Charente • Deux-Sevres • Vienne • Haute Vienne • Limousin

Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation

A fair few years ago we took our eldest daughter from Scarborough to Edinburgh to begin her first year at University.  After successfully completing all the necessary practicalities we ventured, early evening, into the local pub.  Being well away from the centre it was not exactly packed with cosmopolitan tourists but had a vibrant buzz. We selected seats adjacent to a couple of gnarled characters surrounded by their fishing tackle (rods and baskets).  They were both affably merry which combined with their strong accents rendered comprehending their conversation a tad problematic.

However, by a combination of gestures and picking out the odd word we understood that they had been fishing in the local canal.  They had decided to move to the drier environment of the pub when it started to rain mid-afternoon, hence the jovial disposition.  We conveyed to them, we think, our purpose for being in Edinburgh and as time passed we felt that we were beginning to have mutual success in understanding one another.

As we finished our drinks and prepared to leave it became obvious that one fisherman was keen to show us his catch.  There was quite an exaggerated build up as he lifted his fishing basket onto the table.  Further loud chattering attracted the attention of drinkers at other tables and the bar.  The expectations were heightened by the gestures of his friend indicating that the size of the catch was over half a metre long and the movement of his bent arms by his side worryingly suggested that the gills of the unfortunate creature may still be moving.

A distinct hush settled as the lid was opened and an arm reached in and dramatically pulled out a totally bald, whole, dead chicken.  Holding it by the legs in one hand he picked up his fishing rod and appeared to be trying to re-enact the moment when he allegedly pulled it out of the canal.  The rest of the audience nonchalantly turned away and carried on drinking.  We said our farewells and made our mystified way towards the exit.  We reflected at the time, and indeed since, on at which particular moment did we lose the plot.

Since arriving in France at the start of 2015 we have had one or two plucked chicken moments.  Included in these have been mixing up a duck and a red flowering plant ( canard/ canna), the local hunt and the annual go-cart race (la chasse/ la caisse d’ Availles) and the inappropriate use of “Je suis anglaise.” when informing a passing car’s occupants that I could not help them with directions because “I am an English woman.”The reality is that several years on we regularly recall that memorable Edinburgh pub moment.  Equally we have had a number of giggles about our French faux pas.  We can also reflect that we have brought a smile to our neighbours and other locals with our own versions of ‘Lost in Translation’.    Brian Robinson October 2016


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Cheverny Visit

This is an example from our last newsletter. There will be more.

Wouldn’t you know it! After weeks of sunshine and warm weather, the day of the coach trip to the Chateau at Cheverny was forecast for cloudy, overcast and the possibility of light showers. So we went prepared with warmer clothes and raincoats. We were lucky we did not have rain. Our morning started in the carpark at Confolens at 8.00 a.m. waiting for the coach and listening to two nightingales singing in the trees. That was a good start. We left on time for our three and a half hour trip to the Chateau.

As our party of 29 was booked so we bypassed the queues and inside the estate, our first stop was the Chateau itself. Living in France we have visited quite a large number of Chateaux and some are very sparsely furnished, so it was a good surprise to be welcomed into a warm and lavishly furnished family home. The estate has been in the same family for more than 6 centuries.

Today the chateau is lived in by the descendants of the Hurault family,  the Marquis and Marquise de Vibraye. The rooms that are open to the public are sumptuously furnished and decorated, and being Easter time Easter bunnies and Easter eggs were present in most of the rooms. The main staircase is very impressive in the style of Louis XIII. We really enjoyed the visit.

Our programme for the day was quite packed so, on leaving the chateau we looked for something to eat. The town around the chateau is interesting and beautiful and there are plenty of restaurants. We were able to leave and re-enter by-passing the queues again. So we chose to eat in the town rather than the Orangery which we thought looked rather expensive.

In the afternoon we joined the group for a tour of the forest planted with remarkable trees, including limes, giant redwoods and several varieties of cedar in an electric car and then continued the tour of the lake in small boats. English speaking guides conducted the tour. The grounds are vast, and there is much so see if you have the time including a labyrinth maze, the kennels for the hunting dogs of the estate, the kitchen garden which was filled with a large variety of tulips and vegetables. Our next visit was the Tintin exhibition which was not just cartoons, but animation with lighting and surprising sounds – quite amazing. Last but not least (as usual is the Boutique Gift Shop. Plenty of souvenirs for those with money to spend.

Our coach was awaiting us for our return journey which was comfortable and pleasing at this time of the year to be in daylight. Thank you to the organisers at CLE. Well done.

Thank you Sheilagh Plumley

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