Sunday, 21 May 2017

Mosaic Monday # 41 - Saints, Statues & Sculptures # 3

"Casanova" a marble statue depicting Casanova and seven women.

In 1999 a committee of representatives from local communes invited several international sculptors to a symposium in Cerisy.

Every year since then at the beginning of June artists arrive from around the world to create works of art out of blocks of granite and marble, working outdoors in front of the public.

For the 10th reunion 33 of the original sculptors returned and it was then decided that a garden should be created, below the Abbaye de Cerisy, to display these works of art.

The park is situated in the middle of the peaceful Normandy countryside and free to anyone to explore, a place to sit and contemplate whilst admiring the sculptor's art and the art of Mother Nature.

By the time the park was completed in 2013, 112 sculptures had been created by 71 sculptors from 34 countries.

Not all of those are on display in the park others can be found at various sites throughout the 12 communes, by the road side and footpaths or close to businesses in St. Lo, partners to the scheme.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Mosaic Monday # 40 - Saints, Statues & Sculptures # 2

As promised a follow up to my Mosaic Monday post - 39, this week it's the turn of Saint Marcouf.
L'Eglise Saint Marcouf

A pamphlet displayed inside the church tells the story of Saint Marcouf.
He was born circa 483 in Bayeux, ordained by the Bishop of Coutances he worked amongst the poor before receiving the domaine of Nantus, on the Contenin peninsula.
The domaine was a gift from Roi (King) Childebert 1st at the beginning of the 6th c. and Saint Marcouf founded a monastery there.
On the 1st May in the year 558 Saint Marcouf died in the arms of Saint Lo. Due to an invasion by the Vikings his relics were sent to Corbeny a town close to Reims, Alsace Lorraine in the year 898.
The relics now reside inside the Church of St Marcouf, beside the altar.

Legend has it that Saint Marcouf communicated with Robert the Pious, King of France from 976 to 1031, giving him the power to heal those suffering from scrofula (tuberculosis).
He did this by using his right hand to draw a cross on the face of the afflicted person saying " Le Roi te touche, Dieu te guérisse" - the King touches you, God heals you.
The healings took place on sacred days and at great religious feasts.

the view from the church door
the statue of the left of the altar is of Saint Marcouf

The statue of Saint Marcouf above is on the wall next to the18th c. confessional in the village church, it is very similar to the unnamed one, shown below, in the Abbaye at Cerisy.

The church's 18th c. lectern is decorated with the eagle of Saint John.
On it rests a hand written prayer on canvas, dating to the same period.

Saint Marcouf pray for us, protect us.

Our home is the former Presbytere of l'Eglise Saint Marcouf and dates to the 16th c. with later 18th c. additions.

We were told by the previous owners that the room which is now a guest bedroom in the original 16th century part of the house was used by the Bishop of Bayeux when he came to visit, the hand crafted terracotta tiled floor and oak ceiling beams have survived the centuries.
Sadly, I've not been able to confirm that story or to find out anything about the property other than that during WWII the house was briefly occupied by the German army.

If only these walls could talk, what stories they could tell.

the Bishop's Room

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Mosaic Monday # 39 - Saints, Statues & Sculptures # 1

A few posts back I told you a little about one of our area's tourist attractions the Abbaye Cerisy La Foret.
This tiled plaque decorates the front of the boucherie in Cerisy La Foret
Last week the SP & I were running some errands in Cerisy village and decided to stop by the Abbaye to get some photographs for a new blog post.

St Vigor

The origins of the Abbey at Cerisy La Foret are lost in the mists of time, however legend has it that the first religious structure to appear on the site was a monument built in the sixth century by Saint Vigor, Bishop of Bayeux, on land that he received after vanquishing a dragon.

the apse has 15 windows on three levels

Over the years the buildings fell into decline until 1032 when Duke Robert of Normandy, William the Conqueror's father, founded an Abbey in the grounds.

Whilst researching the origins of the Abbey and what became of the Benedictine monks who lived there I came across the names of several other monasteries and priories in the region.

Imagine the thrill when I saw the name of our very small village, St Marcouf, in a book entitled "Religious Connections of Early Normandy" and the passage below on the website mondes- normandes
"The abbey was founded in 1032 in the middle of the forest by Duke Robert the Magnificent. It inherited the remote site of a small religious establishment founded at the beginning of the 6th century by St Vigor, Bishop of Bayeux, and destroyed by the Scandinavian invasions; the Benedictines thus restored, as at Saint-Marcouf or Orval, a religious continuity after this interruption. Nothing now survives of the ducal monastery and the current abbey church belongs to a reconstruction dating from the last quarter of the 11th century."

In my next post I'll share the story of Saint Marcouf du Rochy and the ex- Presbytere which we call home.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Mosaic Monday # 38 - Lisboa/Lisbon, Portugal.

As you probably know by now the SP and I do love to travel.
Some of our happiest memories are of sun kissed beaches in Greece, European city breaks and time spent enjoying bijou B&B's in the US and France.
When we're not travelling ourselves we enjoy watching travel programmes on TV, especially if the presenter is a chef.
We often discover a new place to add to our travel wish list and sometimes rediscover somewhere we have visited previously, as recently happened when we watched Chef Rick Stein spend a long weekend in Lisbon, Portugal.

In the summer of 2008 after 10 days spent relaxing in Praia d'el Rey on Portugal's Silver Coast we drove to the Hotel Dona Maria I, Pousada Palacio de Queluz  which we had chosen as our base for exploring Lisbon and the surrounding area.
The Hotel Dona Maria I is situated across the square from the Palace in a building which once served as the Guardhouse.

In order to make the most of our 4 days there we hired a driver to take us around and show us the sights. Whilst this was an extremely good way to discover Lisbon for the first time the days were very full and quite tiring.

Here are some things you might like to know about Lisbon.

Belém is a district of Lisbon that you must visit, here you'll find fascinating museums, the famous Belém Tower and the Monument of Discoveries.

The Monument of Discoveries on the bank of the River Tagus, celebrates the Age of Discoveries in the 15th and 16th centuries. The first Monument was a wooden structure created in 1940 for the World's Fair. It was replaced in 1960 by the 52 metre tall concrete monument which now dominates the shoreline.

Jeronimos Monastery owes it's existence to the wealth and prosperity brought to Lisbon through trade with Portuguese colonies founded by early explorers such as Vasco de Gama.
The Catholic monks who lived in the Monastery were also responsible for creating the famous sweet custard tarts known as Pastéis de Belém.

the SP enjoying his first taste of Pastéis de Belém.
Our guide introduced us to these delicious tarts at the famous bakery next door to the Monastery, click here to learn the history of how it all began in 1837.
Watching Rick Stein strolling through downtown Lisbon inspired us to start planning a more leisurely return trip maybe later this year and prompted me to bake some Pastéis de Belem which turned out quite well for a first attempt.

Pastéis de Belém, home made by me.
We also enjoyed seeing the National Coach Museum in the Old Royal Riding School and the Maritime Museum, click here for a complete up to date guide to visiting Lisbon.

Pat has asked for the recipe for the pasteis, the one I used was from olive magazine, you'll find it on my Pinterest board  "Bake", or follow the link here.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Mosaic Monday # 37 - normandy life snapshots

When we moved to Normandy 21 years ago my Dad, Bill, and my step mum, Joyce, were our first visitors, they came and helped us to unpack our belongings almost as soon as the removal van had driven away. He used to love to hear about our experiences as we worked hard to renovate and restore this old house and they came over, from the UK, often.
Dad often said that we should write a book about our life in Normandy a la Peter Mayle.
The last time they made the journey was in October 2007, my sister, brother in law and two nephews came too and we celebrated his 80th birthday with a Halloween themed party six months before he died.
I began writing my Normandy Life blog two weeks after he passed away, today is it's 9th Anniversary.

the village notice board always let's us know about all the exciting things happening here

This past week I've been walking around the village taking snapshots that I think reflect the way of life in rural Normandy and show why we enjoy living here so much.

the latest additions to friend Jacques' flock of sheep born this week

this week our farmer neighbour Marc brought a new herd of Holstein Friesian cows into the field opposite
the ornamental cherry tree in our front garden burst into glorious colour
M'selle Fleur always on guard
the SP enjoys a hot dog snack whilst wandering around a vide grenier
a wild flag iris growing at the side of the lane.

I wonder if we'll still be here in 2026?

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Mosaic Monday # 36 - you say Disney and I say d'Isigny!

Happy Easter everyone!

Here's a non Easter question for you....................
What might the connection be
between here

and here?

The answer is this man!

That's right, Uncle Walt's ancestry can be traced all the way back to Hugues Suhard and his son Robert who left Isigny sur Mer to fight side by side with William the Conqueror during the invasion of England in 1066.

Isigny Sainte Mer Cooperative

I always thought Isigny sur Mer was only famous for the wonderful butter, cream and cheese, produced by the Isigny Sainte Mere cooperative, using milk from Normandy's native breed of cows like these.

Our farmer neighbour, Mark, supplies the co-op and we often encounter the huge tankers, in our narrow lanes, on their way to collect the creamy stuff.
In the centre of Isigny opposite the Town Hall the Walt Disney Garden has been created.

Here you'll also find a small plaque officially recognising what  generations of children from Isigny have grown up knowing - Walt Elias Disney's ancestors were Normans!
Click here to visit the Disneyland Paris website confirming the story.

"To the youngsters of today, I say believe in the future,
the world is getting better;
there is still plenty of opportunity.
Walt E. Disney
05.12.1901 - 15.12.1966

According to Madeleine Hubert, historian of Isigny, a charter of the King of England and Duke of Normandy Henry II, written in the 12th century, reports that Hugues Suhard, "guardian and master of the port of Isigny", took the name of Hugues d'Isigny.
(His) descendants settled in England, many decided not to return to Normandy. Over the years, their name became more evocative. In 1150, the stronghold of Norton, in the center of England, belonged to a certain William of Ysini. There is also a Norton Is'ny in a charter of 1331. It was this Norton who later became Norton Disney. Several centuries later, around 1830, a distant descendant of Norton, Elias Disney, left his native Ireland for the New World.

Walt Elias Disney's ancestry can be traced back to the Irish branch of the family.