Monday, 1 June 2009

Seconac, Chapelle Saint-D’Arnave, black magic and Penelope Cruz

I think that I have mentioned the nice, friendly family that I met at the recent Rallye and that R and I visited their house briefly. Last Thursday it was a bank holiday and the children were not at school. Mother and youngest daughter turned up early in the afternoon to ask if I wanted to come and play petanque in their garden with them. I forced myself to cancel my string of other engagements and I went round. There was me, C and the three daughters (youngest 8 and the oldest probably 12). There followed a game of boules which lasted at least 2 hours. It was very warm, but fortunately I am young, fit and healthy (well 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, Meatloaf says so). The good news is that I won! Sometimes I insisted that they speak only English for a round. The youngest is not afraid to have a go, but the older daughter is shyer.
On Thursday evening, the wife of the house, C came to the house to see if I would like to go on a picnic with them on Saturday. Once again I cancelled all engagements. One of the daughters had flown off to Nantes to visit her godmother as a birthday treat. 1st time flying , and travelling all by herself at 12 years old. Very brave. This meant that there was room for me in the car, so I didn’t need to jog along behind.
The main reason for the trip was to collect spring water. The French and probably most Europeans have a thing about natural spring water. They can be seen filling up empty plastic bottles at many a natural “source” . My family had come prepared. The boot (trunk) was full of 5 litre containers as well as much huger receptacles. There was also a selection of normal sized bottles.
The first stop was therefore in a very small hamlet called Seconac.

This is the building which houses the outflows of the spring. It was also the old wash house in days gone by. Now it also has the village notice boards, the public telephone and the post box. Recycling bins and the Mairie were further down the road. It was very peaceful except for those pesky birds which had escaped the hunters. Lots of scenery, wild flowers etc but no shop.
C told me that the water had no calcium in it so it was excellent for making tea.
Once the bottles were all filled, we set off on part two of the journey.
Don’t ask me what the name of the village was that we stopped at as the starting point for the leisurely stroll to see an old chapel.
It had a river running through it, so it could have been any one of a number of places. Rucksacks on backs, hats on, suncream on and we were off.
First stop after the dog that the youngest went to stroke nearly took her hand off, was the river to dip hats in the water to keep them cool. Being British, and therefore reserved (and not wanting to get Limes disease, or Graves disease?) I did not doff my hat.

We set off at a steady pace, then the road became a twisty, narrow, rubble-strewn path which headed steeply in an upward direction. We were soon down to a crawl pace in the heat. C kept apologising for the steepness of the climb adding “M (her husband) never told me it was steep”. She had never been there before.
Eventually we caught a glimpse of the church and voila we arrived and rested in the shade for a bit.
The church is 11th and 12 century and next to it is a small building which houses a not very black stone which has been cemented into the floor. This is a sacred stone which people come on pilgrimages to touch, as it cures epilepsy. No wonder they cemented that little beauty into the floor up a steep hill with poor accessibility.

We explored, had our picnic, took photographs etc. On the chapel door there was a poster advertising a musical event in the evening. The advert for the event also happened to be on the paper that some of our food was wrapped in. There was no mention of the steep climb and the difficult terrain though.
I hope they have the equivalent of a red cross team standing by with stretchers on the night. Coming back down again in the dark will be particularly dangerous as the stones slip from under your feet.
We stayed for an hour or so, before making our weary way to the car then home.
Before leaving their house we had a game of boules for about an hour. The 8 year old started to wilt a bit though. What a lightweight! J
I lay on my bed for half an hour, and woke up 2 hours later with a jump. I was going to go to the cinema to see Penelope Cruz in “Entreints Brisees”. This was to be a new challenge. A film in Spanish, with French subtitles.
My legs were no longer working, but as I had quarter of an hour to eat something and leave the house, they rallied round and I set off once more.
And people think I do nothing over here!

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