Friday, 24 June 2016

Stamp collection

We got a package in the post the other day, with an extraordinary collection of stamps on it.  Many are priced in French Francs, and seem to date from decades ago.  I'm surprised they're still valid - are they worth anything, I wonder?

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Self-seeded poppies

I've not seen this colour in any previous year's poppies.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Journée de patrimoine des moulins

Mill heritage day, when people are encouraged to open up their privately-owned mills to the public, was last Sunday.  We went to see this one in Ste Suzanne, that we had never seen before; the moulin Gohard.  It used to be a paper mill, paper having once an important industrial product of Ste Suzanne.  The wheel serves no function at the moment, but it does turn, and was turning when we visted.  The paddles are of a shape I hadn't seen before, long and narrow rather than broad and short.   They look like they are designed to apply a lot of force, rather than to move the wheel quickly.

Monday, 20 June 2016

A noisy noise annoys

There is some big machinery working in the field next door, making a racket.   The farmer is cutting down what I imagine must be the raw ingredient for silage.  As far as I can tell, it's all random weeds, I don't think he sowed anything there this year.

The machine doesn't turn very easily, and the technique seems to be to go around the field a few times widening the swathe each time, and once there is enough space for a turning circle, to go zig-zag from the top of the field to the bottom.

The machines look quite menacing, parked up for the weekend.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

1,000 words per picture

The French love their graphic novels, collectively known as BDs, bandes dessinées.    I indulge occasionally, but it's not an addiction for me.   However I do like illustrated books, perhaps it goes back to a childhood thing; I had many as a kid.

Here's a couple of books I like.   "Santa - My Life and Times, an illustrated Biography", I bought because I liked the artwork done by its artist (Bill Sienkiewicz) in another book of mine on Jimi Hendrix.  The one on the right I bought at a car boot sale today (€5).

The fables of Jean de la Fontaine were originally known to me through their english variants: The Hare and the Tortoise, The Ant and the Grasshopper, The Fox and Grapes, number among them.  In the french version, the tales are in verse, and I believe young french children still learn (some of) them off by heart in early school.  Their rhythm and cadence are a foundation for the spoken language.

I can't show you the illustrations in the Santa book, because they're under copyright.  Here's a couple from the Fables.  I think they're just charming.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

False friends

English has borrowed many words from French, and their meanings have often been subtly changed.  This gives rise to linguistic "faux amis", or false friends; words that have similar pronunciations but different meanings.

The french word librairie in modern french means "bookshop" (although in ancient french it meant library) and nowadays a library is a bibliothèqe (f).  Modern libraries often lend out more than just books; they lend CDs, DVDs and so on, and so the library in Evron is known as the médiathèque.

They hold breakfast meetings there once a month, (with free coffee and pastries), when they give a themed presentation on their new acquisitions.  Our flute quartet was invited to come and play some american music as part of a presentation of new material of american origin.  The audience numbered about 30, and covered all ages.

I'm embarrassed to say that I hadn't been in the médiathèque before, and it's really rather good.  They have a broad selection of books, CDs and DVDs, and I noticed a few that I would be very interested to read or play.   The discovery of the day was the jazz flutist Elena Pinderhughes who appears on a CD called Stretch Music, with trumpetist Christian Scott and others.  I also learned that there is new (to me) CD of that peerless singer Eva Cassidy, called Night Bird, to which I shall certainly devote an intense listening, as soon as I can.

I joined the library, it cost 12 euros and I  can borrow up to 12 items from each of four different libraries in the area.  As can Anita too.  Plenty.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Garden update

The recent rain doesn't see to have harmed the Delphiniums; they are making a fabulous display.  And the rain weighs down the fine grass, giving a weeping effect.

The more robust grass is staying upright, and the new raised veggie bed is starting to like like it should.   Except that the Pak Choi is bolting.  Apparently, if I look it up on the internet, this is a known feature of Pak Choi.   Known to everyone except me, that is.

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