Friday 31 October 2014

Witch's Hats

 Witch's Hat Mushroom Hygrophorus conicus.

This Halloween themed mushroom conveniently appears in the forest just at this time of year.
A la cuisine hier: Hoppin' John, served with baked pumpkin (well, for some of us, anyway), Ken's Aunt Chloe's corn pone and steamed spinach. I baked the corn pone in the mini oven and it rose so high I couldn't get it out. In the end I had to hold the tin in the oven whilst sliding the shelf out from under it which then allowed me to lower the corn pone and remove it from the oven. Fortunately the corn pone seems not to have suffered in any way from the slightly unorthodox treatment.
Heritage News: The crowd-funding campaign to raise money to restore the ceramic panel 'Arcachon' in Tours station has reached 92% of their goal of €8000. The campaign has been extended until 17 November in the hopes of getting that last €635. To donate you need to register with Ulule and pay online.

A full assessment of the work required on the Chapelle de Tous les saints in Preuilly has been done and the cost estimated at around €100 000. The restoration was an item on the local council meeting agenda last night but I don't know yet what the outcome of the discussion was.
Butterfly Survey News: I've just collated my butterfly surveying data for the year and if I had to describe the results in one word I think it would be 'dismal', both in terms of total abundance and numbers of species recorded. I didn't manage to do surveys at all in April and May due to the poor weather. The only notable record was dozens of Small White Pieris rapae recorded on agricultural rape in September.

Thursday 30 October 2014

Ladies in Waiting

This is Claudette in front and Célestine behind, waiting their turn to be seen by the Traction doctor a couple of weeks ago.
Loire Valley Nature: A new entry has been added for Tortoise Bugs Eurygaster spp.

Wednesday 29 October 2014

A Painted Church Ceiling

We've written in full about the wall paintings in the church at Lignières en Touraine before, but I liked this photo Simon took of part of the ceiling the other day and thought it would be nice to post about the church again. These two strips show Adam and Eve and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden above, and the parable of the rich man and the poor man below. They date from the 12th century.
Fungi Foray: The Association de Botanique et de Mycologie de Sainte Maure de Touraine has organised a fungi outing to the Forest of Loches for Sunday 2 November. Meet at the Pyramide de Saint Quentin (on the D31 road to Bléré, between Saint Quentin and Loches) at 2.00 pm. The fungi gathered will be displayed and identified in the carpark after the outing.
Loire Valley Nature: A new entry for Ceps Boletaceae has been added.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

The Palace of Poitiers

The Palace of Poitiers has its origins in a 3rd century Gallo-Roman building, but after the fall of the Roman Empire it became the seat of the Counts of Poitiers and the Dukes of Aquitaine. The original building was destroyed and a new one built in the 11th century. In 1104 the Maubergeon Tower was added.

However, the complex was badly damaged by Henry Earl of Lancaster (John of Gaunt's father-in-law) in 1348, during the Hundred Years War. What you now see from the outside is a late 14th - early 15th century building, dating from Jean I Duc de Berry's restoration in the Flamboyant Gothic style, with additional chimneys and huge glazed ogival windows.
The statues which adorn the unfinished Maubegeon Tower represent 16 of Jean de Berry's courtiers. Sadly they are in extremely poor condition and are encased in nets to prevent bits falling on passers by.
Today, this is the back of the complex. The front is masked by a monumental 19th century Doric portico and steps up to the entrance. The building now serves as the courthouse, so it has gone from being the palace of the Dukes of Aquitaine to the palais de justice.
We've never managed to get inside, even though it is theoretically open to the public. We never seem to be there during the hours they allow visitors in, and the public can also be excluded depending on what is happening in the law courts.
Behind the 15th century facade above lies a 13th century hall known as the salle des pas perdus ('the room of the lost footsteps') on account of its great size, which meant that the sound of footsteps disappeared into the vast space. Originally it was a dining room, built by Eleanor of Aquitaine when she ruled here.
Loire Valley Nature: A new entry for Tar Spot Rhytisma acerinum fungi has been added.

Monday 27 October 2014

The Forest in the Autumn

An étang in the Forest of Preuilly, taken last Friday.
For more about our walk in the forest, see Colin and Elizabeth's blog The Story of Our Life In and Around Braye sous Faye.
Loire Valley Nature: A new entry has been added for Soapwort Saponaria officinalis.
A new entry has been added for Spindle Euonymus europaeus.
A photo has been added to the entry for the flower longhorn beetle Stictoleptura cordigera.

Sunday 26 October 2014

Living in the Desert

Looking out from the escarpment of Kings Canyon towards a small isolated Aboriginal community on the vast desert plain below.
Loire Valley Nature: A new entry has been added for European Stag Beetle Lucanus cervus.
A new entry has been added for Snakeshead Fritillary Fritillaria meleagris.
A new Habitat entry has been added for Frost and Snow.

Saturday 25 October 2014

Dragons Past and Present

Above a Ring-tailed Dragon Ctenophorus caudicinctus, blending in to its surroundings.
Below, lizard footprints in the sand.
Fossilised lizard tracks on the escarpment of Kings Canyon, not far from where I took the previous photo.
Me, my brother in law John and sister Kathy, gazing in wonder at the fossilised lizard tracks.
Gough is Gone: Gough Whitlam died on Tuesday. For Australians he is a household name, but I'm not sure how many people outside the country would recall him. For someone my age he is easily the most charismatic and memorable Australian Prime Minister. Enormously tall and patrician, educated in the old style as a classicist, he enlivened the political scene during my teenage years. He is one of a very small number of politicians who had a reforming zeal and actually succeeding in changing things for the better. His judgement and timing sometimes let him down, economics was his weak point, but mostly he was inspiringly energetic, liberal minded, enlightened and forward thinking. 

We are all diminished as citizens when any of us are poor. Poverty is a national waste as well as individual waste. We are all diminished when any of us are denied proper education. The nation is the poorer – a poorer economy, a poorer civilisation, because of this human and national waste. Gough Whitlam, 1969.

 His legacy includes:
  • Medibank, the national health insurance scheme.
  • abolition of university fees.
  • independent and specialist schools eligible for state funding.
  • Aboriginal land rights.
  • the first western national leader to visit China and re-establish diplomatic relations with that country.
  • withdrawal from the Vietnam War.
  • the end of conscription.
  • abolition of the death penalty.
  • no fault divorce.
  • the Racial Discrimination Act.
  • protection of the Great Barrier Reef against oil interests.
  • environmental protection legislation.
  • the appointment of women to senior and influential government posts.
  • voting age of 18.
  • legal aid.
  • the Trade Practices Act.
  • unemployment benefit and sole parent pension.
  • contact with South African sports banned due to Apartheid. 

As far as I can tell the current Prime Minister is trying to undo all of these things.
Medical News: I seem to have developed Achenbach Syndrome. I've self diagnosed, as one does these days, on the internet, and I won't be bothering the doctor with it. I emailed my family to see if they had experienced anything like my symptoms and they've all had it for years apparently (Dad, aunt, sister). 

Basically, small veins in my joints (usually the fingers) burst occasionally, causing a burning pain for about half an hour, a bit of swelling and a bruise which reabsorbs within a day or two. Usually it happens when you are not doing anything which might logically provoke it (my lastest episode was when I was opening the microwave). My reading suggests it is a trivial condition which doesn't indicate anything serious (although my aunt complains it's a nuisance when you are playing golf...). It's not connected to wider cardio-vascular diseases for instance. It is often referred to as rare, but rarely reported is closer to the mark is my impression.
From Forest to Frying Pan: Yesterday we went on a long walk in the Forest of Preuilly with friends Tim and Gaynor, Colin and Elizabeth. Along the way we encountered many mushrooms. I took four home, giving me a kilo of ceps which I cooked up that night. We didn't want to eat them last night as I had something else prepared, but I figured it was best to cook them. Wild ceps are notorious for being maggot ridden and leaving them overnight can result in a mass hatching. As it turned out only one of the mushrooms was fly blown and discarded. We'll eat them in omelette and I'll add some to the leftover blanquette de veau.

Friday 24 October 2014

Célestine in the Autumn

Célestine parked at Chenonceau on Tuesday.
A la cuisine hier: Yesterday was our first time attending the Loire Valley Cake Club, set up by Jean and for this meeting hosted by her in her new home. The theme was autumn cakes and Simon made Jamaican Ginger Cake while I made Medieval Pear and Walnut Cake (using our own pears and walnuts). I particularly liked Liz's Jewish Apple Cake and will be making that myself sometime (just search for recipes on the internet -- there are dozens). Simon's gingerbread was much admired and I notice he has sent the recipe to Nick.

Earlier in the day I made blanquette de veau (slow cooked veal casserole). I bought the veal on special at Auchan. It was €10.95/kg with a 20% discount, so I paid $11.97 for 1.37 kg. It was Label Rouge certified, which tells you it was from calves suckled by their mothers in humane non-industrial surroundings. It also had a geographic protection certificate, and came from beef cattle herds in Aveyron and Ségala.

Thursday 23 October 2014

Villandry in the Autumn

Planting spring bulbs ready for next year.
Multi-coloured chillies.
Pulling out spent annuals.
Preparing for a new planting scheme.
The pumpkin vines have died but the pumpkin fruit is placed on terracotta tiles to continue the display.
All photos taken on Monday of this week.
Does Anyone Know?: We would like to know if any of our readers know anything about stove cement caulk. Simon is thinking it might be something we could use on our stove to seal the joins and stop it sucking too much air.
A la cuisine hier: Salmon cakes, made with the last of our homegrown potatoes and a mixture of canned and smoked salmon.

Wednesday 22 October 2014

The House at the Sign of the Field of the Cloth of Gold

 La Maison à l'enseigne du Camp du Drap d'Or (the House at the Sign of the Field of the Cloth of Gold).

This house in Poitiers, as you see it today, is the product of successive transformations. Its unusual character is particularly obvious in its recessed facade and cornice in the Louis XVI style. The sculpted sign above the front door is older though. It represents a splendid canvas marquee, which evokes the meeting on the Field of the Cloth of Gold (near Calais) between François I and Henry VIII in 1520.

The purpose of the sign is above all to indicate the nature of the business within. Undoubtedly, this was once a wealthy cloth merchant's premises, with shop below and residence above.

The building, at 27 rue du Marché Notre Dame, in the bustling heart of the pedestrianised centre of Poitiers, is now occupied by the telecoms company Free. Just like the cloth merchant all those centuries ago, they couldn't have chosen a better spot to do business.
Fungi Foray: The Association de Botanique et de Mycologie de Sainte Maure de Touraine has organised a fungi outing to the Forest of Chinon for Sunday 26 October. Meet at the carpark by the church in Saint Benoît la Forêt at 2.00 pm. The fungi gathered will be displayed and identified in the carpark after the outing.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Gobbling Guinea Fowl

Guinea Fowl is a popular bird here for the table. They are considered a tasty alternative to chicken and often used at Christmas time as the festive meal. These ones were photographed the other day at Maillé.
 They rush around the pen, catching any invertebrate unwise enough to enter and continually vocalise, making a gobbling call not unlike turkeys.
In French they are called pintade and birds for roasting are widely available, either from local poulterers or in the supermarket.

France is the largest producer of guinea fowl in the EU, but for all that guinea fowl is only 2% of total French poultry production.

Monday 20 October 2014

La Voie Romaine

Last week we stopped off at a piece of Roman road at Saint Cyr sur Loire on the outskirts of Tours. It's part of the main road that ran between Poitiers - Tours - Le Mans, and connected Spain with northern Gaul. Bits of this road pop up all over the place -- the new high speed rail line had to spend time on an archaelogical dig near Nouâtre for instance. For a full description of where the road goes see here. But what is truly extraordinary about this particular section of the road is that it is still in use as a road, with its original Roman era surface. Local residents come and go on it all the time. 

I particularly enjoy that a cycle path has been laid down one side of the road.
Should you need any help planning your Roman style journey, this website will help, and this one goes even further, allowing you to work out how long it will take, depending on whether you are walking, marching, riding or going by boat, and how much it will cost. Hours of fun and displacement activity...

Sunday 19 October 2014

Looking Across the Canyon

Kings Canyon -- dramatic, hot, red.
Firewood: Our firewood was delivered yesterday -- 3 cubic metres (known as stères in French), which added to what we had left over gives us about 5 cubic metres, plus another cubic metre of wood that came from a tree felled by friends and is too fresh to use. This won't get us through the winter, so I'll be getting another delivery probably in January. The woodman, who is a local farmer who does firewood as a sideline, has given up trying to deliver with his tractor down our narrow driveway with no turning space. This time he made 6 trips, delivering half a stère at a time in his station wagon. It is oak, cost €150, and was cut into 50 cm lengths for us by the woodman. He also splits it when necessary, if the logs are more than 15 cm in diameter, which is the recommended optimum size for our stove. The wood comes from the Forêt de Preuilly, which is sustainably managed for lumber, firewood, biodiversity and leisure by the Office National des Forêts.
Car News: Célestine is back home, with a working gearbox. She still has some issues which may have contributed to the gearbox failure, but for the moment she is on the road again. Claudette is over at the Doctor's now, with a long list of relatively minor maintenance to be done.
Loire Valley Nature: A new entry has been added for Western Whip Snake Hierophis viridiflavus.

Saturday 18 October 2014

Up on the Escarpment

 Looking from one side of the canyon to the other.
Kings Canyon, Northern Territory, Australia.
French Expressions: The other day the subject of feral cats came up in conversation. I asked my friend Jean Claude, who is a retired ecologist, what the word for 'feral' is in French. Because we were talking specifically about cats he said 'haret'. I mentioned to our deputy mayor, Gérard that we have une chatte haret living in the back yards of our neighbours and she has now had two litters of 2-4 kittens. Gérard asked what the problem was! Luckily Jean Claude was there to explain exactly what the problem is. Gérard asked me if anyone was feeding them. I said 'no', but in fact, they are in very good condition, so maybe someone is. I've no idea who though, as neither Ghislaine nor the Leroys like cats, and I'm not going to feed them on the grounds that it will just lead to a population explosion. Gérard then asked what one could do about them, and that's a much trickier question. Ideally, one wants to trap, neuter and return, so that the territory is occupied but not overrun with breeding cats. But feral cats are notoriously difficult to trap, and who pays for the neutering? Presumably one approaches the nearest local cat charity, who may or may not have the resources to deal with the problem. Next time I run into the local vet I'll have a chat (no pun intended) with him about it.

Further reading tells me that the word haret only applies to cats. The general word for 'feral' is marron.
Loire Valley Nature: Photos of a female Sweat Bee Halictus sp visiting an Early Spider Orchid Ophrys sphegodes in our orchard added to both the Sweat Bee and the Early Spider Orchid entries. The behaviour is a bit of a mystery, as theoretically this species of orchid uses sexual deception to fool male Andrena spp bees into 'mating' with the flowers, thus achieving pollination. I don't know what would have attracted the Halictus bee to the flowers, but it was clearly very excited and tried every which way to get into the flowers. Christian Schmid-Egger, from HymIS, had never seen or heard of this behaviour before either, so it is presumably previously unrecorded.

Friday 17 October 2014

Tours Cathedral

Like most cathedrals, Tours' is well worth visiting. The stained glass ranges from the early mediaeval to the contemporary and the building houses one of the most highly regarded monuments of the early renaissance in France. On the day in July that we turned up to visit, we just missed what was apparently an impressive circus performance on the cathedral square involving a woman on a device that was a cross between a trapeze and a seesaw.

The first time we visited it was an absolutely arctic January day a few years ago. This visit was conducted in the far more pleasant ambient temperatures of early July, and was positively hot outside, cool and quiet inside. There was a steady stream of wedding parties entering and leaving. Some of the women were wearing the most extraordinary outfits, but unfortunately, one can't discreetly photograph or publish such things.

The cathedral building took 450 years to construct, and as such provides a nice romp through medieval and renaissance architectural styles, and especially stained glass styles, with the earliest window from 1267 and the latest from 2013. The recurring themes are of course Bible passages and the stories of the saints, especially Saint Martin and Saint Maurice, but you can also learn something of the society at the time the windows were made. There are royal symbols such as fleurs de lys, certain colours are significant, and there are scenes of everyday life. Stained glass techniques, although remaining basically the same over all this time, did develop a number of innovations which can be tracked using the windows in Tours cathedral. It's a remarkable and valuable repository of the history of stained glass.

I recommend taking a pair of binoculars if you want to get the best out of the stained glass. Most of the really old glass is very high and super detailed, so you need to look at it through the binoculars. There are numerous excellent panels explaining each of the windows.

Thursday 16 October 2014

Save the Ceramic Panels in Tours Station!

Anyone who has entered the station in central Tours will have noticed the 18 picture panels made of ceramic tiles that decorate the walls and entice travellers to destinations south and west.  Heritage listed since 1987 they've adorned the walls of the station since 1898, and now they are at risk. SNCF wants to restore them but can't justify spending the money, so Patrimoine-Environnement has set up a crowd-funding site to raise the money needed.

For the leading railway companies of the time, these panels enriched the station surroundings and influenced travellers. The panels are 1.2m wide by 2.1m high, made from painted and glazed square ceramic tiles. One of the artists who created them was the potter and theatre set designer Eugène Martial Simas, working in close collaboration with the factories of Sarreguemines and Digouin.

The panels themselves, and their method of fabrication, are rare and unusual. Stylistically they are a sort of meeting of Impressionism, photography and Art Nouveau. Simas outlines his subjects with a couple of lively brush strokes and broad sweeping curves, filled in with soft colours and accents inspired by Japanese art. This is particularly notable on the landscapes done in successive planes in tones of sepia, sea green and sky blue, with pairs of two toned figures to provide contrast, depth and clarity. 

The panels have been subjected to the degradations of time and air pollution in the station. The original lime mortar which fixes the tiles to the walls is crumbling and is no longer stuck to the painted tiles, which are coming loose and threatening to fall and smash. In addition, the soot produced inside the main hall by over a century of steam and then diesel locomotives has badly scratched the painted tiles. A recent test cleaning has revealed how fresh and colourful they could look.

The current crowd-sourcing campaign is aimed at raising the money to restore the first of these 18 panels at a local ceramics conservation studio. Situated in a stone frame in the middle of the eastern facade, 2.33m above the floor, the Arcachon panel, typical of the attractive invitation to travel these pictures represent, has been chosen. The composition of plants, seaside and built landscapes, with its depth of field and the subtle movement of the pines presaging Art Nouveau, the fineness of patterns and colors, the detail of the low growing vegetation, transports us into a world that is both real and imaginary

The panel bears the signature 'M. Simas' at lower left, and the manufacturer's stamp 'UC / Paris/Digoin' and is composed of 120 fifteen centimetre square tiles, 1.3cm thick. Each tile weighs 520g and the whole panel 62.4kg. Some traces of its history are visible -- patches of abrasion and scrapes; scratches and moulds; the glaze is lifting in places; one square has been touched up with wood paint; another has been broken and a third is cracked; and the tiles on the edges are coming unstuck.

The panels need to be cleaned and consolidated, and it's hoped to complete the project under the more general auspices of the upgrading and restoration of the station that has been going on in the last few years. There is a lot of public affection and interest in these panels, which is why the crowd-funding approach is being trialled. It is hoped that individuals and businesses will give generously in order to save these rather special works of art.

Donations are tax deductible if you are a French taxpayer. For example, if you make a donation of €15, after your 66% tax rebate your actual outlay will amount to €5.10. For a donation of that amount you will be thanked publicly on Patrimoine-Environnement's Facebook page, for bigger donations you could get your name on the benefactors list in the station, receive a certificate acknowledging your gift, a guided tour of the station with an architect, visit the conservator's workshop, be invited to the unveiling of the restored panel or even get up onto the roof of the station.

There are only 19 days left to donate for the Arcachon panel, and to do so, please go to Ulule - Gare Tours.
An Overview of Neonics and Their Effect on Pollinators:  An important paper pulling together European research into the effects of neonicitinoidal insecticides on pollinating insects was published this year in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. It is purposefully written in layman's language, in as neutral a tone as possible. Personally I think all stakeholders, from farmers to ecologists, and interested persons should read this document carefully. It says, among other things:
  • pollination of food crops is achieved by both wild and managed species -- honey bees (which are virtually all managed), bumble bees, solitary bees and true flies (including hover flies).
  • there is evidence that a range of pollinators improves crop yield.
  • the major crops in Europe relying on pollination are arable (canola, sunflower); soft fruits (strawberries, raspberries); 'top' fruit (apples, pears, plums, peaches); vegetables (melon, zucchini, runner beans, tomatoes).
  • decline trends in pollinator numbers since the 1950s are unclear -- mostly due to lack of long term data. Expert opinion is that the primary cause of declines is likely to be habitat loss or alteration.
  • the introduction of the varroa mite has severely affected honey bees. It is a parasite and a vector for viruses. Overwintering mortality rates have increased in frequency in some areas but not in others.
None of which is to say that neonics are not a problem. The problem is lack of robust and replicable evidence, mainly due to the difficulty of designing and running field trials which will tell us anything meaningful. A similar review of the evidence came to the conclusion that: “The combination of prophylactic use, persistence, mobility, systemic properties and chronic toxicity [of neonicotinoids] is predicted to result in substantial impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning”.
A la cuisine hier: Three jars of grape jelly, and about a cup of molten grape jelly all over the stove top when the wretched stuff boiled over. Grape jelly goes well with game, foie gras or on toast. It's a great way to use up the last of the Black Hamburg grapes from the orchard. Grape seeds have lots of pectin, so there is no problem with it setting.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

The Sound of Cranes Flying Over

Eurasian Cranes Grus grus have a distinctive and very noticeable call when they are on the wing. They fly over Preuilly in February/March and October/November, on their way to and from their Spanish wintering grounds and their Scandinavian breeding grounds. Normally we notice them first because we hear the bugling call.

And that brings me to my point. Earlier this year scientists discovered how the crane makes this remarkable noise, that can be heard for kilometres.

It was already known that cranes have enormously long tracheas. They are longer than the bird's neck and twist and coil their way down to the lungs. It was assumed the trachea acted like a kind of trombone to amplify the call.

It turns out that the trachea is actually attached to the sternum, where it vibrates like strings over the bridge of a violin. The lungs form the resonating chamber and amplify the sound. Check out the sound in this video Simon made in February 2014 when they flew over our house.

Au jardin hier: Yesterday I picked up the last of the walnuts, and the last of the grapes are ready to make jelly with. I raked some more 'hay', taking it from the windrows and putting it under the fruit trees. Many of the orchids are making big healthy leaf rosettes -- for once I manage to time the autumn mow perfectly for their brief dormant period, so they are in no danger of being chopped off. Lizard, Pyramidal, Ophrys spp (Early Spider and Bee) and Autumn Lady's Tresses all have leaves showing at the moment.

On the way down to the orchard I ran into our neighbour Edouard. He was taking a break from sawing his firewood and was up for a chat. Apparently he's just had a few days in hospital, and while he was away some blighter sneaked into his garden and stole his tomatoes. He reckons they took about 14kg of ripe tomatoes.

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Bones and Roses

Archaeological digs in 2009-10 at the Prieuré de Saint Cosme, at La Riche on the outskirts of Tours, once home to the Renaissance poet Ronsard, uncovered 450 graves. Now the human remains found at the monastery have been inventoried, recorded and dated. The mostly men, but also women and children, have been blessed by the Archbishop of Tours and respectfully put into storage. The bones were those of monks, but also pilgrims and benefactors, all buried between the 12th and the 18th centuries, when the site, once an island, was active. Pierre de Ronsard himself was buried there in 1585.

The graveyard at the Prieuré de Saint Cosme.
The bones will be put into individual caskets, along with a photo of their excavation, details of dental condition, any indication of medical conditions, etc, all recorded on special non-reactive archival paper. They will be stored in the ceiling of the ambulatory. Although the site is now owned by the state, the curators and archaeologists felt they could not just pack up and store the bones like other objects, so they called in the Church to hold a suitable ceremony.

 The dramatic ruins of the priory church.
The site is currently closed while the garden is reconstructed, and will re-open to the public in January 2015. The new garden will feature all the plants Ronsard mentions, and remind people that Ronsard was not just about roses.
Fungi Foray: The Association de Botanique et de Mycologie de Sainte Maure de Touraine has organised a fungi outing to the Forest of Chinon for Saturday 18 October. Meet at the carpark by the Carrefour (crossroad) Charles VII at 2.30 pm. The fungi gathered will be displayed and identified in the carpark after the outing.

From the carrefour de la Pucelle take the forest road towards Rivarennes, on the right if you are approaching from Tours.
Farming News: Yesterday was clearly 'seed drilling day' if you are a farmer here. Presumably the soil moisture and air temperature was just right and more or less every farmer was out sowing their winter crops. The rain has paused for a few days and the sun is shining. They are working the fields while they can.

Monday 13 October 2014

Pneuclear Power Posts

Clients often ask us what local people do for a living. Until last year, one of the responses could have been 'they work in the Michelin tyre factory at Joué lès Tours'. Nowadays that answer has to be tempered by adding that last year they laid off 700 workers and are due to lose another163 this year.

Bibendum waves from the Michelin tyre factory at Joué lès Tours.
Recently the local newspaper ran an article to the effect that one of the other big employers in the area, the nuclear power station near Chinon, is very open to receiving applications from ex-Michelin workers. The power station employs up to 5000 people and sees the Michelin workers as coming from a similar work culture, with transferrable skills.

The steam from the cooling towers of the nuclear power station looms over the chateau and town of Chinon.
There is no formal agreement between the two companies, but informally, the out of work Michelin staff are being encouraged to attend business forums organised by the employment centre in Chinon. Electricité de France, who own and run the nuclear power plant at Avoine, near Chinon, will welcome them at their stand, and recruits regularly.