Autumn in Burgundy

After a scorching first week of September, walking two hours a day across the city to work out the shortest cut between new flat and workplace, I spent the second week in rural Burgundy, not far from Macon, which is just over an hour and half from Paris. We stayed at the lovely Janice’s house, Les Cerisiers, where she hosts various groups at the Really Big Dream Company. The week before she had welcomed a houseful of quilters of all ages, and has also hosted yoga, well-being, walking groups, all making good use of the converted barn studio space, courtesy of Mark’s three years of hard graft, as well as the swimming pool. The sunflowers were all looking a little past it, but each one with their own summer story to tell.

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A fantastic week of stimulating, prop-filled workshops run by Anne-Marie Fyfe with musical accompaniment in the evenings from accordionist and poet C L Dallat. Despite cooler climes, it was a luxury to be around good friends and poets, with lots of random discussions and laughs over dinner. Plus an evening wine tasting of young Burgundy wines from local viniculteur, Roger Bonjour (yes, that was really his name). We sampled at least 10 young wines including reds, roses and fizz, and made sure we all passed round and spat into the bucket.

On the Wednesday we took a mid-week break for a group lunch in La Clayette, after which Jean, Audrey and me went from bank to bank trying to change a 500 euro note – you can imagine the looks of the people when three clearly-not-local characters wander in post-prandially waving a crisp purple 500 and ask for change – one bank telling us they don’t keep cash on the premises, and the local postmistress looking quite aghast at the mere suggestion she exchange the note for smaller denominations. In the end, I nervously brought the note back to the capital and deposited it on my account, and so I’ve promised Jean 100 euros a year pocket money for the next few poetry courses we go on together – that sounds like good leverage.

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It was an idyllic green rolling landscape, the roadside dotted with towering bright flowers and large pumpkins wallowing on the verge, each with a name carved into them: Marys, Pascale, Lucienne etc….which must make it easier when they are ripe for cutting, but also opens up all sorts of possibilities for innuendo. Had there been a few more it would have felt like being on the set of the Wizard of Oz, but even so the roads (not yellow) looped and curled, bending sharp around the hills like ribbon, and unfurling surprise gradients when you least expected them. Talking of ribbon, we made it to the incredible wool shop and museum with random balls of wall hanging from branches and the trees wearing ‘trunk warmers’. Since autumn is now clearly on its way, they are very prettily prepared for Burgundy’s change of season.

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