Tuesday, July 31, 2012

You can tell ...

... what kind of day I was having today. When I looked at the clock after heaving a bucket-load of concrete into the lean-to wall, I noticed that it was 19:24 - 24 minutes after knocking-off time. But at least, the one part of the wall, outer shell, inner shell and infill, is now complete. That's the part from the field-end up to the window aperture. I can now turn my attention to the next bit. But not tomorrow - I'm fixing Liz's car. and not Wednesday either - I'm walking with Marianne.

In fact, Marianne and I were out walking this afternoon for a couple of hours. In a few weeks time she'll be doing a walk around the village of Vergheas and she needs to plan for it, and it just so happened that this afternoon someone from the regional tourist office was giving a talk in the church about the history of the village. Marianne accordingly blagged a couple of invitations and off we went.

It was quite interesting too, for Vergheas is a very important place for such a small village. It's right on the border between the Limousin and the Auvergne and during the 17th Century many of the locals made their living by smuggling salt - there were different amounts of salt tax - the gabelle - in different areas and while Vergheas was a cheap area, the Limousin just down the road was one of the most expensive areas. Buying salt outside your home area was not allowed, but the inhabitants of the Limousin came to Vergheas by their hundreds, with just 6 tax collectors to stop them.

But if Vergheas is famous for anything, it's famous for its statue of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, brought back here by some crusaders after the 4th Crusade. They donated it to the Church and here it sits, attracting pilgrims from all over the place and it is said that various miracles have been performed here.

The biggest miracle is what happened to the statue in 2001. In 1973 there was an inventory taken of the treasures of the church here - and when this was published the church was raided by burglars and the statue was amongst the items stolen. Nothing more was heard of it until 2001.

In 1997 an antique collector from Le Mans died and his executors hawked his collection around the antique shops of Paris to try to obtain the best price. They called at one antique shop in 2001 to offer his articles for sale, just as the owner was reading a 1943 book that showed a photo of the statue, and at the same time on his desk was a newspaper with a photo of the statue, and an article about how the local residents were pleading that, seeing as it was the anniversary of the theft, that someone might return it.

Truth being stranger than fiction, the shop owner duly bought the collection and returned the statue.

Apart from that, I've had the usual few hours on the website, and I've planted some more carrots, spinach, radishes and some lettuce that I had setting in a few pots. I've also noticed that a few of the lettuce seed that was out-of-date and so which I threw away on the garden a few weeks ago, some of that is sprouting.

But yesterday, I forgot to mention 2 things that happened at the petanque -  firstly, I saw the doppelganger of a very dear departed friend, and secondly I am apparently persona non grata with a couple of English people in Chateau sur Cher. At the petanque yesterday, one of them went to pay his entrance money with a €50 note. Me being me, I turned to Marianne and said "make sure that that one is dry!". Apparently my comment was not appreciated.

Ahh well - ask me if I care. I hate people who don't have a sense of humour.

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