In August, Calypso went to California with her family and had a wonderful time. She took many pictures, which she wanted to share with you in a very nice video edited by her grandmother : Evelyne… A huge thank you to both of them for this Californian tour !
Dominique and Yveline have a camper ; they like travelling this way and have already visited many countries ! This summer, they went to Greece and wanted to share their impressions about this beautiful country :
July the 3rd : departure from Lille in our camper, to take the ferry to Ancona (Italy). During the crossing we’re travelling « open deck » (opportunity to stay aboard the camper). The sailing time to reach the city of Patra (a city in North Peloponnesian Greece) is 18 hours.
There we’re taking a ferry to Zakinthos, on the Ionian Island : three days off in a beautiful space ! The beaches of the south of the island are the most important nesting sites in the Mediterranean sea for the "Caretta" turtles, a real show during the summer...
July the 12th : we’re leaving Zakinthos to reach Olympia, the birthplace of Olympism. We’re visiting the ancient site and the archeological museum with objects found on the site.
July the 15th : we’re continuing our journey to visit the Vassae Temple built in 420 BC. It is dedicated to the memory of Apollo. This is one of the best preserved buildings in the world… for years it’s been covered with a tarp.
July the 17th : towards the south to the mountainous peninsula of Mani : arid and wild landscapes, beautiful views… but the strong wind and steep slopes prevent us from continuing our journey… The scooter is out of breath !
July the 19th : en route to Mistras, ancient Byznatine capital, located 5 kms from Sparta. Situated on Mount Taygetos, it consists of a castle and Byzantine well-preserved monasteries. Our heart stroke with the Acropolis of Athens.
July the 20th : we’re going back towards the city of Nafplio, where we’re spending several nights, because the city is near two exceptional sites : Epidaurus and Mycenae. Epidaurus is famous for its most beautiful theatre of the ancient world (it can hold 14 000 spectators). Mycenae is one of the most important archeological sites in Greece with its majestic sculpture « the Door Lionesses ».
July the 23rd : we’re heading for Corinth, to visit the remains of the ancient city, with among others the famous temple of Aphrodite. We also see the legendary Corinth canal, a narrow trench of 6.5 kilometres long, 80 metres high, and 25 metres wide.
July the 25th : it is very warm (33 – 34 degrees). From the camping site we’re taking the underground to the Acropolis. The visit with the famous Parthenon and other important monuments on the rocky plateau, mainly devoted to the worship of Athena delight us. We’re also visiting the magnificent Acropolis museum (with 4000 pieces found on the site). We’re not leaving Athens without visiting the historic district of Plaka, one of the oldest in the city, at the foot of the Acropolis, and without enjoying its many restaurants !
July the 27th : we’re leaving Athens and are going to Delphi. The sanctuary dedicated to the god Apollo is one of the finest in Greece. We’re visiting the ruins in a beautiful environment, with a beautiful view on the valley.
July the 29th : the tour is finished… we have to reach the city of Igoumenista to take the ferry to Ancona.
July the 30th : There, we’re taking a boat to visit the old town of Corfu : a maze of narrow streets with colourful houses… a real air of Italy !
August the 1st : we have to drive for 20 hours to the port of Igoumenista, and then we’re spending the (bad) night on board of the camper. Greece is a beautiful country !!
This summer I spent some time in Ireland with my husband and really enjoyed it !! Here is the report of my "Irish experience"...
After a rather short flight from Paris Charles de Gaulle (well, only a bit more than an hour), we arrived at Dublin airport. We reached the city centre easily with a bus. Dublin is a very interesting city, full of history and literature… yes : in all the city statues dedicated to the heroes who fought for the Irish independence (Charles Parnell, Daniel O’Connell…), and famous buildings like the General Post Office (in front of which the Easter Rising of 1916 took place), remind you that Irleand is a country which suffered and fought for its independence. The "potato famine" which happened in the 19th century and forced many Irish to emigrate to the USA, is also still very present in Irish people’s minds, not only in Dublin but in all the country.
As far as literature is concerned, the Dublin writers’ museum pays tribute to the famous Irish writers, including James Joyce, Oscar Wilde (my favourite writer !), Samuel Beckett, William Butler Yeats, Jonathan Swift, George Bernard Shaw, Seamus Heaney, well… quite many actually ! The heart of the city is Trinity College, the prestigious university… There you can visit the "Old Library", which houses 200 000 antiquarian texts, marble busts of scholars, as well as the most richly decorated of Ireland’s medieval manuscripts : "the Book of Kells". Not far from there Merrion Square, where Oscar Wilde lived as a child, gives a typical example of Georgian architecture, with its terraced houses, beautiful façades and colourful doors.
Then we hired a car and left for the western coast of the country, heading for Galway… The weather in Galway was not as good as in Dublin, mostly because of the strong wind coming directly from the Atlantic ocean… The Galway Bay is very wild and beautiful, and it’s also a nice starting point to reach other sites…
If you go north, you will reach very quickly Connemarra… a wonder ! There you will see many sheep of course, sometimes quietly walking on the narrow roads. In this region there are also many small or bigger lakes, and I could visit at last a place I’d wanted to visit for so long… Kylemore Abbey ! It was first a romantic castle before becoming a Benedictine abbey… the nature all around is gorgeous, as Kylemore is sheltered by the slopes of a mountain : the Twelve Bens, and situated just in front of a big, peaceful lake…
Other natural wonders we coud see in Ireland include the Cliffs of Moher… Rising to a height of 200 metres, they are really breathtaking ! We also went around the Dingle Bay, which offers some of Ireland’s most beautiful scenery, I was particularly impressed by Inch, a beach with many surfers, where you are at the same time along the seaside and in the mountains...
Another natural beauty we visited is the Killarney National Park, with its three lakes and the impressive Torc Waterfall… Of course if you enjoy hiking, Ireland is really the place to go…
Well, a trip to Ireland is not complete without a visit to pubs, some of which play in the evening some traditional Irish music… Of course in Ireland many people drink Guinness, this (nearly) black, foamy beer, called « stout ». Personnally, Guinness is not at all my cup of tea, but most Irish people are proud and fond of it…
I’m very happy of this trip ! I can now keep in mind all these beautiful landscapes, the kindness of Irish people, and this typical "irishness" in its culture, music and way of life…
Véronique was very lucky this summer : thanks to one of her English friends, she had the opportunity to attend a speaking session at the Houses of Parliament in London in July, led by the new Prime Minister : Theresa May. She wanted to share with you her experience…
First, the invitation of the sponsoring MP (= Member of Parliament), had to be changed in two tickets to enter the visitors’ gallery. Then we had to wait in the central lobby square, until the ceremonial arrival of the speaker (with a wig). We had to climb a lot of stairs, after having left our bags, umbrella and so on in the cloakroom.
There was no possibility to choose where I wanted to sit ; I sat on a bench in the middle of the gallery opposite the Press Gallery. At its edge was a huge protecting glass. On both sides a TV screen helped people to see and follow easily the talk (who was speaking, who was asking questions…). We could then see most of the Chamber, including the speaker, clerks and ministers. While we were arriving, there were questions to the Minister of Northern Ireland…
In the meantime the MPs of the Government Party took their places on one side, and on the other side those of the opposition. Little by little all the benches were filled up.
Around noon the new Prime Minister arrived. All the MPs stood up. Mrs Theresa May was applauded a lot by her side ! After greeting them, she began immediately a short speech, in which she explained briefly what she was going to set for the "Brexit economy", rates, health etc… Then the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn asked his first question. I noticed that at the beginning of each question or answer Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and all the MPs spoke very politely, thanking for the questions, answering "Dear friend …", and so on.
Then Mrs Theresa May became more ironic ; while she was speaking clearly, firmly, she had a sense of humour in her answers, which made the whole audience laugh. Most of the questions (13 all in all) were asked by the leader of the opposition, who seemed not to be aggressive or biting… There were no provoking questions. For this first meeting, the main subjects were not only about the "Brexit" (Theresa May said she would go to Berlin and Paris to discuss about it, using the same sentence as Boris Johnson : "Great-Britain doesn’t leave Europe, only the European Union!"), it was also a question of unemployment,
education, research… As Theresa May explained : "our government doesn’t work for privileged people but for everyone". Immigration was still at the same level.
In 30 minutes the questions to the Prime Minister were asked. Theresa May went away while other MPs of the opposition carried on with a lot of diverse questions.
Later, while I was queueing in the self-service restaurant, Jeremy Corbyn arrived just behind me, and I could take a picture of him !
Thomas went on a mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, last summer (2015) and in spring 2014… he wanted to tell you about these special missions in his own words. Well done to him, both for his actions and his interesting report !
Before beginning my subject there is a point I would like to make quickly about the story of this country… Before the war Bosnia and Herzegovina was part of Tito’s Yougoslavia. Before the war Bosnia and Herzegovina was a heaven of religions : Christian people (Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox), Muslim people, Jewish people mixed, lived in harmony and shared their cultures. Before the war Bosnia and Herzegovina had a honourable past. Twenty years ago, Yougoslavia broke, tore into the war triggered by Serb nationalists. It is a war that Europe could have avoided, in vain. An unnecessary war. But war is proper to man. It makes you wonder why all of this had to happen…
I would like now to discuss about the association which organized and led these missions. This is the French association Evangelical University Center. The association in Lille is led by Pascal Hermann and Néhémie Schwab with their wives Ela and Alice. There are several Evangelical University Centers in all France. Some of them joined us for the last mission. Members of the Evangelical University Center of Besançon and members of the Evangelical University Center of Grenoble. We were between 45 and 50. I was a volunteer to go to Bosnia and Herzegovina. To work for this country. To help Bosnian people. To go with Christian people and discover their religion, their culture, Christianism. For them. For Bosnian people. For the country. For the future. So I knew the mission which was planned. I was a simple student like many of them. The great majority of the volonteers are students or young employees. I worked a lot in the organic farm all the time of the mission. Not only of course but a lot.
I had already been in Bosnia-Herzegovina with some members of this association and with some atheist students who were in geography with me. This summer 2015 it was not the first time but the second time. The first time it was in April 2014. In 2015 I was 23 years old. I wanted to travel, to begin to discover the world. And it was a very good occasion to participate to this new mission in link with my studies of geography. I liked very much my first mission in April 2014 over there, so I wished to go back again…
The mission lasted three weeks. The first week everybody worked on the organic farm or in the two reception centers. The second week one group went to a place near Sarajevo, Konjic, to the lake Boracko Jezero, to do a children’s camp with Bosnian children and the other group stayed in the organic farm and in the two reception centers. The third and last week another group went to Konjic to do a teenager’s
camp with Bosnian teenagers and the other group stayed in the organic farm and in the two reception centers. We knew that we had to work hardly during three weeks. «Three weeks of wonders» as we said between us. I was always to work in the two reception centers and in the organic farm. Never in Konjic. It was simply my choice. We dug the ground. We carried several kilos of ground, rubble, with our arms
Let’s begin with the town where we were. We went to Zenica. Zenica is not pronounced as the way it is written. Zenica is a horrible town. We thought to live like in the USSR of Leonid Brejnev’s century, firmly. For the population this pollution is a disaster. Their health is directly threatened and touched, mostly children and babies. Of course the country is poorer than France and most other European countries. We always worked in and around this town. Without forgetting another place near Sarajevo, the lake of Boracko Jezero in Konjic.
Many dangers inhabit Bosnia. Despite the presence of foreign armies and the ONU and even though the war is over. Mines are still in the ground and in the most remote natural areas. It is impossible to walk to the heart of nature in Bosnia. Although many mines have been removed since the end of the war, there is still a lot. And for a long time. In this country you can not stroll in the forest.
As soon as you enter, your fate is doomed. And if any accident happens, no one can come to your help !
Rabies is another threat. Dogs are common pets in the country and the youngest including the last born, are not vaccinated against rabies… Not having much food to put in their mouths, dogs are going to kill cats to eat. And even eat their own excrement.
Dangerous mafia is also present throughout Bosnia. And it is this which is the main problem and even the most important for Walter (the leader of the organic farm in Zenica). Walter collects street youth to prevent them to enter the mafia. What bothers the Mafia for its traffics ! The Balkans mafia, working with the Russian Mafia is one of the most dangerous mafia in Europe and the world… Even more dangerous, the terrorist threat. Scattered in small groups, Daesh, the jihadists are the most dangerous terrorists that the world has ever known. Capable of triggering suicidal attacks anywhere, at any time, they are now the main threat to the future of Bosnia before the Mafia…
Yes, we knew all this from the beginning ! But as Pascal and Nehemiah had already been there several times, they had much more experience than all of us, we could trust them. As for mines, we never wen to places where there were. Never. No need to take unnecessary and stupid risks. About rabies, it was enough to be careful, to stay alert. About the jihadist threat, well, it was not the mentally ill that would prevent us from moving forward ! We resisted and overcame our fear. The armies present on the premises were there to protect us. And the city police… For the good of humanity, which is called love. I will make no promises save one : if we truly believe in our hearts, we are free and we can win!
Turning to the organic farm. I would like to start by saying something about the site. This organic farm and the two reception centers where we acted are both led by Walter Goncalves. He was 53 years old in 2015. He is the leader and the boss. He said to us all we had to do with his colleagues and with the Bosnian population. And he is someone very very busy ! All the land belongs to him. Now we will move on to the main aims on the organic farm.
In the farm, with Bosnian people, we planted many seeds and many vegetables for food, we dug ground, we dug several trenches near the buildings all days. During that time, other Bosnian people, some teenagers and some adults, all employees who work for Walter, were in charge of animals. For example : cows, sheep, goats, hens, chickens, chicks, cocks. In 2014 and in 2015. But we had other important works.
First, to clear the driveway. Because of the nature and weeds which invaded all, the road needed to be clear and clean. Since the end of the war, nature has reasserted its rights and by consequence invades all and grows in all directions. We had to tear the ground, few tree branches, weeds, to obtain a narrow gap on each side and clean all the road. Sometimes, we found bullets of Kalashnikov, dating from the war.
Second, to dig long trenches around the farm buildings and along the dirt road through the cultures. The goal : to thread electrical cables in trenches that will fuel a future pigsty, and future streetlights will be installed and constructed. Once the cables installed and protected, we needed to reseal the trenches with the land and turn all stones.
Third, make the collection and plantations. The goal is to plant seeds and vegetables on farmland and in greenhouses and then reap the maximum fruit on fruit trees on the farm, to make jam or syrup for the Bosnian people. Currants, apples, plums, blueberries, plums. So that there may be food in advance for everyone and for a long time too. Soon there will be cherries. The raspberry plantations remains in draft for the moment.
Fourth, to go down into the well and get rid of the remaining mud at the bottom. But the well is eight meters deep and it was risky to go down there because of the lack of air. More a human being remains at the bottom, more the lack of oxygen increases. But it was essential to remove the mud before the rains came back to fill the well.
For from this well underground pipes, connected to two rainwater collectors feeds the whole entire farm, including hills, in water. A natural rainwater collector feeds all hectares of the farm in water. But this water is not potable. Drinking it would make us sick. That is why we had to buy water sold in supermarkets not to run out of water.
Fifth, the housing benefit in a house. A Ukrainian family, refugees from the mini cold war between Ukraine and Russia in 2014, having found refuge here in Zenica wanted an additional floor. It was built in the barracks just next to the house where they live daily. First, to demolish all the existing roof, next pull the existing floor, next add an additional wall to the existing and build a new more resistant roof. You had to remove the tiles and beams one by one, bringing them together. Everything was recovered. Nothing was thrown away. For sale or to be used again. Anything could be used for something. We destroyed all the roof and the parket and we cleaned it to discover... nothing at all, only some forbidden books had been hidden into the parket since the war, covered with squeletons of cats. We built a floor and a new roof. It was dangerous and morbid.
Moving on now to the two reception centers. One of them has a function of church. I would like to talk about it. We renovated this church in spring 2014, inside and outside. Children asked us to renovate this church and they explained us in details how they wanted it. All was finished for the mass on Sunday. Every Sunday we went to the mass with Bosnian people.
Sixth, the housing benefit in the two reception centers with children and teenagers. The goals : to do with them several activities and games and to teach them others. The two reception centers in Zenica welcome and host children and teenagers. Some are orphans, victims of war; others were removed from their families for abuse often with violence;
others still have both parents or one of the two. The last are Rom children, some coming from Albania and Hungary. Board games, sports, creativity, Bible study and teaching. The key is to help them of course. The camps near Sarajevo, where were some of us had the same goals but with many more choices.
Seventh, the housing benefit with the Bosnian population. To help Walter to distribute every day food parcels to a number of vulnerable families, Rom families, and, sort of clothing parcels for newborns and babies to come. Everything was prepared at the reception center whose function is to be a church. For Walter it was forbidden for us to help Roms who didn’t send their children to school, fortunately it was not the majority.
To conclude after all these works of urbanism and town and country planning, we can ask what future is waiting for Bosnia and Herzegovina. The future of this country is still staying uncertain today. The majority of people would like that things change and to change themselves. But it is hard, very hard. They fear that the slightest revolution will make the country plunge in a new war between everyone. Many are pessimistic. I understand them and I understand why. Today a difficult peace is reigning in Bosnia and Herzegovina, tensions and divisions remain and the struggle for reconciliation continues. Rare are those who are optimistic. Walter is maybe the only who is optimistic for the future. Even he doesn’t believe in human beings…
But I do ! And contrary to him I believe in human beings. Because I think it is too late to be pessimistic thanks to all the works that we did in this organic farm and in the two reception centers to help the population of the town of Zenica. Walter has helped several thousand people in all the town with food, problems of teeth, diseases, since his arrival in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is too late to be pessimistic : the peace has lasted for twenty years after the end of the war, it is a record. It is too late to be pessimistic : I saw two mini solar farms, some houses and a firm which uses solar energy. All these are examples and a minority compared to the population of all the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina but they witness a rise of
consciences in a country stricken by the consequences of the war. They show the ways of a better future for Bosnia and Herzegovina. This country has the right like all other countries to have the same future. They didn’t choose this situation of misery and poverty. And that is what is at stake : the ability to survive, to live. And now, the work I want to do : to search several different ecological solutions to help Walter. From the smallest scale to the largest scale and from the most utopian to the most realistic. I search, I find, I check if it is reliable and I send him by mail, he tries and he decides if he applies them or not. I only suggest my solutions and he is the one to decide if he sets them up or not. Not me. There is nothing unusual about what I do with this.
I would like now to finish dividing this conclusion into two things, first, this quotation : « To be extremists of solidarity » Nicolas Hulot.
And a last thing to know : I made a series «Bosnia and Herzegovina What future?» that I directed and which just sums up the main points of these missions...
Thomas is fond of history and he wanted to pay tribute to a very famous warship : the Bismarck… a symbol of the folly of war, the Second World War… Thank you for this interesting report !
Today Adolf Hitler symbolizes absolute evil. But in the years 1930, he was considered as a god by several thousands of young Germans. Several of Hitler youth were sent into the war aboard this giant ship : the Bismarck...
The Bismarck was built secretly in Hamburg and was launched in 1939. It was the « killing machine » by excellence. The star of death of Hitler’s time. Its objective : destroying England. It measured 320 meters, it was almost as long as the Titanic but with 10 meters more in width, and it was so heavily armored that it weighed twice as much as the Titanic. Despite its mass it could run at 32 knots with developed engines. Each barrel weighed about 12 tons. It was capable of destroying a ship from 25 kilometers away. Being more than 30 centimeters thick, the Bismarck was designed to withstand fire and shock torpedoes and shell holes of other boats.
In other words, it was both invincible and indestructible. And however it sank…
After sinking the English boat, the Hood (1 412 English dead sailors, and only 3 survivors), the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, fierce opponent of Hitler, immediately grasped the extent of the blow that had been brought, following this tragic piece of news in England. The English were already terrorized by the Blitzkrieg day and night. Churchill who had perfectly understood the challenge responded to the Nazis with a calculated force. For him the priority was the Bismarck. It had to sink ! He called his naval forces around the world to set course for the Bismarck. And he succeeded his mission…
Indeed, on the 26 May 1941, on the Atlantic Ocean, the Bismarck was navigating in the direction of occupied France. The English engaged themselves in a suicidal attack in a storm with 5 torpedo bomber planes. The Bismarck was hit once. The Amiral John Tovey, commander of the British fleet, ordered to open fire. Two English boats : the Rodney and the King George V, bombarbed the Bismarck. Four other English boats : the Norfolk, the Shorfolk, the Shefield, and the Dorsetshire approached and joined the battle. The shells swept away the super structure of the Bismarck and its crew. In total, 2 876 artillery pieces were dropped on the Bismarck, transforming the ship into an inferno. However it still didn’t sink! Then the shelling continued unabated. Five minutes later the Bismarck capsized and sank into the abyss. It flew in only ten minutes in the darkness of the ocean where it still rests today five kilometers deep. 2 200 sailors died and 115 survived. This was a fatal blow to Nazi Germany after the former fatal blow to England.
On the 27 May 2002, the American director James Cameron and his team aboard the Keldisch, led an expedition at sea and explored the wreck of the Bismarck. Through their expedition and their exploration of the wreck with their underwater robots they thoroughly traced in detail the course of the battle of the Bismarck. Then they paid tribute to the victims. The Bismarck stays today a symbol of the folly of war…
To know more :
Last month Véronique made an interesting trip to England. First, she wanted to share with you her impressions about two exhibitions she saw in London :
In London I saw the exhibition about Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 – 1519) « The Mechanics of Genius ». How great and enjoyable it was !
I knew the painter of world-known Mona Lisa, the artist who had extraordinary skills for drawing, and this became his main tool for work experimentation and building knowledge… His approach was centred on the direct observation of nature, as part of a dynamic balance between science and experience.
Leonardo Da vinci was not alone in designing machines… Numerous engineers were doing the same at the period of the Renaissance. But the quality of Leonardo’s genius made him stand out. Drawing was his main means of observation study and representation of nature : « Mechanic is the paradise of the mathematical sciences because by means of it one comes to the fruits of mathematics ».
Over the years, he designed more and more sophisticated machines : worn gears, chains, springs and crossbows, cams, rod-crank systems… He also worked on a lot of studies of fortifications and weapons. His studies on trajectory and the impact of projectiles, as well as the structures of fortifications were among the most innovative of their day. One of Leonardo Da Vinci’s ideas, typical of his approach, was looking to nature for technical solutions.
He produced studies of flight during several periods of his life. His sketches of mechanical wings derived from his observations of birds in flight… He studied the quality and thickness of air and developed measuring instruments such as the anemometer. fter focusing on resolving technical problems, he broadened his vision to gain a more general understanding of nature and thought of more complex hypotheses…
The following visit was a delightful exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, which excited my enthusiasm so much that it was really difficult to leave the place ! There were so many beautiful paintings and the theme pleased me so much ! That was : «Painting the modern garden – Monet to Matisse».
Monet cultivated gardens throughout his life, from his early days at Argenteuil in the 1870s until his death in 1926… The magnificent garden he created in Giverny was his greatest horticultural creation, and continues to attract thousands of visitors. Monet found in these gardens an infinite source of creative inspiration for his painting… In the 19th century, a large number of Monet’s contemporaries were inspired by the horticultural movement when gardening began to take shape. Leisure time provided the middle class with new opportunities to garden for pleasure. Floral displays, horticultural societies, plant nurseries and popular gardening magazines became more popular. That is the reason why the artists were inspired to explore innovative ways of depicting the natural world.
This exhibition shows how gardens ignited the imagination not only of Monet, but of many other artists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, evocating impressionist visions of light and atmosphere. This exhibition seeks to explain how gardens served as a universal various source of inspiration for artists of the modern era. Artists began to treat their garden as outdoor studios. Like Monet, Gustave Caillebotte was a gardener and the two artists exchanged letters about gardening, built their own greenhouses and grew hybrids. Camille Pissaro while painting kitchens and vegetables maintained a connection with the past. Pierre Auguste Renoir preferred wild, untamed gardens…
By the turn of the century, the desire for a verdant retreat from the ills of urban life had become an international phenomenon, had spread far and wide… Painters in Britain, Europe and the United States created their own havens leading to a splendid array of garden paintings. A number of Scandinavian artists travelled to France at Grez-sur-Loing where the light was so much brighter than at home… The German Impressionist Max Liebermann, the Spanish Joaquin Sorolla, the American painter Childe Hassam followed the principles of the garden-reform movement…
Still some lines about Henri le Sidaner, in the village of Gerberoy in Picardie, who designed a romantic garden including a « white garden », a small pavilion which served as a summer studio. Le Sidaner liked painting his own garden in different seasons and at different times of the day… Vincent Van Gogh found solace in painting gardens and claimed that he discovered the laws of colour contrasts while studying flowers… He used strong colours to convey the intense emotions that nature awoke in him. Gardens offered the French Fauves : Henri Matisse and Raoul Dufy ideal settings for experimenting with vivid colours.
During the later years at Giverny Monet began to paint the « water-lilies » on very large canvases. His technique and compositions became more daringly abstract : « the subject is secondary » he said… « What I want to reproduce is that which is between the subject and me »…
Then, Véronique visited Nottingham, Robin Hood’s country… Here is her report of this interesting place !
During my last stay in England I visited Nottingham, which is located in the East Midlands, two hours by train from London, and has about 300 000 inhabitants. I heard about it last summer when I had a look at an exhibition at the lace museum in Calais, where I learnt that until WWII, a lot of textile-machines were made in Nottingham and sent to Calais for more than one hundred lace-manufacturing companies. The district of lace-manufacturers still exists nowadays but most of these big buildings with red brickwalls are renovated in lofts or flats. However a lot of plaques on walls evoke the time of lace manufacturing, or famous people concerned by that…
Nottingham is also well-known, not only for its industrial textile production, but of course for its past with the legendary Robin Hood…
History takes a lot of room in Nottigham Castle, which is nowadays more a Museum and Art Gallery. William the Conqueror first built a wooden castle in the middle of the XIth century on Castle Rock. During the following centuries it was destroyed, rebuilt depending on the wars and the kings! The building I saw is dated from the XVIIth century, even if it needed to be restored after being fired by Reform riotters one century later…
In the garden, it was funny to see people wearing either simple clothes like Robin Hood, with one shield on one side, and on the other hand other people wearing knight clothes with helmets and swords. All these people were training to fight against each other. I never knew or understood if it was a game or a training to play in a film or for a battle reconstruction… Robin Hood statue in the garden celebrates perhaps Nottingham’s most famous export, a creation of a myth and storytelling over hundreds of years.
I visited the oldest church in Nottingham : St Mary’s, which is being completely restored at the moment. The church was built in the early XVth century. Between the nave and the choir there is a wooden wonderful masterpiece in form of an ogive arch, looking like lace.
Nottingham has links with the bicycle (with the Raleigh Bicyvle Company), and with the chemicals industries Boots, as well as with the tobacco industries. It was granted its « city charter » by Queen Victoria at the end of the XIXth century. It is a tourist destination.
Other famous characters besides Robin Hood are Lord Byron, a romantic poet, William Booth, founder of the « Armée du Salut », and DH Lawrence for his book Lady Chatterley’s Lover. There are also some singers of pop bands like Jay M. Guiness and the band « The Wanted ».
After our meeting in a very nice and British tea room, Evelyne who couldn’t be there, wanted to bring her own English touch, compiling in a very nice video (again !!) the views of London she really liked… A huge thank you to her once more… Enjoy !
Evelyne has already edited a video on this page (about tramways in Lille). This time, she wanted to share with you the special experience she had when she went to New York at the end of 2014, and especially when visiting Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, and also the Wall Street area… Thanks a lot for these very nice videos !
Charline works abroad during the school year, so she only takes English lessons with English Comm’ when she comes back to Lille… in summer ! Her busy professional life makes her travel a lot… and obviously she needs to speak English ! She’s been to many countries and cities worldwide, and wanted to share with you a peculiar moment she experienced in New York. Many thanks !
Why the first thing I did when I was in New York was to visit Madison Square Garden…
My father was born when Marcel Cerdan was twenty years old. My father was twenty when Marcel Cerdan died in dramatic circumtances. (Everybody knows about the plane crash, about Piaf vainly waiting for him in New-York and so on…). Between those twenty years, there was a large place for dreams.
Marcel Cerdan was a poor guy when he was young. A strong and successful young man. He became a champion and he expected to be a star at Madison Square Garden… if there had been no crash !
My father was a poor guy when he was young. A thin and dreamer guy. He became a champion in his own way : an amazing husband (I believe) and, above all, an amazing father.
He often told me about Marcel Cerdan and his life history. I know everything you can know about Madison Square Garden in Manhattan : it was built in less than 300 days and opened in 1929. And so on…
How bored I often felt when my father recalled me what the box match could have been if… I didn’t hear him… But I recalled his eyes when he spoke about Cerdan. I thought at this moment that his narrative was naive, but his emotion was fabulous.
Now, I am an old lady. My father is dead. Marcel Cerdan is a legend for many people. For me too.
But I only know that my father was a legend too.
So, when I went to New-York last year, my first visit was… in Madison Square garden ! When I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I watched the Statue of Diana, which is five meters high and made of copper.
Why ? Because this statue was first in Madison Square Garden and, that, my father knew it too indeed ! And it was a kind of prodigious miracle to stay just in front of it, as if I was in front of my dead and so alive father...
Patrick is very fond of travelling, hiking and trekking… He has already visited many countries in the world (China, Lapland, Nepal, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Cuba, Vietnam…), and several European cities (London, Amsterdam, Budapest, Roma, Venice, Barcelona, Lisboa...). This is the reason why he is taking English lessons: to improve his fluency and vocabulary when he goes abroad… He wanted to share with you the amazing and peculiar experience he had in Namibia… Thanks a lot to him! His next destinations will be the two islands of Australia and New-Zealand, where he will spend ten weeks…
When my wife and I made the choice to go to Namibia, it was to discover a colourful universe of sand and rock and to meet local ethnic groups and their culture. But, Namibia isn’t only synonym of great spaces. It’s also a piece of Europe in Africa, a flora and, of course, an incredible diversity of fauna.
We went for three weeks, by 4x4, starting from Windhoek, the capital, to the old dunes of the Namibian desert. Already, we could see the first jumps of springboks, taking away from the road (which would soon become tracks), as the vehicle passed. Some nights in tent later, we were in Sossusvlei, at the foot of the tallest dune of the world. It was very early because we wanted to avoid the heat for the ascent. 400 meters of sand that crumbled under our feet. Tiring! But we were amply rewarded by the beauty of the site that flared up from red to yellow passing to orange, the light growing as we were moving forward. Magic !
The descent was faster as we ran down while making the dune sing… We arrived at a dry lake, watched by petrified trees.
We found again the “civilization” in Swakopmund, the third city of the country after a few campsites or bivouacs (no water, no electricity), in the middle of nowhere among the oryxs, desert foxes and other animals which certainly saw us but which we didn’t see… Swakop (for the intimate) is located on the Atlantic coast. And, over there, the climate changed. It was cold, humid and grey (like here). This stage, without great interest, allowed us to refill food and to sleep in a real bed. We went back to the North, to Cape Cross and the Skeleton Coast with its colony of fur sea lions (very sweet-smelling!) and stranded boatwrecks still heckled by the waves.
The continuation of our route brought us to the Brandberg’s Mountains to go to meet the White Lady (in English in the text!) a rock painting in the heart of the mountains. Its origin is still under discussion but it is still quite well-preserved for its age (over 2000 years) A hiking guide was necessary to walk in this preserved site with, as a free gift, explanations in “clic” language (sounds produced with the tongue without using the lungs). It was in the camp of Twyfelfontein that we met our first herd of elephants, next to our tent. Gloups! We looked at them! Keep quiet! Keep calm! Don’t move!
As you may have noticed, few names sound African. Indeed, Namibia is an old German colony. And there remained many vestiges (architecture, cooking, religion, language…). Which sometimes added contrasts between tradition and modernity. We always went up to the North, and the heat became oppressive again but it was quickly forgotten in front of the giraffes, baboons, wart hogs which snubbed us as soon as we tried to photograph them. Some sunrises later, we arrived at the Angolan border. After meeting the Hereros (and their hatin the form of horns for the women) we made the acquaintance of the Himbas.
This people, now sedentary, lives in the North of Opuwo, Kaokoland’s capital, where most villages are situated. Himbas women dye their skin with cream made with oil and red ochre powder, and their hair too is done with smooth and thick braids (criterions of female beauty). We could spend a morning with them and shared, for a short while only, their way of life. Fascinating!
Our next big step was the natural Etosha Park. Etosha takes its name from its “pan” (dry lake), resulting from an interior dry sea, but it was especially known for its big animal population. It’s the biggest reserve of wild animals in Africa. We didn’t have the intention to go on a safari but we really got into the game of the hunter of pictures. And what a show! These animals that we are used to seeing in cages at the circus or in zoos or through the TV in reports: lions, zebras, cheetahs, leopards, rhinoceros, hyenas (we could see the “big five”!), woke up the child inside each of us. They were here! In front us! For real! Ouaaaah!
Of course, to see them, we had to get up early (or later at night). Especially near water points (natural or not) that attracted them. Contemplating this perpetual ballet going to drink remained a great memory. With the memory cards of our cameras full, we came back to Windhoek and our mind roamed a long time during our flight to France.
This is only a short summary of our trip. Many stages haven’t been related but I hope I have shared with you a little of this African experience with this extraordinary diversity of landscapes and adventures. Namibia’s adventure is never written in the singular !
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