….to say that Sue and I are going on holiday in a couple of days. We’re heading to Sydney and then on to New Zealand to VFR – Visit Friends & Relatives. We left Sydney three years ago and, for me, it will be my first time back there since.

This will be rather short as, frankly, I’ve found little to write about of late. There are no migrant crises in rural western France. They are all around Calais; the migrants and the crises.  The farmers hereabouts haven’t been staging protests such as pouring milk all over the roads and

Harvest time on Orgères

Harvest time on Orgères

herding their cattle through supermarkets to complain about farm gate prices for their products. And now that the Tour de France is in the past tense, the French have stopped moaning about a Brit, Chris Froome, winning ‘their’ tournament. It’s all been rather sleepy, really. Well, perhaps not for the farmers. They haven’t been protesting because they have been busy harvesting the many fields of wheat. As we can testify, it’s been a 24hr-a-day operation. Fortunately, the weather has been kind and the crop  gathered in while the weather was dry. Next month, it’s the turn of the maize for the chop.

One for the road.....

One for the road…..

“Every day is a faded sign” according to a song by Sheryl Crow. That reminded me of an aspect of France that I’ve not touched on before, and which I would like to mention before we head off. It’s the old habit of painting adverts on the side of buildings. These days, so much of life is transient, especially advertising; through technology, adverts can roll around in quick order so a great variety of products and services can appear before you in a very short space of time. It wasn’t always thus; I still see the faded remnants of advertising that provide a reminder of, perhaps, a less transitory age. Here’s a Martini ad. Back then, scrolling down to the next advert meant waiting a day or two while painters got to work.

In other French news….

  • Migrants seeking a better life in Britain continue to congregate at Calais seeking any way, no matter how dangerous, to cross over or under La Manche in search of what they obviously see as a pot of gold at the British end of the rainbow. This situation has caused chaos in the transport industry in Britain with thousands of trucks backed up on the approaches to the Channel Tunnel at Folkestone in Kent, unable to proceed further. The tunnel has had to be closed on numerous occasions because of ‘incursions’ by migrants. Fingers have been pointed in various directions but surely, the best solution would be to set up an assessment centre near Calais. Those who are genuine asylum seekers, fleeing persecution in countries such as Syria and Iraq, could be granted entry into Britain or other EU country while economic migrants could be returned whence they came. There is no orderly queue or ‘front door’ where genuine asylum seekers come from. For economic migrants, sorry, apply through your local consulate or embassy.
  • Every year, during August, to make up for the lack of a proper beach of their own, the city authorities in Paris create one along the banks of the Seine; palm trees, sand, the works. This year, in honour of one of the cities Paris is twinned with, the mayor, Anne Hidalgo, decided to hold a “Tel Aviv sur Seine” festival. This did not go down well with everyone. Pro-Palestinians held their own “Gaza-sur-Seine” event next door while police had to screen those who wanted to take part in the Tel Aviv event. The timing was unfortunate for Tel Aviv as it is just about a year since Israel launched attacks into Gaza including one missile attack that killed Palestinian youths playing soccer on a Gaza beach.
  • Continuing the ‘holiday’ theme, I know that the south of France is very popular with visitors, especially during July and August but I had no idea that the whole of Holland and hordes of Belgians decamp there. While in the Ardèche last month, it seemed to me that every other car on the road had Dutch or Belgian plates, many towing trailers full of camping gear. Nearer to where we live, on the border between Pays de la Loire and Lower Normandy, foreign plates are less numerous but mostly British. It’s not too far from the Channel ferry ports. You can also spot the Brits of a certain class; they affect shorts, sandals and black socks….

Finally, before heading out the door, here are some of Sue’s latest works, all as lovely as ever…..

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