Sunday, 28 August 2016

Twelve thousand miniature bottles.

We stayed at the Hotel Remotel in Knutange for two nights. It is situated a few miles to the west of Thionville. An old fashioned style hotel with large rooms and high ceilings. Just right to try to keep cool on a day when the temperature reached 41 degrees centigrade. That is very hot. It was 37 degrees in the shade and not much under that in our bedroom.

The patron of the hotel collects miniature bottles.

He displays them all around the hotel.  

He says he has 12,000 of them. 

 I haven't counted them. 

I decided to just believe him. 

It was too hot to haggle.

Rocroi or Rocroy – which is correct?

Well I don't know and reading the various accounts by diverse official bodies it seems that they do not know either. Having just spent an enjoyable two days there I can tell you that the only way to get the full view of the remarkable fortifications which have decided the shape of this town is to be a bird. 
Rocroi, fortified village in northern France.
I could find no viewpoint to give justice to the design of the town so I reproduce above a published aerial view. 

Military historians know Rocroy (or Rocroi) for the battle which took place there in 1643 between the army of the newly crowned King Louis XIV of France and the combined forces of the Spanish Netherlands who had stood undefeated in battle for a claimed 100 years. The French army was victorious and the course of history changed as Louis XIV went on to redefine the borders of France. 

Rocroi, being a frontier town, had been fortified in various stages by different occupants over the centuries, each adding a layer. Eventually, of course, the fortifications themselves were rendered redundant by the developments in artillery and the town's military status was rescinded in 1886.
Church of St Nicolas, Rocroi.

Left is the church of St Nicolas which was sited across the square opposite our hotel.

Visit Rocroi, take a stroll for 4km around the top of the fortifications and then sit at a cafe terrace in the Place d'Armes and absorb the peace and tranquility of the town centre.

If you stay longer I can recommend the Hotel Au Sabots d'Hélène. Parking is free in the square and, surprisingly, there always seems to be empty places.

But you really need to be a bird to fully appreciate the town's character.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Art Deco Hopital Riche, Jeumont.

Main entrance of the Hopital Riche.
On my research expedition to the various frontier posts of France, I came across this establishment in Jeumont. It is the Hopital Riche.

Originally called the Institution Riche, it was built in the 1930s from a legacy donated by the local rich industrialist, Monsieur Albert Riche, as an infirmary, a creche and a dispensary. It evolved into a hospital and served the town of Jeumont until it was replaced in 1977.

As is often the fate of such buildings, it was then left to go to rack and ruin. Luckily, somebody in the town had a conscience and the buildings have been renovated and restored to use as a centre to care for heavily handicapped patients.
The Dispensary at the Hopital Riche, Jeumont.
Jeumont attracted my interest initially because at the height of its importance it possessed three customs frontier posts: one for the road, one for the railway and one for the maritime traffic on the river. The railway station is an enormous building as was necessary to accommodate the 150 customs officers who processed the trans-frontier traffic, be it French hops on their way to Belgian breweries or Russian Royalty on their way from Paris to Moscow. Up until World War 2, all international trains had to stop for an hour at Jeumont to allow the customs frontier formalities to take place. This delay even entered into literature with the Maigret short story by Simenon which was publilshed in 1944, Jeumont 51 minutes d'arret.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The Crane at Sunset, Tuesday.

Passport Portraits of Yesteryear no. 22

Continuing the series of passport photographs from my collection.
Peruse and wonder.
Ljudevit Ropar, occupation: 'countryman' living In Karlovac in the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. He is thirty years old and his passport describes him as medium height with yellow hair and a  small yellow moustache and with 'proportionate' mouth and nose.

This is his emigrant's passport issued to him in 1926. He obtained a reservation from the Cunard representative in Zagreb and an Austrian visa and then travelled to Paris where, three days later, he passed the civil inspection of the Government of Canada. Five days after that he sailed from Cherbourg for Quebec.
The start of a new life.

The Crane at Sunset, Monday.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Knitted Jungle in Tenterden

The Haberdasher's shop in Tenterden, called HOOP, has done it again.

What a splendid window display... and it is all knitted.

A lion, two tarantulas, a parrot who has escaped my camera, 

a lizard, a monkey with baby and a butterfly.

 Oh and a snake and probably other animals and insects that I failed to notice.

There are some clever and imaginative knitters in Tenterden.

If you want to see their snowman of a year ago, go to this post

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Lord Kitchener's Swimming Pool

Broome Park
The private swimming pool that I had been using for the last three years suddenly closed last week, never to reopen, so I had to find a replacement. Living on the eastern extremity of the City of Canterbury it is easier for me to travel out of the city than to try to cross it so my choice alighted upon Broome Park, the former home of Lord Kitchener.

Lord Kitchener was appointed Secretary of State for War at the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. His face is familiar worldwide although many might not know his name for he is the officer on the famous recruiting poster, 'Your Country Needs You'. He died in 1916 when the ship in which he was travelling to Russia hit a German mine and sank off the coast of Scotland.

Entrance Hall, Broome Park.

His stately home is now in corporate hands and exploited as a holiday destination. The decoration inside has been carefully restored.

And in an annexe they have installed a small swimming pool. It is not really Lord Kitchener's swimming pool but I pretend that it is when I am floating along on the water.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Immigration Service cyclists visit Johnson's Corner

Johnson's Corner, Romney Marsh, Kent.
On 13 April 1944, Lt William H Johnson was piloting his B17 Flying Fortress bomber on a raid to Germany. Just after crossing the French coast the plane was hit by anti aircraft shells, wounding the co-pilot, the navigator and Johnson himself.  Two of the four engines were quickly put out of action and Johnson decided to turn back. By the time they reached the coast of Kent, they only had one engine working out of four and the plane was on fire and losing height. He managed to nurse the plane over the land and ordered his crew to bale out, which they did. He realised that there was a risk that the bomber would crash on the settlement of Ham Street and so returned to his seat to turn the doomed aircraft away from the buildings. It was the last thing that he did. The plane crashed on Romney Marsh. Johnson was killed, his crew all survived.

Monument to Lt Johnson of the USAF.

In the 1980s when Ham Street finally acquired its long awaited bypass road, a junction was needed and it happened to be sited on the land upon which the stricken aircraft had crashed. 

The local farmer donated the land for a monument to remember Lt. Johnson, and the road junction is now named Johnson's Corner.

If you are travelling on the A 2070 between Ham Street and Brenzett, keep a lookout for cyclists, and the monument at Johnson's Corner.