Tag Archives: Napoleon

Wednesday 21st March 2018 – SPRING IS SPRUNG

The grass is riz
I wonder where de boidies is
De boid is on de wing
But dat’s absoid
I taut de wing was on de boid!

In fact it was such a nice morning this morning that I went for a walk.

Mind you, I had had something of a walk during the night. I was in one of my 3D worlds as a character and it was all totally weird and surreal. So much so that I was rather disappointed when the alarm went off.

Dawn was breaking as I stuck my head over the parapet – the nights are getting shorter. We’ll be putting the clocks forward soon if I remember correctly.

And after the usual morning performance and with it looking so nice, I put the bread that should have been today’s back in the freezer and went out for a baguette.

And instead of going straight down the hill into town I went the very long way round, out past the headland and down the footpath.

napoleon fortifications pointe du roc granville manche normandy franceWe’ve seen lots of evidence of World War II fortifications around here but the area was heavily fortified in the days of Napoleon and there are plenty of remains of 19th Century defences.

I’m not quite sure what this might have been but it’s certainly something to do with it all.

And the footpath that we are on is presumably the old road before the new one just above was built. I need to find out so much more about local history.

joly france granville manche normandy franceThat wasn’t the only excitement either.

The passenger ferry to the Iles de Chausey still runs in the winter for the inhabitants, and as I went round the bend there she was, the Joly France, just setting off.

I can’t understand why it goes out to the islands in the morning and comes back in the evening. For the benefit of the islanders it ought to be the other way round.

And if you want to know the definition of bone-idleness and couldn’t care less (or je m’en foutisme as they say around here) I went as I said I would round to the Marité to see what was the programme for the season.

“It’s all on the website. Look there” said the guy in charge. No wonder there’s a recession on when people come armed with a pile of folding stuff and they are told effectively to clear off.

So armed with a baguette from the boulangerie I came back from my walk and made myself a coffee I had earned it.

After lunch, with the home-made mayonnaise that seems now to have emulsified, I did a few things such as worked on a few photos and a session on the guitar where I seem finally to have mastered the Paul Rudolph/Adrian Shaw composite bass line to “Damnation Alley” from the album Quark, Strangeness and Charm.

medieval walled city granville donville les bains manche normandy franceBack out this afternoon for my usual walk. I have to keep up the pressure and anyway, as I said, it was a glorious day.

There was a nice view along the cliff past the walled town out to Donville les Bains and another one of the many miserable ruins that I visited while looking for a place to live.

Sunlight was just a little bright though – bright enough to bring out the hordes of walkers who don’t have anything better to do than get in my way.

digger working on lock gates port de granville harbour manche normandy franceRound at the quayside the big crane that we saw yesterday has now gone. And I couldn’t see what it had done.

But the digger was back digging away at the foot of the wall at the harbour entrance where the new gate is going to be. It’s supposed to be installed by now but they aren’t half taking their time about it.

They need to hurry up and get some ships in

Tea was more vegetables, vegan cheese sauce and vegan sausages, followed by rice pudding. And delicious it all was too. It’s certainly working well. And then we had the evening walk where my mate the black cat was waiting for his evening stroke.

But here’s a thing. My evening route takes about 27% of my day’s activity, so leaving here at 77% I expected it to be at 104% when I returned. But no it wasn’t – it was on 96%. So I don’t know what is happening here. I had to go for another lap around the block.

But next time that I’m out with someone so equipped, we’ll synchronise our fitbits and see what’s happening.

Sunday 27th November 2016 – I FINALLY FOUND …

…some football this weekend, at my third attempt.

stade jean alame e s vouziers U S st menges 08200 france october octobre 2016U S St Menges were down to play E S Vouziers this afternoon and not only did I manage to find the ground, the teams were actually out there warming up when I arrived, ready to play.

That makes a pleasant change from just recently, having missed all kinds of matches just now.

But what was really interesting was when I walked into the pie hut. The woman behind the counter took one look at me and asked “coffee?”. First time that I’ve been here too!

My fame must be spreading, that’s all that I can say.

stade jean alame e s vouziers U S st menges 08200 france october octobre 2016So once the match kicked off, we all settled down to watch the game.

And in the words of the good old cliché, it really was a game of two halves too.

In the first half, it was a pretty even game. E S Vouziers – in the black-and-white – looked slightly the better team but that was failing to take into account two of the US St Menges players.

stade jean alame e s vouziers U S st menges 08200 france october octobre 2016US St Menges had two attackers who looked streets ahead of anything that ES Vouziers could offer and they combined to make really good attacking play.

The St Menges n°7 and n°9 were really having a good first half and it was absolutely no surprise to anyone that the end of the first half found then 2-0 up. And they were really good value for that score too.

And so we all went off for a half-time coffee and a warm because it was freezing out there.

stade jean alame e s vouziers U S st menges 08200 france october octobre 2016Now I’m not sure what each of the trainers put into the half-time cuppa because we had two different teams out there on the field for the second half.

The two US St Menges attackers had gone completely off the boil and were pretty much anonymous for the second half, whereas the ES Vouziers players came out full of beans.

Vouziers scored within two minutes of coming back on the field and at the end of the match they ran out 3-2 winners. In the second half, they were hardly troubled by US St Menges.

One of the most dramatic half-time turnarounds that I’ve seen for quite a bit.

chasseurs ardennes hunters st menges 08200 france october octobre 2016We had a brief interruption – or, at least, the spectators did. It’s hunting season of course and we are right in the Ardennes here.

Consequently, we had the 21st-Century version of the Chasseurs Ardennais driving past the football ground, on quads, in pick-ups or on these 4×4 machines that you can see here in this photo

I hate hunters with a passion, as you all know, and I shan’t bore you by ranting on about them right now. You can take it as read.

église d’Iges glaire 08200 france october octobre 2016Just across the river, in a tight meander of the River Meuse is the hamlet of Iges, part of the commune of Glaire since 1971. That’s the village church that you can see just here.

The village has a claim to fame in that it was in the Chateau de Bellevue that Napoleon III met Kaiser William during the signing of the surrender document to end this phase of the Franco-Prussian War after defeat at the Battle of Sedan in 1870.

The French soldiers were confined in the open air as prisoners of war, the meander serving as the boundary of the camp. Some were here for 10 days.

It’s also the site of one of the crossings of the Meuse by Guderian’s Panzer Armies in May 1940 in the early days of World War II.

Talking of World War II, you’ll remember on Friday when we went to see the spot just to the north of St Menges where Fairey Battle L-5581 from 88 Squadron RAF crashed into the trees and its crew, Sergeant FE Beames (observer), Sergeant WG Ross (pilot) and LAC JHK Gegg (wireless operator/air gunner) were killed.

I told you at the time that I’d try to track down the graves of the crew and my search led me to the communal cemetery of St Menges. It’s listed as a Commonwealth War Cemetery so I reckoned that it would be a good place to visit.

beames gegg ross fairey battle L-5581 cemetery st menges 08200 france october octobre 2016

My search around the cemetery was rather like that of Tuco near the end of The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly but I eventually found the plot.

There’s no site book here, no Union Jack or anything, and the plot is rather small. I was told that just one coffin was used and that rather unfortunately tells us rather too much about the condition of the bodies when they were recovered.

But it is typical of many plots in may cemeteries in this part of Europe, as I said the other day. Three graves in a quiet corner – pilot, navigator, rear gunner – monuments to the absurdity of the Fairey Battle.

I had a bit of a bad night last night. Up and down a couple of times, couldn’t sleep, awake far too early. First down to breakfast, before the staff yet again. And then back to carry on with Happy Valley and Goose Bay.

Having hung my damp clothes from last night on hangers on the curtain rail over the radiator, they were dry by lunchtime too. That was impressive.

And so, off on the attack this afternoon.

I had my pizza tonight down in the village and now I’m off to my room. I’ll try my best to have an early night and a good sleep. My time here is quickly drawing to a close.

Friday 8th January 2010 – today was the day …

heavy snow les guis virlet puy de dome france…when my morale, which has been slowly ebbing away for this last couple of weeks, finally disappeared.

I didn’t wake up until the alarm went off (just for a change) and there was no way I was going to get out of bed early. And, as usual, despite the clear starry skies last night, today was clouded over – a heavy hanging cloud was clinging to the side of the mountain.

We’d had snow too, so that involved a shin up onto the roof and a clearing of the solar panels – not that I needed to bother because I’ve had the impressive total of 1.1 amp-hours today!

But none of that is what has done in my morale though. And I can cope with frozen tea towels and frozen ordinary towels and frozen washing-up water and frozen water butts and even frozen lettuce – what did it for me firstly was going into the fridge (that has been switched off for over a month) and finding that my lunchtine tomato was frozen solid. That was bad enough but then while making the coffee there must have been some ice under the seal in the coffee percolator because halfway through the coffee routine the steam pressure blew the coffee all over the verandah. With the ice melted I could tighten up the seal but of course with it being warm it went up too tight and as I tried to undo it later I broke the handle on the machine. One of the reasons that Napoleon’s onslaught on Russia failed was that the severe winter caused all of the items made of tin to become brittle – and I can see what they mean now.

But I also spilt some coffee while I was doing all of this and when I turned my attention back to the spill, it had frozen solid. Today is the first day since I have been keeping records that the temperature in the verandah has not risen above zero all day.

This morning I carried on doing a few odd jobs and then started to measure up another vertical for the first floor and cut the let in the floor beam. I dunno where the morning went but that was all I did. This afternoon with my heart no longer in anything I started to put some insulation under the floor of the attic to help keep in the warmth. But it was flaming freezing and everywhere had gone dark and there was stuff all over the floor and I didn’t feel like tidying up so at 16:30 I packed up and came in – and crashed out again for an hour.

 heavy snowfall les guis virlet auvergne puy de dome franceI rang the baker too – she comes to deliver to me on Tuesdays and Wednesdays but she also has a round on Saturday so I wanted to order some bread as I’ve no intention of going anywhere anytime soon. “It depends if I can make it with this weather” she said – which totally puzzled me as the postie had been this morning. But when I went downstairs to make tea later (some tinned stuff – I wasn’t going to hang around down there in THAT weather) I saw what she meant. In the few hours that I had been upstairs it had snowed like hell and was still chucking it down. There’s about a foot of snow now, so I suppose I won’t get my bread tomorrow either.