Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Traveller's Tales

I think I have stopped moving now.  Having been on the road for most of yesterday, returning from Maintru, Normandy, I feel like I have not stopped moving whilst sitting still.  Such is the price of driving to France.
One of the privileges of modern life is the accessibility of places far distant.  Do we appreciate this?  I am not sure, but it is amazing to think that we can get into a car, drive for less than a day then disembark in another country, on the other side of a large body of water.

For the last 10 days we have been staying in the small hamlet of Maintru, near to Neufchatel du Bray.  It has been a holiday of family, friends and relaxation.  We have been gifted with perfect holiday weather; of balmy days and warm evenings.  The children have played tennis, croquet and cricket on the lawn; the adults have walked, photographed and fallen in love with places.
Part the first:
I know that many people have visited Normandy, know of it's gentle countryside and farming communities, however it was very new to me.  One of the first things that occurs is that we live on a very crowded island (in the UK); whereas, in France, there is a sense of  space, not of crammed together people.  Empty roads and lack of traffic is very evident outside the metropolis of the bigger cities.


Walking out on the lanes is a pleasure, meeting mainly with farm vehicles and insects along with the occasional tourist.  Roads like these invite you to walk along them, just to find out what is around the next corner...
... over the hill...
...or down in the valleys.

The village, where we were staying, had long given up it's church.  Now de-consecrated, it was running to ruin and being swallowed up by nature.  One section of the roof had collapsed and the bones of the roof jut out into the air.  Looking up you can catch a glimpse of the bell, still hanging but now silent.


The current inhabitants of the space? Spiders, insects, mice and a barn owl.  I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse, as it headed out to hunt, as the sky darkened and revealed the milky way in all it's glory.  One of the other pleasures of rurality is the lack of light pollution.  The owl left a range of evidence of it's presence, small bones all neatly packaged up and feathers groomed and dropped.

The warmth of the summer has encouraged the growth of plants and the proliferation of insects.  I spent many happy hours wandering, snapping pictures and trying to identify different flora and fauna.  From being very young I have had a fondness for grasshoppers and Normandy didn't disappoint.  Moths and butterflies were to be found in abundance and the range and number within half a mile of the house was incredible.









 I am not bad at identification, but not confident enough for everything here.  On a final note, the grasshopper immediately above here decided it wanted a new life as a hair ornament.  It jumped into my hair seconds after I took this picture and, whilst I like grasshoppers, I decided it was not going to catch on as a fashion statement.

Thanks to Tim for his pictures of the house and the chapel.

9 comments:

  1. Pastoral sights, quietness, natural beauty everywhere - just signs of "la vie comme elle va"... I like the paths, leading to somewhere; the kingdom of butterflies; even the church ruins (although it's pretty sad!)... Then I imagine the melody of the French language in the air and, yes, it must have been a lovely holiday! I'm glad for you!:)

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    1. Yes to all, except perhaps the melody of French spoken by me. You are so right about the kingdom of butterflies; it was a joy to see.

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    2. It must have been magical! The first year I was in Kenya, we had our lunch next to a Butterfly Forest. But noone went to see it ever - we had no time! I always thought:" Maybe tomorrow."... Now I think that I should have missed a lunch...: (Of course with someone to guide me.)

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  2. i am so happy for you and the lovely time you have had in Normandy. I have never been there and it is a joy to see your photographs. i love the road images, so inviting!

    that tan/brown butterfly caught my eye, lovely.

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    1. The tan and brown butterfly was a speckled wood, the one with the closed wings is called a clouded yellow (the upper wing is a glorious hot yellow colour). I think the white is a marbled white but it may be a green veined white. I love the names for butterflies as they are very evocative.

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  3. How beautiful. Sad old Church though. It looks like a magical holiday for all.

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    1. Thanks Penny. The church was very sad, so neglected, I gather the commune what to sell it but no-one will buy as they won't give permission to pull it down or lay in services.

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  4. Thanks for sharing this journey with us. Such wonderful images … with magic everywhere, it seems!

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