Secrets of Normandy

Monday 12th September 2016, Champagne-sur-Loue, Franche Comte

As you can see we are back in our trogodite basement flat beneath the home of our friends Susanne and Roland. We are immeasurably grateful to be here, not only for the pleasure of seeing our friends again after an absence of nearly two years, but also to shelter from the unbearable heat currently affecting much of Northern Europe. Today it has been 38 degrees centigrade. Far too hot to enjoy travelling in Modestine!

Driving and camping in such heat has been difficult and my eye is still a bother. I also seem to have a touch of post-viral fatigue which saps what energy I have. I have greatly appreciated Ian's work on the blog during the first few days of these travels. Reading through his account however I realise there are many differences in the way we each approach travel writing. Ian’s are factually accurate and very informative whilst I tend to concentrate more on social activities and people. I fear I sometimes exaggerate minor events for no better reason than that they amuse me! I am therefore adding a few comments of my own as I take shelter in the cool kitchen here, waiting for the sun to set so we can take a stroll down to the banks of the Loue after supper.

We spent several days in Caen with Genevieve and enjoyed the hospitality of our library friends as usual.

Jill and Genevieve in the garden. Caen

It was a delightful time, as Ian has described. But then...

Oh dear what can the matter be
I got myself stuck in the lavatory
I was there for best part of Saturday
Nobody knew I was there!

The others were sitting under the shade of the acacia tree enjoying after lunch coffee so were unable to hear the sound of me scrabbling with the lock which had jammed in the door frame. Don’t panic! Keep calm! Oh dear! HELP! I thumped and banged while from the garden came happy chatter and comments about the sudden wind that must have sprung up causing doors to bang upstairs. Meanwhile I hammered fruitlessly against the bathroom door! After what seemed a very long time Ian came to investigate where I was. There followed a multi-lingual discussion on both sides of the door, French and English on the outside and Anglo-Saxon on the inside! A search for screw-drivers and chisels ensued. Eventually talks reached a conclusion, action was taken and article 50 was invoked. The bathroom door was finally breached and BREXIT achieved. I was free to leave!

This silliness did however bring it home to Geneviève, who lives alone and would be in a sorry pickle if she’d been there in the otherwise empty house, that she could be vulnerable if the door jammed again. At least she will now get the lock properly sorted. It has been stiff ever since the fire she suffered in the house some eight years ago and we had all become complacent about it. So some good resulted. I did not become traumatised though I found it all rather less funny than Ian did.

Ian has told you of the wonderful exhibition of the impressionist paintings by the Norwegian artist Frits Thaulau in the Musee de Beaux Arts in Caen. It was superb and the dressing up afterwards was great fun,

Ian has also mentioned our visit to the Lost Domaine, a 19th century chateau owned by English friends Liz and Gordon. Gordon yearned to create his very own park complete with a maze, avenues of carefully clipped yews, walled gardens, an ornamental pond and fountain and lawns stretching down to a lake with wild fowl and even ragondins. Sadly Gordon did not live to see his dream fully realised. He was also a skilled and prolific ceramicist and Liz has arranged changing displays of his glazed rococo sculptures and terracotta fawns and satires around the grounds. With help she continues with Gordon’s original plans for the garden as it matures. It is a truly fascinating place hidden deep in the Normandy countryside and we were very privileged to spend a magical afternoon there with Liz. Thank you so much.

Sunken garden in the Lost Domaine, Normandy

A stroll with Liz through the Lost Domaine, Normandy
Topiary in the Lost Domaine, Normandy

Gordon's ceramics in the Lost Domaine, Normandy

Companion figure in the Lost Domaine, Normandy

Round maze in the Lost Domaine, Normandy

Now to find the way out again!The Lost Domaine, Normandy