Friday, 1 July 2016

Cycle Club Voyage to Semur en Auxois

Goodness me! I'm feeling glum today. I think it's because I'm rather regretting my decision not to work in the UK this year, and I know that today is the day when everyone will be gathering at Lines to start preparing for the weeks ahead. I hope I will be able to find a way to stop mulling over "what might have been" and enjoy the time I have here over the summer. I should plan a trip or visit each week I think, to look forward to, and try to find other stuff to do too. I've got students every Monday and Tuesday through July, so that will keep me busy, but I should do other things too. Any ideas, anyone?

I'm sorry I haven't blogged for a while - almost two weeks: Bad Dormouse! TBH after the (what I consider to be disastrous) referendum I wasn't really in the mood. But we had the Cycle Club Voyage to look forward to on the Friday, so we didn't have much time to mull over the results. Let me tell you what we did...

FRIDAY:
We left here at 7.30 am to drive to the VVF holiday village in Semur-en-Auxois in Burgundy. We took Brigitte and Yves, and stopped in Givry for coffee on the way up.

Givry is a pretty town - not that we explored much of it - but here is one view of what I think was the old market:

We arrived in time for lunch, which was a seafood salad, followed by hoki in a cream sauce, with rice. There was a red fruit pannacotta for dessert. After this, the cyclists gathered ready for a ride:


Mr FD hadn't been sure that he would ride, as he  was greatly out of practise after his broken rib. He'd only cycled once in three weeks. In fact he nearly didn't take his bike! But he did, and here he is (far right) checking his odometer, ready for the off. He did 68 km on this afternoon's ride, and kept up with no problems.

Some of the hangers-on went for a long walk, but the others (including me) visited L'Abbaye de Fontenay.  (Site in English, with some beautiful photographs) Here are some less beautiful photographs taken by Yours Truly.

This is the gatehouse:





There was some beautiful, deceptively simple stained glass:
 


 This next one would make a great zentangle pattern if I could deconstruct it:





A view of the Abbey church from the cloisters:


The monks had built themselves a forge, and this became their "claim to fame":
 



The Abbey is now privately owned and the owner lives in a rather splendid building in the grounds. She is, apparently, 94 and was out for a walk with her dog, a rather charming labrador who came gambolling up to our tour group to show us his favourite toy:


As we left there were some rumbles of thunder, and we feared the cyclists might get wetr, but they all escaped a drowning. Unlike the walkers who got drenched!

 Dinner that evening was something I can't remember, followed by chicken in a spiced sauce, with pasta and courgette gratin. There was cheese  - and some disgruntled grumbling that we came all this way to Burgundy to be served a local cheese from home (St Nectaire) instead of the local Epoisse cheese. Dessert was a raspberry Vacherin:


After dinner Mr Fd and I went back to our little appartment to listen to Kermode & Mayo's podcast. We missed most of it as we both fell asleep!

SATURDAY:

It was pissing down with rain, and while the intrepid walkers went out, the cyclists did not. Instead we went to Alésia. From its site:
Alesia is where, in 52 BC, the famous confrontation took place between Julius Caesar’s Roman army and the Gallic tribes led by Vercingetorix.

The summer is drawing to a close and it’s already been six years since Caesar conquered the Gallic territories (the Gallic Wars). Vercingetorix, heading up the Gallic coalition, is trying to halt the advance of the Roman general. After an attack to no avail, Vercingetorix seeks refuge in the oppidum of Alesia, the stronghold of the Mandubii people. The Romans pursue them and launch the siege of the stronghold. They set up their camps on the hillsides around and build two fortification lines with ramparts, towers and traps. The first fortification line, 15 kilometres long, surrounds the oppidum, making it impossible for the Gauls to leave. The second one, 21 kilometres long, protects the Roman camps from the imminent arrival of an immense Gallic relief force. After a long wait, battle is eventually waged on the plain. The Romans are caught between two lines of fire. Projectiles rain down from their war machines and Caesar calls on his legionaries and auxiliary forces, archers, slingers and German cavalry– who deliver the final victory into his hands. Vercingetorix is taken prisoner and carted off to Rome. A year later, in 51 BC, the Gallic War is over, and the Gauls set to become Gallo-Romans.




I thought that the plateau of Gergovie (where I had been the Sunday before) was the site of Vertingetorix's last stand, but no, that was where he'd routed the Roman army. 

It was a really interesting site, and the Visitor's Centre was well done. It was a shame that due to the rain we couldn't go to the outdoor part (and also because we had to get back for lunch. Mr Fd was a bit pissed off about that) but I would recommend it as a visitor destination if you are in the area.


 We had a picnic lunch planned - again very well organised by the village. After breakfast we had all gone to a big room where lots of different things were laid out - meat, cheese, salad, bread, crisps etc. We were given a little isothermic bag and picked what we wanted to have in our picnic. Due to the rain we all took our bags into the dining room and ate them there!

After lunch, I left Mr FD in the room, saying he'd watch the football. But as it was, the sun came out and after I'd left, he decided to go out with the cyclists after all. I went out with a small group to Le Maison de Pays - a craft/food/wine shop with local produce.

It was a bit bizarre that, because I had the GPS, and had been in the lead car, I was expecyted to be Group Leader. We arrived in Pouilly, not quite knowing where the place was, and
"What shall we do?" I was asked. After finding it, and shopping, everyone turned to me and said "What are we doing now?"

Well, I decided that we should then go for a walk along the canal at Pouilly-en-Auxois.



As you can see, the sun was shining for us! It was very lovely and green. 
After this I wanted to go to the local biscuit & cake factory shop. The others thought I was a bit mad, I think, but as I was Group Leader, they had to obey me! (Oh the power!!!) They soon changed their tune when they saw the boxes of cakes on bargain offer!




Yes. I did buy some! We got back quite late, but were concerned that no cyclists had arrived. We waited for about half an hour in the bar, before Mr FD whizzed past us. In fact he was the first home, having got a bit fed up of the endless discussions about which way to go (this is a bit of a habit of this group!) Finally he pointed them in the right direction and set off!! He beat the rest back by about 15minutes.

Dinner was escargot vol-au-vents, chicken legs and duchesse potatoes, with more (yummy) courgette gratin, cheese (with Epoisse this time!!) and something ice cream-y for dessert. 

Most people went to Semur after dinner, but Mr FD and I stayed behind and we went for a stroll in the gloaming. We didn't make it down to the lake as it was getting a bit gloomy and I didn't want to fall over coming back up through the woods. 

SUNDAY: Mr FD and I went to Semur - I forgot to take my camera out of the car! Here arte some pictures from t'Interweb:



Then we drove to Epoisse - to buy some cheese! Here's a photo of the chateau walls first though:





When we got back it was time for lunch - paté Forestiere, beef cheek (delicious!!), and chocolate pudding. As I don't like chocolate pudding, I had an orange. Then we all said our Goodbyes to each other and set off for home. We paused in Villefranche for a quick coffee and were home by about half past five. It had been a lovely three days away.

 
 

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