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Another time away: this time, Calais

The World at Evening -- Summer

As this suburban summer wanders toward dark
cats watch from their driveways --

The color of the sky makes brilliant reflection
in the water

There is a time, seconds between the last light
and the dark stretch ahead ...

-- Rachel Sherwood

A little more than a year ago, I made a summer interlude for this blog; now I'm content with a few words. Then I was gone for 16 days, now it'll be 10.  Then I went with a Road Scholar group to the lake district and borders of Scotland and England in the UK; now we go (me, my two daughters) to Calais, northern France.Why? well I said I wanted to go to the beach, Laura said she wanted to go to France, and Izzy was not going to be left behind.

This sculpture commemorates an eleven month seige on Calais by the British during the hundred years war ...

The town or small city has a long history, it's one of the channel ports between England and France and was owned by England for a very long time. Lots to see beyond the beaches. Castles, prisons, towers, a cathedrale, museum. I looked it up on Amazon and bookfinder and found many books: on the recent history of immigration to the place and the development of what was known as The Jungle; as a place of war, from 14th century to WW2; where peace treaties and the like were signed; fishing and trading, commerce; a place to set mysteries. Today there are beaches, hotels, shopping, roads to drive, walks to do, markets to buy food and all sorts of goods.  There are even ferries.

Laura rented a bnb for us that looks lovely in the picture: it has air-conditioning and wifi.  We've bought to go to London at least once (see Kensington Garden exhibit), to Paris more than that (we signed up for a food fest). So we'll use cabs and trains -- spend money. The hard question for me is which books to take -- to guess which ones will hold you when traveling and away is not easy, but I know Trollope may be relied upon, and so one will be Phineas Finn (as I will teach it this coming fall). I should probably take a good book on or by Austen too. They usually "work." A small French dictionary -- though for a long time it was an English city in France.

Google produces many pictures. Painters like to paint fantasies and semi-realistic images. From among these, this by Eduard Vuillard:

Dinner with two lamps: rue de Calais

Many years ago I saw a gigantic exhibit of Vuillard's paintings drawings murals (rooms upon rooms tracing his career) at the National Gallery with a friend. I've loved his work ever since.

Chez nous, here in Alexandria, Laura's friend, Marni, will come every day and has promised to stay 45 minutes with the two pussycats, provide food, water &c. Clarycat already made friends with her, and I hope before the end of the time, Ian will come out of hiding and join them in play.

An archetypal harbour scene by Nell Blaine (1986)

From Three Poems at the End of Summer by Jane Kenyon

I stood by the side of the road,
It was the only life I had.

Miss Drake


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 21st, 2019 11:25 am (UTC)
The Jungle: the emigrants left
Jacqueline Bannerjee:

Tell us what it's like! We hear a lot about emigrants camping there. Don't know how Brexit will affect this sad part of life.

Me: I bought (and I hope it comes in time) what looked like the central book on The Jungle. I imagine that there are still many many emigrants there, though their camp was destroyed. It puts me in mind of Occupy Wall Street: how sad and (well much beyond that) horrified I was by the sudden cross-country coordinated destruction of them all. Obama had done nothing for these people and the way they were destroyed was cruel and inhumane. I remember when I would bring it up in company other people would look embarrassed. I used to go to the one in DC occasionally, try to help, leave $40.

Have you seen the list of what it's said the Parliamentary "leaders" supposed will/may happen gradually after October 31st? What they have in store for the British people? The recent leaked briefing note for UK cabinet made the following points:

Decrease in fresh food supplies, prices will rise, hitting vulnerable groups
Traffic from border delays could affect fuel distribution in London/South-east.
Petrol import tariffs may lead to closure two refineries, 2000 job losses, with ensuing strikes and more fuel distribution problems
Passenger delays airports/St Pancras, Eurotunnel, Dover etc
Medicine in short supply - three quarters UK medicines arrive by land ex channel ports
Fishing wars as shared fishing areas will be unclear
Local protests which may "require significant amounts of police resources"
Care of aged providers will be hit - smaller in 2-3 months, larger in 4-6 months
Bad channel port throughput, improving to 50-70% of present throughput in three months - 50-85% lorries not ready for EU customs initially, many lorries delayed 2.5 days
Expected hard border in Northern Ireland as current plans "unsustainable", may provoke protests, road blockages and "direct action"
Gibraltar will face 4 hour border delays for at least a few months which will depress its economy
Drinking water processing may be starved for purification chemicals, and large numbers affected by water shortages.
Senior Whitehall civil servants say this document is not Project Fear - most realistic assessment of no deal. Likely, basic, reasonable scenarios, not worst case"
UK govt politicos pooh-pooh it, saying "now out of date", but who believes them?

And what will they do? hold their election on Nov 1st in the hope the deluded Brexiteers will be voting before they see what is going to be done to them.


Edited at 2019-08-21 11:31 am (UTC)
Aug. 21st, 2019 11:39 am (UTC)
The Jungle: the emigrants left: The Guardian & 1914
Aug. 21st, 2019 11:43 am (UTC)
How did you decide this? any plans? suggestions
Diana: Any specific reason why Calais, Ellen Moody? Never known you to go somewhere without a literary connection, so I'm guessing there must be one!

Me: It was Laura's choice. We said let's go to the beach and then let's do it in France. So, first she wanted Nice and I pictured tall hideous hotels on a bare beach -- which is what I saw when decades ago I stayed at Nice a block away from said beach; so I said Northern France as by train we can get to Paris and maybe London too. So she rented a lovely bnb by the Calais beach. The place does have historicals: the English owned it for centuries, it has prisons, castles, further afield is Proust country. Although this won't make it sound appealing, it is where The Jungle was located, where refugees congregated in huge numbers until the French gov't-state apparatus bulldozed it.

Judy Shoaf Oho! It got its first city charter from the husband of the (once and future) nun whose career I was following on my trek in SE England last month.

Me: In fact it is a city or town over-burgeoning with history; a channel port fought over from 14th century (Field of Gold in 16th century nearby) to WW2; a castle, prison, favorite place for mysteries because in history for spies; it's where the French thought they could marginalize the refugees but found that it grew hugely into The Jungle, which they bulldozed away .... Once and Future Nun -- who was this?

Judy Shoaf Marie de Blois/Boulogne is the nun. She was King Stephen's daughter, also Matilde of Boulogne's; her last sibling died while she was abbess of Romsey. Matthew of Boulogne/ Alsace/ Flanders, younger brother of Phillip of Alsace/Flanders (Chretien's patron), swooped in and married her, and they ruled Boulogne for 10 years and had 2 daughters. After a sort of friendly divorce, she went back to the convent, but her older daughter did inherit the title for Boulogne. Other points: for some reason I had always assumed the Field of Gold took place in England; I guess Calais was an interesting venue. I think the refugees were hugging Calais for the same reason, trying to get to England from what looked like a good departure point. Terrible events.

Me: I may be wrong: maybe it took place in England, but I remember going back and forth. Where were Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII first married: I thought they had a religious ceremony in France near the coast ...

Judy: You are right that it was in now-France--or at least Wikipedia agrees with you!

Edited at 2019-08-21 11:45 am (UTC)
Aug. 21st, 2019 11:47 am (UTC)
More comments on Calais:
Catherine Janofsky: hope you won’t be affected by strikes. I missed the ones at Heathrow by one day. The continent is gearing up for more hot weather so good thing you have air conditioning. I’m leaving today for Baltimore after 11 days in London and Germany. Have a great time! Are you flying into Paris?

Me: Yes.

Catherine Janofsky My family had the most delicious creme puffs waiting for the ferry to take us to Dover, the best up to that time. I always picture Calais as dismal and dark, so I hope you’re wrong and have beautiful weather.

Miranda Spatchurst You should be able to get to Lille by train from Calais, and possibly St Omer. Good places to visit for a day. Same for Boulogne and Le Touquet.

Me: Thank you. I am grateful for any explicit advice. We mean to stay at Calais at least every other day and wander about the area too. I will take down those names and look into those places.

Diana Birchall Thanks for a most interesting answer, Ellen Moody, and I hope you'll all have a wonderful time! I got sick in Calais once but it was mid winter and freezing, so I missed the sights!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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