Since buying our home, we have seriously cut down on travel and days-away-from-here, mostly because of having animals.
However, we have been wanting to take to the kids to where we lived after leaving Paris and decided my birthday would be a good occasion/excuse to do so.
Being self-proclaimed freeloading plebeians, we decided to picnic, cookout, and camp as we visited our old haunts. For the occasion, the unseasonably warm temperatures and lack of rain turned out to be blessings.
We first drove to La Borne, a potter's village some 20 minutes from Sancerre. Here is a link to a French Wikipedia article for anyone who reads French. A record of the oldest known pottery oven existing around there dates from 1260, just to let you know the heritage of the place. Today it has ceramists and potters from all over the world living there and in the environs. While it was nice to revisit it, this trip was not our best experience there. Many things were closed, and I got an overall dilapidated feeling from the village. While there were some truly gorgeous and fresh pieces to be seen at some of the ateliers, many artists were still doing the same things from 10 years ago. Pottery can have a timeless feel, but certain glazes, forms, and colors become quickly outdated, to my taste at least. Still, we were happy to offer the kids commemorative bowls* for my birthday, and I found a water pitcher that was both practical and pretty enough to come home with me. J got a couple of bowls to match those the kids picked out and some new raku espresso cups. Here are a few of the pieces:
(I plan on making a post about this table later on. Watch this space. But maybe not too closely. :P)
I thought of you,
Changed too was our old fishing spot, the wild Loire having wiped out the young willows and ash trees that had made that small arm of the river so charming and intimate. We decided to pitch our tent there despite that and a couple already present with fishing gear and dog but no visible evidence of wanting to stay the night.
(Of course, I had to retouch it from memory when we got home. That version is in the photostream journal on LJ. I didn't get it right then,
either, but that is OK. The point was just to relax and do something fun. I plan on playing more with charcoal in the near future)
Of course the kids had to get in on the fun, and who could blame them?:
It was so fun to spend the night with the kids, all sleeping together in the tent. Now don't get any ideas about me sleeping well, but still, it was nice, their excitement giving shine and meaningfulness to the new memory we created in that old place.
One memory that did stay true--something I loved but actually hadn't thought about--was the beauty and diversity of the greens along the river's banks. This photo doesn't really do it justice, but it was such a soothing and lovely sight to me that I wanted to record it. It isn't something that will stay in the forefront of my mind, but knowing it is photographed and written down somewhere makes me feel like a more worthy guardian of the memory.
The next morning, we fried eggs for brekky and headed off for the most anticipated part of our visit. I have blogged before, many years ago, about Guédelon,( in chronological order: here and here and here), so I won't go into the whole project here, but we spent a day touring the castle and grounds. Much to J's chagrin, the children's favorite part was seeing the farm animals and collecting shed feathers from the resident peacock.
They also liked smashing rocks in the quarry and getting absolutely filthy.
A few highlights from the artisans:
The dyers' and artists' atelier, where they transform on-site plants and raw minerals into dyes and pigments:
A potter at her wheel, and some pieces waiting to be fired:
Just one photo from the interior because this is getting to be a very photo-heavy post: the ceiling of the camera (vaulted chamber or room) reserved for important guests :
Exterior as of 12 Sept 2019
**Which has now become a holiday house rental!