15th September (Day 6)
A day by the River Yonne – Gurgy
Such a beautiful spot we had decided to put our feet down for another day at Gurgy. Awaking early(ish) the mist was hanging on the river and looking out of Hilma’s windscreen we were treated to a wonderful display by a local Kingfisher – not 20ft from us, we were able to view it. diving into the Yonne for his it’s breakfast.
The Gurgy aire – morning on the River Yonne
It is hard to believe that such a vibrant colour of iridescent blue can exist in nature. Talking of nature, we decide to go on the local rondonée marked on a board in the village. This would take us along the river and back through some what appeared to be man-made ponds. Off we trot and I take my (new to me) bird spotting scope hoping to see some close ups of interesting oiseau. We were not disappointed, along the river we were treated to another Kingfisher display, moving away from the river and walking along the canal we came across some birds flitting around some scrub. On closer inspection we saw what I have now identified as a Subalpine Warbler and then a young male Black Redstart was very obliging in the scope for a good 5 mins or more (which for a bird is a long time).
The second section of the walk was less enjoyable – all the ponds were fenced off and surrounded by trees so nothing could be discerned. The only open small lake had those very rare plastic ducks again!
Sculptures at Gurgy over a stream entering the River Yonne
In the evening we decided to treat ourselves to a meal in the local restaurant – a bottle of Burgundy Aligoté and all was well in the world of Hilma and her occupants. A quick word about Hilma – she has been performing admirably. At the start of this trip I mentioned trying to stay off-grid as much as possible – well at Gurgy we were under some trees so I decided to use hook up (which was included in the €7) – a strange thing though, after a couple of days although the batteries are showing a healthy voltage the water pumps seem to slow down. Who knows?
16th September (Day 7)
One of life’s little moments
Sometimes in life there are moments that you will never forget. It doesn’t need to be a life changing event or an expensive gift or holiday – it can be something very simple and moving. That’s what happened to me today – something simple and moving, but more of that later.
Today we have decided to try another France Passion but first we are off on a cycle ride in the opposite direction along the Yonne. Similar to Holland – the cycling was easy – I’m not so sure the French drivers have quite as much respect regarding cyclists as the Dutch – one or two interesting moments but nothing dangerous – they just seem to think they own the road. We arrived in Monetau the next town along, had a quick shufty around, found a beautiful bridge adorned with flowers and continued on our way. Coming to a barrage we turned and headed back – a lovely cycle along a beautiful French river – mon dieu c’set magnifique – that’s all your getting of my schoolboy French for the time being!
Onward we travel heading for a ‘fromagerie’ using our France Passion book. When we arrived we found the places where would be parking were amongst old broken down machinery and vans along with a dung heap. Not our cup tea so we turned around and headed for our 2nd option – Chateau Sury.
Winding through some beautiful countryside on our way to Chateau Sury
Winding through some beautiful countryside we eventually arrive in Sury and find the chateau. Driving through the gates into the farmyard section and park up we see an elderly gentleman shuffling through the yard. I walk over with the France Passion book in hand, he immediately smiles and shakes my hand and pulls me into the shade to talk. He is doing all the talking and I am not understanding – he hands me a piece of twine and starts talking about ‘escabeau’ – me, not a clue. Escabeau, escabeau – I drag the shallows of my French diction and give a galic shrug – “je ne comprends pas monsieur”. M. Hubert de Fallerges hooked his arm through mine, gave me the piece of twine and walking stick in hand he shuffles towards a rear door. He unlocks, beckons me in – I mange to understand this was his brother’s part of the house but he was away. Finally, I find out what Escabeau are – ‘step ladders’! He wants me to carry them somewhere – so now I have the twine and some step ladders, by this time Janette my ‘femme jollie’ – christened by M.Fallerges had caught u with us and was looking every bit as bemused as I was. M.Fallerges however knew exactly what he wanted of me and so continued to take me to another part of the chateau. Unlocking 2 doors we entered his ground floor living quarters, into his bedroom and he pointed at his curtain – one of the curtain rings was missing and he wanted me to tie the twine onto the hook and over the curtain rail – aaahhhh – “je comprends” – so off I popped up the Escabeau and fixed said curtain.
Lunch – before arriving at Chateau sury
Next on M.Fallerges’ agenda was coffee – at this point we were introduced to Kinox (I think that’s how it’s spelt) his lovely curly dog which was just a bundle of fun. Drinking our coffee, we explained with drawings of the UK where we were from and what day had we arrived in France. He was obsessed with asking us if we were going to the Mer – we said, no we were staying ‘dans le centre’ – he seemed bemused as if that was not normal. We then somehow managed to communicate to our host that we wanted to park somewhere so he put Kinox on the lead, chose a different walking stick and off we went again on another journey. He was very interested in Hilma and Ecinox decidde he liked it and jumped in getting in a right tangle with his lead. After the tour of Hilma he showed us the old garden where we were to park and with that shuffled off back to his rooms.
M.Fallerge did not speak a word of English – he was about 80 yrs old I reckon but the very fact that we had managed to do all of that with him seemed like a very humanitarian thing. He needed some help, we needed a place to stay and so life goes on. He seems to be a gentle man in the very sense of the word – he did not get frustrated with me for not understanding his language but simply accepted the situation.
The next morning I went to say “au revoir” and “merci” to M.Fallerge for his hospitality, his home help was with him, his face lit up and he invited me in and shook my hand, I said au revour to Kinox and was just about to leave when he grabbed my arm and said “Vous connaissez, vous connaissez” – “You know, you know”. I’m not sure what he meant but it touched me deeply – I can’t really describe why but it brought a tear to my eye thinking that this old boy’s life is in the twilight and although he may not remember our encounter it will stay with me as a very fond memory for a very long time.
The simple things in life.