An Easter update

Slowly and steadily we continue to inch our way out of winter. As we do, our diary is becoming increasingly full in what promises to be a very active spring and summer. Not, of course that the last few months have been quiet: Chris has managed four plane flights in four weeks.

Over winter various things have come together and as a result we are now slightly refocusing what we are doing here in France. There are several factors, some of which are already known to some of you but which need mentioning here lest the occasional reader find themselves confused.

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Holy Trinity Cannes is the flat-roofed building

Factor One, which some of you already know, is that Chris is now in training for readership in the Anglican Church which will give him a formal status as a preacher within the church system. Although a very low level rank, this will be potentially very helpful in various legal, organisational and spiritual ways, not just in our own church of Holy Trinity Cannes, but also in the other Anglican churches in our part of the world. (Someone has told us that there are nearly a dozen such fellowships, some very small, between Marseilles and Genoa in Italy.) The readership training, although covering an awful lot of what he – and Alison – already know, is not to be dismissed lightly and is rather time-consuming.

Factor Two is that there is quite a lot planned this year that will involve us working with Courmettes. There is a teaching fortnight coming up with Regent College Vancouver in which Chris will be delivering a number of lectures and field trips, some other weeks which will require his involvement and just possibly a Dutch fieldwork program. He is also now involved co-editing a French volume on climate change for the church that has arisen from the successful A Rocha COP 21 conference.

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Spring at Courmettes

Factor Three, which has come as something of a pleasant surprise, is that he has been invited by A Rocha France to consider coming on their board. This is definitely an honour and something that he feels he would like to do.

The result of this is out of sheer necessity he will be ‘tapering off’ his involvement with A Rocha International this year and switching to working (voluntarily of course!) with A Rocha France, largely with Les Courmettes. His voluntary position with A Rocha International was only initially for a year anyway when he started in August 2014 but it seems to have been extended. He will continue to be involved in various aspects of this work, not least the marine project which seems to be moving ahead well. The shift will have the important advantage of reducing the amount of foreign travel which suits both of us very well.

Rod and Bev Wilson

Rod and Bev Wilson

The main impact of this is that we will probably be spending more time at Courmettes. In fact we were up there earlier this week largely because Chris had brought back Rod and Bev Wilson from a team meeting in Pembrokeshire to see the site. (Rod – who was president of Regent College for 15 years – is now involved with fundraising for A Rocha.) We will probably put some more photos and Courmettes news in next week’s blog, but one interesting thing we did was take Rod and Bev up to the extraordinarily picturesque village of Gourdon and look at the site of Courmettes from the other side of the Gorges du Loup.

Gourdon is a classic provencale "perched" village and unsurprisingly gets the "Plus Beaux Villages de France" award

Gourdon is a classic provencale “perched” village and unsurprisingly gets the “Plus Beaux Villages de France” award

Gourdon with the Pic de Courmettes behind

Gourdon with the Pic de Courmettes behind

Some of you may find this picture of Gourdon and Pic de Courmettes slightly familiar. The reason is that it occurs in the film of Les Misérables. Given that almost nothing else in the wearying length of the film was shot in France this is quite striking. It reflects the reality that the south of France is so developed that this is one of the few views that you can come up with that does not include housing developments, radar stations or powerlines.

Domaine de Courmettes. All of this is within the estate, from around 300m to the peak at around 1,300m

We often say the Domaine de Courmettes covers around 600 ha, and you can see this best from the other side of the gorge. All this is part of the estate, from around 300m to the peak at 1,248m

Then there’s the view taken with a long telephoto of the little-known northern face of the Pic de Courmettes (yes that’s snow on the top). It’s still within the domain but its sheer face makes it almost inaccessible and it’s not easy to get a good view of it. We would really like to know what plants and animals live in this area which almost never gets the sun shining on it.

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Finally, we want to wish you all a very happy Easter. Christ is risen indeed!

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