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March, 2009:

Where Are The Easter Island Heads ?

On a journey to the airport, Adrian fleetingly spotted a poster with an Easter Island head on it and the words Bocapole underneath. Easter Island has always held a place of wonderment for Adrian and is a place he would love to visit. After a little surfing on the internet the advertised event was located. Foire Expo de Bressuire – “Des Marquises A L’Ile De Paques”.

An annual exhibition, held at the Bocapole, with this year’s theme being Easter Island. Offering Tahitian dancers as the entertainment and an agricultural fair and rollercoasters, bumper cars and other fun fair attractions.

With the possibility of actually seeing a real Easter Island head, we set off to visit the show. Entrance to the huge arena – a smaller version of the NEC- was 4 euros each.

On entering the main hall, we discovered it to be full of traders, offering all their wares from solar panels, heat exchange pumps, wooden staircases, cleaning products, furniture, paint etc etc. Hrmm not quite what we had expected.

Out the back door and we discovered tractors, mowers, rotavators and other agricultural paraphernalia. A large tent nearby was packed with cows from the local region. Some having won prizes with their backsides labeled accordingly.

Cows at Bressuire

And the Easter Island part …

Well, on entering a large marquee at the rear of the agricultural section we found the Easter Island heads. All made from polystyrene. What a let down.

They did have more stalls with (supposedly) South Pacific jewellery and clothing. There was one stall with a tattooist doing a traditional Tahitian ornate tattoo on a willing body. There were plenty of pretty girls walking around in flowery sarongs and a small group of musicians playing Tahitian music.

All in all – not really what we expected. Oh well, this is France !

Spacecraft and the Santiago de Compostela

When we bought the house we started doing a little research on the locale and the history of the place and soon discovered that the ancient pilgrimage route of “Santiago de Compostela” runs right through the area. Not only does it run through the Gatine and our local river valley here, but the one of the actual pathways runs… right past our front door. In France it’s snappily titled “Grand Randonneee 36”

Every year we’re guaranteed to see some sight of pilgrims actually doing the whole walk. It’s quite something to think about as the Journey will take them right down through Western France and across the top of Northern Spain. Wikipedia has a good entry on it. Parthenay was also an important stopping off point for pilgrims who would have entered the citadel through the imposing St. Jacques gates

So, yesterday, sat working on the computer and I glimpsed a walker out of the corner of my eye trotting past the front door. Serious, All the right gear. Booted and suited, gnarly looking face and a tall walking stick. Thought nothing of it until a few seconds later… a good 10 M behind him and bringing up the rear comes his wife – and she’s tethered to their cart in a full body harness!


Now, we have had people walking with donkeys, mules, groups of walkers doing a part of the way but this was some serious hardcore walking that was going on. I did rather feel for the poor lady as she looked a little downtrodden and unmistakably like a beast of burden.

And on the same day… a tale of more modern travel. A cloudless spring night commenced with a very brief appearance by the Space Shuttle Discovery and ISS, docked together and dancing a tango across Western France.

ISS and STS 119
Very hard to take a quality photo as it’s just a pin-prick of bright light that raced in an arc across the sky in under three minutes. The wobble is the cameras mirror bouncing up to expose the frame and wobbling the tripod I was using. If I’d been better prepared I’d have done all the good things… weighed down the tripod and locked up the mirror. Must try harder next time some space hardware races overhead at 27,000kph

Update Summer 2009. I tried again, and failed, and then tried some more and got it!

Guitars in the Peak district

Slightly off-topic for the Bellebouche blog but I have mentioned before my interest in guitars and just spent a fun weekend outside Tideswell in the Peak District of England, with some old chums playing guitar and having a fine old time of it.

Slideshow is on Flickr

Despite living on top of this area for much of my life I’ve never really looked closely at the environs before so it was good to get about a little and take some snaps. Was also able to wrap up a couple of bonus things on my trip as well so it was a good – if rather tiring weekend. Heinous travel in the UK with the return trip from Tideswell to East Midlands airport taking an eye watering three hours where I managed to average a spectacular 13mph. Only just made the plane back home (by ten minutes) and was very glad to land back in France.

There’s a pyromaniac in everyone.

After lots of clearing up in the garden after winter and the debris from hedge laying, we had accumulated rather a large pile of stuff to burn. After a few days of dry weather and a perfect day with a light breeze, blowing away from the hamlet, the fire was lit with a little help from some dry hay.

I looked on a little worried as on either side of the fire were many potential disasters – weed suppressant covered bank, newly planted beech hedge, newly built compost bin.


Fire Fire

The flames flew up in the air, swirling in the wind, the heat was incredible. It was totally awesome! No smoke. It burnt the pile within minutes.
A quick removal of an old Jewson bag, full of bark mulch, which was dangerously close to the flames and the pile disappeared to a small heap of white ash.

There is something satisfying about having a good old bonfire. Now the mound has gone the potager can return back to providing a wonderul selection of tasty produce. The only question now is where will the next fire be?

To everything, turn, turn, turn

Finally, after walking past my lathe for a couple of years and never really having the time or opportunity to use it I’ve dusted it down, set up a small workshop area in one of the barns and turned my hand (pardon my pun!) to a bit of wood turning.
Roughed out finial

We have so much beautiful timber that we inevitably just lob on the fire it seems such a shame sometimes to see it go up in smoke… and to that end Joan bought me a lathe and some tools for my 40th Birthday to actually gee me up. Now… I’ve had a go and a few pieces in (tool handles and the like – all dead simple) I’ve managed to turn a matching (sort of) pair of little finials that I’ll stick on the new compost heap construction that is being erected in the garden right now.

That’s just a cob of old pallet scrap that was leftover from building the compost heap. I’ve been collecting cobs of Oak, Cherry, Peach, Poplar, Elm, Ash and Willow for a while so when I get my skills to an appropriate level I’ll have a go at something artsy

Compost Corner II

We have had major success with our compost corner over the past years. But, since the pigs have gone, we have been filling the compost heaps to overflowing.
Old Compost Heaps
It was time for something drastic.

More compost heaps!

After visiting our local DIY store and picking up a number of free pallets, 3 new compost heaps were built opposite the old ones. Two of these heaps will be for general compost and the third will be lined with chicken wire and will have all the bark chipping, shreddings and leaves to make an ericaceous compost.
New Compost Heap

The gap left between the two heaps is enough for future access to the potager on the drive on mower with the trailer attached if necessary.

All that is left to do is paint them and start filling them up. Unfortunately, we don’t have any more green paint so they will have to be painted brown.

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