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Posts Tagged ‘tour de france’

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A slow drive back from Castres and it feels like summer used to feel–a season fully committed.

Flaming June, going on July, bursting out all over!

The sunflowers are showing thick and healthy on the ground this year.

Green and medium build at the moment but growing fast. I spotted one in flower but shy–just peeping out in the clump.

Rain and sun in equal measures have made them strong.

They’ll be a picture in a couple of weeks just as the Tour de France moves south–days to go before “the off “.

It’s always great to see the TV shots of the pelaton, a multicolored snake strung out along a stretch of road–half hidden behind a field of yellow tops, enjoying their moment of fame.

Garlic gath’rers pass,

 Leaving the scent in the air;

 It’s that time again.

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Men stripped to the waist (as if that’s going to help)–why not wait until the sun retreats? It makes no sense to labour thus in a sweltering 30 degrees.

The workers’ cars compete for shade under the fully-leafed walnut trees, already ladened with green fruit.

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(I shall be ready in early October and on the prowl–but hunting walnuts rather than hares and rabbits.)

The youngsters, Ben and Midnight, lie full length in the shade beneath the fig in the courtyard–their black coats soaking up the heat–just too much effort to move indoors.

Young Midnight jumped from a first floor window into the driveway this morning–startled by a sudden human presence. He hesitated a nano second, Meredith says, then decided there was no alternative and leapt.

Cats can do such leaps, she says, and land on their feet uninjured–and I have to believe it. Nine lives and all that–but just writing about it gives me vertigo.

But there he is under the fig–no worse for wear, more bothered by heat than heights!

I need him in the kitchen. Just spied a tiny mouse sheltering from the heat. He spotted me at the same moment and disappeared into the fireplace.

Not a safe place for mice here! Stay put, Mr. Mouse–there’ll be a quiet time later when you can  move on safely.

Cats generally don’t fly in the dark–though one shouldn’t second guess a cat called Midnight!

* “back in the days”

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It’s the 14th of July, Bastille Day–La Fête Nationale, celebrating the day the notorious prison La Bastille in Paris, was stormed and destroyed, in July 1789.

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The fall of the Bastille, symbolizes the start of the French Revolution, which led to the killing of the king–Louis the XVI and the end of the ancient regime (old order).

Shortly after, on 4th August, feudalism was abolished and on 26th August 1789, the Declaration of the Rights of Man was proclaimed.

Momentous stuff–allez les Bleus!

Things were a good deal less momentous here this morning!

The distant whizz-bangs from the fireworks in Lautrec late Saturday evening and the sounds of one side’s ecstatic celebrations in Rio de Janeiro last night have given way to blessed silence.

Just the cooing of a dove and the chirps of birds telling each other about our bird feeder.

The supermarkets are closed (Sundays too–a new edict from the Prefet of the Tarn, our department) and there’s no post.

Visitors are always puzzled, often dismayed and sometimes angered about the eccentricities, as they see it, of commercial opening hours here.

There are four rush hours on normal weekdays as people take off at midday for lunch, chez eux (at home).

The Tour de France–the jauntiness of the logo below belies the task they face today…

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is in the mountains of the Vosges, close to the German border, for a second day–just a few ups and downs!

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A Frenchman hasn’t won the tour since Bernard Hinault in 1985–an astonishing and damning statistic.

Wearing the yellow jersey (maillot jaune) today, which denotes the leader, is Tony Gallopin, a Frenchman.

French pride restored, if only for a day–but the biggest day in the French calendar.

I shall be urging them on from the comfort of the sofa; in awe at another day of agony suffered by the riders in this epic of athletic endurance.

Allez tout le monde!

 

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Tour Swag

Our friend Romaine left the UK under strict instructions “at least bring us back treasure “.

Tour fanatics [amateurs de cyclisme] in the family were jealous when they heard she’d delayed her return by a day to witness the Tour whizz through Lautrec for the second year running.

We joined the crowd in the village with minutes to spare before the “Caravan” started to arrive.

Excited cheers greeted a lone police car leisurely passing through–briefly in the spotlight.

We found our place with a good view up the approach road and held our breaths.

A couple more anticlimaxes and then the commercial carnival began.

"The Yellow Jersey" leads the way!

with..

...Mickey mice hot on his heels.

All sorts of goodies flew through the air and were snaffled up by the waiting crowd–polka dot caps and keyrings, sweets and sausages.

Twenty minutes of wonderful madness and kids’ bags were filling up with goodies like stockings at Christmas.

“We should be over the other side where they’re stopping and handing out”

Romaine needn’t have worried…a knight in shining armour came to the rescue–more of that in a moment.

Oh yes and the Tour!–the reason we were all there.

We shot over the other side of the hill for a better view and waited.

Five helicopters flying in line announced –an “Apocalypse Now” moment–the imminent arrival of “the breakaway-group”.

We joined the children nearby waving our arms and shouting our delight.

The peloton followed–passing with a whoosh….!

It was all over and Romaine was still regretting being on the wrong side of the track!

In rides nephew Dominic–a veteran biker and experienced tour follower–with a bag of booty.

Every time he’d  waved at a float from his isolated spot–goodies fell from the sky.

Dom’s a generous heart and Romaine’s only worry now was excess baggage at check in!

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Sunflowers are emerging from their tightly bunched heads and their colour yellow announces July.

Wimbledon winds up and the Tour de France  sets out, heading south towards the Tarn, our department.

‘Old Black Socks’ is no longer in the hunt.

Lance Armstrong retired after last year’s tour, this time it could be definitive….

You spotted him by his un-chic black socks and heavy pedalling, and “the focus’.

Doped or not doped [nothing proven]–he was good to watch.

They flashed through Lautrec last year– too fast to catch a glimpse of “Black socks”– buried in the pack [le peloton].

The atmosphere is festive and the anticipation intense–and it’s all over in a trice.

Meredith, miraculously,  caught the yellow jersey’d leader Andy Schleck in the centre of a frame.

They’re coming this way again on the July 13th.

Will the work on the road that bypasses Lautrec be finished? Touch and go!

They pass through the Tarn most years, heading for the Alps or the Pyrenees.

Part of charm of “le Tour” is its easy accessibilty for the public.

We milled around at “le départ” one year in Albi–rubbing shoulders with these world class athletes, about to head off for another 150 kilometres of torture in the pulverizing heat.

On the mountain climbs you fear for the riders’ safety, as the crowd closes in and the passage narrows alarmingly.

Keep back!

“Get out of the way,” I find myself shouting at the TV!

The French regard the Tour as the third greatest sporting event on the planet–after the Olympics and the soccer World Cup–and unlike them, it’s annual.

(Americans have no problem naming their national baseball final–the World Series!)

Certainly as a feat of endurance the Tour is probably without equal.

You’d have to admit that Armstrong, finally hanging up his socks at the age of 38 last year, had–excuse the pun–feet of endurance.

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The television coverage of the Tour is a miracle of coordination. From on high–with helicopters–at ground level on motorbikes, the movement is constant–but at the pace of the riders. Many French people watch it as a way of getting to know their country.

Our friend Deming–an American–says she once took a holiday in a village she’d liked the look of as the Tour passed through!

Look forward to a bird’s eye view of Lautrec on the 13th!

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