11 to 23 July – gas, sheep and art

Domestic tasks, local animations

Fuel is one of the things that need attention in a motorhome.  Solar for 12v electricity, gas for regular power and proper 240v electricity when hook up is available.  Each offer different funtionality but you really need either gas or 240v electricity for convenient living.  camping stoveWe had discovered that the electric part of our water heater no longer worked so gas was even more important.  We had ferreted through the barn and found our old camping stove.  It has a griddle plate!  It fitted the barbeque connection point outside the van!  Hurrah – no more cooking inside in 30 degree temperatures. Just needed to be sure we did not run out of gas….

There are standard English gas bottles and standard French gas bottles and they are not the same standard (nor are they in any other european country apparently). One has a right hand thread on the connector and the other, a left hand thread.  That is the beauty of standards, there are so many to choose from.  🙂 So connection tubes (pigtails) of various kinds are required – and vary according to where your regulator is installed – on the bottle or on the van.   Then there is a choice of Propane or Butane and discussing the merits of each on a motorhome forum is to enter into an area of partially understood science and beliefs of a religious fervour undreamt of in contemporary theological debate.

French Butane

English propaneOur English propane bottle (red) may have been running low – the cunning magnetic thermometer device we had bought to indicate the level was incomprehensible. To avoid running out while away we decided to replace it with our spare French butane bottle (blue) from the fermette. We needed the correct pigtail and true to our pattern of not doing something once if you could easily do it twice, we went to Corbigny and bought the wrong one, then went back the next day and got the right one. To be fair to us, trial and error is really the only way to go with this – not great when talking about gas:-(  The Butane worked on the camping stove, fridge, cooker and heater.  Hurrah! Now we were fully fuelled up and ready to griddle the chipos al fresco next time out.

Before that we had the Fête de la Bêêêle et Laine to experience.  (Bleater and Wool – it’s a  pun in French apparently.) The star of the show was a flock of sheep that was being driven from another town the day before, spending the night at our local lake, then onto St Saulge in the morning.  Too good to miss, we headed for the lake at the appointed time with a modest crowd and waited.  And waited.  Children grew fractious. We waited.  Some walkers appeared who had been part of the transhumance, got into mini-buses and disappeared.  Still no sheep:-(  Annie, of the brocante last week, was there and discovered that the sheep had stopped in a field some way before the lake and were now quietly grazing after their five kilometre trot along the byways.  We peered over the fence at them but it was not quite the same.

The crowd passed the time in true French style and the sheep quietly grazed.

The next day the fête took to the streets of St Saulge. It was an orgy of sheepy delights.

Six different breeds were in town for the show – here are five of them.

The whole town had been decked out in sheep-related stuff: stalls dedicated to weaving, knitting, crocheting; literature and story-telling about sheep and shepherds; shearing and sheep dog trials; high fashion felt garments and low fashion stuffed critters; no article of street furniture was left un-yarnbombed – including the tourist tuff-tuff. (Which I am not sure has ever carried a tourist.)  thumb__DSC1217_1024

Neil felt quite at home in this woolly company.

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It was a hot, hot day.  I caused some alarm when my drinking flask exploded.  Usually it contains tea but I had experimented on this hot day  with Perrier menthe.  Walking about shook it up and the lid exploded off.  Only a modest explosion but not a good thing in a crowded French square at the moment.

After the story-telling, overloaded with so much sheepy and woolly activity we got back in the car, hit the air-con and headed to Annie’s place nearby.  From low art to high art.  She had said it was open house to view the gallery of her partner Guidi.  And so it was.  Not a soul was about but the house was open and the barn was open with pictures and sculptures displayed.  What a place for a gallery…

We studied the art on the walls and flicked through those on the stands – quite nice some of them – but no-one came. A very literal interpretation of an open house.

Back to the lake for a dip.


Skipping lightly over the days in my vain attempt to catch up, we went home and footled about until the local highlight of the summer the following weekend.  This was the repas champêtre , promising spit roasted pork (jambon á la broche) thumb__DSC1294_1024and dancing.  The road was closed outside the Marie, trestle tables set up and this great rural summer time tradition unrolled. After eleven years we are now recognised as part of the community and it is nice to be greeted by people we still hardly know but nod at regularly.  Especially Neil, for whom nodding and smiling is the main form of communication with French speakers.  With a smattering of words and phrases, and huge good will, he can get quite a long way.  Taking random seats we are lucky to end up sitting with a group of Dutch visitors who speak perfect English so conversation could flow unimpeded.thumb__DSC1302_1024

It’s all very convivial and the wine flows as well.


Dinner is served al fresco.  The chicken wire is due to another piece of local politics.  These events used to happen in the road and on the piece of land opposite, only half of which is owned by the commune.  Then the owner of the other half took his bat home and put a chicken wire fence around his part and, for a year or two events were squeezed up a bit. Not sure what happened (well, there was an election and a change of Mayor) but now the gates are opened and we have spread back onto that half again.


Dinner is served: melon to start, jambon with frites to follow, a piece of cheese (of course) and a raspberry frozen meringue thing.  Not bad for 14 euros including music. A great night out – we heard the stopouts staggering home at about 2 am.