Saturday, 31 December 2016

Our new website (part 1 of 2)

The weeks around Christmas we normally reserve for patching up our own website.

This is what our website (previous version) looked like on a PC screen
Most of the time we just check out the external links which are convenient for the visitors of our site, e.g. the links to the arrival and departure times of public transport from and to our property. Those links are provided by others, and we do not have any influence on the validity of those links. It is amazing how many sites are changing URL addresses throughout the year – without providing a new link connecting the obsolete URL with the new one. And it is even more amazing how many external links we actually are providing on our own pages.
And this is what it looked like on an I-phone 5
However, before we started on our regular (2 to 3 times a year!) check of external links we thought it might be a better idea to redo the whole website. There was a good reason for that: some customers actually had made remarks in the past about the user-unfriendliness of our site for those opening the site on a mobile phone. In hindsight I must say that those people had been extremely polite in their addressing this "flaw"…
Because we are not I-phone, I-pad or tablet users ourselves, these sort of remarks were registered with us, but that was about it. Fortunately, we discovered that Chrome (among others) could provide us with an application that simulates a wide range of hardware. With this application one sees on the screen of a PC, on scale 1:1, what an I-phone or tablet user sees on his or her screen. And that gave us a scare! We chose, for checking purposes, to simulate an I-phone 5, one of the smallest available models.
To be continued.

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 24 December 2016


I thought I had seen it all when it comes to laïcité (separation of church and state) with the arrival of the burkini, the injunction of the same bathing suit and with the cancellation of the injunction of the burkini.

Burkini arrest (picture The Mirror)
The elimination of Sarkozy as presidential candidate during the primaries seemed to confirm that. Until…
Until a small nativity scene in the hall of the town hall in Paray-le-Monial hit the front pages of the regional press. the pictures in this blog come from the local newspaper, and from the pictures one can deduce that had not Sherlock Holmes personally been involved in the search, the stable would never have been discovered.

Nativity scene - Paray-le-Monial (picture JdS&L)
Showing or wearing of religious symbols in public spaces is more or less forbidden in France, and the LDDH, a self-appointed watchdog on the subject, has brought this "case" to court, and the mayor of Paray lost this case.
What followed was predictable: Paray is a busy place for all sorts of roman-catholic pilgrimages, evry 4th building in town is a church or chapel, the mayor is a staunch roman-catholic jurist, in a word the proverbial shit started to hit the fan.

Nativity scene - Paray-le-Monial (picture L'observatoire de la Christianophobie)
According to the mayor this decision has serious consequences for the democracy in this country.
And for the Front National, which has hardly any influence in Burgundy (yet), this is grist to the mill. In a pamphlet about this case issued by FN this is the beginning of the end: a tsunami of minarets, headscarves, terrorists, etc. is heading for Burgundy. And yes, this sounds all very familiar. Maybe I can get hold of a cheap Linguaphone course Arabic somewhere….

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Musée de la Mine - Blanzy

That the area around and west of Montceau-les-Mines and Le Creusot once was a thriving coal mining basin is only reflected in some of the place names: Montceau-les-Mines is an obvious example.

Musée de la Mine - Blanzy
Apart from those names there is not much that reminds one of the glorious days of the industrial revolution. Many towns and villages in the Charolais however had in those days such an influx of miners from Italy, Portugal and Poland (all staunch roman-catholic countries) that the old Romanesque churches soon became too small to cater for this rise in population.

Of those original churches only the bell tower is till old; often the Romanesque nave has been demolished and replaced by a longer and/or wider edifice. The coal exploitation in the area ended between 1992 and 2000.
In Blanzy however there is something more that reminds us of those days.

There is not much remaining of the many mines in the area, but Blanzy boasts an original mineshaft lift tower of the Puits Saint-Claude (exploitation: 1857-1882), and the area around it has been converted into a mining museum.
The museum appeared to be very interesting and is daily open in the summer months (not on Tuesdays, and only in the afternoon) and outside that period in weekends only.

The group managing the museum runs (among others) the machine room, it has an interesting collection of miner's lamps and organises very interesting guided tours through replicas of old mine galleries, including old and "modern" machinery, built just under ground level. This way the visitor gets a good impression of what life underground has been.

The lift tower
Blanzy is about half an hour's drive from here, and for those who are interested in industrial archaeology a visit to the museum is well worth its while.
For our own website click here.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Pot d'acceuil

In the period around the fifth of December, when the Dutch are dishing out sweets and candies to kids (a tradition that is threatened with extinction by over-zealous politically correct actions), Burgundy is a haven of peace and quiet.

2012 Pot d'acceuil
Burgundians do not believe in Saint-Nicholas nor in Black Peter, hence looking in street gutters for sweets that have been trampled by the crowds is a non-starter. However, in July and August there are some places in Burgundy where freebies are distributed amongst the poor and needy.

2013 Pot d'acceuil
One of those places is Saint-Gengoux-le-National, where, in front of the tourist office, during the summer months on Sundays between 11h00 and 12h00 a table loaded with local produce is placed. The goodies are supplied by local producers and shops; suppliers as well as what is on offer varies per week.

2013 Pot d'acceuil
Just a pick at random from the available products: goat's cheese, toast, sweets such as cookies and candies, savoury stuff like sausage, ham, gougères, smoked salmon, drinks like fruit juices and of course wine, etc. My partner is the one in charge of this Pot d'Acceuil, and she certainly turns the event into a success week after week. There are also always sufficient volunteers present to give information in various languages about hotels, restaurants, cycle rides, tourist attractions, etc.

2016 Pot d'acceuil
Since approx. 2010 this Pot d'Acceuil has become a yearly tradition. The tourists like the idea, and there are even families spending a 3 week holiday, year after year, in Saint-Gengoux, and during those three weeks they do not miss one single pot d'acceuil, on the contrary. I have a sneaky suspicion, from the amount of food they manage to get through in roughly half an hour, that the "snacks" they are scoffing away is their only meal that day….
For our own website click here.