Paris Part Deux

As you know I’m slightly éolienne (wind turbine) obsessed, so it was great to see so many on our trip up to Paris, well over a hundred of them. The biggest group was in Beuce, where there were 26 in a row alongside the A10.

I’m surprised there aren’t more wind turbines alongside autoroutes. It would seem an obvious place for them since there is even less population next to them than in Creuse. All our nine éoliennes, which are about to go onstream by the way, are dotted amongst people’s houses, although obviously all at least the statutory 400m away.

We also saw a lot of police, but I’m less obsessed with them. However, it was interesting to see that France does have plenty of law enforcement officers. We go for weeks, sometimes months, here without bumping into a gendarme. We had the great excitement last year when a vanful i.e. 3, rolled up to our door to tell us that our horses had escaped onto the road. (We don’t have horses!) And the next day, Caiti and I saw them all again, plus some extra back-up, buying a baguette in Simply Market. I don’t imagine Paris policemen and women do much horse rounding up or bread buying. The life of a city flic is far removed from that of the country version. The former spend a lot of time looking menacing. When we came through the huge péage (toll gate) on the A10 near Paris, there was a line of coppers, one per lane, glaring at all the cars that came through. They weren’t after us, at least not on Friday, so we were let through. And then on Saturday there was a demonstration about Syria going on near the Opéra. There were rows and rows of riot police with helmets, plastic shields and ‘hitty things’ as Caiti described them! They were truncheons about a metre long. I took a pic but I don’t know how well you can make them out. I didn’t fancy getting any closer.

We saw lots of police cars during the day, and plenty of policemen at various metro stations. I’ve found a suggestion on the Net that there are 25 police officers per 10,000 of the population in France, but how reliable it is I’m not sure. This is something I must look into further. All I can say is that there would appear a huge disparity in the ratios of gendarmes to general population between urban and rural areas.

I’ll finish with a few more photos. It was perfect photography weather, so if only I were a better photographer than I’d have some awesome shots. But I didn’t do too badly. I’ll be posting my pics of the various famous landmarks over the next little while, but here are my favourite non-standard shots from the big city:

The famous Parisian velibs
The Quick cow, with graffiti!
We resisted temptation!
Lawns get tired in Paris

And with that, back to chopping and lugging trees and branches. The thaw is about to start so we have to get our skates on!





Dreaming of a Wet Christmas

Haven't had the helicoptor by yet ...

We had a pre-Christmas shock a short while ago. A vanload of gendarmes pulled up outside the house and a significant amount of firepower clambered out. It was gone four o’clock, three days before Christmas. Surely they weren’t here to check Chris’s gun licences or my paperwork for the business. Everything’s in order but it’s still hassle having to dig it all out.

But no, fortunately. Apparently some horses had escaped onto the ‘main’ road and they wondered if they were ours. We only have well behaved llamas and alpacas, cats and a dog who never wander far away from the house, slightly naughty sheep and goats but they’ve never made it off our premises, and completely harmless poultry and guinea pigs here. The horses almost certainly belonged to our neighbour Yann. He has a field-full of heavy horses, Percherons and Bretons. They’re beautiful, gentle creatures. When they’re in the field adjacent to our llama field, the opposing sets of animals spend ages simply looking at each other. After a chat the gendarmes set off to see Yann and probably spend an hour or so helping to catch the horses. It was a good job we’d dealt with the turkeys in the morning. I always dread having someone call round, especially armed law enforcement officers, when either I’m busy plucking or Chris is removing various turkey body parts in the slightly gruesome preparation for the eating procedure.

We’re well known to the local police, but for non-criminal reasons. Since Chris has guns we have to get various permits approved by them every year. So we make several calls to the local station in Boussac or the one further away in Chatelus (depending on where the rural Creuse force, which seems to only consist of a couple of cops, is based at the time) to get that sorted out. They’re always very interested in the llamas. We didn’t recognise any of the gendarmes who called today. I guess they must be the holiday-cover crew, shipped in from somewhere out of the area. I hope they’re used to handing several tons of horse at a time.

An unexpected visit from the fuzz is in keeping with this Christmas holiday so far. It isn’t going according to plan. The weather’s rotten and we’re all full of colds so the crafty activities and long, healthy walks I’d mapped out for us to do aren’t happening. I still have to boil the puddings and make crackers, and I’m not entirely sure I’ve got presents for everyone either! And as well as feeling fluey, Benj is moping. He’s turned soft after three months in an overheated flat in the city. He reckons he’s cold and has borrowed clothes off practically everyone to keep warm. He also has sore teeth after the visit to the dentist on Tuesday and he’s missing his woman/women (more than one name has been mentioned!).

Things are very soggy round the farm at the moment. It’s at its most dismal.

We’ve gone from dry, concrete hard ground to waterlogged muddy mess in the space of a week. We’re on heavy clay here so it goes to crazy extremes. But on the bright side, I don’t have to fill any water buckets up for the outdoor animals. They’re collecting more than enough water from the barn roof.

Gigi refused to come out of the barn till the rain stopped

So, not a great run up to the big day. But there are still a couple of days left to get into the spirit of things. We’re not quite at the ‘bah humbug’ stage yet!

Normally this is a white alpaca in a green field! Poor muddy Mellie!