20 Jul 2009

Hot time in the old town . . . .

….. last night.

It was the annual Olive Festival – Fête de l'Olivier à Bize Minervois 2009! How quickly it seems to have come around again. And the crowds came again in huge numbers. It was a very social time in the village – and our evening didn’t wind up until very late.

We did give Nic and Duff’s house a test for the evening – given that the bands set up directly outside the windows! They’re pretty sure that next year, they’ll be making plans to spend these nights away ….

A selection of photos and videos from the day – most of them from either the roof terrace or one of the windows …. Things look quite different from this perspective!

The aioli-making competition

The roof tops / view from the roof terrace

Fireworks viewed from the roof terrace (a little weeding to be done…)

The band that played until 2am!

Banner in the small square in front of the church
(where all the wine producers set up their stalls)

Speaking of wine producers – here are Vincent and Brigitte Enaud who have the domain Monastrel right here in Bize. And here’s something funny – the bottle of rose that Brigitte is holding is from the vintage that we did a bit of grape picking for last year.
So we may have picked the very grapes that are in this bottle! Regardless, we took some home and would like to think they’re ‘our’ grapes we’ll be drinking!

17 Jul 2009

A moving experience

A little adventure the other day – involving transporting my new bed and mattress from Narbonne to Bize. I’ve been using one of Nic’s beds in the barn for nearly a year (I was one bed short when I moved across from the house – and by using one of theirs, it freed up a bit of space in the very crowded but soon-to-be-empty garage!). And now that they’re moving into their own house and reclaiming their bed, I needed a new one.

There are lots of sales on at the moment, so Nic and I headed down to Narbonne to pick up a bed.

Now, it was hot as hell this day, so by the time we’d packed the head and base board and other bits into the back of the car and tied it down, and wrestled with the mattress and tied it onto the roof, we were already a little frazzled.

We’d not gone far – on the ring road on the outskirts of Narbonne – lots of fast traffic – when I glanced in the rear vision and noticed the mattress was slipping backwards and sliding down the rear window!

Merde --- pulled into the emergency stopping lane, hazard lights on and crawled along slowly until we could pull over and fix the problem. Or so we thought.

Anyway, we headed off and got a few kilometres further up the road towards Bize. Cars are tooting and pointing.

Merde again ….. pull over again, and the mattress is now sliding off to one side! We weren't in a very good place here … busy road, and had to pull off onto the grass verge very close to the traffic.

And while we’re surveying the problem, we are still getting toots from cars.

Think very flustered by this stage.

So flustered in fact that we’d forgotten about the French breakdown laws – you MUST wear a fluorescent jacket while you’re out of the car if you’ve pulled over with a car problem. It’s a pretty strict law in fact – you must have the jacket within reach before you get out of the car. Mine (with 'British Airways' emblazoned across the back - oops) is stored under the driver’s seat.

You see quite a few people driving around with theirs slung over the back of one of the two front seats. It’s an offence to not have it ‘reachable’. Or more probably, the offence is to be caught without it, while rumaging around in the boot of the car looking for it!

And then there are the red warning triangles that you need to put 30 metres behind the vehicle. Well it took a few minutes for us to get this happening – and then the inevitable happened. A ridiculous attack of the giggles at our predicament.

It was hot, very hot, this was our second emergency stop, I was late for a 12 o’clock lunch at a friend’s house (had made the phone call and apologised and tried to explain what was happening), I was out of petrol and the warning light had been on for what seemed like forever – and this not helped by Nic trying to take a photo of me on her mobile phone!

However, eventually we made it home - everything was hurriedly unpacked and left on the garage floor, I raced off to get petrol and made it to lunch 45 minutes late, and enjoyed a very welcome glass of cold wine!

River things

Much of what happens in the village involves the beautiful River Cesse – the pool, the swimming in summer, the Cavalcade in February, the 14th July fireworks and the motorbike event.

A few weeks ago, the machines started work on deepening the pool and building up the dam wall – at the same time the dirt mound was being built for the motocross event.

The water is pretty muddy and stirred up here, but several hours after they’d finished, it was back to its normal crystal clear state.

The freestyle motorbike night was held on the 13th July and we had a beaut view from the front balcony of Nic and Duff’s new house overlooking the promenade – and managed to get a pretty good view of the jumps through the plane trees.

I got lots of shots of the single riders earlier in the event, but as the evening progressed, I was finding it increasingly difficult to juggle the camera and my glass of wine - and the wine won out.

Hence, no shots later when there were two bike riders jumping in unison, and doing complete somersaults in the air. Must do better next year. It was pretty amazing stuff.

This is the third year it’s been held, and each year the crowds are bigger – seems like it’s going to become a very popular event. There were thousands here!

Indigo managed to get an autograph on her arm from one of the young stunt riders – much to her delight. And to the amusement of all – when she woke the next morning, she’d slept on her hand and transferred it onto the side of her face!

The night before was a band set up under the trees, opposite the bar. And we did while away a few hours there in the evening. The kids did much better than us though – they were up on the stage dancing with other kids until midnight! The village is absolutely hopping at the moment.

And then of course there were the 14th July celebrations which are celebrated in just about every village. Each year here in Bize, there’s live music, a meal on the promenade and fireworks down in the river.
The fireworks set up with the "Bize 2009" display
across the river - the motorcross mound on
the dry riverbed in the foreground

A very good time was had by all …..

New House

No, not mine - I feel I’m still settling into my new abode. It’s Nic and Duff’s house – they have bought a house right in the heart of the village, down near the river and are currently in the process of moving out of the gite.
So there’s been a frantic bit of painting and cleaning going on in the last couple of weeks.

And between swimming and playing, the kids have lent a helping hand too.

The house will be great when it’s been done up. It’s liveable now, but down the track when it’s had the renovations done to it, it will be fantastic. The windows look out onto the river, and the roof terrace has fantastic views across the village and the hills.

The view looking down at the market on the Promenade

The village dentist has his surgery on the ground floor, and is to stay there for a further two years - which makes things interesting at times.

The other day, Nic was going in the front door when one of the old ladies of the village handed her a clear plastic bag containing the casts for her dentures and asked her to hang them on the door knob of the surgery door ……… and only too pleased to oblige of course!

Now, they know it’s going to be noisy at times, because it really is in the thick of things down there near the bar – and the promenade is where everything happens. But it’s only a few times a year that there are big events in the village that go on until all hours.

It just happens that now is about the time where things are happening! And the front balcony is a perfect position to see all the goings-on.

Moving sideways

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