PHOTOS NOVEMBER 2009
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For those of you who have been following my adventures on my farm or or on my blog you will remember that I have been living for the last two years in a tiny lean-to. But this summer we set about replacing the roof of the house, and once that was done I set about refurbishing the attic.
It's now the beginning of November and the attic is finally finished. I'll be moving in any day now and I'm really looking forward to it. It's definitely Home Sweet Home here now.
What with following Pionsat's football team like I do I get to see some really beautiful areas of the countryside that I would otherwise never see. Today the 1st XI were playing at Artonne, a small town down between Aigueperse and Riom, and the drive there involved a thrash down the N144 and a climb over an outcrop of the Combrailles.
You have to agree that the view from the top of this outcrop in the dusk was thoroughly impressive.
On my way to Combronde for the footy I came across a car stuck halfway down an embankment at the side of the road. And if there hadn't have been a sapling in the way it would have been all the way down the embankment. Where this incident took place was on a sharp bend, but the road between Teilhet and Menat is full of sharp bends and this one is no sharper than any of the others. So how come it was this particular bend at which it left the road?
Mind you, if it was going to leave the road, this is the best place to do it. The next sharp bend has a vertical drop of about 60 feet to the bottom.
I climbed down to the car to look to make sure that there wasn't anyone trapped in it - I mean, you never know. As it happened, it was empty but there was a lovely head-shaped impression on the windscreen just above the steering wheel. I bet someone has a headache today.
The football at Combronde is played in the shadow of this flat-topped hill with a nice ring of green bushes around it near the top.
We are right by a very important crossroads here - what today is the N144 between Clermont Ferrand and Montlucon and which 2000 years ago was a major route used by Vercingetorix and his armies from his camp as they chased and were being chased by Julius Caesar and the Roman military all around the Auvergne until Vercingetorix stuffed it up Caesar at Gergovie just south of Clermont Ferrand, and a route between the historically-significant town of Aigueperse and the Gorges of the Sioule and Pontaumur. Clearly this road junction was of strategic importance in early times.
Vegetation always grows best and most prolifically where the soil has been disturbed and the deeper the disturbance the better and more prolific the vegetation. And so considering this luxuriant ring of vegetation, the flat-topped hill and the strategic crossroads, the first thing that would enter into anyone's head the moment they saw all of this would be "Neolithic or Iron Age Hill Fort with a deep defensive ditch". In fact if you look to the right-hand edge of the hill near the top you can actually see the relief of the ditch.
One evening I had to go to Montaigut en Combraille just down the road here to see someone. Montaigut is an ancient mediaeval walled town with a great deal of history. It's the first time I've really been here in the dark and I was struck by the atmosphere of the place as I walked across the square.
The church looked extremely beautiful bathed in the orange lamps of the square and so I reckoned it was worth a photo. It's come out rather well, don't you think?
On my drive down to Liz and Terry's in mid-November I stopped to take my traditional photograph of the Gorge of the Sioule bathed in cloud. Each time I go that way in the morning I always take a pic as the effects of the cloud are always different.
That day we had an island - the peak of one of the hills in the gorge that was just peeking out above the level of the cloud. It looked like something that Roger Dean would have drawn for the cover of a "Yes" album.
I'd gone round there because Terry had asked Mark who lives nearby to show him how to do pointing in the traditional French method of using chalk rather than cement. And in my continual quest for knowledge it seemed like a good opportunity for me to learn how to do it too as my place needs some attention in many places.
The bottom left half of the photo is the "before" and the bottom right half of the photo is the "after". Click on the image to enlarge it and you'll see exactly what I mean.
Terry was so impressed with the chalking that we did the other day that he called for a chantier. For those of you who don't follow the blog, there is a group of about a dozen or so of us wo go round to each others' properties every so often on a rota basis to blitz the work that one person on his own would find difficult to accomplish.
Here we are all working hard - from left to right we have Nan, Guido, François, Rebecca and Maisie, Liz, Elizabeth and Jean.