cutsfranceWe are staying in a beautiful old hotel in Blerancout, France attending a Concourse de Attelage in Cuts, France held at the chateau of Anne Storme and organized by Antoinette and Christian De Longlad. This type of competition requires antique carriage and horses or ponies of any suitable type for carriage driving, as long as they are presented in the traditional manner.

I did not anticipate being in France at this show so did not arrange to drive here. I drove my Frisians here in 1999 and my Andalusians here about seven years ago. A picture of me driving those four horses on the Routiere (marathon) appears in their program this year. We are passing a lake, and there is a beautiful swan swimming on the lake in the fore ground.

Today’s competitors presented their turnouts (Presentation) in front of judges located at three different stations in front of the chateau. What a site for photographs!

Dani Van der Wiel drove a tandem, and I knew many of the other competitors but could not call them all by name. There were singles, pairs, three abreast, Pic Ax, several four-in-hands to light carriages and three four-in-hands to coaches. One very interesting coach was made by an English coach builder in India at the time of England’s great presence in India. They will all go out on their marathon this morning and do cones in the afternoon.

France is best known for its food and history. The world wars are still very much on people’s minds and evident in the bullet holes on the sides of their great buildings. We went to the cathedral in Noyon yesterday. It is where Charlemagne, the first of the Holy Roman Emperors, was crowned King of the Franks in 700 something. The church has been rebuilt several times.

Linda, it was market day in Noyon. Gene was in heaven as he bought an inexpensive shirt and sampled horse meat, which is legal to eat in most countries in the world except the USA.

The gardens here at Blerancourt are ablaze with blooms this time of year. Redesigned by an American landscape architect, it is difficult to tell how the original gardens would have been. We look upon these gardens as the morning sun comes in our windows each morning. Since Blerancout is in the middle of agricultural fields, the air is fresh; and fortunately the weather has been fabulous each day we are here–high 70s and sunshine. There is no air-conditioning here in the countryside in village homes’ so we are blessed that it is not to hot. There are no screens on the windows, so in the morning we feel like we have slept outside. Cindy, our room seems like a sleeping porch.

The roadways are narrow in the small villages, and David is driving us around in an English car with the steering wheel on the right; so I feel very vulnerable in the front seat. Gene and I are both agriculturalists at heart, so we are thoroughly enjoying the beautifully planted fields. They are stating to harvest their hay. They do not plant as mush rape here as in England, where the fields were yellow from their bloom for as far as the eye could see. In this area, wheat seems to be the major crop and we do see the occasional herd of Charolais cows.