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  • The Baguette
  • De captivants à banals, les articles et photographies de “The Baguette” sont une tentative de publier un journal de ma vie dans la Manche et de proposer un forum de discussion pour tout ce qui touche à la Normandie.
  • De captivants à banals, les articles et photographies de “The Baguette” sont une tentative de publier un journal de ma vie dans la Manche et de proposer un forum de discussion pour tout ce qui touche à la Normandie.


December 12 2009 7 12 /12 /December /2009 20:27

Despite Querqueville's size, it managed to pull together the best Christmas Markets that I've been to this season.  It was great!  So much better than last year and a heck of a lot better than the one in Cherbourg.  It was held at the Manoir de la Coquerie, an old farm in the center of the town that is used for art exhibitions and other events throughout the year.  The small chapel held pride of place for the Gorom-Gorom Association which has a booth filled with African objects from Burkina-Faso, a city twinned with Querqueville.
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In the main gallery, the people in the booths were selling food and drink.  I wanted to buy one of everything but found satisfaction in simply having a small taste. 
Have you ever tasted moldy Salers cheese that’s been aged for 20 months?  Sounds gross but it tasted wonderful especially on the homemade breads.  The Floc de Gascogne, Armagnac and “vin chaud” were also fantastic.  The only foods I bought were some chevre cheese and a smoked sausage that I had for lunch.  A large tent in the courtyard was full of craftsman selling appropriate Christmas fare; unlike the Marché de Noël in Cherbourg, I actually found things I wanted to buy. 
An organization from Greville-Hague that works with people with disabilities (E.S.A.T. Jacques Prévert Établissement et Services d’Aide par le Travail) had a table where handmade ornaments were for sale.  I bought ten fabric stars and seven decorative balls that went on my tree as soon as I got home.  These three people were the ones I bought from.  I was impressed with how talented they were.  They had a number of different craft ideas which actually gave me some ideas for making my own Christmas ornaments for next year.
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Published by The Baguette - in Querqueville
December 10 2009 5 10 /12 /December /2009 10:28

The Christmas Market in Cherbourg has begun.  Many of the booths are selling cheap, homemade jewelry, drug paraphernalia like pipes and bongs, and articles of clothing and home decor from Africa.
001There was only one booth selling Christmas items and they were wood ornaments that I could make myself at home.  Although the Place du Général-de-Gaulle in front of the Theatre is decorated beautifully, the large Christmas tree in front has no ornaments and looks as if some indifferent city workers placed it there.002--2-.JPG  I can only guess that it looks better at night with the lights on.  Still, it was a sad experience to go to the Christmas Market and not feel any holiday cheer.  I took the following photos from the inside of Le chalet du Père-Noël.003  One side had a makeshift living room and the other side had a crèche with a calf, a donkey, a sheep, a duck and a rabbit.

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Published by The Baguette - in Cherbourg
December 9 2009 4 09 /12 /December /2009 10:32
In the heart of the Siene valley, l'abbaye d'Hambye is, after the Mont-Saint-Michel (only 45mins away), the most complete medieval monastery in Normandy. This Benedictine Abbey was built during the 12th and 13th Centuries. The community disappeared in the 18th Century and the church was sold and partially demolished.

The majestic ruins dominate the ensemble. The monastic buildings that have been preserved, and patiently restored, include the scriptorium, the 13th Century chapter house, the sacristy, and the parlor (with 13th Century frescos). The monastery still has its gatehouse, kitchen and a group of agricultural buildings.
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Published by The Baguette - in Basse-Normandie
December 7 2009 2 07 /12 /December /2009 10:35

I’m sorry my postings have not been regular since Thanksgiving but I’ve been busy decorating the house for the holidays, shopping for presents and writing all of my Christmas cards.  As you can see, I’ve been a busy boy.  I love this time of year.  Last year we had snow but I doubt we will have any this year—instead, I think it is going to continue raining like it has been for the last two weeks. 

The tree is about eight feet tall and decorated in white and blue along with elves, snowballs, ribbons, beads, and glass icicles hung here and there.  Although I don’t usually like blinking lights, I have to deal with them this year since I can’t get them to stop. 


Here are some photos of my two nativity scenes.  One sits beside the tree in the front window so people can see it as they pass by the house and the other one is beside the fireplace where the stockings are hung by the chimney with care.

I found a unique way to hang my Jesse Tree ornaments that I made several years ago by placing them on my Chinese screen.  For those of you who don’t know what a Jesse Tree is, it is another way to count down the days until Christmas.  It traces the genealogy of Jesus Christ and tells the story of God's salvation plan from creation and throughout the Old Testament, to the coming of the Messiah. The name comes from Isaiah 11:1, "Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit."

Each day of Advent a homemade ornament is added to the Jesse Tree, or, in this case, already hung on a screen.  The back of each ornament has a Bible reference and the front of the ornament has a symbol; each represents a prophecy foretelling the arrival of Christ. 
Each evening, I turn over one ornament and read the Bible scripture until the last ornament is turned over on the evening of December 24th—the night of Jesus Christ’s birth.

I’ve decked the chandelier with boughs of holly and ivy.  Now all I need to do is find some mistletoe. 

Of course, I keep the traditional Advent Wreath.  A candle is lit each Sunday four weeks before Christmas.  The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life found in Christ. Pine cones, flowers, or other greenery used to decorate the wreath also symbolize life and resurrection. All together, the wreath of evergreens depicts the immortality of our soul and the new, everlasting life promised to us through Christ.


The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent. A tradition is that each week represents one thousand years, to sum to the 4,000 years from Adam and Eve until the birth of the Savior. Three candles are purple and one is rose. The purple candles in particular symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken at this time of year. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, when the priest also wears rose vestments at Mass; Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing, because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent, when their preparation is now half over and they are close to Christmas. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of His second coming to judge the living and the dead.


My grandmother and my aunt made this snowman with a numbered necklace of small light bulbs that are used to count down the days until Christmas morning.  In the hallway, I’ve hung many of the holiday cards I’ve received over the years. 
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Published by The Baguette - in Happy Things
November 25 2009 4 25 /11 /November /2009 08:06
A descendant of an old Caen family the poet François de Malherbe (1555 – 1628) is thought to have been born in this house.  Rebuilt in 1582 in Place “Belle Croix”, by his father, who was on the Caen Presidial, it has been magnificently restored.
As in the day of the father of French poetry, along with the coat of arms of the Malherbes’ ancestors and allies, it represents two sumptuous attic windows engraved with Latin inscriptions.

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Published by The Baguette - in Cultural Heritage
November 24 2009 3 24 /11 /November /2009 08:18
Yes, “Il pleut !”  It’s raining!  A stunning vision of a fantastically colorful Cherbourg is, sadly, something one cannot find today.  It has been raining like Noah’s flood for weeks now along with strong winds from the south.  The wet, dreary and cold look of the city remains constant with a melancholy sense of being trapped—having to stay indoors for days on end is not fun.  To make matters worse, it prevented me from attending French class yesterday.  (I am sorry, Madame Kernéis but I couldn’t get outside to drive or take the bus.  I hope you set aside some homework for me.)
Although Jacques Demy’s film, Les Parapluis de Cherbourg was filmed here in 1964, not much remains of the actual sets despite the fact that people come from all over the world to see what remains of the sites used in the film.  Fortunately, the umbrella boutique run by Madame Emery and her daughter Geneviève still exists albeit now a textiles shop.  The façade has changed little in the last 45 years and with a little imagination, one can still see that terribly bright, pink and green striped wallpaper inside!  But, like I said, you have to use your imagination… 
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Published by The Baguette - in Rants
November 22 2009 1 22 /11 /November /2009 18:39

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Published by The Baguette - in Cultural Heritage
November 21 2009 7 21 /11 /November /2009 22:04
This town, in the Calvados department of Normandy, lies along the coast designated as Gold Beach during the D-Day landings.  It was used by the British troops during the Allied invasion.  Mainly a tourist town, it is known for its temporary harbor, called a “Mulberry”. 
This harbor eventually came to be known as Port Winston at Arromanches and saw heavy use for 8 months—despite being designed to last only three months.  In the 10 months after D-Day, it was used to land over 2.5 million men, 500,000 vehicles, and 4 million tons of supplies providing much needed reinforcements in France.

The reinforced concrete caissons called “Phoenix” (seen in the distance) were brought to the Normandy coast and sunk by allowing the seawater to enter.  Attached to them were floating bridges called “Whales” made from torsionally flexible bridging units that had a span of 80 ft., mounted on pontoon units of either steel or concrete called “Beetles”.  After the war many of the "Whale" bridge spans from Arromanches were used to repair bombed bridges in France, Belgium and Holland.
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Published by The Baguette - in Calvados
November 20 2009 6 20 /11 /November /2009 15:24

Built in 1730, le château de Querqueville is an important 18th century structure situated in the verdant valley of the Floris.  Today it houses the local offices of the mairie.  Surrounding the building are hiking paths and beautiful blue hydrangias.

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Published by The Baguette - in Querqueville
November 15 2009 1 15 /11 /November /2009 06:43
LIGHT.  We can't have enough of it.  When I look at this building, I am not concerned with the children who attend school here.  Instead, I imagine the possibilities of turning this place into a wonderful home--one that has huge windows that allow the natural sunlight in to brighten the interior.  The people who must work here every day are lucky I believe.  There are very few buildings like this one in the area that I know of and I wonder a great deal about its creation.  Who was the architect?  What was its original purpose?  When was it built?  Where else can I find such wonderful buildings with similar windows? Why can't I be rich?  I'd buy the building, gut the inside and take full advantage of the light from the windows and even devote a section of the building to my very own greenhouse.  To have such a beautiful piece of utilitarian architecture used as a school for children is such a WASTE.  They cannot appreciate it in any way shape or form.  I think that the next time I see this building, I will go up to the walls, touch the stonework, find a way to get inside and photograph the light streaming in from the windows.  What do you think?
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Published by The Baguette - in Architecture