Monday, 28 February 2011

"La Chataigne" and a "Tale of Two Chestnuts"

Chapter One – ‘That Old Chestnut’.  

Every October as autumn descends into fall, just be careful not to walk barefoot in the park, else you might end up with painful and prickly feet.

Chestnuts
Image courtesy of ‘Swamibu’ at Flickr.com
http://www.flickr.com/photos/swamibu/1463357713/
It’s the chestnut season and in the Mid Pyrenees, within the communes of Quercy and Rouergue, on the borders of ‘Tarn & Garonne’ and the ‘Aveyron’ – at the confluence of the Viaur river where it flows into the Aveyron river, is a small but lively town called ‘Laguepie’.

Nestling snugly on an island between two rivers, at the foot of the lush green hills and cliffs that have dominated this region since well before chestnuts became prickly - once a year, at the end of October, the good and proud citizens’ of Laguepie hold a festival called “La Chataigne” – “ The Chestnut”.

St Martin Laguepie France
The view south to 'St Martin Laguepie', the sister village to Laguepie itself.
Image courtesy of 'Big Al Innellan' at Flickr.com
http://www.flickr.com/photos/21147033@N02/2548693691/in/photostream/
Back in late October 2008 I was out alone, exploring this ruggedly beautiful region sitting north of Albi and east of Cahors, under the bright blue skies of a warm autumnal afternoon. I crossed the southerly river bridge that feeds straight into the narrow streets of Laguepie, rolled gently to a standstill in my English registration car, completely hemmed in by crowds of carefree happily ambling visitors, dropped down the window to try and gauge where all the live jazz music was coming from and was promptly pounced upon by the largest drunken French fireman I’d ever seen.


Chapter Two –  ‘Obelix Baby - The Biggest Prickly Totally Bladdered Chestnut of them all...’

He was as big as a barn door this Garcon, a real modern day Goliath and had to pretty much bend over double just to peer into my side window and start “Haw He Haw He Hawing” at me in his great rough booming baritone slur of a voice.

Clearly well and truly lubed up on a few vats of the old vin rouge since half past yesterday lunch time, he immediately began pointing to the great big metal fireman’s bucket swinging persuasively from his right ham of a fist and jinking away noisily to the sound of much French coin, indicating in his own lazy eyed but jovial sort of manner, that if I wanted to proceed any further into Laguepie this day, I would first have to ‘Pay the Fieryman’ so to speak.

Bellowing over to all his equally inebriated 'Pompiere' pals sat round the table out front of their bar, who were now themselves rolling about with great cackles of laughter at his merciless remarks, clearly very much at my expense, I had to come up with a plan, before he got any further carried away and tossed me and my car into the Aveyron river below...just for a laugh.

Chataîgne
A 'Brisoloir-ierre' carefully and sensitively tending to his chestnuts.
Image courtesy of 'Guilsurf83' at Flickr.com
http://www.flickr.com/photos/guilsurf/1694718112/
Problem was, I really didn’t have any loose change and the only paper currency I had was a few big denomination Euro notes – so I thought “what the hell…he’s not actually going to kill me…there are lots of people around…and even out here in deepest Quercy, killing people in public is still mostly illegal…isn’t it?

So I resorted to disarm Goliath Garcon here with the only weapon I had at my disposal at that moment – ‘An Englishman’s sense of humour’.

Leaning out the car window, looking him straight in his vacant eye and wearing my best ever ‘Remember Agincourt?’ grin…I said:

Désolé, mais non je n'ai pas d'argent Monsieur Obelix!”

‘Sorry, but no, I don’t have any money Obelix Sir!’

Then clenched my buttocks as tightly as I could during the long and ominous delay that duly followed.

The 'Bluff' part.

A slow … "Da – Da - Da …Dongggggg..."  went through my mind.       D-Day. The Longest D(el)ay.

Game time ?? - or Game over ?!


Chapter Three – ‘Two Hairy Chestnuts and an impressive Andouilette?’  (!!)

A kind of bemused ‘do not compute’ expression swept down over Obelix’s reddening face as he tried in vain to decipher precisely what I had just said. But he was struggling, and still very much 'out to lunch'. That much was clear to see. Trouble was, his pals heard me perfectly and were now on their knees in various states of catatonic seizure, before bursting with unrestrained howls and screeches of manic inebriated laughter at Obelix’s sudden turn of fate and thus demise.

As only a man's most true and trusted friends would do of course.

Obelix was not the type of man who experienced the ‘Non’ word very often, although he had a lot of heart, but now, on this warm and festive Sunday afternoon, his very 'Homo Neanderthal  Testosterone' worth, and lifelong unchallenged reputation as the big daddy bear of Laguepie, was actually under attack, as well as public scrutiny…and from little more than an English-Irish-Huguenot squirt like ‘moi’, to boot.   Hmmm.
Talking about a ripe sweet pair of chestnuts - best keep it hushed a bit, in case Jean the Rod here gets a tad prickly at the intonation...
That’s about the moment when he returned my half hearted volley.

There…in full view of one and all Laguepies, he unleashed his heaviest cannon of all.

Turning his face partly to one side so his pals could see the slow and sly like grin which he now wore a little too triumphantly for my own comfort, he put down his money bucket, unfastened his belt and just like Napoleons fearless and redoubtable ‘Old Guard’,

…unleashed his proud and all conquering ‘Andouilette’

’His Great Big Praetorian...Todger’.

Match Pwoint.
"Ooooh...look at all that smoke"

I’d met my Waterloo.  

It was a ‘biggy’.

A very big wiggy indeed, so it was, and I just couldn’t rise to that. No way. This was one large piece of fireman’s hose and I was well and truly outgunned. No contest. Game over. Job done.

Chapter Four – ‘The Fall of the other Chestnuts’

Suddenly, there was a humongous crash as the fully loaded pavement bar table went over, with at least three of the firemen fumbling about in dire, drunken mirth amongst the wreckage, as all their fellow inebriated drinking pals promptly stumbled back over the curb together in completely hopeless avoidance, and nearby, intently on-looking wives wrestled with their husbands hands as husband's vainly battled to shield their respective partners blatantly unobstructed view of Obelix’s impressively eye watering, swinging appendage.

Two, thirty something women cyclists became completely entangled with each other and went sprawling across the boot of the car right in front of me, whilst amazingly never once taking their eyes off his exposed 'trunk', and a very coiffure'd looking gentleman wearing tight fitting pale pink slacks, dropped his ice cream cornet all over his chest coddled pet Chihuahua.

Then, as his jaw fell wide open and a curiously dazed and vacant expression clouded his face...he simply dropped his now vanilla flavoured Chihuahua, all the way to the street, and just stood there, rooted to the spot, gazing in a trance, and without even so much as a flinch.

And all this while, Obelix was just standing there, mocking me, with one hand on his hip and the other hand beckoning me to ‘join the good cause and bear my best bowmans arm’.

It's an 'Agincourt' thing.

Thinking on my chestnuts, my own honour and flag at stake I made a snap decision…

Un Obelix moment, je pense avoir une meilleure solution ‘’  -  ‘’One moment Obelix, I think I have a better solution ‘’

“Je vois que vous et je vais vous faire, avec...cette!”  -  “I see you - and I’ll raise you with…..…this !  As I reached down below my car window cill and fumbled about searchingly with my left arm.

Well that made him shrivel back a few inches.

But where was it? Why wasn’t it at hand? I was sure it was there earlier, why had it abandoned me at this moment of international crisis and critical need. Groping around desperately now with my left hand, I finally struck contact with my own artillery shell.

Phew!

Back in business. Battle honours not yet lost. Time to pull Obelix down off his own mast with one final phallic gesture – I now had his full and serious Gallic attention as I slowly and tantalizingly raised my left hand and brought into view for all to witness…one wide necked bottle of…. Château Eugénie!!’.

Bingo.

BoulèguesBoulègues
'Boulègues Boulègues'
Image courtesy of 'A vos marques'/Daniel B - at Flickr.com
http://www.flickr.com/photos/phot34/2112571687/

Chapter Five – ‘Chestnut Détente in a Bottle’

Like all good partisan Frenchmen, he knew his regional wine stars, and this wide bottled red plonk of local note had his full and reverent attention. As I reached out and carefully dropped it into his charity money bucket, his eyes grew wider and wider with a growing look of complete and utter sublime resignation.

I’d got him beat. The coup de grace. Game over. Honour still preserved. Hornblower would have been proud of me.

I would live to grapple with another 'Chataignes Festival'.

He gently bent over to more closely scrutinize the label on my unusual donation, plucking the bouteille from the bucket to hold it up high for all to see while mumbling the words “Chateau Eugine, Chateau Eugine..!” with a look of sincere approval to all his floundering, side split Pompiere pals on the pavement nearby.

Then to a growing chorus of cheers and applause, Obelix looked back in my direction, brought his legs together while clutching the wine bottle to his left temple and nodded me a respectful grinning ‘salut’…with his great big Gallic Todger still swaying impressively and quite conspicuously in the Quercy-Rouergue breeze.


           *Blog Authors Note*: If the 'Play' functions for the above music video, featuring Audrey Tautou
                    and Charlie Winston, fail to appear on the screen - just press the 'refresh' icon at the top of your
                    PC screen, and this should fully restore the video playback options. It's a great music video too!

The cacophony of cat calls and clapping from the now sizable crowd were epic, especially when a smiling waitress trotted over and tried to discretely place a fireman’s helmet over his…fireman’s helmet. Funny thing was, he didn’t even notice, he was too busy trying to suck the cork out of the bottle.

“Vive La France et Vive les Pompiers” – and - “Don’t drop your chestnuts in the ‘Brisoloir’ in a hurry Obelix chap”.

All I could do was sit there in my car and chuckle as Obelix tottered off towards the bar clutching his bottle of prize vino, while the grinning waitress struggled to shield his pompiers hose pipe from increasing public inspection.

A lifelong stalwart of the 'Bugs in Chestnut' association
To nods and winks of approval from his fellow fire crew members I cockily yelled over to them..”Maintenant où puis-je garer ma voiture ? -

’Now where can I park my car ?’’

Where upon they collectively rose, signaled me to follow and marched a mere dozen paces to an adjacent side street, removing the metal barriers and guided me through to my own protected parking place, right in the center of this packed and festive town.

Released safely from my voiture and alot of handshakes and back slapping later, I bade them all polite farewell for now, but mainly to avoid being dragged into their continuing boozathon, and discretely slid off in the direction of the sounds of jazz music and the intoxicating smell of those roasting chestnuts.

What a place. What an event. What an atmosphere and What a lucky find to trip over on a Sunday afternoon in late October…


Chapter Six – ‘La Chataigne – The Chestnut Festival’

The annual chestnut festival in Laguepie is organised by an enthusiastic and loyal association called ‘Bugs in Chestnut’. The ‘Bugs’ part refers to the outer prickly casing that surrounds the chestnut fruit itself, and yes it is a fruit and not a nut – and thus probably the only fruit that is always harvested in its own wild and natural surroundings on the planet.

The French term ‘Castagnade Time’ refers to the act of ‘Picking up the chestnuts’, and the chestnut tree itself is sometimes referred to as ‘the sausage tree’ because chestnuts are used to feed pigs.

Hot Work
As I ambled up toward the town square I was almost overwhelmed by the delicious fragrances of roasting chestnuts, bar-be-queuing pork and freshly baked bread wafting along beside me. Sheer nasal bliss. While in the ear department I indulged in a confused melee of marching bands, French jazz, folk music and animated rural French chatter.

Arriving in the ‘centre ville’ market place and épicentre of the whole festival, I was instantly drawn to the smoke and the bustle of the crowds laying virtual siege to the lines of ‘Brisoloir’s’ which are the cylinder contraptions used to roast and toss the chestnuts.

Two well spent euros later and I’d happily perched my petit derriere and my camera on a high wall to scoff a huge stash of freshly roasted Laguepie chataigne’s for the next couple of hours, while soaking up the sights, sounds and smells of French country festival life at its very, very best.

Parfait !

les Pompiers
Les Pompieres!
Image by courtesy of 'daveleb' at Flickr.com
http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidlebovitz/1137933848/    
Chapter Seven – ‘Under a Spreading Chestnut Tree’.

In 1841, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem called ‘’The Village Blacksmith’’ which opens with the line ‘’Under a spreading chestnut tree…’’. The character of the village blacksmith in the poem is used to demonstrate the fine values of deeply rooted moral fibre, strength of purpose as well as hand, and inspiration by every day hardworking example within his village community at large.

Longfellow chose the chestnut tree as the subject of his opening verse to further symbolise the strength, moral depth and spread of influence represented by the village blacksmith’s character in his poem.

Gazing down at the numerous characters and faces working the brisoloirs and artisan stalls below me, it was easy to appreciate Henry Longfellow’s musings when he penned out the lyrical metaphors to his rhyming stanza.

And to think I’d just stumbled into this place by complete accident.

Time out for a proper 'Crepe'

Chapter Eight – ‘The Horse Chestnut and a Short Piece of String’

There is one particular global tournament which has for some years enjoyed International status and recognition, and was often embattled by schoolboys everywhere around playgrounds and street corners from September through to October.

The game of ‘Conkers’.

Part skill, part technical development & part sadistic enjoyment for your opponent. Ever more so when your hands are blue with cold on a frosty autumn’s morning. I can still feel the sharp and painful ‘Thwack’ as my adversary would put all his might into swinging his vinegar case hardened conker ‘sixer’ through 180 degrees of vicious radius, with the soul and only intention of missing my lonely dangling conker altogether, and cracking his armoured nut on my frozen finger knuckles, as hard as he possible could.

Ultimately, a brutal game of chicken for pubescent boys showing early psychotic tendencies and their less fortunate, masochistically challenged victims.

Talking a load of pc/health & safety chestnuts for a moment - In 2004 a headmaster bought goggles for pupils to wear while playing the game of conkers in the playground, and in the same year, several schools banned the game of Conkers due to fear of causing anaphylactic shock in pupils with nut allergies. Yeah...really!

La clède
'La Clede' - courtesy of Aeiia at Flickr.com
http://www.flickr.com/photos/aeiia/467240681/
The following is an extract from Wikipedia concerning the history of ‘Conkers’…

The first recorded game of Conkers using horse chestnuts was on the Isle of Wight in 1848. Just across the water from where I live.

The horse chestnut tree is not native to Britain, but was introduced from the Balkans in the late 16th century; it was not widely planted until the early 19th century. Previously, children played with snail shells or hazelnuts.

In 1965 the World Conker Championships were set up in Ashton (near Oundle) Northamptonshire, England, and still take place on the second Sunday of October every year. In 2004, an audience of 5,000 turned up to watch more than 500 competitors from all over the world.

1976 was the first time that a non-British contestant won the Men's World Conker Championship. The Mexican Jorge Ramirez Carrillo took the place of a contestant who was unable to arrive on time at Ashton, and defeated the 1975 champion at the finals. The Men's champion has been British in every other year except 1998, when Helmut Kern from Nauort, Germany, won.

Oh No!...Beaten by a German ‘Kernel !’…Gotten Himmel !!!

"Les Brisoloir's"
Epilogue.

Being a bit of a foodie as well as a ‘chow hound’, I couldn’t leave this little Blogopic without a reference to one of my favourite recipes for Chestnut Soup here.

And a tasty little chestnut of a tip for improving the flavour of your pastry pie lids prior to baking:  Just crumble up some pre cooked or roasted chestnuts and a handful of chopped fresh sage, and sprinkle it over one half of your rolled out pie pastry lid. Then fold the clean half over on top and carefully roll out to your required pie dish size. Makes a hell of tasty difference to home made chicken, bacon, leek and white wine pie, I can tell you. Truly epic. 

“And finally... 'Now for something completely different'…”

 In 1993, Michael Palin, of Monty Python fame, was disqualified from a conker competition in the United Kingdom for baking his conker and soaking it in vinegar !!  That’s ‘ex Cambridge’ for you – Sneaky’s Best.


                                                 Trust that old chestnut.                                                 


Okay…You can go now.

16 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

He sounds more like Obelix than Asterix. I was expecting you to pull out a pair of garden shears rather than pay tribute. Never was an English lapdog so intimidated by a French cock.

Steve said...

I daresay that Frenchie Fireman fellow could get a killer swing on his own chestnuts and win an entire tournament. Are sure he wasn't just improvising a car barrier with his todger? You know, you pop a franc or 2 in his lot and the barrier raises, you drive your car underneath and have permission to park for 8 hours?

the fly in the web said...

That was so funny...and so very rural France!

No one was selling chestnut flour by any chance? I'd be interested to know how one cooked with it in the days when it was a winter staple.

Phil said...

Oh my god Gorilla! What a sodding great Banana I’ve been here haven’t I !!!! Talk about ‘laugh out loud at my own stupid ignorance’…I cant believe I’ve just done that my great big hairy friend?! What a complete and utter ‘cock’ I am!!!

Of course it should have been ’Obelix’ – not – the diminutive little ‘Asterix’. What a lap dog indeed, and yes you are absolutely right to correct me Kongy Wongy, you great big brainy King of the Master Race – Ape you! Thank You!!

Funny thing is, I was very big fan of the original cartoon comic series when I was at school, and for a couple of years I produced an ‘Asterix comic’, which involved a lot of drawings of the Asterix character himself, more than big old Obelix.

Right then….Here you go…decision time…a Blogga’s dilemma, “To Edit or Not to Edit – That is The Question?” ………..Well for the sake of all due respect to this iconic piece of French comic book folklore – I’m going to correct this appalling error in popular childhood culture, which in turn I hope will give you ample opportunity to roar with Gorilla delight and beat your chest in triumphant scorn at my sad stupidity here.

That’s a thousand more Bananas I owe you then isn’t it…

Cheers Kongy!

Phil said...

Steve: Ha ha ha! Yes…no doubt about it. He had a ‘Kinger Konger’ of a ‘Double Sixer’ there – to use specific conker combat parlance. I was sure glad this particular garcon geezer’s barrier stayed down I can tell you, cos if there’d been any hint of him raising it Steve, it would have become a damaged crash barrier – believe me!

Impossible as it may sound, this is a completely true story. He really did ‘Welease Wodger’ so as to speak, and whilst his spontaneous action was initially a bit scary, the whole street scene quickly unravelled into loud and ribald chaos. It really was very funny, and in fairness to him and his very drunken mates, they were all a smashing bunch of chestnuts.

Phil said...

Hi Fly! Hope you are all okay out there in Costa Rica. And thank you. I’ve been wanting to write something about this particular little adventure since long before I started Blogging. It really was one of those very special days you stumble into by chance now and again, and I have many warm and cherished memories of the various events and unique atmosphere that panned out for me during that particular afternoon.

I really didn’t want to leave Laguepie. Ever!

As for the chestnut flour mix, all I can remember reading somewhere was that they used to mix approx 30% of ground chestnut flour with regular wheat flour, to make chestnut bread. At least I think that’s what I read, but after getting my Asterix’s mixed up with my Obelix’s, as Gorilla Bananas ruefully pointed out up here…I wouldn’t put too much faith in me at the moment!
They were certainly selling a lot of chestnut bread and cakes, and I do know that if you hang your freshly fallen wild chestnuts up in a netted bag and a cool dry place for a few days – a lot of the natural starch will convert to sugar, making for a sweeter tasting chestnut. xx

Mark said...

I'm not sure how you comment on that - but I enjoyed it.

One of my funniest recollections from college was when one of flatmates brought a very pretty girl back, who soon after ran sobbing from his bedroom. "too big,' she cried' it's just too big' No more was said. I mean it wasn't as if anyone was going to say ' how about me; I'm a lot smaller!"

Phil said...

Mark|: Brilliant! Laughed out loud again, just like your wife’s ‘Shitter Brandy’ faux pas. I can imagine the dilemma’s of college peer pride against carnal persuasion, as they ‘arose’ that very night.

Damned if you do and Damned if you don’t.

Except…”With every failure, comes an opportunity in disguise”…To me, this was a night that may have well played unto the law of Mr Averages for once – and I may have chanced my luck by shouting down the corridor: ”Hey – Cindy!…If mine doesn’t fit, I’ll give you all your money back!… Wanna try me out for size?? !!!”…

‘Who Dares .. Wins’ !

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Whatever you are on, can I have some please! When do you get out? Good stuff as always. How do you find the time? I hope my taxes are not keeping you in a life of leisure. Super photos as well, is there no end to this man's talent!

Phil said...

Hello Ken! Loved reading your latest post earlier. Made me chuckle big time. Thanks for your comments again Ken. Much appreciated, truly.

What ever it is that I'm on you can share with my blessing of course, but your wife may disapprove of the change in you after a day or two.

As to "When do I get out?" Good question. My warden says if I own up to stealing his pet parrot, he'll lengthen my chain by a couple of feet. So I guess I'm going to be detained at his pleasure here for a few decades more yet.

As for taxes keeping me in a life of leisure. Yes - and - Thank You Ken!.

Actually, if you take a look at Marks most recent post over at his bike shed, you'll see my comment and all will be revealed - you'll be relieved to know!! Take care for now and thanks for making me laugh Ken. P.

And P.S. don’t forget the offer of starting up the ‘Lemon News Programme’ on the ‘Grumpy Channel’ !! I reckon it could fly…

Valerie said...

Good gawd, man - I feel like I've stumbled upon a chestnut festival, only in blog country vice rural France. I notice there was no mention of loose chickens, for they make the rural experience almost as authentic as a well-endowed dude dropping trow.

While I believe I may need to be swigging something stronger than this girly Napa red before I venture further (it's what was open tonight), I must say the way with which you handled the "big" challenge with the wide-necked bottle was 100 percent pure class. Well done! I'll drink to that too.

Am also not sure whether to be proud or ashamed that I did, actually, hum during your anthem - Sousa. The first song I ever twirled a flag to in the 1982 Baltimore Preakness Parade...where my cute little knee-high vinyl boots were soiled by horse dung whilst paying more attention to dress, cover, interval, distance & twirling than the steaming piles from the horses marching ahead of my high school band. Ahh - memories - thank you for refreshing those with your charming anthem.

I can almost smell the horses - or maybe it's this wine - or perhaps chestnuts ...

Speaking of nuts, I look forward to wandering through more or your musings - I'll try to keep the coffee snorting to a minimum out of respect, for your writing is wicked awesome.

Great to meet you across the ocean via Fly down in Costa Rica. Funny world, this blog place. Cheers!

Phil said...

Valerie: Hi and ta everso for your comments. I omitted the loose chickens cos I’ve so wanted to strangle the odd French cock a doodle two, on more than a few dawns while staying in rural France I can tell you.

Swig away by the way. Girly Nappa or moonshine – it doona matter here. Humming during my blog anthem shows you are of exceptional pedigree and class. A true international Blogga and a ‘geeza’ to boot. You are therefore automatically enrolled into my exclusive VIP blog members section, where in future you will enjoy all the privileges’ and luxuries’ of my Blogettes VIP Penthouse Suite.

Loved the bit about your ‘cute little knee high vinyl’s’. Ooooh. Right up to the part about the horse dung. That soiled it all for me. What a rude dobbin. The anthem is taken from the theme to my all time favourite zany comedy show ‘Monty Python’, from back in the 70’s. I was a bit of a groupie.

Good idea to watch that ‘snorting’ word. The FBI are watching everywhere, and you don’t want a posse of ‘G’ men ‘NARCS’ kicking down your door now do you. Likewise, I’m a big fan of ‘Fly’ and both her blogs. She is so so clever and never fails to make me laugh out loud with her take on life and politics in her community.

Slurp back soon Valerie. Cheers to you!

The Sagittarian said...

Baking his conker????
Anyway, the best chestnut story I have read in years. In fact it is probably the only one now I think about it. We used to cook them on the stove ring, but I do recall once many years ago when I was in London and came up from the underground and there was a guy selling chestnuts he was cooking on a stove of some sort - they were lovely. Wasn't you was it? (Loved the fingerless gloves...)

Phil said...

Well Hello You! Glad to see your enjoying a bit of social time, even if it is just after dawn down there. It's a chilly old friday evening over here right now. Boo Yuck.

The 'baking' part was a modification process that basically 'case hardened' the outer skin of said conker - thus making it kind of armour plated and superior to its unbaked opponents.

Yeahhh. What a yawn. I agree.

So you lived on the old underground then. Okay...that must have been interesting for you.

And erm no...that twasnt moi selling those roasties. About that time, I was mostly on the run from the authorities of several South American countries.

Beside's which, you would never have caught me dead wearing a pair of fingerless gloves. Crotchless thongs yes, but exposed finger gloves is a definite no no for me.

Eeeeeuwe.

Been thinking of you today - in light of the shocking news we all woke up to again this morning. It must have made you guys shiver to watch the same events unfold in Japan earlier. What an ungodly business this is for the good citizens of north east Japan now.

We all just feel so impotent here. Where and how do you begin to start to rebuild with something like that. There by the grace of...and so on.

Seriously hope you are all getting by ok Amanda. Let me know how things are going whenever you want to. Keep in touch.

Best wishes. xx

The Sagittarian said...

Watching the news on Japan was horrifying, I think those of us who had seomhow remained stoic here shed a few tears as it brought home how much life can hurt, as much as it brings joy.

Phil said...

Hello Amanda.

After a few moments of trying to take it all in last Friday morning while I was sat staring at the News, I thought about you guys and wondered how you’d react to it all so soon after experiencing first hand, the terror and the fears for your loved ones, your property and your neighbours down there, and at the time I was watching it all unfold, there was some worrying talk about the tsunami heading in your direction again. If I could have ‘rung your blog’ I would have done, believe me.

I think we all knew from early on that the Japan quake was going to leave a terrible cost in deaths and human suffering. It’s that feeling of hopeless impotence while you wait and watch the seriously courageous rescue specialists go about there tragic work. The ungodly finality to the lives of whole communities, as well as their future life prospects is impossible to begin to grasp.

We are all seriously comforted to know that you and your family survived without injury, even though we know you have a lousy journey ahead of you to rebuild and repair all the damage. You are clearly possessed of a stoicism that few can match Amanda. Long may it be there for you. xx

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