurised and strong-flavoured goats-milk sold in the shops. Sometimes we would meet him, leading his herd to eat grass or shrubs along the local foot-paths or digging in his veg garden beside the road. Memories of a vanished time...another village inhabitant gone not many of us left now. Lately, Phillipe or Claudie had to call at the farm to help him undress etc and he did have a home-help daily I believe. Once, I was called in to help Claudie, when he fell out of bed and couldn't get up. Most undignified , a sad come-down for a self-reliant farmer... I'm sure he was ready to go. Still, a shock for his family, but at least he died at home.
     RIP Georges, it's been nice knowing you.
  Bye for now.

samedi 20 janvier 2018

It's a cow!


   It's pouring down this morning and has been unusually wet for days . There's a risk of floods as the rivers overflow and the sheep field's like a marsh, together with the duck enclosure. The ducks seem to be able to bear it although one of my previous bosses retorted to one of my section's repeated comment that it was good weather for ducks that ducks don't actually like rain. We are thinking of moving them into the hens' enclosure though that's scarcely any drier. At least there is a dryish area that is protected from the rain.
  On the brighter side, the log burner is burning well, the wind seems to be in the right quarter to draw it up. So we're warm inside at least.
  There was a choir practice at Matha this morning, but we didn't go, too far in these conditions. Besides, with the fall in value of the Pound due to this pernicious Brexit vote, we are struggling to afford the expense of the transits. The French President emphasised that to gain access to the market, we would have to agree to all the conditions of belonging, so why the hell are we leaving? We seem to be agreeing one by one to each condition. The E U is demanding to continue access to our territorial waters over which we are reserving for our own fishing fleet, what's left of it. Are we going to protect our trawlers with gun-boats if we have any left? Have they forgotten the Cod- War against Iceland a much more feeble military power than France...Madness, and we want to sell most of the catch in the E U anyway!
  End of rant, going to have breakfast!

lundi 25 décembre 2017

Happy Christmas from the Ark.

     Best wishes for a happy Christmas to all Ark readers! May 2018 be a year of good fortune and happiness.

samedi 2 décembre 2017

The Ark visits a creepy site

  Last Sunday we went to Chez Tante Mabel at Pers to buy a new scented candle ( no, that's not the site I'm referring to) and on the way back we decided to visit the local Lanterne des Morts. These tall towers with a light at the top are present in several regional graveyards and used to have a lantern lit at nights. This was supposed to act as a guide to call restless spirits back to their graves after wandering abroad during the night, to stop them haunting the living during the day. These towers have always given us the heeebie-jeebies , not surprisingly. The light was hoisted up with a rope from a small hatch in the base and burned all night. I don't know what prevents spirits from roaming all day since the lantern has not been lit... Creepy, or what?
   Bye for now, going to ward off evil spirits with a cup of coffee!

dimanche 26 novembre 2017

The Ark was not impressed...

   On Friday, we went to buy a new apricot tree to increase the variety of our orchard. As our predecessors have left us several mature trees, a quince, two figs and lots of wild plums or damsons,and an apple, we felt obliged to plant some new trees. We have already established a pear,two peach trees and a cherry and we felt an apricot would continue the good work. We heard of a local supplier at Chives, and arranged to visit him on Friday afternoon.
  We bought the new bare-root tree and loaded it into the Berlingo by lowering half the rear seat back. The Green Machine is most adaptable to carry unusual loads! On the way, we had seen a sign to the Menhir de Chives, and decided to visit it.  We found a path leading into the woods and having parked the van we walked round the bend and there it was! On the banks of a dried-up stream stood the Menhir in question. A notice board beside it explained that it was perhaps the only example of these standing stones still in its original position . Dating from Neolithic times, it was originally polished  and had a pyramid-shaped top, but the intervening thousands of years had left it a bit moth-eaten..But what immediately struck me, was its very modest size! Barely taller than Mrs Noah, not very impressive to eyes which have gazed at Stonehenge or Avebury Rings or even Carnac. Interesting, perhaps but could do better...

 Bye for now, basking in the heat from our stove keeping the cold away!