nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for the ‘virtual cycling in central France’ Category

a patio overlooking the ocean 6-14

with 10 comments

Well, I have reached the end of Phase 6 of my virtual tour through central France!!!

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This last day on Ile de Ré marked the end of a sort of odyssey for me.  When I began, on January 30, 2013, I had little hope that my exercise plan would last very long.  And here I am, 196.8 kilometers and 1975 minutes of stationary cycling later.

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map showing distance travelled (map from Google Earth)

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I have learned a lot about central France, I have practiced my French, I have drawn and painted a lot of my impressions, and I have had fun telling you all about it in my Blog posts.

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I also have several health benefits to report.  My blood pressure is consistently down to normal, my blood cholesterol is improved, and I feel more energetic.  As a result of this last, my house is (slightly) more organised.  I have not lost one ounce of weight, but I have probably gained some muscle and lost some fat.  My knees are no better but they are also no worse.

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I think, most important, I have learned two things about exercise …

1. about 2-3 months of regular exercise is needed to see a benefit, and

2. after about one month, exercise starts to be a habit, so it does not take so large an effort to continue as to begin.

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The vistas on this last day were not so different from other days on the island.  I saw many paths to the beach, but rarely saw the ocean …

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a path to the beach (image from Street View)

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I saw an interesting ‘pink-flowered’ shrub growing along the ponds of the salt marsh …

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a shrub with pink flowers (image from Street View)

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And I ended my sixth phase of my virtual bike trip virtually enjoying a virtual lemonade at a charming patio in La Patache, overlooking the sea …

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a patio overlooking the ocean at La Patache (image from Street View)

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Best View:  the salt marshes of Ile de Ré …

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June 26, 2013 ‘salt marsh on Ile de Re #2’ Jane Tims

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So, am I going to continue this exercise plan?  You bet!  Next, I am going for a 4 day tour of the city of Mermaid Waters in Australia.  A very good friend of mine lived there once and biked every day to university along the path I will take.   Then, I will choose a place in Britain to continue my virtual bike tour.   I hope you will join me!!!!

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Copyright  Jane Tims  2013

a mysterious mechanism 6-13

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salt ponds on Ile de Re (image from Street View)

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map showing distance travelled … the rectangular salt ponds on Ile de Re are visible (map from Google Earth)

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On this second-to-last day of my virtual travels through France, I found a mystery.  The disadvantage of travelling far away from the images you see is, you can’t stop and ask when you see something you don’t understand.  As I drove along the salt ponds dominating the eastern part of Ile de Ré, I saw a circular structure.  It was corral-like and at first I thought it must be a corral for a horse.  But, closer observation suggests another purpose …

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circular ‘corral’ … click the photo to enlarge and see the internal mechanism … rectangular salt ponds are visible in the background (image from Street View)

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The clues are these:

1. the structure is circular

2. a fence surrounds the structure, suggesting need to contain an animal or something else

3. on second look, the fence is more like a wall, perhaps able to contain some substance, perhaps even a liquid

4.  a horse trailer is parked in the yard

5. a grass-free track surrounds the structure

6. the corral is not empty, but contains a complex structure, including an elevated  ‘pipe’ near the middle, and two long horizontal poles supported by wires

7.  at the end of each pole is a flat, paddle-like structure

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I have a theory about this mysterious device.  I think it is a horse-driven mechanism for collecting salt.

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My theory: salt water is pumped into the structure, a horse is used to turn the paddles through the water and salt is collected on the paddles.

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Although I searched on the Internet, I could not find any reference to this method of collecting salt.

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On Ile de Ré, salt is typically collected from large rectangular salt ponds called ‘pans’.  The salt is formed as the sun and wind ‘lift’ the salt from the water.  The collection process is very labour-intensive.  People stand on the narrow grassed dividers between ponds and ‘rake’ the fleur de sel (top layer of crystallised salt), collecting it into large salt piles.   Fleur de sel is more expensive than table salt because of the complexity of the harvest.  It is often sold in jars, is moist and contains sand which gives it a grey color.  Some Ile de Ré salt has a pink tint, from its phytoplankton content!

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6-13 m avenue des salines

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Do you know what the circular corral is used for?  Do you think I have solved the mystery???

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Best View:  a house covered with white roses …

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June 25, 2013 ‘house with white roses’ Jane Tims

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Copyright  2013   Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

July 8, 2013 at 7:08 am

forested dunes 6-12

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long empty roads (image from Street View)

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My virtual bike trip on day 12 of Phase 6 took me along a very uninteresting length of highway.  Other, more interesting roads showed on the map, but Street View just didn’t go there.  The houses along the way were screened by long stretches of walls  …

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miles of walls (image from Street View)

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Sometimes the walls were covered in graffiti …

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miles of graffiti-covered walls (image from Street View)

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When I turned to travel along the beach, the first house I saw was a charming cottage named ‘Solitude’  …

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cozy cottage named Solitude (image from Street View)

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The rest of the route along the beach was obscured by trees.  Although it meant I couldn’t see the beach, a forested dune is actually an environmental goal.  There is lots of evidence that the eventual natural state of a dune is forest.  In New Brunswick, we have only three forested dunes.  Usually erosion of the grassed dune occurs long before forest is able to establish itself …

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forested dune along the north shore of Ile de Ré (image from Street View)

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Best View:  a view across the salt marsh ponds near Le Gillieux ….

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June 25, 2013 ‘salt marsh on Ile de Re’ Jane Tims

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Copyright  Jane Tims  2013

Written by jane tims

July 5, 2013 at 7:01 am

seaweed for gardens and vines for trees 6-11

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greenery in a walled yard (image from Street View)

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map showing distance travelled (map from Google Earth)

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I am nearing the end of Phase 6 of my virtual cycling trip through central France, but I am seeing so many interesting things, it is hard to look forward to the end.  Today I saw a man digging seaweed into his garden.  He had spread the seaweed uniformly across his garden and was slowly digging it into the soil …

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man digging seaweed into the garden (image from Street View)

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I am interested in gardening, so of course, I stopped to talk …

Jane:  Bonjour.  ‘Qu-est-ce que vous ajoutez au jardin???’ (‘Hello!  What is it you are digging into your garden?’)

Gardener:  ‘Bonjour.  Ce sont des algues marines!  Il sont très bon pour le sol.’  (‘Hello.  I am adding seaweed.   It is very good for the soil.’)

Jane:  ‘Bon pour le sol?  C’est vrai?’   (‘Good for the soil.  Is that true?’)

Gardener: ‘Mais oui!  Ils ajoutent la nourriture et les matières organiques aux sol!’  (‘Of course!  They add nutrients and organic matter to the soil!’)

Jane:  ‘D’où est-ce que vous avez obtainer ces algues marines?’  (‘Where did you get the seaweed?’)

Gardener: ‘Ah, juste à côté de l’ocean! Ils ne coûtent rien!’ (‘Ah, just by the ocean!’ It’s free!!!’)

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Using seaweed on gardens is common on this side of the Atlantic Ocean also.  For example, in his book Vineyard Chill (Scribner, New York, 2008), Phillip R. Craig opened his mystery novel with a family going to the beach to gather seaweed for their garden on Martha’s Vineyard.

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There was lots of evidence of gardening and green thumbs on this part of my bike drive across Ile de Ré …

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greenhouses on Ile de Ré (image from Street View)

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Best View: old trees, their trunks covered with vines  (I loved doing this watercolor so much, I tried three versions) …

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'vine-covered trees #1'

June 17, 2013 ‘vine-covered trees #1’ Jane Tims

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'vine-covered trees #2'

June 17, 2013 ‘vine-covered trees #2’ Jane Tims

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June 18, 2013 ‘vine-covered trees #3’ Jane Tims

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This is the view that inspired the paintings …

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along the road

vine-covered trees (image from Street View)

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Copyright  Jane Tims  2013

Written by jane tims

July 3, 2013 at 7:04 am

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