Friday, 9 December 2022

Walking Around Leugny

On Thursday 1 December I joined Denise and Joel for a 9 kilometre walk around Leugny. We parked by the church, then headed up to the Fontaine Saint Hilaire before slogging it up the rest of the slope to the plateau between the rivers Creuse and Vienne. After circling around in the forest centring on Rond de Chene we descended again to Leugny. Along the way we heard cranes bugling twice and we saw them once, flying in their serious migration V formation.

A building in Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
A building in Leugny.

Fontaine Saint Hilaire, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Fontaine Saint Hilaire.

Earthball Scleroderma sp, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Earthball Scleroderma sp (Fr. Scléroderme).

Bearded Amanita Mushroom Amanita ovoidea, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
I think this might be Bearded Amanita Amanita ovoidea (Fr. amanite ovoïde).

Forest, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
In the forest.

Oak leaves, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Oak leaves on the forest trail.

Sulphur Tuft Hypholoma fasciculare, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Sulphur Tuft Hygrophoma fasciculare (Fr. Hypholome en touffes) was abundant on the forest floor, growing on stumps and buried wood.

Fallen oak, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
A fallen oak near Rond de Chene. The problem with these oaks destined for timber production is that they end up being long poles. The removal of all lower branches means they do not have a natural canopy shape which would keep their centre of gravity low. There is also more and more space around them allowing them to be unstable.

Chestnut leaves, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Chestnut leaves on the forest trail. In a couple of parcels all the chestnuts have been felled recently to leave the high value oak they mingled with to grow to full maturity.

Beech, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The beech leaves are looking very orange at the moment.

Bracket fungus, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
A bracket fungus.

Thursday, 8 December 2022

Smoke ove the Autoroute

Yesterday Susan and I were driving in to Tours in preparation for a couple of days work. We had just entered the Autoroute A10 to skirt Tours, when we were greeted by this sight.

The open road in front of us is the slip road onto the Autoroute

The A10 in Tours is reduced to two lanes at the moment (rather than the customary three) to accommodate an upgrade. The inside lane next to the dividing barrier is closed and coned off to stop people using it, which had an unexpected benefit.  Both remaining lanes were full and stationary, there was a drift of smoke visible ahead, and no-one was going anywhere except for a steady stream of emergency vehicles that were using the closed lane.

We reached the head of the slip road, turned off our engine, and waited. At one stage we had to restart and move as far as we could to allow a police car to pass us on the inside, but basically we sat for about 20 minutes not knowing what was going on.

Eventually things started moving slowly, and we eased into the flow of traffic. At the scene of the emergency there was a line of pompier, police, and autoroute vehicles, and a very sorry looking burned out small silver Peugeot (we think). It was severely damaged front and rear, and most of the plastic pieces had disappeared in the fire. We hope everbody involved is safe, but as I type this there is nothing in the newspaper,

You can almost see the burnt car, surrounded by firemen

Wednesday, 7 December 2022

Smell the Forest

 This is a reworking of a post from November/December 2016.

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In November 2016 I participated in a fungi foray in the Forest of Preuilly. We didn't find much, but we did find a number of species with distinctive scents

Devils Fingers Clathrus archeri (Fr. Anthrus d'Archer). Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Devils Fingers Clathrus archeri (Fr. Anthrus d'Archer).
 
This species, introduced from Australia in the early 20th century, has colonised the forest and is easily found by its stench of rotting meat. Sometimes you can smell it while standing nearby, but usually its pong only impacts when you get down on hands and knees to photograph it.


A Webcap Cortinarius sp. Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
A Webcap Cortinarius sp.

  This nondescript little webcap had a light but definite geranium scent.

Marasmus scorodonius (Fr. Marasme alliace). Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Marasmus scorodonius (Fr. Marasme alliace).
 
Another nondescript little toadstool, and this one really packs a punch. It smells strongly of garlic, and even its mycelium must smell of garlic, as we couldn't see many fruiting bodies, but the more we walked on this patch the stronger the smell of garlic became. The soil must be completely riddled with the fungus ready to burst out as little cream mushroom caps.

No fungi to be seen, but this whole patch smelled of garlic. Extraordinary! Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
No fungi to be seen, but this whole patch smelled of garlic. Extraordinary!

Nitrous Bonnet Mycena leptocephala (Fr. Mycène chlorée). Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Nitrous Bonnet Mycena leptocephala (Fr. Mycène chlorée).
 
Nitrous Bonnet is very common amongst the leaf litter of the forest floor. So are several other very similar Bonnet species. Luckily, if you just pick a couple and sniff them you can usually tell if you've got Nitrous Bonnet or not. This species smells of bleach, often quite noticeably. It's not the only Bonnet that smells of bleach, but it's the one you are most likely to encounter in the forest.

Nitrous Bonnet.

An earthball Scleroderma sp (Fr. Scleroderme). Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
An earthball Scleroderma sp (Fr. Scleroderme).
 
The one above on the table hasn't yet burst its top to explode its spores all over the place. The ones below are completely open and full of grey powdery spores like ground pepper. You can see the dusting of spores on the leaf litter all around the fungi. Earthballs don't pong quite as much as the Devils Fingers but they are definitely noticeable when you get down close to photograph them. We couldn't pin these ones down to a species, except to say that they are not the common species.

Earthballs.

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Meet 'Our' Ukrainians

We have 44 displaced Ukrainians living in Preuilly or the surrounding villages. One of them, Natalyia N, asked if they could take over the community café, Lieutopie, on last Sunday afternoon. The Ukrainians arrived armed with coffee and biscuits, which they laid out on the tables, then served coffee to anyone who turned up. The event was designed to allow locals to come and meet our new residents and interact in a warm and friendly environment.

Ukrainian table runner, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Ukrainian embroidered runners were laid out on the tables.

French accordion player, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Patrick brought his accordion and we had a bit of singing and dancing.

Displaced Ukrainians at a community café, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Marina, Anna, Pierre, Natalyia P, Lesia, Natalyia D and Veronika.

Displaced Ukrainians being offered vegetables from a community garden, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Raphael offered the Ukrainians some vegetables from the community garden. Eloise, Raphael, Natalyia P, Valeria, Milana and Olena K.

Monday, 5 December 2022

Food and Wine Fair, La Roche Posay

Strategically timed for just before Christmas the food and wine fair staged in the events venue Acropyla at La Roche Posay is a great place to try delicacies from other parts of France as well as local treats. It is one of those events which is free to enter, but if you want to taste wine you buy an engraved souvenir glass in a little carry bag for €5 at the door. I didn't bother because I wasn't in the market for wine and it was before lunch on Saturday when I went.

Lunch menu for a food and wine fair, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The lunch menus, should you wish to partake.

Ukrainian fundraising stall at a food fair, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
'Our' Ukrainians had a stall selling their homemade baked goods and handcrafts, to raise money to aid Ukraine. That's Irina and Svitlana on the stall.

Ossau-Iraty sheeps cheese producer at a food fair, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
A ewes milk cheese producer from Ossau-Iraty. One of our favourite cheeses, and one of our favourite places in the world. I had a nice chat with him and bought a substantial chunk of his cheese. We might visit his farm in June when we are in the Pyrenees.

Goats milk cheeses at a food fair, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Goats milk cheese from closer to home, Saint Saveur, near Chatellerault.

Wine tasting at a food and wine fair, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
My friend Martine tastes Vouvray wine, with her husband, a friend and the winemakers looking on.

Acropyla, La Roche Posay, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Acropyla, an events venue run by the municipality of La Roche Posay.

Friday, 2 December 2022

Ukrainians on the Move

Two more apartments in the Cité de Tilleuls are nearing the completion of their refurbishment so two more Ukrainian families can move from their temporary accommodation. The Cité de Tilleuls is a housing development in Preuilly dating from, I would guess, the 1970s, consisting of a number of small apartment blocks. Originally they would have housed workers from the furniture factory, but that closed in 2000 and now many of the apartments are empty. Earlier this year we moved several Ukrainian families into apartments there and now we can rehouse Natalyia P and Natalyia N, who each have a son aged about 11 and a daughter aged about 8.

Painting an apartment, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Christiane talking with Bruno, who is painting the bathroom.
 

After picking up some furniture donated by one of my neighbours, a recently widowed English woman, Christiane and I went down to inspect progress on the apartments. Patrice, the painter decorator, was there, and his employee Bruno, who painted our kitchen some years ago. The main problem they've encountered is damp and the apartments have been empty for years.

Bathroom being renovated, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Substantial areas of wall had to be repaired and replastered in one of the bathrooms because of damp.

The apartments are owned by private landlords but managed by the social housing agent Habitat Sud Touraine. For the moment the rent and utilities bills are to be paid by Ficosil, another local government agency who specialise in getting people in difficult situations into housing. One of the Natalyias is working, as a cleaner and aide at the aged care home. Back in Kyiv she was a business woman, with a cheese boutique. The other has just finished a three month intensive French course and has started a work experience placement at a florist. Back in Kyiv she did a variety of jobs and made costume jewellry.

Bedhead, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Some furniture has been donated, other pieces have come from Emmaus, the major charity in France that deals with house clearances and suchlike (the equivalent of Saint Vinnies in Australia).

The view from an apartment window, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The view from one of the bedrooms.

Mid 20C oak staircase, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The apartments were built in the days when it was still normal to make the staircase from oak, almost certainly French and probably locally sourced. Nowadays a wooden staircase would be in an African hardwood, like ours is.