Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Cars at Saint Frambault

At the rural fair at Saint-Frambault there was a parade of old cars which started from one of the fields and then made a circuit of the town.  I took these photos while the cars were parked up around the streets in the town.  There was also an exhibition of old tractors in one of the fields so I have included a couple of photos of them too.  I have slightly over processed the images to make the cars look even more shiny than they were.  Nothing much else to say except hope you enjoy the photos.











Monday, 16 September 2013

Saint-Frambault Part Two

It's taken longer to get around to Part Two than I had expected but here goes.  After the threshing demonstration we went down to where the big food marquee was at the edge of the town.  It was fairly empty by now as most people had eaten but there was a bit of activity around a pretend wedding.  We saw a similar thing at another rural show in France a couple of years ago.  In this first photo a couple of the older guests to the wedding were having a bit of an amorous moment as everyone else watched on.


Here the very young bride and groom were in a procession around the area dressed in their old fashioned finery.  The little bridesmaids and page boys were also dressed up smartly.


After the wedding procession we went back into the centre of the town in time to see the procession of the washer women.  We had seen the notice about the washing demonstration at 3pm at the old laverie building but hadn't realised there was a procession before where the washer women paraded the laundry items around the town with a musical accompaniment.


As they reached the laundry building there was a big crowd ready to watch the demonstration. The second wheelbarrow appeared to just have the bars of soap and cleaning tools in it. The fellow in the straw hat carried a big ladle which he used to transfer the water from the boiler into the washing barrel.


Down in the laundry the washer women assembled ready to do their work while the accordion players continued to play in the background.  Unfortunately I couldn't get a good position to take photographs and managed to make them loose their heads.  We decided to come back later and went to have a drink and look around the old cars that had paraded from the field earlier and were now parked around the centre of the town.  I'll post the car pictures in a separate post because there were quite a few.


When we got back to the lavarie the women were still hard at work but the crowd had dispersed a little so I managed to get closer to the action.  Here's a very short clip of them hitting the laundry with wooden paddles to knock the dirt of of them.


They also used scrubbing brushes to get the washing clean.


Here a young lad volunteered to give them a helping hand.


After hitting or scrubbing the clothing it is then rinsed out in the pool part of the laundry.


The old gentleman was ladling the hot soapy water from the boiler on the left into the wooden laundry tub.  We might have missed it but I guess the clothes were put in here before being beaten and scrubbed at the edge of the water.


For some reason one of the washer women went for a paddle in the water, much to everyones amusement.


Shortly after this we headed back to the car park and set off to our next destination.  Next time I'll post the car pictures from the town.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Saint-Frambault Part One

After we had been to Domfront town in the morning we were going to visit the Apple and Pear Museum near Barenton but the owners of the hotel told us that it was a bank holiday and it might be closed.  So instead they suggested that we go to Saint-Frambault because there was a country show for the Assomption (Assumption of Mary into Heaven) Bank Holiday (15th August) and there would probably be cider there anyway.  Another plus is that it was only about 10 minutes from Domfront and also we saw a leaflet about the fair in the tourist information office in Domfront which looked very interesting.  I've just processed the photos from the afternoon and I have more than two dozen photos and a couple of video clips so I'm going to make it into three posts.

As we drove to Saint-Frambault we arrived at a road block about 2 kilometres from the town where we had to pay our 5 euro entry fee and directed to continue down the road to the car park.  It seems that the whole town and surrounding area was blocked off for the fair, the French know how to do these things well.  The car park (rough old field at the side of the road) was almost full but there was a gate through to the next field for the overflow.  This first photo was from the exit of the car park and is a big advert for another fair at Barenton on the 1st September.


There was a short walk into the town and all of the gardens had lovely flowers and hanging baskets outside.  As we reached the edge of the town the street was full of wooden toys for people to play with.  Some of them were known favourites and others were things that we'd never seen before.  


These two lads were engrossed in their games.  The one on the right was trying to get the wooden ball down the track but I'm not sure what the other one was doing.  Each of the games had a sheet with instructions but it was all in French so we were struggling to translate them.


In the centre of the town there was lots of stalls selling all sorts of local produce and goods.  This stall had a massive range of different tomatoes including some very weird looking ones and all different colours.


This stall had loads of tiny shoes.  I couldn't figure out whether they were real shoes or just for ornaments.  They were all pretty colours though.


This stall had all sorts of wooden things including toys, useful objects and ornaments.  I was particularly interested in all these little owls.


Around the corner from the market stalls the forge was working and the blacksmith was busy making horse shoes.


In the centre of the town was this lovely church with the usual market square in front of it.  Today instead of the market were a couple of stages where there will be musicians playing later in the day.


In a field near the church was lots of farm machinery and animals including ducks, geese and hens.  These donkeys and horses were in a pen in the middle of the field.


As we walked around the field there was a lot of activity in a roped off section of the field so we went over to have a look.  There was a dozen or so men dressed up as old fashioned farmers who were laying down some corn on top of a large piece of tarpaulin.  The fellow in the white shirt was going around interviewing the "farmers" and was apparently cracking lots of jokes because the crowd were laughing out loud.


After the interviews and more jokes the men stood in two rows facing each other and started smashing the heads of corn with their jointed sticks.  They all worked as a team and moved up and down the area of corn until they had covered it all twice over.  Heres a very short clip of them in action.


When they had finished the women stepped forward and removed the stalks of the corn to reveal the grains covering the floor.  It seemed a bit labour intensive to me but everyone seemed to be having a good time.


Further up the field another set of workers were preparing a mechanical threshing machine so I guess that was going to be the next demonstration.  We've seen mechanical threshing a few times so we decided to move on to see something else, there was lots going on all around the town.  Part two will be coming very soon.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Domfront, Orne, France

When we arrived at the first hotel at Belle Vallee, just outside Domfront we were extremely tired.  We'd got up at around 3am and driven all the way down from West Yorkshire to Dover, missed the ferry to Calais so had to wait for 3 hours for the next one.  Then we sped along the motorway in Northern France to Rouen, where we got lost as usual, even with the sat. nav.  Finally we headed South West to Domfront to arrive at the hotel around 6pm.  

We could have had a meal at the Chambres de Hote if we had booked before we set off but we hadn't.  The owners Victoria and Richard were very nice and were going to try and book us a table somewhere in the town, but we were to tired to go back out and decided to finish the remains of the food we had brought with us (crisps, fruit and biscuits).  Victoria said she could knock up a salad from whatever she had in the kitchen if we wanted and we said that would be amazing.

We decided to have a bath in our room before any food as we were pretty hot and sweaty so Lynne went first. Victoria had taken up a glass of wine for Lynne while I sat outside in the garden waiting for my turn.  After we'd got changed we sat back outside in the garden with more wine and then the food arrived.  There was a good selection of cold meat and cheese with a little bit of salad and then a big piece of banana cake for dessert.

Here's a view of the garden from our bedroom window.  It was nicely in the shade for our evening meal and a brilliant place to relax at the end of a long day.  I can wholeheartedly recommend the Belle Vallee near Domfront if you ever want to visit that area of France.  The little lane down to the house is a bit rough and easy to miss from the road, but once you get there the place is lovely and the owners are brilliant. 


On the first full day of our holiday in France we visited the Domfront in the morning before getting ready to go somewhere else in the afternoon (see next post when it's written).  We found a car park near the centre of the town and the first photo I took was of this war memorial. The green/grey finish on the soldier made it look as if it was made out of plastic.


We followed the signposts to the chateau and the next photo is part of the town wall with the remains of the chateau in the background.


This next shot is looking across from the town towards the chateau and the walls going up to it.  There is a bridge across from the town and below is a road going between the chateau and the town.


On the chateau site are the remains of this old church which is currently fenced off where they appear to be doing some archaeological digging.


Most of the chateau is piles of stone here and there and some of them are propped up to stop them falling over any more.  This part is the biggest chunk of the remains which gives some indication of how big the chateau would have been.


Around the site some of the outer walls are still standing and they go a long way down to the flat land below.  The walls between the chateau an the town are relatively small and there are some underground passages that can be walked through.  The next shot is looking back towards the town and shows the bridge over the road and the building which is the tourist information office.  Inside the tourist information office is a display and models of how the chateau would have looked before it was destroyed (probably by those pesky Englishmen, so we didn't ask).


We climbed down the precarious path down the chateau walls towards the town to get this shot looking along the wall towards the bridge.  When we went around the corner behind us there was a much easier path down to here.


Back into the town and this building with the flags outside is the town hall.


In the centre of the town was a small square with shops around it and "Le Bistrot St. Julien".  We stopped for a cold drink as it was getting quite hot as we got towards the middle of the day.


Around the town there were a number of shops which had been closed for some time.  Quite a few of them, like this one in the next photo, had posters in the window which at first glance look as though they are still open.


Heres another cafe/restaurant withe the church spire behind.


At the bottom of the town is this old tower which would have been part of the town walls.  This could have been one half of the gate house as there looks to be the start of an archway at this side.


Further around the edge of the town were some more towers and sections of wall.


Back into the centre of the town is this rather unusual looking church which was built in the 1920's using concrete blocks.  Apparently it has some exciting mosaics inside but we didn't find an open door so missed them.


Late in the morning we set off to our next visit of the day at Saint-Fraimbault which will be in the next post.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Yorkshire Sculpture Park Revisited

I know, I have posted lots of times from the Yorkshire Sculpture Park but it's one of my favourite places to visit and it's only a twenty minute drive from my house.  Last week I set off early to the park hoping to get lots of photos before the park got too busy.  I ended up being there for about five hours taking photos of the trees, flowers, birds, lakes and sculptures.  I took a few hundred photos altogether but many were duplicates or different angles of the the same subject.  I did end up with quite a number of keepers in the end though and will probably get around to posting some of them over the next few weeks.

In this post I am going to limit the photos to the sculptures as they are one of the main attractions at the park.  I have shown some of the sculptures in previous posts as some of them have been there for a few years, but these are all new photos taken on a very hot and sunny morning.  I don't have details of all of the sculptures but I'll include anything I know (or look up).

This first one is unmistakably an Antony Gormley piece and is from the One & Other series from 2000.  The figure is placed high on the top of an old dead tree near the bridge between the upper and lower lakes of the park.  I seem to remember there being more than one of these figures in the park but this is the only one I saw during the visit.


The next piece is by Jem Finer.  I just love the way it reflects the surroundings and the sky and is itself reflected in the water of the lake..


This is by Anthony Caro and has been in the park for many years.  It did disappear for a while but has returned and has had a new hard standing area to sit on.  I think maybe it has been cleaned as well while it's been away because it looks very fresh.   I'm wondering now if it's a new piece in place of what was here before.  I'll have to look back at my old photos to check.


I don't remember what this piece is and I haven't found any information about it.  I just like that it sort of mirrors some of the shapes in the Bretton Hall building in the background.


This is called "The Kiss" by Nigel Hall and it is very red.


This very large rabbit is by Sophie Ryder and again it has featured in a previous blog post from when there were a lot more of her sculptures in the park.


The next photo is a sculpture by Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz and has been in the park a couple of years.


I don't thinkI've seen this one before so I guess it might be new.  It was made by French artist Niki de Saint Phalle, although I thought it looked very Indian or other Asian in influence.  The sculpture was in the shade of the trees but the sun was just on the hands and I was able to get into a position to get this sun burst from a shiny gold bit.


Here are a couple of photos of some Jean Miro sculptures which are from a major exhibition a year or two ago.  I have a blog post from the time with more work from this artist.



Finally three views of one of the Yinka Shonibare MBE wind sculptures which is part of the current major exhibition at the park.  See my previous blog post about him here if you want to see more.