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 2020 have been abandoned and visitors have had to cancel their plans too. So - our comments and observations.

A WORLD IN TURMOIL


2019 had not been a good year with uncertainty over Britain’s departure from the EU, international trade wars and natural disasters, but we entered 2020 with hope of a better year ahead. Then came coronavirus! Apart from the cancellation of our own trips to see friends and family, we were looking forward to receiving visitors for Germany, Britain and the United States, which also had to be abandoned due to the pandemic.


None the less we felt fortunate to be confined to France. Most countries were slow to react to the pandemic but when France was hit hard on her eastern border things happened quickly. Yes the local heath services were overrun, a field hospital was set-up while some patients were evacuated to hospitals in western France as well as to adjacent countries, which must have been especially tough for their families. However, in contrast to the UK, decisive action was taken and we were reassured by the French lock-down measures. Living in a small village we are lucky to have good neighbours with our local Maire and Counseil sourcing hand gel, masks as well as flour when they were in short supply.


Whenever our French friends complained about their government’s handling of the pandemic, I simply asked if they would prefer to have Boris Johnson in charge. Which is why a headline in our English language newspaper (Connexion July 2020) ”UK’s handling of Covid makes Macron’s work look like an act of genus” made me chuckle. I could go on about the muddled approach of the Johnson government, but I find it ironic that Britain and the US, who had traditionally provided decisive leadership in times of international trouble, were among the least prepared for any pandemic, but have been and continue to be, most effected by it. In my view it relates directly to their recent inward looking policies which have strengthened the resolve of other regimes to assert their own global prowess. Will changes in the US leadership make and difference? The UK government may be fortunate in that the damaged caused by leaving the EU will undoubtedly be hidden by its pandemic mess.


People are social animals and for many the imposition of restrictions on personal liberty and travel, coupled with financial worries will easily reach a limit triggering a backlash and even rebellion. The primary function of any government is the safety and security of its citizens and we can not pretend that governments are not having a hard time at the moment. However the pandemic is placing leaders in the spotlight more than ever before. Of course there are sincere, competent people in government and business, but the global pandemic and economic fallout will continue to highlight their past misdemeanours, misjudgements, outright failings, racism and corruption, as people simply ask the question “are our leaders up to the job”?



AN UPDATE


Well according to President Trump he won the US election but most of the world will see Joe Biden swan in as President on the 20th January 2021. That will not only be a blow to Donald Trump himself but also his disciples including a certain Boris Johnson in the UK!

 

Meanwhile the pandemic is enjoying a grand winter resurgence in the US and across Europe. There is hope of vaccines but who is to be the first to get vaccinated but then who wants to be first in the queue?

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.


THE NEW NORMAL


People cause pollution – by living and behaving only as required their leaders. As a result, long before the covid 19 virus could be brought under control, we were all being asked to spend, spend, spend for the sake of the economy therefore making the situation even worse! But should we even be thinking of returning to our old ways? We have seen the impact that “lockdown” had on the environment. Nature was fighting back, from the bird song in our parks and gardens to the clear sky's above normally polluted industrial areas. Although this is only temporary there are lessons to be learnt?


It is understandable that the pandemic has pushed environmental problems further down the “to-do list”. Although many governments seek to capitalise on a “green economic recovery”others remain in denial and strive to return to “their normality”. Faced with the pandemic, by and large, people have accepted restrictions far in excess of anything imposed even during wartime. The worrying thought behind this suggests that peoples behaviour can be changed by imposing strong constraints upon them in a crisis. It is possible to see how governments may be tempted to restrict individual freedoms to combat the threat posed by climate change rather than tackle the problem at its broader industrial and economic roots. Many governments have already given themselves “special powers” to cope with the pandemic. These powers had little political scrutiny but they are likely to stay on the statute books “just in case of another emergency”!


For example, the 2016 EU Referendum, ironically promised to restore legislative control to the British Parliament, which has attempted to circumvent that very Parliament with the Prime Minister taking a more “Presidential” roll, in legislating by executive decree. Moreover the British Governments own “emergency” covid 19 restrictions, have limited normal debate and voting in the House of Commons thus continuing this trend while discriminating against some MP’s who could not attend Parliament to vote in person.

So what is to be the “New Normal”. The pandemic has hastened lifestyle changes which were already becoming inevitable. Shopping, sport and entertainment, eating out, travelling and even working, are no longer the social experiences that they used to be. Now almost everyone can shop on line, have their food and meals delivered and we will only need warehouses and factories to assemble orders and prepare food. There will be no need for bars, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and stadiums, no need to pollute the towns and cities by visiting them, roads will only be used by white vans and delivery bikes. Only elitist sports will be possible, which like most forms of entertainment, even personal exercise and education will be bought on-line with automated payments.


It is suggested that at least 35% of people will be able to work from home or some type of local centre, for much of the time. Obviously this depends upon the type of work, availability of space and infrastructure, but it will only strengthen class divide. There will bedemand for greater flexibility where daily commuting will no longer the norm. Our local high streets may benefit while city centres and office blocks will have to adapt. On the other side of the divide there will be little choice for the factory, health and other service workers who will still have greater exposure to infections in the workplace and on public transport. Alternatively they will pay dearly to use their own vehicles on increasingly restricted roads. But we will all pay with our freedom. Surveillance drones, cameras and our smart-phones will make sure that we don't abuse the system as they continuously monitor our, behaviour, location, health, payments and “well-being”.


Will the “new normal” save the planet? The pandemic highlighted the importance of local production and manufacturing. We have seen countries fighting over medical supplies, so will we soon loose sight of this and return to our old global economic ways?

 

 


No party in 2020 - Our July 1 party 2019 may well be the last!!!!!!!!!!

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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.

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

Our only visitors in 2020 were Babsi & Jason with the boys


They made it back to England just in time to eajoy 14 days quqrantine (house arrest)

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August: Babsi, Jason and the boys

When restrictions were eased during the summer months we manage a few trips out to local restaurants and some dinners with friends and neighbours. Barbara’s knitting group resumed until the autumn lock-down.

 

We managed to catch up with a few outstanding jobs around the house. In the spring the vegetable garden looked promising, but as the hot dry summer continued even the courgettes withered and the green beans never came to anything. Our old apple tree finally succumbed to the summer wind with a branch just missing the kitchen roof. It was so hollow and rotten that the local gardening contractors took one look at it and ran away. Our neighbour came to the rescue and by midday it was taken down piece by piece and all carted away.

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