Tag Archives: Canal du Midi

Postcard From France – The Canal du Midi

The idea of creating a waterway as a shortcut between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea had captured the imagination of successive French Kings and governments since Roman times. The regional route overland was slow, uncomfortable and haunted by bandits; the two thousand mile passage by sea took at least a month and was also dangerous as ships negotiating the Spanish coast dodged storms and Barbary pirates to pass through the Strait of Gibraltar.

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Favourite Places in Spain, Palencia in Castilla y Leon

This is the last (for the time being) of my favourite places in Spain…

palencia 03

“Sometimes the Spaniard will resent your attempts to use it (Spanish).  Sometimes he believes it to physically impossible for an alien to understand it.  Sometimes he cannot actually convince himself that you are speaking it…”   Jan Morris – ‘Spain’

Catedral?” I enquired and the poor man (victim) that I had selected just stared back at me with an expressionless face as though I was a visitor from the planet Mars.  So I tried again but this time, remembering that upside down question mark thing at the beginning of the sentence I tried to sound a bit more Spanish, ¿Catedral?” but his face went so blank that I thought that he had surely died from shock and premature rigor mortis had set in.

Directions

I don’t know if you agree but I have to say that Catedral sounds a bit like Cathedral to me so I don’t know why this was so difficult but his solution was to call someone else over who was an obviously educated man who spoke excellent English and with optimism I tried again ¿Catedral?”

To my horror he adopted exactly the same blank face as the first man so I tried again in various different accents and voice inflections. ¿Cat-edral?”  “¿Catedraaal?”  “¿Caaatedral?”  Nothing, Nothing, Nothing.  I really could not understand why this should be so difficult.

If a Spanish man came up to me in Lincoln and asked for directions to the Cathedral, however he might pronounce it, I am fairly sure that I could make out what he was asking for!   Eventually I gave up, added the Anglo-Saxon h sound and just asked in English for directions to the Cathedral and amazingly I immediately made myself understood and the man smiled and said “Ah, Catedral!” which, I am fairly certain is exactly what I said in the first place and then having cleared up this little confusing matter he went on to give very clear and very precise directions on how to find it.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Monochromatic

Canal du Midi, Languedoc, France

The trees have been a feature of the eastern half of the canal from Toulouse to Sète since they were first planted in the 1830s and today, as we walked along the towpath, all around us they swayed gently in the breeze as though in a collective trance.  Their triple purpose was to strengthen the banks, reduce water evaporation by the strong Midi sun and shade the canal boats, which originally transported delicate products like wine and fabrics.  But in 2005 disaster struck and for the past six years a fungus has been attacking the trees, spreading along the waterway and defying all attempts to cure or control it.

Tree specialists have concluded that it is almost certain all the planes will have to be chopped down, burned and replaced because the trees have been struck by an outbreak of a virulent, incurable microscopic fungus which spreads through the roots and is thought to have first reached France with American GIs in the Second-World-War whose sycamore ammunition boxes were infected.

We counted ourselves lucky to have seen these magnificent trees at this time because in a couple of years or so they may well be gone.

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Northern Spain – The City of Palencia

Palencia Spain

” Castile has no coast, so tourists in search of a beach leave it alone…. Castile is almost overlooked.  If Spain is hard, extreme, hot, cold, empty, then Castile is more so.”,                   Christopher House – ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’

It was only a short drive from Valladolid to Palencia and we easily negotiated the traffic and found our way to a car park close to the city centre where we immediately came across a pleasant pavement café where we stopped for coffee and to take time to find our bearings.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons

Autumn and the Canal du Midi

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”                                    Albert Camus

It wasn’t too busy today with just a few visitors and a handful of barges waiting patiently for the next scheduled operation of the locks.  It was quite interesting but I have to say that if this is the third most visited tourist attraction in Languedoc-Roussillon then the region must be short of visitor attractions and I’m not sure that I believe that claim.  From the top lock there was a glorious view across the river valley towards Beziers but we turned our back on that and continued to walk along the tree lined canal where two-hundred year old Plane trees with decorative mottled bark lean across the water, their heavy foliage forming an impenetrable canopy of heavily dappled olive-green shade.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

Canal du Midi, Languedoc, France

The trees have been a feature of the eastern half of the canal from Toulouse to Sète since they were first planted in the 1830s and today, as we walked along the towpath, all around us they swayed gently in the breeze as though in a collective trance.  Their triple purpose was to strengthen the banks, reduce water evaporation by the strong Midi sun and shade the canal boats, which originally transported delicate products like wine and fabrics.  But in 2005 disaster struck and for the past six years a fungus has been attacking the trees, spreading along the waterway and defying all attempts to cure or control it.

Tree specialists have concluded that it is almost certain all the planes will have to be chopped down, burned and replaced because the trees have been struck by an outbreak of a virulent, incurable microscopic fungus which spreads through the roots and is thought to have first reached France with American GIs in the Second-World-War whose sycamore ammunition boxes were infected.

We counted ourselves lucky to have seen these magnificent trees at this time because in a couple of years or so they may well be gone.

Read the full story…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Green

Canal du Midi, Languedoc, France

The trees have been a feature of the eastern half of the canal from Toulouse to Sète since they were first planted in the 1830s and today, as we walked along the towpath, all around us they swayed gently in the breeze as though in a collective trance.  Their triple purpose was to strengthen the banks, reduce water evaporation by the strong Midi sun and shade the canal boats, which originally transported delicate products like wine and fabrics.  But in 2005 disaster struck and for the past six years a fungus has been attacking the trees, spreading along the waterway and defying all attempts to cure or control it.

Tree specialists have concluded that it is almost certain all the planes will have to be chopped down, burned and replaced because the trees have been struck by an outbreak of a virulent, incurable microscopic fungus which spreads through the roots and is thought to have first reached France with American GIs in the Second-World-War whose sycamore ammunition boxes were infected.

We counted ourselves lucky to have seen these magnificent trees at this time because in a couple of years or so they may well be gone.

Read the full story…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth

Trees – Canal du Midi, France

The trees have been a feature of the eastern half of the canal from Toulouse to Sète since they were first planted in the 1830s.  But in 2005 disaster struck and for the past six years a fungus has been attacking the trees, spreading along the waterway and defying all attempts to cure or control it.

Tree specialists have concluded that it is almost certain all the planes will have to be chopped down, burned and replaced because the trees have been struck by an outbreak of a virulent, incurable microscopic fungus which grows and spreads through the roots and is thought to have first reached France with American GIs in the Second-World-War whose sycamore ammunition boxes were infected.  We counted ourselves lucky to have seen these magnificent trees at this time because in a couple of years or so they may well be gone.

Read the full story…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreaming

Canal du Midi, France

The idea of creating a waterway as a shortcut between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea had captured the imagination of successive French Kings and governments since Roman times.  The regional route overland was slow, uncomfortable and haunted by bandits; the three thousand kilometre passage by sea took at least a month and was also dangerous as ships negotiating the Spanish coast dodged storms and Barbary pirates to pass through the Strait of Gibraltar.

Read the full story…

France, Languedoc-Roussillon

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