Saturday, 22 November 2014

Throwing a party?

The French hardly need an excuse to throw a party.

Voie Verte - Saint-Gengoux-le-National
That was proven quite recently with the Fête de la Voie Verte. Did the former railway, now cycle path, celebrate its 20th birthday? Was a new stretch recently inaugurated? Were not so long ago mopeds and racing bicycles banned from the Voie Verte? No. nothing like that. Some people of the various Offices de Tourisme felt it was time for a party, and what more of an excuse does one need?

Bicycles and stands
The villages between Chalon-sur-Saône and Saint-Gengoux-le-National convened a meeting, invited some entrepeneurs (artisans, wine growers, restaurateurs, musicians) to set up a stand, and bingo, a party was born.

Cyclists and walkers passing the former station of Saint-Gengoux had quite a choice. There was a guitar duo, an animator offering games around his two covered wagons, a woman demonstrated pyro-engravings on wood, there was food from a restaurant in Étrigny, a stand with drinks and snacks from the Office de Tourisme in Saint-Gengoux, honey from a farm in Joncy, somebody who processed mother of pearl for jewellery from Mont Saint-Vincent…
In a word, there was something for everyone. And the theme for the next party? Maybe the Fête des Fêtes?

Music and demonstrations
The proprietors of La Tuilerie de Chazelle are always on the ball when it comes to events in the vicinity.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Tai chi and I

Tai chi and I never really got on well together.

Tai chi demonstation
Even though I have always (and still do!) watched groups or individuals doing the tai chi form in the open with pleasure and admiration, and having tried to master the form myself at several occasions, I have never succeeded in completing a tai chi course. I started my first course in Singapore with a Chinese master, just before I had to leave Singapore for good. My second attempt was in the Netherlands, with a colleague from work who taught on Saturday mornings in Leiden. I had to give that course up in an unpleasant way. During the lessons the teacher often demonstrated how tai chi could be used in proper combat. One morning I was asked to play the “victim”, I consented, and only seconds later I found myself completely unexpectedly flying through the air, landing with my head against a bench that stood on the side of the classroom.

Qigong demonstration
I think that the teacher was even more surprised and shocked than I was; he had expected some sort of resistance, and instead he encountered a burst balloon. That was the end of my Leiden carreer. We have tried another group in Cluny/Lournand for a short while, but that turned out te be 50% chatting, 40% qigong and 10% tai chi. Needless to say that I did not learn much there either.
Sue is a bit more fanatic then I am when it comes to searching. She found a different group in Cluny, and although she did not really like the way they were teaching there either, she only started looking for yet another group when this group left Cluny for a different location direction Joncy. And now she found what she has been looking for for a long time. After she had started her 2nd year, whereby she got hooked on a form of tai chi using a fighting stick, she convinced me that this group might just be the thing for me.

2nd year group - taichi with stick
And despite the fact that I stepped in half way through the first year, I finally have the impression that this time I will manage to do the whole form. Not that my memory became better over the years (one of my problems in the past), but the way my Miss conducts her lessons, combined with the fact that I have been practicing also outside class under supervision of the Mistress, helped tremendously. Now I know the whole form more or less by heart, albeit when I do it I still need time to think, ask questions, stop and resume, but at least I get through the form without pulling out my last hairs.
Next year the emphasis will be more on the finesses of the individual movements, because that is a weak point (and not only with me!). But at least, the foundation has been laid!

Tai chi group with fan
La Tuilerie de Chazelle offers space enough to practice the whole form outside.