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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

Comments

misssylviadrake
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)

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