quaker fencer

kathz isn't quite my name. I may be a Quaker. If I'm a fencer I'm a bad one and I don't do sabre. If I'm a Quaker I'm a bad one - but you've worked that out already. Read on. Comment if you like. Don't expect a reply.

Location: United Kingdom

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

d'Artagnan and mini-golf

d'Artagnan was here!

Well, at least he was at the siege of La Rochelle, although I don't know quite what he was doing there. He would have been on the outside rather than the inside, I think. I didn't get that far in the book and in films my attention is drawn from plot and place to swordplay.

I took my copy with me - a fine copy, with illustrations. Somehow my attention drifted ..

For all the towers, it's hard to imagine d'Artagnan - or a siege - in La Rochelle today. It's a placid holiday-place where leisurely police in shorts cycle by the harbour. Tourists wander through warm streets and enjoy pizza or moules-frites by the old port.

Today the biggest excitement is mini-golf. This might have provoked rash young d'Artagnan even more than the casual insults of Athos, Porthos and Aramis. There'd have been blood on the green well before the eighteenth hole.

I did my best. There were occasional moments of triumph when the ball magically leapt through a narrow gap or looped the loop in the right direction. Alas, it also formed the habit of circling the hole neatly before resting on some inconvenient edge. I lost badly. My opponents laughed. d'Artagnan would have seized his gauntlet and slapped each round the face. He'd probably have challenged the giggling children for good measure. But I'm not d'Artagnan and lack ambition in mini-golf so hazards of the pitch were a minor annoyance.

I don't know if d'Artagnan went swimming, but swimming in the sea is a delight comparable to wielding an epee. The beach at Minimes was a mere bus or boat-ride from the old port. I preferred the "bus de mer".

It's a sandy beach full of families and lovers. Most of the swimmers were French, though there was one loud cry of "flippin' 'eck" as the tide crashed hard against one family. The sea was warm after the first few moments and the slant of the beach made it easy to reach a good depth for swimming and jumping the waves.

French beaches are carefully managed compared to English. Showers are provided free of charge and are watched by a gardienne. Here she was a pretty young woman playing the violin, joined by two friends with accordions. There was a juggler on the beach too, practising.

There should have been swordfights, I know, but I wasn't in the mood. Even in the town where we rented a house two doors away from a fortress, I climbed the hill carrying nothing more lethal than a baguette and bag of croissants. Yet the town too recalled past duels. Its name was Saint Savinien and Savinien was the first name of the glorious poet and fencer, Cyrano de Bergerac.

The air was warm and light fell magically on the expanse of the Charente. We drank pineau, the local apperitif/digestif of the cognac area. It was holiday time.

We watched TV. Daily news came from Lebanon, Israel, Gaza. Sometimes rapid French obscured who was killing or being killed. It was hard to work out why. Somtimes the back of a child's head or a mother's hand caught the eye - familiar, tender, lost. There was pain beyond grief - beyond words.

The sun shone.

The Charente continued to the sea.


Blogger Elizabeth McClung said...

looks like you have a very nice, calm holiday. I am not a big fan of mini golf either.

Nice Pics

6:48 pm  
Blogger Elizabeth McClung said...

Oddly, I now have to revise my earlier post - I have found the life changing properties of mini-golf - I just wish I could remember what they were....

8:59 pm  
Blogger LeperColony said...

This sounds like a really nice vacation. I've always wanted to go to Europe.

10:29 am  
Blogger kathz said...

I'm looking forward to finding out the life-changing properties of mini-golf. And anyone wanting to visit Europe for the first time should certainly consider La Rochelle.

12:53 pm  

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