Thursday, 3 May 2018

Wildlife update, May 2018

They're back! Bats in our belfry (well, on the outside stairs) and the barn owls are back in the chimney. That means stamping and screeching for the next couple of months at least (from the owls and young, not from me). They normally have two young and they are very demanding and so noisy. Demanding to be fed, stamping in the chimney and screeching at us when we go outside. Nothing like being observed from an owl on high, peering down at you!

The bats aren't a problem - but they do leave loads of droppings on the stairs.  Last week Harry was going to go up to the studio, up these half-covered staris, and there was a bat with a baby or young one attached at the top of the stairs, so he decided to retreat.  We know we have two different kinds of bat - one with long wings, the other shorter wings.  We did used to have at least three living in our roof spaces, so will be doing a count again this year once we start being able to sit outside (temperatures not great at the moment) in the cool of the evening.

Two day ago on our way to a sheep show a large cat-like animal ran across the road in front of us.  It had a ringed tail and was sturdy-looking, bigger than a domestic cat.  It might have been some sort of European wild cat or possibly a genet, although with the brief view we had of it, it didn't seem to have the genet's pointed muzzle.

And now, even though it's cooled off again, bees, humming-bird hawk moths, butterflies and all manner of other insects are back out in force - ants are everywhere, especially when you move a pot or dish on the ground.  Mason bees are constantly around our door and windows looking for holes - and filling them up as I discovered when opening one of the bedroom windows!

 © Marie Tyler, 3 May 2018

Monday, 5 February 2018

So - who do you think you are (now)?

For years I was a Geordie (still am) - also a Novocastrian, ie from Newcassel!  So, now here we are in Chamberet and I am now also a chambertoise, Harry being a chambertois (and the village tabac and café/pizzeria is Le Chambertois).

In our experience in this corner of la France profonde (deepest rural France) people still have very strong ties to their roots.  The majority of retired people we've met have worked in la région parisienne and have returned here to live where their grandparents or parents lived, living often in the old family home.  Lots of French people still have their family home as a holiday home, or maison secondaire, and, no matter where they live, they return there with children and grandchildren in the long summer holidays, at Christmas, Toussaint (All Saints feast in November) and other bank holidays (jours fériés).

So, a strong sense of place and belonging.  Linked to that, in France, I think I'm right in saying, that no matter where you're from you'll be able to claim your local citizenship with its own word - think of Parisians (parisien or parisienne for a woman).  

In Limousin there are various variable names - if you're from Brive, you're a briviste, from Limoges a limougeaud, from St-Junien, a saint-juniaud, Treignac a treignacois or treignacoise, from Affieux, an affieucois or affieucoise.  

So, there you go - another little ramble in Chamberet!  Who can you lay claim to being now?

© Marie Tyler, 5 February 2018

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Even busier days for Chamberet in 2018 – Exciting new projects!

Last night we went to the village ceremony Les Voeux when everyone is invited to come along and receive New Year wishes from the mayor and commune councillors. It’s always very well attended and is an opportunity to wish “Happy New Year”, “Bonne Année, Bonne Santé, Meilleurs Voeux” to everyone that you might not have encountered since the New Year. After speeches from the Mayor, and representatives of other local organisations and funders, like the ComCom (a grouping of local communes) everyone is invited to have a drink – always featuring our own cider from Chamberet and nibbles and cake. It is always very convivial.and everyone listens in silence without talking (most standing up) for about an hour.

For Chamberet this is also the occasion when the Mayor details changes and developments from the previous year and he talks about forthcoming projects. We have a new mayor since last year, Bernard Rual, so it was also an opportunity for him to present himself to the public of Chamberet in his new role as mayor. Everyone was impressed with his speech, and with the number of new and continuing projects presented. I think we’ve remembered them all:

  • Provision of 12 apartments in the former presbytery next to the church – for older people who do not want to go into the Maison de Retraite (Nursing Home) but want to give up their current accommodation (often a large house and often in an isolated place out of the village).
  • New estate for artisans (local craftsmen)
  • Perfume factory expanding with an increase in jobs
  • Work on New Health Centre/Maison de Santé which has been planned since 2012, due to start March 2018, to be finished by year-end. There will be 10 different health practitioners in this building.
  • Plots for new build all sold and three to be let to Uzerche Prison for families of three officers employed there
  • New building plots to be identified and sold
  • High-speed internet connection to be brought to whole commune. Work in progress to clear/tidy up trees on roadsides as will be provided via telegraph poles.
  • A new communal room to be created in the cellars of Maison Roux which will also utilize this heritage feature and be available for use by the 40-odd community groups in the village.
Other good news was that the population had increased by 40 last year, which of course helps the local economy, also the primary school, as falling numbers mean a reduction in teaching staff.

Our ex-mayor and local gp, Dr Chasseing, who is now a Senator, then spoke and gave an update on work he has been involved in and supported in the Senate He also notified us that the population in Chamberet now stands at the same level as in 1946 (think I got that right!). Another innovation is that we now have a new label for provision of fishing. (I can’t remember the actual title) which will help with other labels eg Station Verte to help promote tourism, of major economic importance to us as a very rural area.

So, there we have it – a busy, exciting year ahead for us in this commune – this commune dynamique - the envy of many other communes in the area, I might add!

© Marie Tyler, 30 January 2018

Back on the blog! Why a blog?

Yes, back on the blog after months of silence!

I have been reporting on my doings with personal emails and comments on Facebook but am now back here, back to the original intention of this blog. 

I'm a great letter-writer - hereditary, thanks to my mam - and when we moved here to France, friends and family were interested in hearing from us and hearing all about our new life.  The blog was a solution to writing lots and lots of letters, mostly with the same information, so a time-saving device and a way for me to keep writing which I very much enjoy.  Also, having my voice heard, and letting my voice gan, as my dad used to say!

So, now a New Year - well, almost - almost at the end of the first month of 2018.  In France you can keep wishing "Happy New Year" - "Bonne Année, Bonne Santé, Meilleurs Voeux" until 31 January, so I've just got in under the door! So, let's see if I can keep up this resolution to keep on blogging in 2018!

© Marie Tyler
30 January 2018

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Magnificent magnolias!

Spring has finally sprung - well, it has been on it's way for a few weeks, but there are bright colours everywhere now to lift the spirits! 

In bloom in our garden at the moment, we have:

muscari (grape hyacinth)
primroses (have flowered all through the winter, but everywhere now)
kerria (lovely bright yellow pom-poms)
violets of every shade from white to deep violet
a pot of anemones which has flowered for weeks
rosemary covered in its small flowers

Blossom on
wild cherry
pear trees
appearing on apple and cherry trees

And going over:
crocuses (II?)

About to show:
passion flowers
Peruvian lilies

And in neighbouring gardens and all over this area: 
lots of magnolia - absolutely magnificent
flowering currant

Roses are doing well, even the two planted new late October

Leaves on corkscrew hazel
Lavender looking healthy

And just appeared in the last couple of days in our garden and all over the fields - dandelions and dandelions.  Still, they do keep the bees and other insects happy at this time of year.

We have had high temperatures all week, after early morning temperatures of around 2 or 3 degrees.  Today the temperature was about 22 degrees  - shorts, sun lotion and sunhat or cap weather.  Temperatures plunge to 16 and lower at the weekend, so no planting out yet.  Local wisdom is not to plant out any veg  or delicate plants until after the Saints de Glaces which this year are from 11 - 13 May.  These are the dates dedicated to three particular saints (not sure what they did to deserve this negative image!)  when there is still likely to be ground frosts, so a long way to go yet.

©  Marie Tyler, 2017

Monday, 5 December 2016

Lighting up Chamberet for the festive season!

I bet there aren't many towns or villages that can claim - not that Elvis switched on their Christmas lights -  but, even better,  that he actually installed them on all the lampposts throughout their community!  

On Friday last week I saw the commune pick-up go past and the back was filled with pots of chrysanthemums which had brightened the village since just before Toussaint.  We remarked that the Toussaint season was over and the next underway - preparations must be in hand to install the Christmas decorations. It is fairly quiet here apart from all the tractors, fuel and grain lorries which we now don't notice too much, but a different voice or engine sound and we're on the case.  Someone once said "God knows everything, but the neighbours miss nothing."  - that'll be me they were talking about! So, today I heard voices and heard some sort of machinery outside our house and looked out and here was Elvis in the cherry picker, chatting to a neighbour and installing a light on the nearest lamppost.  Not Elvis Presley, you understand, but Elvis who works for the commune (I think he's Portuguese but I'm not sure about the popularity of the name in Portugal). 

So, this evening, ce soir, we were having a little stroll and were delighted to witness all the said lights going on on all the lampposts in our street.  The lights are new this year - white and pink - and they look very festive.  Next to appear will no doubt be Santa's chalet down in front of the Mairie, in preparation for the Christmas Fayre this Sunday.  We are away here from the towns, so I'm not sure what decorations there'll be in Tulle, Brive and Limoges, but Christmas is not so commercialised here.  The local shops have decorations in their windows and normally a Christmas tree outside, decorated with coloured foil bows.  Since we moved here five years ago, we've noticed more residents decorating their houses and gardens with Christmas lights and decorations.

On Sunday we'll be going to the Christmas Fayre in the village, then a Christmas Carol concert at La Croisille, about 12 kilometres from here.  There'll be French and English carols and songs and readings, followed by mulled wine and mince pies - just right to get us into the Christmas spirit.

Three years ago, Harry made a cardboard tree from some packaging and it was wonderful, but unfortunately it had to be rerecycled and is no longer with us.  Then a

 couple of years ago we bought a small live tree from our local supermarket for 5 euros, so hope we can get one at that price again this year.  Last year was a bit of a sad affair as the house was upside down as we had changed both our boiler and woodburner, so had no heating, other than the flames from the Christmas pud!  We have always loved our family Christmases, so I'm looking forward to a proper Christmas this year, with family coming for a few days before Christmas, and before that to digging out our Christmas decorations (some so vintage, they are even older than me!).  They'll be going up hopefully on around the 13 December to cheer the dark evenings ahead.

© Marie Tyler, 2016

Thursday, 20 October 2016

It's Accordeon Festival Time in Chamberet!

This weekend in Chamberet - in fact from today - we have the 10th Accordion Festival/Festival de l'Accordeon and there are at least 70 camper vans in the village with festival goers all ready to dance and listen to accordions over the next three days!   The marquee (which at least quadruples the size of the Salle des Fetes) went up in a record two days last week, including a wooden dance floor over the whole area.  Volunteers have been back and forward since then, the festival toilets are installed in front of the Salle des Fetes, and there are huge posters on empty shop windows showing this year's timetable - a great idea and a new innovation this year.  Tonight there was a special 'pot d'amitie' - literally, a friendship drink which accompanies all sorts of events - to welcome the festivaliers to the village, and from the numbers of people streaming to the marquee next to the Mairie, I'm sure it was a success.

 Tomorrow though, Friday,  at our little supermarket G20, there'll be sampling and tasting of  local produce - meat, wine, honey etc.and music, also at Mille Saveurs which has a lovely selection of speciality foods, wines, etc. On display also in the marquee at G20 (which next week will be full of crysanthemums and artificial flowers for relatives to put on the graves of  departed loved ones at Toussaint) are winning jerseys from the 1940s onwards of cyclists in the Bol d'Or, one of the local Tour de France-type cycle races.

On Sunday it’s the  Fete de l'Automne/Autumn Festival with food and other stalls, apple pressing, a buvette (of course) and a cheap meal in the chapiteau/marquee next to the Mairie from about midday.  It’s plastic cutlery and paper plates, but at 8 euros for 4 courses, you can’t complain and its one of those events where everybody and their granny is there, all eating together (a bit squashed in a marquee next to the Mairie).  If you want to go a bit upmarket,  the other cafes/restaurants will also be open and putting on a special meal (22 euros at the Cafe des Sports).

The camper vans are from all parts of France - a sight worth seeing, and the strains of the accordeon and other music in the air from now 'til Sunday evening.  (The favourite tune we noticed in previous years is that well known Spanish tune 'Una Paloma blanca'!)

©Marie Tyler
19 October 2016

NB  Bob - if you are reading this - hope you are keeping well.