Saturday, 18 August 2012

Does anyone read your blog?

It is a question I have asked myself many a time. And every so often I meet someone who knows things which can only be known by those who have read my blog.
Yesterday a Frenchman stopped at our gate, who explained that he had found an old blog of mine about tuileries in Burgundy (from 2009) via the internet. Of course we asked him to come in, offered him a chair and away he fired.
He happened to be a member of the " Association des amis du vieux Berzé ", a village about 25 km from here. The association occupies it self with restoring and maintaining some old gypsum furnaces over there. Whilst cleaning up they had found some old bricks with the stamp of "our" factory engraved in them. After having found the bricks they searched the internet for a Tuilerie of Noël Marembaud in Chazelles, Cormatin, and that is how they found my little history. He had worked in England for a while, hence he could read my blog without much trouble.
He had found the story interesting enough to pop by and have a snoop around. We offered him the grand tour, which he happily accepted. During the tour we found out that he had read the blog thoroughly; the blog said clearly that we never had been able to find proof that our tuilerie had actually produced roof tiles. And that was very true when I wrote it. However, two weeks ago we received two roof tiles, with inscription, from the mayor of Cormatin, who in turn had received a number of tiles from the former country constable. The latter had found the tiles somewhere while cleaning out a shed in Cormatin, and gave them to the mayor.

Our new friend made the remark that it was rather strange that they had never produced tiles in our factory, and we could put that straight there and then! After the tour he said goodbye and invited us over to the gypsum furnaces of Berzé-la-Ville to return the favour. And we certainly will!

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

A French wedding

In France, as in the Netherlands, only a civil wedding is considered to be an official wedding; reason why a church wedding, if there is one, always takes place after the civil ceremony. However, the amount of people gathered around a church for a wedding is considerably bigger in France then in the Netherlands.
A week ago we found a wedding invitation in our letterbox for the church wedding of the daughter of some friends in Chazelle. Because we liked the people and because we would not mind to witness a French church wedding, we happily accepted the invitation.
Towards three o’clock we drove off to Cormatin church (the service was supposed to start at 15h30) and found with difficulty a parking space. That is not unusual on a Saturday, but the amount of women with rather exuberant dresses tumbling out of vehicles made us think they came for the wedding. That was even more evident when we tried to find a place in the church. Cormatin church was filled to the brim with friends and relatives of the couple or their parents.
Chazelle church can handle approx. 120 church goers; Cormatin church, which is much bigger, easily holds over 200, and the church was soon chocker block full. The service was relatively simple, bride and groom and their respective parents radiated happiness, in a word, this was the day of their life.
After the ceremony we went off to Morlay for a vin d’honneur, where another acquaintance of ours sometimes hosts parties and weddings. Fortunately we knew the way; hence we managed to arrive early by making a little detour, this way arriving just before the whole column of cars turned up.
Everything was organised very well. The kir flowed amply, there were all sort of snacks to accompany the drinks, all in all it was, apart from the stunning view over the Grosne valley not dissimilar to a Dutch wedding reception.
We would have loved to stay a bit longer, but on a Saturday we have to be home as well, if only to receive gîte guests who had said they would arrive late…..

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Lost in translation

In the Netherlands there is an expression for doing something in a slapdash way, “doing something the French way”. That is the title of the simultaneous Dutch blog about the same subject, but using that here seems a bit out of place, hence the alternative title. Why the Dutch associate the French with working sloppy must go back a long time, probably to 1795 when the Dutch revolted against the Oranges and installed a Dutch version of the French Republic and after that were annexed by Napoleon to become the Kingdom Holland under his brother, Louis Napoleon.
Expats here tend to comment a lot on the French way of working, mainly because it is different from the way English or Dutch are doing it. It is debatable whether different is necessarily worse, but that seems to be the general opinion among most expats. That is why I would like to break a lance for “a company we have had excellent experience with”. If they work “the French way”, give me “the French way” anytime!
We had a rather big project on our hands, building a modern filter to treat our waste water in the back garden.
On the designated day a crew arrived, varying in size per day between 2 and 5 men, with diggers, a tractor, trucks, materials and tools. At the end of each day, but also during breaks, they meticulously cleaned their tools (shovels, spades, etc.). When they had to install a membrane white as snow in a filter, they took their dirty boots off before stepping on the filter cloth. Maybe a bit over the top, because after that the filter was covered with gravel, but at least the pores did not get clogged up with clay from dirty boots.
When the whole project neared completion, some small pieces of wood, beautifully cut to suit, were used to cover some joints in the beams. After a few months these bits of wood should be invisible because of the reed plants that are planted in the filter, but it certainly shows how neat and tidy these people work. Before the men left, the whole orchard had been turned into a World war I battlefield by tractor and digger movements.
At the end of the day, before the men left the premises, they levelled everything as good as possible with a digger, rakes and shovels, sowed in grass, and although the next day it was very well visible that works had taken place here, they had certainly done everything they could to bring the orchard back to its original state. And finally they finished a day earlier than planned to our full satisfaction and had turned up whenever they promised to do so.
For those who are interested in gardening work on a big scale, or in installing a modern water treatment system, “this is the link to their website”.

I would not be able to name a Dutch contractor who could have done a better job doing it the Dutch way...

For our own website click here.