Between Earth and Sky: Riding through Provence, France

jleonard
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Re: Between Earth and Sky: Riding through Provence, France

Post by jleonard » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:52 am

It is a strange feeling to be taken to the places where so many of our grandparent's generation fell. Like here.

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This was a one of the gatherings honouring the vets after one of the dedications. In the corner of this garden, during the war, we heard from a small who had been a small boy then - the witness to a Typhoon crash. The pilot, likely knowing he didn't have a chance, pulled his crippled plane to one side just before crashing - so he wouldn't hit the boy.

The village remembered it - they kept running up to everyone in our group, bringing chairs, food, wine, making us welcome. We didn't always speak the same language - but it wasn't really necessary. We shared memories of those who sacrificed much, in a terrible time.

jleonard
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Re: Between Earth and Sky: Riding through Provence, France

Post by jleonard » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:53 am

You can't help but be affected when you visit these places..... like here.. the site of an SS execution of 27 Canadian soldiers.

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jleonard
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Re: Between Earth and Sky: Riding through Provence, France

Post by jleonard » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:54 am

I think after this trip I know what quiet is.

Windless, in the middle of farmers fields... the quiet of those who sleep. Honoured souls, far from home.... and yet right in their placement.

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jleonard
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Re: Between Earth and Sky: Riding through Provence, France

Post by jleonard » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:54 am

A panoramic shot.... standing on one of the beaches where the Americans landed on D day.

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You can see how difficult it must have been... shallows out for a huge distance. Running on wet sand through barbed wire and tank traps - facing murderous fire from fortifications (some of which still remain to this day... the scars of those times will last for many years, even those not specifically preserved.)

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jleonard
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Re: Between Earth and Sky: Riding through Provence, France

Post by jleonard » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:55 am

A bit more to come... but I'll leave off for now with a picture of a lifesize Typhoon replica.... so you can visualize what these men flew.

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jleonard
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Re: Between Earth and Sky: Riding through Provence, France

Post by jleonard » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:56 am

Before I continue, some personal remembrances.... (This was originally posted on rememberance day)

Grandpa Jack - despatch rider.
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Great uncle Lennox - despatch rider
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And the gent who inspired this trip.... Grandpa Bob... Typhoon pilot
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And of course, my Grandmother Pearl, who worked in Code and cipher (and motor transport) (No picture here, I'd have to ask her permission first :)

Each giving to a greater cause. Each part of change to Canada and our place in the world.

To all those who have served in whatever fashion - :canflag:

jleonard
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Re: Between Earth and Sky: Riding through Provence, France

Post by jleonard » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:57 am

So we had an event in the Itinerary (which was put together by the local Typhoon association) simply labelled as ""Dinner at the Baron's Chateau"

Which of course leads one to speculate... but all we really knew was that we should dress up somewhat nicely, and we'd all be going to a local Baron's place for some dinner.

So that day dinnertime slowly comes around. We whip back from another plaque dedication to go back to the hotel to change and clean up a bit. After which we pile into the vans, and head off to dinner.

We stop in a small village... asking directions a few times before the name of the chateau finally gets us a "Oh oui oui!" and some directions on where to go - just outside the village, where we turn into a private drive.

The drive way immediately is... different. You can see the remnants of old landscaping... gently gone to seed. The blurred remains of topiary... ornamental trees now touching the sky.

We finally come to a stone and iron fence.... rusted and bent, with the great ironwork gates long open and past any hope of closing. Inside, we pull up next to a stone Chateau.... gentling fading in a genteel fashion.
Marked well by time, but still dignified, still proud.

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jleonard
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Re: Between Earth and Sky: Riding through Provence, France

Post by jleonard » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:57 am

We mill about in the courtyard for a while, meeting up with the other dinner invitees - local dignitaries, members of the Typhoon association, a french major, and even a RAF wing commander in uniform, who flies the new Typhoon jet.

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After a bit, we're all called to go into the vaulted stone hall in the basement - the original wine cellar and kitchen. (The fireplace in the kitchen being big enough to park a Ural in.)

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I can only imagine the stories the house could tell.... we heard a few over dinner... some of the history of this place.

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Re: Between Earth and Sky: Riding through Provence, France

Post by jleonard » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:58 am

The weekend before the hall had been rented for a local wedding apparently - so part of the music came through a stereo installed for that purpose.... complete with disco lighting.

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(It is an oddly surreal experience to be in the stone basement of a Chateau, hundreds of years old with great history to it... and to have it light by flashing disco lights.)

In many ways, this was a great highlight of the trip for me - this was someone's home we were brought into, with great joy, warmth and graciousness. It drove home how much of the history there is a living one - buildings that would be museums here with people living in them. Roman roads still used by daily traffic, aqueducts crossing over modern roads and houses.

It reminds you that while we have great natural beauty in our country... we don't have that sense (with few exceptions) of history surrounding us.

jleonard
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Re: Between Earth and Sky: Riding through Provence, France

Post by jleonard » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:58 am

And on to the last bit of the trip...

One thing you notice.... France remembers the war, and our contribution to it.

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