Place de l'église, Champagny-sous-Uxelles, Southern Burgundy, France.

Events : Visitors : Family & Travels


  Our year in Burgundy



As always we try to list the visitors to us as well as our own travels during the past year. We are in the habit of making a few comments also note other village related events especially when we have pictures to put on view. 


COMMENT

As we approach the last few days of 2019 its time to reflect on the past year and replace old rants and verbal ramblings with new ones.

 

I have already inflicted my comparisons between the state of British politics and the 1789 French revolution on friends and family, but if the results of the November 2019 General Election were not revolutionary what is?


We have seen the moderate centre of English politics all but obliterated along with the radical left, whose core supporters have forsaken their traditional routes and Marxist leadership by turning to popular nationalism, but I suggest that “Brexit fatigue” has also played its part. Although going by the statists 52% of all votes were cast in favour of pro-European and confirmatory referendum parties, showing that the UK is as divided as ever on this matter.

From clown to king!

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, born in 1964 to English parents in New York, he renounced his US citizenship in 2015 (for tax reasons) and to demonstrate his loyalty to the UK.

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Boris the Turk has finally achieved his childhood dream and his smile could not be broader. He is, to all intents and purposes, the king that he wanted to be with 365 courtiers pledging allegiance to him and all political opposition in disarray. Perhaps not so good for democracy but at least there may be a little more clarity and it will be interesting to see where a Conservative government with a stonking majority will take the UK over the coming year(s)!

 

If you are interested in my “tale of two revolutions” I will gladly e-mail a copy.

The lighter side

 

An American couple visiting France were worried about etiquette and asked their hosts children if the family prayed before they sat down to eat dinner. The twelve year old daughter was puzzled by this question and after some thought she replied. “No never, we are French so we know how to cook”.

 

We love the French. Where else in the world do people sit at the dinner table for five hours and only talk about food and drink.

Our 2019 travelles comprised of trips to England and Germany. The first of these was to celebrate Pamelas 40th birthday in January. A month later it was Germany for Christa's 70th birthday then back to UK for Easter. Then again to the Köln (Colonge) area in August.

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Pamela with three of her girlfriends. Rob did a fantastic job in getting all her old friends and family together for the evening. But the disco lighting made good photography difficult.

At Christa's  party.

Christa and Klaus,

Barbara and Jon flanked by Claudia and Rainer.

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Our week in Wales with Pam, Rob & children. We could only get halfway up Snowden due to high winds (Jon was pleased). We visited their old negihbour Yvonne (in blue).

Here we are in Köln for the weekend, on guided tour with friends from 'Deutsche Schule Teheran' arranged by Rainer.

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Are we all doing our bit?


Climate change and environmental problems have been on our minds over the past year or so and we wonder how, as individuals we can “do our bit”. But going through everything that we should be considering, I realise that most of us are already doing what we can.


We have been reducing heat loss from our homes year on year by better insulation and glazing although most European governments have not been promoting it in any meaningful way. We regulate and service our heating system so its running efficiently. We try to be more economical with water, food and other recurses. We change our lamps for LED ones and we are infrequent air travellers. As a family we have been reducing our consumption of red meat for many years now.But because we drive a car dose that make us environmental pariahs?


Our personal vehicle use has been a challenge since 2014. While electrically powered vehicles may become more desirable, living in semi-rural France and travelling around Europe, we always come back to the conclusion that the necessary incentives and infrastructure remain totally inadequate. Fortunately we are able to invest in the latest automotive technology so our one and only vehicle is a highly efficient modern diesel.


Sadly many people are obliged to run older vehicles but threatening to price these off the roads is only going the create more problems. Governments must be pro-active by actually helping and not forcing people to change. Concessions given through income tax normally benefit higher earners while increasing the price of fossil flues penalises the less well off. Look what happened with the Gilets Jaunes in France!


There have been some encouraging ideas recently. Free bus services in some towns and residents of central Paris are given real financial incentives to change to a fully electric vehicle and the City of Luxembourg will start free public transport (for all) in 2020. These are local initiatives but its a start.


Climate Conferences are all very well but will any real progress be made until all the biggest polluters (China, India and the US) attend? Other interested parties are there urging moderation while activists are kept well away from the main event. Greta Thunberg was allowed to speak but it was interesting to see that more than two thirds of the delegates chose that moment to make urgent telephone calls or dash to the toilet!


Oh well, I guess we will keep trying to do our best but one thing has been bothering us. We totally understand the economics of world trade and the need to feed the worlds population, but… Intensive farming and the shipping of food around the world is becoming out of control.


There are two parts to this. Firstly we have known for years, not only how cruel intensive farming is for the animals, but how dangerous it is for our health. Think back to mad cow disease, swine fever, bird flue and now we have worldwide problems with pigs. There are also major problems with deforestation for cattle ranching and growing animal feed. Contamination from animal waste especially in some South American countries and in the US is reaching dangerous levels. All to profit from selling produce around the world. This introduces the second part of the equation. Shipping food around the world especially by air so that we can enjoy, for example, fairly tasteless strawberries all year round is unnecessary and damaging to the environment. In the longer term it also damages the people producing them because they can’t grow enough food to feed themselves!


So for 2020 lets think about where our food comes from, ask questions and wherever possible choose locally grown, fresh seasonal produce. The same principal can be applied to clothing and most other consumer goods. And of course we should have regard to the packaging. Why not make a point and ask the shops to keep any unnecessary plastic packaging! We could also try to apply some logistics to our shopping trips by combining them with other visits and appointments. This could significantly reduce car use, saving us time and money as well as helping the environment.


Our July 1 party 2019

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How can we follow the entertainment of Gaspard the juggler and the music of Jean-Louis & Danielle Thuol. Perhaps we shouldn't try and after 11 years its a good time to stop on such a high note. Even with the help and support of friends and neighbours we are finding that our old bones are starting to complain while our minds are devoid of new inspirations.

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Gaspard encouraged audience participation, Danielle & Jean-Louis take time out to watch.

Our visitors in 2019


MARCH: Bea & Guy from Belgium (sorry no 'photo)


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JULY: Babsi, Jason and the boys

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AUGUST: Kristina, Mick & Family (Hopp) from Germany.

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AUGUST: Adam & Karen from UK

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also: Pam, Rob and family from UK

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SEPTEMBER: Farida from US (travelling Europe)

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SEPTEMBER: Andreas & Julie

from Scotland.

DECEMBER:Beatrice (Switzerland)