The morning after the night before. There was a big wedding in Ménerbes over this past weekend - the debris remains.

The morning after the night before. There was a big wedding in Ménerbes over this past weekend – the debris remains.

Preparing to go backwards into the Le Renard garage for winter.

Preparing to go backwards into the Le Renard garage for winter.

 

Is it necessary to put your iconic Citroen 2CV away for winter?

We do. Reasons:

  • try driving it on icy roads – NO!
  • try starting it in the cold – NO!
  • try taking the rust off the chassis after being on wet roads – NO!  (2CVs are very susceptible to rust)
  • try staying warm inside a car with natural air cooling – NO!
  • try explaining to your loved one that it is ‘fun’ to drive in the winter – NO!

Yes, put it away!

I had to enlist the help of a friend as the 2CV had developed a brake pipe leak so had ot be 'bled' prior to greasing.

I had to enlist the help of a friend as the 2CV had developed a brake pipe leak so had ot be ‘bled’ prior to greasing.

 

She's in - greased, prepped, battery on trickle and about to get her winter blanket.

She’s in – greased, prepped, battery on trickle and about to get her winter blanket.

Thanks to le Renard for the garaging!!! Merci bien, mes amis.

La Petite Maion in Ménerbes has been garnering quite reputation with the local artisans for heavy lifting, complicated furniture removals etc. The latest challenge to be presented was how to place the new stone trough (weighing in at about 400kg), in the farthest part of the garden. a ramp, two sets of steps, cobbled paving and a slight slope all had to be negotiated in a place where mechanical help was impossible.

In times like this, we turn to Nicolas, our maçon, painter and fixer extraordinaire. Quick calculations meant that six men would have to carry at least 60kg each and then a bit more. Off he went to the quarry to collect the trough which was easily loaded on a pallet and inot his van via a forklift. The last mechanical help!

This is how it unfolded…..

There she is - in the closed van on a quarry pallet.

There she is – in the closed van on a quarry pallet.

Boards placed and nailed for a hand jack to be able to slide the trough down on to the pavement.

Boards placed and nailed for a hand jack to be able to slide the trough down on to the pavement.

5 Frenchmen and an ex-pat (me!) start to move it out of the van.

5 Frenchmen and an ex-pat (me!) start to move it out of the van.

Easy does it

Easy does it

That's Nico in the blue t-shirt

That’s Nico in the blue t-shirt

Now the steps!

Now the steps!

Prepare to lift! Plenty of "attentions" emanating from the men.

Prepare to lift! Plenty of “attentions” emanating from the men.

Up she comes

Up she comes

Back on to the jack and then into place. Formidable!

Back on to the jack and then into place.
Formidable!

IMG_2557

 

The other day we needed some printing done and were referred to a printer in Apt. We come from an environment where printers work 24/24, 7/7. Not in Apt, the translation of the poster outside the factory door: The Printer is only open in the afternoons!

Only in France.

A loophole in the Carcassonne ramparts.

A loophole in the Carcassonne ramparts.

 

We all know what a loophole in the English language – it’s what we look for to find our way around some rules and regulations to be able to do what we want to do.

However, on the recent road trip to Carcassonne, we saw a loophole in the castle walls. Some more investigating, reveals….

The language definition : A loophole is an ambiguity or inadequacy in a system, such as a law or security, which can be used to circumvent or otherwise avoid the intent, implied or explicitly stated, of the system. Loopholes are searched for and used strategically in a variety of circumstances, including taxes, elections, politics, the criminal justice system, or in breaches of security, or a response to one’s civil liberties.

Loopholes are distinct from lacunae, although the two terms are often used interchangeably. In a loophole, a law addressing a certain issue exists, but the law can be legally circumvented due to a technical defect in the said law. A lacuna, on the other hand, is a situation whereby no law exists in the first place to address that particular issue.

Now, here comes the rub and hence the photograph above: Historically, arrow slits were narrow vertical windows from which castle defenders launched arrows from a sheltered position, and were also referred to as “loopholes”.

Thus a loophole in a law often contravenes the intent of the law without technically breaking it, much as the small slit window in a castle wall is a small opening in a seemingly impenetrable defensive measure that lets the defender gain the advantage of being able to fire without easily being fired back upon.

 

If the French can over-complicate anything, they will. Be it how to place a light within a BBQ, to various taxes, but now I’ve heard it all. A friend mentioned to me that even the wind is rated, graded and classified.

And published!

Here they are on a pretty little postcard:

Winds of Provence (1)

The Winds of Provence, the region of southeast France along the Mediterranean from the Alps to the mouth of the Rhone River, are an important feature of Provençal life, and each one has a traditional local name, in the Provençal language.

The most famous Provençal winds are:

The Mistral, a cold dry north or northwest wind, which blows down through the Rhone Valley to the Mediterranean, and can reach speeds of ninety kilometers an hour.
The Levant, a very humid east wind, which brings moisture from the eastern Mediterranean.
The Tramontane, a strong, cold and dry north wind, similar to the Mistral, which blows from the Massif Central mountains toward the Mediterranean to the west of the Rhone.
The Marin, a strong, wet and cloudy south wind, which blows in from the Gulf of Lion.

The Sirocco, a southeast wind coming from the Sahara desert in Africa, can reach hurricane force, and brings either reddish dust or heavy rains.

The Provençal names for the winds are very similar to the names in the Catalan language:

Tramontane (Pr.) = Tramuntana (Catalan)
Levant (Pr.) = Llevant (Catalan)
Mistral (Pr.) = Mestral (Catalan)

The winds of Provence, particularly the Mistral, have long had an influence on the architecture of Provence. The mas traditionally faces southeast, with its back to the Mistral,and many Provençal churches have open iron grill bell towers, which allow the Mistral wind to pass through.
The traditional Provençal Christmas creche often features one santon, or Provençal character, holding his hat and wearing a cape billowing from the Mistral.
The Mistral also features in Provençal literature, and in the more recent novels of Marcel Pagnol.

Thanks, Mary!

 

Monsieur Jean-Pierre approaching the spot where he found water!

Monsieur Jean-Pierre approaching the spot where he found water!

With the Calavon and Durance rivers making their way into the mightly Rhone River, the Luberon Valley is blessed with water which fuels the rich agricultural heritage.

We live on a hill top and with an ever expanding, and more demanding, garden/property we felt it prudent to investigate our underground water stocks and potentially sink a well and become self-sufficient.

A water diviner was needed to identify the exact spot, how deep to drill and how much water would be there. The search began but luckily, after a few false starts, we discovered Monsieur Jean-Pierre from Egalyieres. M. J-P is an eau de sourcier – a water diviner or dowser.

Dowsing as practiced today may have originated in Germany during the 15th century, when it was used in attempts to find metals. As early as 1518 Martin Luther listed dowsing for metals as an act that broke the first commandment (i.e., as occultism). The 1550 edition of Sebastian Münster’s Cosmographia contains a woodcut of a dowser with forked rod in hand walking over a cutaway image of a mining operation. The rod is labelled “Virgula Divina – Glück rüt” (Latin: divine rod; German “Wünschelrute”: fortune rod or stick), but there is no text accompanying the woodcut. By 1556 Georgius Agricola’s treatment of mining and smelting of ore, De Re Metallica, included a detailed description of dowsing for metal ore. In the sixteenth century, German deep mining technology was in enormous demand all over Europe and German miners were licensed to live and work in Elizabethan England particularly in the Stannaries of Devon & Cornwall and in Cumbria. It is thought that the dialect term “dowsing” was introduced at this period– its origin is unknown but features characteristics of the West Country dialects.

Let's try elsewhere!

Let’s try elsewhere!

In 1662 dowsing was declared to be “superstitious, or rather satanic” by a Jesuit, Gaspar Schott, though he later noted that he wasn’t sure that the devil was always responsible for the movement of the rod.In the South of France in the 17th century it was used in tracking criminals and heretics. Its abuse led to a decree of the inquisition in 1701, forbidding its employment for purposes of justice.

Traditionally, the most common dowsing rod is a forked (Y-shaped) branch from a tree or bush. Some dowsers prefer branches from particular trees, and some prefer the branches to be freshly cut. Hazel twigs in Europe and witch-hazel in the United States are traditionally commonly chosen, as are branches from willow or peach trees. The two ends on the forked side are held one in each hand with the third (the stem of the Y) pointing straight ahead. Often the branches are grasped palms down. The dowser then walks slowly over the places where he suspects the target (for example, minerals or water) may be, and the dowsing rod dips, inclines or twitches when a discovery is made. This method is sometimes known as “willow witching”.

Two L-shaped metal wire rods
Many dowsers today (including our Monsieur J-P) use a pair of simple L-shaped metal rods. One rod is held in each hand, with the short arm of the L held upright, and the long arm pointing forward. When something is found, the rods cross over one another making an X over the found object. If the object is long and straight, such as a water pipe, the rods may point in opposite directions, showing its orientation. The rods are sometimes fashioned from wire coat hangers, and glass or plastic rods have also been accepted. Straight rods are also sometimes used for the same purposes, and were not uncommon in early 19th-century New England.

In all cases, the device is in a state of unstable equilibrium from which slight movements may be amplified.

Well, what did he find?

On our boundary, he found water 140-150 metres deep, 50 cubic litres a minute. The cost? Approximately 15,000€.

We’ll wait a bit.

 

The cheese board at the famous Le Pebre d'Ail restaurat in Lauris, near Marseille.

The cheese board at the famous Le Pebre d’Ail restaurat in Lauris, near Marseille.

Charles de Gaulle said famously, “How can you hope to govern a country that has more types of cheese than days of the year?” The French just love their cheese and even if you are not happy shopping, or detest supermarkets, its worth popping into a French supermarket and seeing not only the variety of cheeses on offer, but also the amount of acreage given over to cheese.

Traditionally, there are from 350 to 450 distinct types of French cheese grouped into eight categories ‘les huit familles de fromage’. There can be many varieties within each type of cheese, leading some to claim closer to 1,000 different types of French cheese.

So, what’s the Top 10?

Camembert (AOC)
Brie de Meaux (AOC)
Roquefort (AOC)
Boursin
Reblochon (AOC)
Munster (AOC)
Pont l’Évêque (AOC)
Époisses (AOC)
Chèvre
Tomme de Savoie (AOC)

*AOC denotes that is in a protected class. Chèvre = goat’s cheese.

Etiquette note: Cheese is expensive and if you’re dining with French friends, dont tuck in as though there will never be a chance to eat cheese again – eat delicately, sip your red wine (Sacre Bleu! No port with cheese in France), and chat about the delicious flavours. In France, cheese is served between the main course and dessert and aften with a small green salad.

 

 

In situ in Sorgues

In situ in Sorgues

One of the – many – delights of exploring the backwaters of Provence and dipping into some really ugly industrial zones, is that you can ofiten find some hidden treasures. Steep rentals chase many antique collectors/vendors away from the main tourist hubs into these overgrown and desolate yards where the bigger dealers come to ferret out bargains and sell them on for exhorbitant sums.

We had to go into one such backwater, near Sorgues (not to be confused at any time with its most illustrious namesake L’Isle sur la Sorgue), to a hardware merchant’s warehouse to collect a knock down wendy house (more about that later!!). Naturally, Madame’s radar was on high alert and we came across Antiquités des Oliviers.

We knew it was something special when we saw the vintage Fiats in the parking lot along with a very old lorry; statues and other bric a brac outside two huge sheds.

Right in the middle , we found something that had been a target for some time – a metal swing bench for the garden; a balançoire.

Ensconced in our garden looking over to Mont Ventoux.

Ensconced in our garden looking over to Mont Ventoux.

Business is slow……. we purchased the bench at 12h00, at 14h30 t was installed in our garden some 35km away!

 

Off we go…. the coffee machine is broken and there are no agents for Elektra machines in France so it seemed as good an excuse as any.

The posts over the next few days will take us to Nice, Savona, Padua, Treviso, Venice, Vincenza and back home to Ménerbes!

A top of the range elektra machine in the company showroom in Treviso. Ours is a little more modest.

A top of the range elektra machine in the company showroom in Treviso. Ours is a little more modest.

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