Saturday, 18 December 2010
Sunday, 14 November 2010
Monday, 8 November 2010
By the way, the postcards of Montmelard are from the turn of the last century, we're a little behind the times here but had moved on from horse and carts by 1976!!
Monday, 1 November 2010
Just re-reading the poem and picking up on some pertinent words – ‘swell’, ‘plump’ and yes, ‘bosom’, makes me think of a picture that I was given by one of the artists here two weeks ago. Christine Angell painted ‘The lady of the cake’ – a play on Tennysons ‘The lady of the lake’. I love this painting, this is a woman who, to my mind, has had too much of everything good in life. She positively bursts with energy and exudes joie de vivre. She has certainly been blessed, and, I feel I have too.
Wednesday, 20 October 2010
This week we’re hosting ‘Art from Imagination’ with Nicola Slattery here at Les Cerisiers but one of the guests, the hugely talented and generous mixed media artist Milliande Demetriou http://www.milliande.com/ has been here a few days already. We’ve been chatting about our desires to live authentic lives – lives that reflect who we are and what we want to get out of our time here. Having been discouraged from pursuing an artistic career at an early age, she trained in the sciences. It has taken a while (but she got there in the end) to reconnect with her creative self and live the life she chooses for herself. Milliande has got me thinking of how authentic a life I am now living.
It was only a couple of weeks ago that I stood in the barn alongside a group of wonderful North American women belting out the lyrics from Edith Piaf’s ‘Je ne regretted rien’. What a powerful song. As I understand it, the message is that everything that has gone before, the good, the bad, the painful and the joyous, all combine to create where and who, we are now. There have certainly been a few painful moments along the path to setting up the really big dream company – most of these connected with France Telecom and plumbing (the house’s, not mine!!) but some connected to self doubt, fear of failure, being overwhelmed by the amount to do and fatigue. There have been a number of times when I have had to take myself outside into the orchard and give myself a stern talking to –
‘OK, if you think it’s too much effort just pack your bag, put the house on the market, go back to the UK and get yourself a 9-5 office job’.
I come back at myself with –
‘But I love it here. It feels right. I’ll just concentrate on one or two things for a day or two and see how it goes’. I then come back inside ready to get on with things. The ‘being authentic’ for me, is simply knowing that being here, surrounded by this beautiful valley, living in this inspirational space, feels exactly right.
In all the running around, setting up events, marketing, publicising, cooking, cleaning, organising – I do sometimes forget to ask myself what I’d like to be doing for me (why is it we so often put our own pleasures, hobbies, indulgences to one side?). To remedy this I’ve set up a writing group with a couple of friends and our first assignment is to enter a writing competition with the theme of ‘Paris’. I’ll be taking as my subject another woman who lived an unconventional yet ‘authentic’ life Colette. As well as writing about Colette, I’m also planning on spending a bit more time ‘in the moment’. It is easy to spend time analysing what has gone before. It is also a habit of mine to focus on the future, what I want to do, whom I need to contact, etc. But amazing things happen when you are completely in the present. I went and sat in the barn the other morning – carefully selected the chair I wanted to sit in and then closed my eyes. After a moment or two I heard a scuffling and opened my eyes to see that a coal tit had somehow flown in. I watched as it flew from one end of the barn to the other, clutching to the stone interior walls to reassess the situation from time to time. Despite opening a window, the bird flew into a pane of glass, stunning itself. I picked it up and cradled it in my hands gently stroking its head. We sat, both of us surprised by the close presence of the other, for several minutes before the bird flew off. Before it left in pooped on my hand – my mum says that’s lucky!
Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Today an interesting blog was forwarded to me penned by Brené Brown http://www.ordinarycourage.com/ on the subject of perfection.
To quote a little of the text:
‘For many years I believed that being my best self meant trying to be perfect. After studying shame, authenticity, and courage for ten years, I realized that I was wrong. Yes, it took that long. I'm hardheaded and I was very invested in being right. Here's what I learned:
Being our best selves is about cultivating the courage to be vulnerable, authentic, and imperfect. Perfectionism, on the other hand, is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. It's that simple. Perfection is not about healthy striving or being our best, it's how we protect ourselves’.
Brené ends with a rally cry for a protest against perfection: ‘A protest might sound a little dramatic, but in this world, choosing worthiness is an absolute act of resistance! My new battle cry: Authentic and messy is the new perfect!’
As I stirred pumpkin soup in my kitchen, I mulled over the definitions I hold on what perfection is. Perfect- is it something to strive for knowing, as all of us do, that it is something we shall never attain or is ‘perfect’ much simpler than that? Does perfection mean ‘without flaws or faults’ or does it mean (or do we choose it to mean) complete and whole? Perhaps it is more a question of semantics. Without perfection how can we ever be perfectly happy?
I have recently started a series of three minute interviews with tutors and facilitators who come to Les Cerisiers (Karen Ely will be our next star respondent). One of the questions asks for them to describe the elements of a perfect day. No-one has come up with wanting to get out of bed with perfect hair and make up, slip into a size 0 dress then step out onto a perfectly manicured lawn. Ironically, most peoples ‘perfect’ day does not include any element of idealised perfection.
It strikes me that when people (women) talk about wanting to be perfect, they are talking about living up to other people’s ideals and not their own. Learning to be true to yourself, to living an authentic life is, in my humble opinion, what it’s all about. To turn
Brenés first sentence around ‘being perfect means being my best self’ and understanding that we are enough, whole, complete. Perhaps we could have a campaign to proclaim that we’re perfect just as we are?
Here are some perfect friends enjoying the perfect end to the perfect evening in my idea of the perfect venue- just for good measure.
Monday, 13 September 2010
So, there I stood on Macon Loche TGV station platform as the train from Paris pulled in. On board was leading retreat organiser and facilitator Karen Ely and a group of women from North America. This was the moment when I moved from being someone who really wanted to own and run an activity centre to being someone who does own and run an activity centre. And the barn (or 'Atelier' - workshop as it has been renamed) has certainly seen some activity this week. To start the week off on the right note, friend and wine buff Mike Harper hosted a wine tasting event breathing life and colour into the rich history and characters that makes the wines from this region known the world over. Next up Alexia Fachon, yoga teacher and all round health and vitality motivator, came to run a yoga session that left everyone feeling rejuvenated and ready to face the day ahead. Two local musicians, Michael Carver and Roland Walrawens, rounded off the week by entertaining and teaching our American guests with a medley of much loved french folk songs - the acoustics were put to the test and passed with flying colours.
As I sit here in my office typing this, I hear laughter coming from the open windows of the barn. The air is warm and the last faint scent of lavender hangs in the air. Having an activity centre was a dream, an experiment to see how far I could follow my aspirations before 'reality' kicked in and I hit the barriers, real and imaginary, that are so common in the human condition - no-one will come, I won't find the support, well known tutors won't be interested. Well, I now know that you can leave the job you no-longer love, buy the house in the foreign country, renovate a barn to create a beautiful space, ring up people who are leading lights in their field and invite them over to run events- and they will come. I now know, beyond any doubt, that it is possible to achieve anything you put your mind to.
The barn, Atelier, feels different now. It's not just me who has noticed. It has a warmth, a sense of purpose about it now. Talking to my best friend Brenda yesterday, I mentioned that it felt as though all these special people had left something of themselves behind. She corrected me -'It's not about leaving anything behind, it's about adding something special to make the place even better'. The people who came and supported this first event as either guests or as participants have made this such a success. Karen will be back next July with a new group of retreaters (or is that retreatees?), Nicola Slattery arrives in just a few weeks to bring art to Les Cerisiers and courses for the following months are filling up nicely.
Monday, 16 August 2010
As a freelance trainer, Helen embodies the spirit of being the best you can be and works with others, in the most entertaining way, to tackle areas such as: Self-esteem and Leadership, Presentation and Communication Skills and personal impact and interpersonal skill areas. All of this whilst sketching humorous caricatures.
Helen was with us recently so we decided to ask her a couple of questions (sketching some wonderful cartoons of her time at Les Cerisiers):
Q: What does 'Follow your dreams' mean to you?
H: To maintain high levels of optimism, courage, flexibility, fortitude, humour and phlegm!
Q: What does 'Burgundy' conjure up for you?
H: The smell of lavender, pasta bake, good wine and shameless women!
Q: What are the elements of your perfect day?
H: A perfect day – the certainty of good health, the opportunity to DO what you love doing and the expression of appreciation when you achieve it.
To find out more, or to contact Helen (who is available for public speaking, training, personal commissions, weddings and just about any other event you could imagine), please feel free to visit her website http://www.drawnbyhelen.co.uk/
Saturday, 17 July 2010
Mireille, my lovely neighbour, after hearing about my recent trip to the Millau viaduct, wanted to show me the bridge at Mussy, our very own viaduct right here on our doorsteps. So, at 9 o’clock she picked me up and we drove the short distance to the pretty village of Mussy sous Dun. When we turned the corner of the road and I saw the enormous span of the viaduct before me, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t discovered this wonderful feat of engineering before. The viaduct soared above us as we parked the car in the shade below and began our ascent to the village centre. The facts and figures are impressive:
The road wound back towards the village past the local cemetery and as we passed I happened to notice a Commonwealth War Graves Commission placard at the gate. Thinking that there was possibly
'some corner of a Mussy field
That is for ever England'
I hurried in to pay my respects. After searching for the better part of half an hour with no joy, I conceded defeat and determined to seach on the internet when I got home. So, onto Mr William Edwin Gravell. The internet is an amazing tool, the details you can uncover with just a couple of clicks. This is a sad tale to tell, of a young man signing up to fight a war on the other side of the world. Gravell left his native Australia on board HMAT A38 Ulysses on 27 October 1915 bound for Egypt but was then transferred to join the British Expeditionay Force in France. He arrived in Marseilles on 29 June 1916 but was accidentally killed, near La Clayette Station the following day.
'A Court of Enquiry, 1 July 1916, found that (a) No 2856 Pte. W. Gravelle met his death by misadventure. He fell from the train near La Clayette Station while attempting to urinate through the open window of the carriage door. (b) That no blame whatever can be attached to any Officer, NCO or man of 60th Bn, as on account of the lack of sanitary conveniences on the train and the small number of haltes repas, men were compelled to urinate through the windows'.
For reasons that are unclear from the records, he was originally listed as 'No known grave', and his name inscribed on the Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, even though details of the accident and the post-mortem were communicated to the Australian authorities. People from Mussy-sous-Dun notified the CWGC in 2005 that his body had been recovered shortly after the accident and buried according to Catholic rites in the local cemetery.
I shall go back to Mussy again and this time I'll find the grave of this poor man who wasn't able to enjoy the beauty and peace of this place in his lifetime.
Post card courtesy of Mireille Jugnon - thanks.
Un Australien en Bourgogne
Ce blog est dédié à la mémoire de quelqu'un que je n'ai jamais rencontré, en fait quelqu'un qui est mort depuis près de cent ans et dont, avant aujourd'hui, je n'avais jamais entendu parler: William Edwin Gravell.
Après avoir écouté le récit de mon récent voyage au viaduc de Millau, Mireille, mon aimable voisine, voulait me montrer que nous avons notre propre viaduc ici, à nos portes. Ainsi, à 9 heures, elle est venue me chercher et nous a conduits à une courte distance du joli village de Mussy sous Dun.
Lorsque nous avons tourné le coin de la route et que j'ai vu la longueur de l'énorme viaduc énorme devant moi, je ne pouvais pas croire que je n'avais pas encore découvert ce merveilleux exploit d'ingénierie d'autrefois. Le viaduc semblait planer au-dessus de nous quand nous avons garé la voiture à l'ombre de ses arches et commencé notre ascension vers le centre du village.
Les faits et les chiffres sont impressionnants- voir photo audessus.
Nous avons choisi un chemin relativement court tandis que la température commençait déjà à s'élever. Il était presque midi et dans l'après-midi, j'allais me rendre à un marché de nuit à St Gengoux le National, à quelques 50 km au nord de l'endroit où nous vivons. La promenade allait nous emmener au-dessus de la ville, offrant une vue imprenable sur le viaduc et la vallée qui s'entend en dessous. Bordée d'arbres, la piste qui nous amenait vers le haut offrait peu d'abri contre le soleil et nous fûmes bientôt ruisselants de sueur.
‘Nous sommes jeunes et en forme’ est devenu notre mantra pendant notre ascension! Arrivant dans une clairière, nous sommes tombés sur un groupe de vaches rassemblées dans un champ près d'une statue de la Madone qui brillait comme le soleil réfléchi par la pierre blanche. Mireille a suggéré que nous ne devrions ne pas déranger les bestiaux qui, à l'évidence, étaient venus prier. Il s'ensuivit une brève discussion sur ce que les vaches demandaient dans leurs prières: assez d'herbe à manger, un peu d'ombre contre les éléments et qu'on ne leur enlève pas leurs veaux.
La statue de la Vierge a été érigée à peu près en même temps que le viaduc, sans doute pour veiller sur lui, mais a manqué de peu d'être détruite pendant un orage incroyable car, tout près, un grand arbre fut frappé par la foudre. Un vrai miracle!Nous descendîmes par un sentier escarpé jusqu'à un carrefour appelé Le Carrefour de la Fabrique. Nous avons supposé qu'on devait y fabriquer des tuiles car notre descente sur le chemin vers le bas était entravée par des amas de tuiles brisées. De la route, nous avions maintenant une vue magnifique sur le viaduc de Mussy-sous-Dun: cet ouvrage n'a certainement rien à envier à celui de Millau.
La route serpente vers le village et, tandis que nous étions devant le cimetière du lieu, j'ai soudain remarqué, sur la porte, une plaque commémorative de la Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Pensant qu'il y avait peut-être:
«Un coin d'un champ de Mussyqui à jamais sera l'Angleterre ' [un poème anglais],
Je me suis hâtée d'entrer dans le cimétière pour rendre hommage à cet homme. Après avoir cherché en vain la tombe pendant une demi-heure, j'ai concédé la défaite, déterminée cependant, une fois rentrée, à effectuer une recherche sur Internet sur M. William Edwin Gravell. L'Internet est un outil extraordinaire: on y trouve des détails en quelques clics de souris.
C'est une triste histoire à raconter, celle d'un jeune homme qui s'était engagé pour faire la guerre à l'autre bout du monde. Gravell a quitté son Australie natale à bord du HMAT A38 Ulysse le 27 octobre 1915 à destination de l'Égypte, mais a ensuite été transféré pour rejoindre le Corps expéditionnaire britannique en France. Il est arrivé à Marseille le 29 Juin 1916, mais a été tué accidentellement, près de la gare de La Clayette le jour suivant.
"Un tribunal d'enquête, 1 Juillet 1916, a constaté que:
(a) n Pte 2856. W. Gravelle a trouvé la mort par accident. Il est tombé du train près de la gare de La Clayette en tentant d'uriner par la fenêtre ouverte la portière.
(b) on ne pouvait incriminer ni un officier, sous-officier ou homme du 60e Bn car, à cause de l'absence de commodités sanitaires dans le train et du petit nombre de haltes repas, les hommes étaient obligés d'uriner par la fenêtre».
Pour des raisons qui ne sont pas claires dans le dossier, il est indiqué qu'il n'y a «pas de tombe connue >> et son nom est gravé sur le monument commémoratif australien à Villers-Bretonneux, même si les détails de l'accident et le post-mortem ont été communiqués aux autorités australiennes. En 2005, les habitants de Mussy-sous-Dun ont informé la CWGC que son corps avait été retrouvé peu après l'accident et enterré selon les rites catholiques dans le cimetière local.Je vais retourner à Mussy et, cette fois, je vais retrouver la tombe de ce pauvre homme qui, de son vivant, n'a pas été en mesure de profiter de la beauté et la paix de ce lieu.
Saturday, 10 July 2010
We wound our way home cross-country, and stopped to admire the view. For no reason other than I love this photo, I thought you may enjoy seeing that, as well as vineyards and Charollais cattle, we also have fields of glorious sun flowers here. Happy days indeed.
Sunday, 4 July 2010
At wellside, past the ramparts,
Thursday, 1 July 2010
From Miriam Halahmy's website: http://www.miriamhalahmy.com/
SECRET TERRITORY ( Citron Press 1999)
A journey to the Promised Land – a circular journey, across generations, charting dreams and aspirations of father and daughter. Feeling she should have been born in the homeland, Eve travels to Israel in search of an identity, unaware that her quest will painfully expose her family’s hidden history. Her father, Jack’s story, is of London in the ‘40s –
a time of idealism, political terrorism and conflicting values.
In their separate ways both confront the discord between collective ideals and personal needs; both must make their choices and live with them. This is their story – an honest and evocative account of what it means and feels to be Jewish in the modern world.
Miriam Halahmy’s sharp, concise style helps to sum up contemporary Jewish dilemmas. Jewish Chronicle.
Thursday, 24 June 2010
Next it was off to glass artist Jean Charles Doyen. We were treated to a demonstration of his remarkable skill as he crafted a goose from two sticks of glass. His minute insects were incredible to see (we've now started a collection of these) and I now know where this years Christmas presents will be coming from. In contrast to Jean Charle's miniature marvels, the magnificent metalic sculpture that stands sentinel at La Butte de Suin is immense. La butte de Suin is a prominent rocky hilltop above the small village of Suin where bullet holes can still be seen in the wall marking the place the village's mayor was shot for failure to comply with Nazi occupiers.
But on to jollier things - cakes.
The effort and craftmanship that goes into these delicacies is remarkable and the cake shop in Cluny has to be my all time favourite place to buy cakes. Exquisite!!
Art comes in many forms and we were blessed with fine weather (after an unseasonaly bad start to June) for the Macon Music Festival. Every street corner, every square and every car park had a stage, amps, fancy lighting and music eminating. As we wandered from one street to the next we were treated to rock, blues, folk and trance. The dancing (organised and spontaneous alike) lifted spirits and a natural high ensued. I had to be dragged away but not before one last enthusiatic cavort with my friends on the third floor of the central carpark.
Sunday, 9 May 2010
Sunday, 25 April 2010
The wine villages of the Macon Village route are splendid, each has at least one chateau and the ornate tiles and towers take your breath away. The vines grow right up to (and around) the houses and if the plot of land is over a metre square, there will be grapes growing on it. We found ourselves ooohing and ahhing at every bend in the road and frequent stops for photos meant the event until it was in full swing by the time we arrived. As we stepped from the car, the smell of sweet lilac and wisteria wafted on the warm air and the heat reflected from the ancient stone buildings added to the already balmy temperatures.
There were plenty of stalls and whilst the plants were not necessarily exotic, they all looked incredibly healthy and tempting. Mark and I are in the process of creating a rockery and adding to our culinary patch so I was particularly keen to root around the veggie stands. Di is starting a garden and was taken by all things delicate, unusual or both. Veronica had filled her wicker basket to bursting point with aromatic herbs and then turned her attention to catching up with old friends, Veronica knows everyone!
Overcome with heat and excitement, we decided to take a breather in the pretty main square. The villagers were selling sugared waffles and local wine at only 1 euro a glass. We found a shady bench and people watched as we sipped cooling drinks. It's so uplifting when everyone around you has a smile on their face. Having placed our entry tickets, now marked with our names and contact details, in an urn to win a prize (another trip to Lourdes?), we completed one more circuit of the fair to ensure we hadn't missed anything. I bought Morocaine mint, some rather unusual tomato plants that promise to deliver black, yellow and orange tomatoes later in the year, a pretty little blue flowering plant whose name escapes me at the moment and an astilby. Back at Veronicas I was presented with a linseed plant from her amazing garden and went home eager to dig and plant and water...