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[The Saint Sara hoisted high on her way to the sea – jammed in by the crowds of pilgrims and tourists alike]

According to our local newspaper La Provence, tens of thousands flocked to the Camargue yesterday (Monday 24 May) for the Gypsy festival.

We didn’t get there – more about that when the story comes to an end but suffice to day that the poor Touran is in ICU after a massive tyre blowout on the autoroute.

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Should have been in Cannes but obviously got lost in L’Isle sur l’Sorgue.

Nuff said.

Pic: www.popyacollar.co.za

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What better way to start this week’s post? A poppy field at the bottom of the Menerbes hill. We fall in love with nature each and every day.

The pool is in full swing as a generation of Bishops boys visit nearby L’Isle sur l’Sorgue for a wedding and pop in over a few days to enjoy the rose, sun and a rapidly warming pool.

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[Emma and Sam (right) enjoying the local rose at the pool]

Also popping in was Francis and Veronika Schnetzler to visit Will and Sam. Francis brought Menerbes to a standstill with his new Mc Laren Mercedes car – one of only 80 made in the world. We were very happy to have it parked in our driveway making the poor Touran look exceptionally poor by comparison.

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[Swiss rego plates – naturally]

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[A bunch of serious admirers – Richard, yours truly, Will and Gilles. Emma peeping out from behind]

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[Francis returning the bonnet to its usual position after an inspection. The builder of each engine autographs the cowling!]

The ever lengthening days have quite an effect on the visitors. Combining the sun, the rose, a few fags, great food and the holiday atmosphere : what more of a tonic than dancing?

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[Mother dearest (right) leading Sam and Emma in a version of Zorba’s dance]

We braved the Mistral to visit the St Remy market only to find this entertaining sight – cleaning the Hotel de Ville under the watchful patronage of You know Who.

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Gilles and Julian arrived on Thursday with a ‘cherry picker’ of note. The mission was to finally trim down all the cypress trees to repair the snow damage from January and March. The tops were then lopped off for a snazzy look.

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Will took the opportunity to climb into the cherry picker and take a few aerial shots. They’ll be great on the www.provencevillarental.com and www.bastidelesamis.com sites.

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The jet setters have slipped easily into the Luberon way of life. Here they are at the little restaurant at L’Isle sur l’Sorgue we patronise – Le Petit Jardin.

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The boys had a major disappointment with the Super 14 rugby semi-finals as Sky pulled the plug on the proposed screening and instead forced us to watch the Heineken Cup final instead – this is what two Stormers supporters thought about that.

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Oh! Madame has a new phone to accompany her new Orange contract. It’s touch screen and very flash. Will has set it up all for here seems more interested in sampling the saucissons on display.

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Au bientot – Lovonne and Simon xx

We’re on Twitter! Follow our adventures on a day-by-day basis on ‘hulloprovence’.

For those of you – like us until a few days ago! – Twitter can best be described by its Wikipedia descriptive:

Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to the author’s subscribers who are known as followers. Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or, by default, allow open access. Since late 2009, users can follow lists of authors instead of following individual authors. All users can send and receive tweets via the Twitter website, Short Message Service (SMS), or external applications (notably including those developed for smartphones). While the service itself costs nothing to use, accessing it through SMS may incur phone service provider fees. The website currently has more than 100 million users worldwide.

Since its creation in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Twitter has gained notability and popularity worldwide. It is sometimes described as “SMS of the Internet.” The use of Twitter’s application programming interface for sending and receiving text messages by other applications often eclipses direct use of Twitter.

Twitter itself says –

“What we have to do is deliver to people the best and freshest most relevant information possible. We think of Twitter as it’s not a social network, but it’s an information network. It tells people what they care about as it is happening in the world.”

Twitter is free to download and there is a handy link on the right hand side of this site. When we get the teccies talking to each other, there will be an icon on the site.

Enjoy!

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                                 We are so proud of our surrogate grandson Down Under – Nic Badings.

Here is an article from the latest North Shore Times in Sydney:

OPENING batsman Nic Badings likes to hit his opponents for six. Nic, 12, of Turramurra, has been nominated for the North Shore Times Junior Sports Star Award after winning selection in the City North West Emerging Blues under-13s squad.

He will play two Twenty20 games against the City South Emerging Blues team later this year. The match will be a selection trial for the NSW Emerging Blues under-13s squad. Despite the frenetic pace of Twenty20 games, Nic said he would build up his innings at his own pace.

“I take an over or two to get my eye in,’’ he said. “I then rotate the strike and play more freely, hitting it harder as I pick the gaps.’’

Nic, a year 7 student at Barker College, plays for St Ives Junior Cricket Club in the under-13s division 2 competition. His side made the finals in the 2009/10 season. He averaged more than 100 after finishing 40 not out in five out of his eight innings.

This is the fourth consecutive year he has been selected in the City North West squad, which will start training in July. “I was really chuffed and excited to get picked,’’ he said. `I feel that I’ve played really well but there are other boys who are better than me so I thought I wouldn’t make it. “So when I found out I had been picked I was really happy.’’

Nic said his dream was to pull on a baggy green cap for Australia. “I just want to work my way up from grade to state cricket and then hopefully get into the senior Australian team,’’ he said. “At this stage I’m just going to keep working hard and I will achieve these things later on.’’

Nic – as Walt Disney said: “If you can dream it, you can do it”. We’ll be at the SCG with Craig and Margo when you walk out for the first time in that Baggy Green.

With the annual Gypsy festival next week on the Camargue it is fitting to reproduce the famous poem by Roy Campbell “Horses on the Camargue”

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In the grey wastes of dread,
The haunt of shattered gulls where nothing moves
But in a shroud of silence like the dead,
I heard a sudden harmony of hooves,
And, turning, saw afar
A hundred snowy horses unconfined,
The silver runaways of Neptune’s car
Racing, spray-curled, like waves before the wind.
Sons of the Mistral, fleet
As him with whose strong gusts they love to flee,
Who shod the flying thunders on their feet
And plumed them with the snortings of the sea;
Theirs is no earthly breed
Who only haunts the verges of the earth
And only on the sea’s salt herbage feed-
Surely the great white breakers gave them birth.
For when for years a slave,
A horse of the Camargue, in alien lands,
Should catch some far-off fragrance of the wave
Carried far inland from this native sands,
Many have told the tale
Of how in fury, foaming at the rein,
He hurls his rider; and with lifted tail,
With coal-red eyes and catarcating mane,
Heading his course for home,
Though sixty foreign leagues before him sweep,
Will never rest until he breathes the foam
And hears the native thunder of the deep.
And when the great gusts rise
And lash their anger on these arid coasts,
When the scared gulls career with mournful cries
And whirl across the waste like driven ghosts;
When hail and fire converge,
The only souls to which they strike no pain
Are the white crested fillies of the surge
And the white horses of the windy plain.
Then in their strength and pride
The stallions of the wilderness rejoice;
They feel their Master’s trident in their side,
And high and shrill they answer to his voice.
With white tails smoking free,
Long streaming manes, and arching necks, they show
Their kinship to their sisters of the sea-
And forward hurl their thunderbolts of snow.
Still out of hardship bred,
Spirits of power and beauty and delight
Have ever on such frugal pasture fed
And loved to course with tempests through the night.

                                A two day ceremony at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer on 24 and 25 May each year is attended by many Romany (aka Gypsy) pilgrims. During this “Pelerinage des Gitans” Romanies from all over Europe head for the fortified Romanesque church at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in the Camargue and particularly the statue of Saint Sarah in the crypt, known to the Romanies as Sarah-la-Kali. The faithful arrive in droves a week before the two days of celebration and make evening visits to the crypt accompanied by violins and guitars. Each pilgrim adds a candle to the mass of candles already lit within the shrine.

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On the afternoon of 24th May, statues of the two Marys are lowered from the top of Saint Michael’s church. As they are lowered down the more credulous try to touch them before they reach the ground in order to receive miraculous healing and supernatural protection from misfortune.

The statue of Saint Sarah is then brought up from the crypt below. The statue, blackened by the smoke of candles, is adorned in bright, new robes for the occasion. Gitans shout “Vive Sainte Sarah!” and sing hymns. She is carried on the shoulders of four gypsies, and the procession winds its way through the narrow streets to the beach, escorted by gardians riding white horses.

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[The gardians]

On the beach, the bearer party wade knee-deep into the water where the plaster statue of Sainte Sarah is symbolically submerged. They then turn around, go back and return the statue to the church.

At the church the three saints are venerated for the rest of the day. The following morning, the statues of the two Marys are placed in a boat also taken out to the sea, then returned and worshipped.

The parade which follows the next day on 25 May in honour of the two Marys is more of a local Provençal festival, with Gypsy participation. The event offers Romani pilgrims an opportunity to renew family and social contacts, negotiate betrothals,conduct business and baptize their infants in the Church of Saintes Maries de la Mer.

There are several stories connected to the dark faced Saint Sarah, and especially her origins offer some interesting tales.

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Legend has it she was the servant of the other locally celebrated Mary Saints. It is believed that at the beach they erected an altar to pray, but soon thereafter they dispersed. The relics of Mary Magdalene, Mary Salome and Mary Jacob are said to be kept in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and each has their own annual pilgrimage. These women are believed to be the first people to witness to the empty tomb just before the resurrection of Jesus, and the Mary Magdalene cult is very wide-spread in the Provence.

The Gypsy pilgrimage of Sainte Sarah is a unique, spiritual festival, vibrant and colourful, offering a deeper insight into the lives and culture of this ancient nomadic tribe, we call gypsies, the Roma.

According to legend, during the imagined persecution of early Christians, often dated to the year 42 AD, Lazarus, his sisters Mary Magdalene and Martha, Mary Salome (the mother of the Apostles John and James son of Zebedee), Mary Jacobe, Saint Maximin and Sidonius were sent out into the Mediterranean in a boat equipped without sail by their evil Roman persecutors. Many of the boat’s complement were supposed to have been present at the Crucifixion of Jesus.

The French are known for their love affair with food. Traditionally each Sunday they should eat the ‘poulet au pot’ (literally ‘chicken in a pot’) but to-day this has been stretched to roast chicken and the fowl in a myriad of forms.

However, one Frenchman living in Montpellier tired of the chicken and along with his close mates, decided to ‘attack the lobster’:

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[The lobster awaiting the attack]

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[The aggressor – Robert]

There’s a disturbing news snippet coming out of Zimbabwe where the insidious presence of North Korea is now flexing its muscles and turning its eyes on what is left of Zim’s wild life.

Disturbing because as the country tries to pull its agri-economy up by the bootstraps, safaris and game viewing will become one of the major tourist attractions and foreign currency earners.

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Zim’s state media reported as follows:

“Zimbabwe is preparing to send wild animals to a North Korean zoo

The National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said it was processing an application from North Korea to ship elephants, giraffes, zebras, warthogs, spotted hyenas and rock dassies to a zoo in the hermit state.

The deal is likely to outrage rights groups in the southwestern Matabeleland provinces, who say a North Korean-trained army unit killed 20000 people when President Robert Mugabe battled an insurgency in the region in the 1980s.

The wildlife management authority’s director-general, Vitalis Chadenga, told the Herald that the national parks authority had sent experts to North Korea to verify that the zoo was appropriate for the animals.”

Perhaps the Zim authorities should pop across the border to Mmupalanga and see what the game-viewing industry has done to the local economy.

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Vanity Fair’s June issue is debuting in iPad form sometime on Wednesday, The New York Times reports. The app will be available in Apple’s App Store for $4.99, the same price as the glossy news stand edition. Future editions will be priced at $3.99.

“Magazines are actually pretty brilliant concepts the way they are,” Editor-in-Chief Graydon Carter said during today’s preview. “At the same time, we have a few bells and whistles that a magazine cannot provide.”

Those ‘bells and whistles’ include the ability to view the magazine in horizontal and vertical mode, navigate by story or by page, return to the place a user left off reading, and watch behind-the-scenes footage of photo shoots — like the one with this month’s covergirl, Emma Watson.

The issue will feature the same ads as the print edition, as well as special ads from six advertisers, including Microsoft Bing, Aveeno and Clinique. The special ads contain features like how-to videos and Facebook Pages, and can be viewed in vertical mode. Additionally, advertisers were also able to add links to their regular print ads for a “nominal fee,” according to publisher Edward Menicheschi.

Besides the vertical mode and the special ads, the iPad version of Vanity Fair offers little functionality beyond its web edition. The same video footage of Emma Watson is already available for free to visitors, for instance, as are most of the articles. In fact, the app lacks several critical features that the online version has, including the ability to copy and share articles.

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