Frogs and Fortesses, Toads and Towers

The heavy rain we had on Monday evening brought out the local population of frogs and toads with a vengeance. I took Tobi out to go through our bedtime ritual of getting her to pee, which can be lengthy. She’s very easily distracted. We know for a fact that the Lego movie title song ‘Everything is Awesome’ plays on a continuous loop in her head. To our puppy, life is a fabulously happy adventure full of amazing things to discover. A blade of grass. Another blade of grass. A moth. A cat. Yay, another blade of grass… and so on. When you’re trying to get her to focus on the task of emptying her bladder before we crawl and she bounces to bed, this perpetual wonderment can be tedious!

toad tobi

Anyway, on Monday evening, out on the lawn her tail wags reached critical stage so I went over to see what she was sniffing at. A frog, or possibly a toad (I’m never quite sure which is which). I very quickly noticed another, and another. I grabbed my camera and a torch and walked a ten yards or so down our drive. There was an amphibian every other stride. Awesome indeed!

toad best

toad puddle back
Now for the fortress/tower part of the blog. In an attempt to redress the work/work balance that has predominated of late, Chris and I are trying to re-introduce the life element into it. This includes clearing our schedules for a spot of geocaching each week, a hobby we love but which the children fail to be massively impressed by.
Our first hunt took us to the fortress at Cluis, a small town in wealthy Indre, near Aigurande. Often it’s tricky to find somewhere to park that allows us to add a decent walk to the cache finding element. Chris hoped we’d be able to find a spot in Cluis itself, meaning we could stroll the kilometre of so from there to the ruins.
It’s safe to say that there’s plenty of parking in Cluis!

cluis carpark
Cluis struck us both as a much busier town than our Boussac, but I checked the stats this morning and Boussac is a positive metropolis in comparison. With its 1,412 inhabitants on 1.48 squared kms, it’s population density is 954.04 per km2. Cluis has only 1035 dwellers spread over 35.32 km2 and has density of a tiny 29.3 inhabitants per squared km. That vast car park must be what skews those figures!
The fortress is a fine ruin.

cluis fortress entrance

It dates back to the Middle Ages and was part of a chain of defences keeping French France and English Aquitaine separate during the Hundred Years War. At one time it had ten towers but only the one remains now.

cluis tower
And did we find our cache? Sadly no. There’d been a do on recently and two blokes were dismantling the framework of a large marquee close to the spot where we’re 99.99% certain the cache was. A cardinal rule of geocaching is that muggles (i.e. the general public) mustn’t see what you’re up to. We tried a little bit of extremely furtive firkling but with no luck. Shame, but we’ll be back.

cluis ruins
I’ll tell you about the second place our geocaching trip took us to in my next blog as it’s a truly fabulous spot and I want to do a bit more research about it first.
And here’s a final frog/toad.

toad front

Forum des Assos

We had a family outing this morning to the Forum des Assos (short for Associations – the French love their abbreviations) in Boussac. It was held in an impressively large marquee that had been erected in the town square, thus also taking up most of the car parking space for visitors! We’re not averse to using our legs so we left the car in the vieux quartier (old quarter) and walked in. Generally, French people don’t go out until after a nourishing and sustaining lunch, but the forum was a morning-only event so they were forced to come out after only a nourishing and sustaining breakfast. And they looked surprisingly lively!

Imagine this obliterated by a big white tent.

Imagine this obliterated by a big white tent.


The marquee was heaving when we arrived, about a quarter past ten. I had no idea so much went on in and around our little town. We’ve been somewhat reclusive of late and so are a bit out of touch. There are all sorts of activities, from the AIPB (Amitiés Internationales de Pays du Boussac) to Zumba, with things like cycling, patchwork, table tennis, judo, dog agility and walking in between. We’ve all gone for something – Tai Chi for Chris, judo for the boys, zumba for me (I checked and I’m not too old!!), and even something for our puppy Tobi, namely the dog agility. She’s not quite old enough for it yet and before she starts we need to properly master sit, down, stay and come – their French equivalents being assis, couché, pas bouger and le rappel (with ‘venez’ I assume). I’d been going to stick to English, but I’m sure it’s the case with dogs that they respond better to two-syllable names, so presumably also two-syllable commands. Something to think about.

Tobi is certainly agile when play fighting with Nessie!

Tobi is certainly agile when play fighting with Nessie!

We felt very motivated, and even more so after having coffee at the café des sports (suitably enough) afterwards. We realised that it’s the first time we’ve had a family get t0gether at a café in Boussac since we bought Les Fragnes eight years ago.

We need to get out more!