Wednesday, December 12, 2018

passing Narbonne

Field Maple (Acer campestre): simple leaf and enriched leaf. Beckington (Somerset), 5th December 2018.

Hungarian Oak (Quercus frainetto). Frome, 11th December 2018.

Hungarian Oak (Quercus frainetto). The Balkans is its heartland; being a calcifuge, it's actually quite uncommon in Hungary. Yet these young trees seem to be happy enough beside the river in Frome. (The soil must be almost neutral here, though the surrounding town is on Jurassic limestone.)

Widely planted for its splendid big leaves and impressive egg-shaped crown.

Hungarian Oak (Quercus frainetto) outside Frome library, 11th December 2018.

Empty bottle of "nectar of nature" gel douche délicat

So I've finally  used up the shower gel, and this is my fond farewell to it. I got it in Narbonne in mid-October.

The letter also inclosed to Emily an order upon a merchant at Narbonne, for a small sum of money.

(Ann Radcliffe, Mysteries of Udolpho Ch XII)

The "muddy river" is the Canal de la Robine. Some of the roads beside it were flooded after a night of heavy rain. We had a long stay in the hypermarket and then had business at the tobacconist and the post office (where I stood in the queue behind a druggy young couple, just the same as I might do anywhere in the peripheral UK). Then we had a look round the "centre historique" and, with cold sun making a brief appearance in the square, contrived to enjoy some green tea while perching on wet cafe chairs.

Unconsciously we were passing by for the same reasons the Romans settled here: because this is where the road from Spain joins the road from the Atlantic. Via Domitia and Via Aquitania, in those days.

In the fourteenth century the course of the Aude changed, and Narbonne's wealth declined; the dizzying high-vaulted cathedral remains incomplete.

Narbonne was the birthplace of the troubadour Charles Trenet (1913 - 2001), now memorialized by a gigantic sculptured head at one of the nearby aires (motorway services).

Nationale 7
Il faut la prendre qu'on aille à Rome à Sète
Que l'on soit deux trois quatre cinq six ou sept
C'est une route qui fait recette
Route des vacances
Qui traverse la Bourgogne et la Provence
Qui fait d' Paris un p'tit faubourg d'Valence
Et la banlieue d'Saint-Paul-de-Vence
Le ciel d'été
Remplit nos cœurs d'sa lucidité
Chasse les aigreurs et les acidités 

 (from Charles Trenet, "Nationale 7", a 1959 song celebrating the inauguration of paid public holidays. We were about to drive along some of this route ourselves.)



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