Place de l'église, Champagny-sous-Uxelles, Southern Burgundy, France.

Events : Visitors : Family & Travels


  Our year in Burgundy



As always we try to list the visitors to us as well as our own travels during the past year. We are in the habit of making a few comments also note other village related events especially when we have pictures to put on view. 


COMMENT

It seems no time at all since we reflect on 2019 but the onset of coronavirus has changed many things. We have spent months at home and our travel plans for the first half of 2020 have been abandoned and visitors have had to cancel their plans. Our comments and observations, although still relevant have been superseded by events.

It is easy to generalise, but the way in which each country deals with the coronavirus pandemic seams to reflect its political and economic strength. Whether it is an authoritarian or democratic regime is not particularly relevant, but fear of economic and the resulting political disruption has clearly driven governments, as most countries fall into the too little too late category. In the past, the world looked to the US and even the UK for leadership during troubled times, but over the past few years we have seen how inward looking policies have undermined their respective global status. Many experts are finding it incredible that the two nations best placed to combat the virus were probably the least prepared, but most affected by it.

 

The situation in US is especially concerning.They havethe possibility to change their leadershipat the end of 2020, but will they? Britain has been struggling with poor political leadership coupled with ineffective opposition since 2007. It is extremely worrying to witness the muddled approach of the current executive during the pandemic and of course the prime minister has beenhors de combat at a critical time. The consequences of austerity measures over last decade and its departure from the EU, will at least fade into insignificance in the aftermath of coronavirus. Countries, including Britain will have to decide where their allegiances lie and China is watching! There are all the usual conspiracy theories but would any government take such risks with a pandemic? Then, just suppose that some darker forces behind these governments wished to re-balance the global economy for their own wealth and power! Interesting?

 

Locking down a countries economy cannot last for long while governments gamble on their economies ‘bouncing back’ quickly, as if nothing had happened. Economic recovery depends on consumers spending money, but will the coronavirus experience have change peoples priorities? Even before the pandemic arrived, there was evidence that, in some consumer-centric countries, people might be looking for more sustainability and that they may have actually reached the point of ‘peak stuff’. They are not going to eat more food, although the my seek better quality and they probably have enough things, so will they be spending as much? With dramatic increases in unemployment and massive levels of government borrowing, which will probably lead, in some way, to higher taxation, even people who have cash or can borrow are likely to be much more cautious.

 

What have we learned from the pandemic? We have realised just how interdependent the world has become and that nationalism, protectionism, tariffs and trade wars are incompatible with this kind of global economy. Rebalancing our manufacturing and agriculture for greater security is becoming more important. We can survive on local produce, and even support the smaller producers who lost their markets as the tourist and restaurant industries were decimated. We have returned to cooking fresh food at home and have limited our shopping trips, exploring the benefits of on-line shopping. Many have discovered the possibilities of working from home for the first time.

Our 2019 travels comprised of trips to England and Germany. The first of these was to celebrate Pamelas 40th birthday in January. A month later it was Germany for Christa's 70th birthday then back to UK for Easter. Then again to the Köln (Colonge) area in August.

Image description

Pamela with three of her girlfriends. Rob did a fantastic job in getting all her old friends and family together for the evening. But the disco lighting made good photography difficult.

At Christa's  party.

Christa and Klaus,

Barbara and Jon flanked by Claudia and Rainer.

Image description
Image description

Our week in Wales with Pam, Rob & children. We could only get halfway up Snowden due to high winds (Jon was pleased). We visited their old negihbour Yvonne (in blue).

Here we are in Köln for the weekend, on guided tour with friends from 'Deutsche Schule Teheran' arranged by Rainer.

Image description


Environmental impact of coronavirus.


While some cities take the opportunity to close roads allowing for greater distancing between groups of cyclists and pedestrians, the irony is that we are now being told the safest form of travel is in our own car! This could be the final death blow to towns and shopping centres, as one interviewee commented “how do I get my flat-pack wardrobe home from Ikea” on a bike? By selecting whatever scientific evidence suits them, fear has allowed governments to impose such harsh restrictions on citizens that could never have been thought possible, even during wartime. There is danger that, under any ‘new normal’, personal freedoms will only be restored to those accepting inoculation, tracking and divulgence of personal data. If citizens can accept all this, then why not force them to accept lifestyle changes and other restrictions “for the sake of the environment”?


We have all been struck by the impact on the environment that “lock down” has had on many industrial regions. Satellite images showing dramatic improvement in air quality around areas such as Northern Italy have reinforced our impression that plants and wildlife have benefited from this reduction in human activity this spring. There have been conflicting reports that we will lose sight of our environmental problems in the rush for economic regeneration while environmentalists (and some politicians) see a post coronavirus opportunity to make changes, but will we revert to our bad old ways?

 

These thoughts were discussed in an article in our local English language newspaper (Connexion May 2020) in which academic Dominique Desjeux suggests that peoples behaviour can only be changed by imposing strong constraints upon them. Attempting to put my own thoughts onto paper, I realised just how difficult it is to separate the coronavirus pandemic from consumerism and our lifestyle. I also realised that items written for our website in December 2019, just after Boris Johnson's landslide election victory in the UK, had so quickly been overtaken by events.

 

I have been banging on about environmental matters for a few years now, expressing my concerns about globalisation, especially as food and perishables are flown around the world. I have favoured local manufacturers, producers and whenever possible, the use of local seasonal foods. The recent restrictions have shown us how planning our shopping trips and working from home has significantly reduced private car use, traffic pollution and wasted commuting time. It has, in some ways, improved our quality of life and if we continue to do this in a post coronavirus world it will help, but not solve all our problems.

 

It is the private car that is always under discussion by the green lobby. But road transport in general such a vital part of the economy. Even if we buy on-line or are lucky enough to get our ready-made food delivered, there is always a truck, van or motor-bike involved. The city dweller could easily loose the convenience of his local bakery or pharmacy if delivery access is restricted. Whereas the villager is increasingly finding that he may have to drive a significant distance for a loaf of bread; so for many going “car free” is not an option. Free out of town parking and buses will not save the high streets either. Having reached the age of dodgy knees, even if I am socially distant, masked and gelled, I will avoid public transport and if I am prevented from parking near my favourite restaurant or obliged to carry heavy or awkward purchases on a bus I will simply go elsewhere!

 

Governments must take a lead in protecting the environment, not just by attending conferences and making decrees. Only in an authoritarian regime, will the imposition of strong constraints actually work. A democratic society must lead by example bringing the people with it and not allow governmental elitism to destroy its trust. There must be a serious increase or reinstatement of, funding for “green projects”, energy, carbon capture and insulation. This will be difficult in the current circumstances, but it is not going to be good enough to ban this and fine that without proper consideration.

 

After researching the electric and hybrid car market for the last seven years and having been obliged to continue using diesel power, I agree, electric cars can be quick, quiet and comfortable, but despite recent improvements, for the serious European traveller, they remain impractical and very, very expensive when everything is taken into account. The majority of vehicles on the roads today are relatively old. Simply setting arbitrary dates to ban the sale of certain vehicles sends industry and public into dismay. There must be significant, cash incentives for companies and private motorists to quickly replace older vehicles with a range of ecologically efficient, not necessarily electric ones. Therefore stimulating the ailing motor industry and allowing time to create a new infrastructure.

 


Our July 1 party 2019

Image description

How can we follow the entertainment of Gaspard the juggler and the music of Jean-Louis & Danielle Thuol. Perhaps we shouldn't try and after 11 years its a good time to stop on such a high note. Even with the help and support of friends and neighbours we are finding that our old bones are starting to complain while our minds are devoid of new inspirations.

Image description

Gaspard encouraged audience participation, Danielle & Jean-Louis take time out to watch.

Our visitors in 2019


MARCH: Bea & Guy from Belgium (sorry no 'photo)


Image description

JULY: Babsi, Jason and the boys

Image description

AUGUST: Kristina, Mick & Family (Hopp) from Germany.

Image description

AUGUST: Adam & Karen from UK

                         ---------

also: Pam, Rob and family from UK

Image description

SEPTEMBER: Farida from US (travelling Europe)

Image description
Image description

SEPTEMBER: Andreas & Julie

from Scotland.

DECEMBER:Beatrice (Switzerland)

The lighter side

 

An American couple visiting France were worried about etiquette and asked their hosts children if the family prayed before they sat down to eat dinner. The twelve year old daughter was puzzled by this question and after some thought she replied. “No never, we are French so we know how to cook”.

 

We love the French. Where else in the world do people sit at the dinner table for five hours and only talk about food and drink.