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Visit to Castillon le Bataille

Castillon is a small town on the Dordogne river about 40 minutes by train from Bordeaux. In many respects it is a typical quiet small country town and where you might think nothing had ever happened. But in July 1453 there took place, just to the east of the town, one of the more significant battles in the long history of war between England and France.

The ‘Hundred Years War’ had been going on since 1337, more than a hundred years in fact. A prolonged power struggle between the English and French, over who was to rule France. Read all about it if you wish, there is a useful Wikipedia article here.

Anyway, by 1452 England had all but lost its possessions in Gascony. French armies had been winning. Bordeaux had been captured by the French but the citizens, who considered themselves English (try convincing them of that today!) did not like being conquered and sent messengers to the King of England Henry IV to rescue them from this dire fate.

A small force was duly sent, all the way by sea, under the command of John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury. They easily recaptured Bordeaux in October 1452, with the help of the inhabitants. The French had not expected the English to come by sea and had to do a bit of re-organistion over the winter. Meanwhile the English re-established control over much of the region, including Castillon where the castle was reoccupied.

By the Spring of 1453 the French were ready to counter attack. They did so, making a three pronged attack towards Bordeaux. In the way of one line of attack was the garrison at Castillon. They sent to Bordeaux for help which was duly sent.

The French formed up to the east of the town, out of range of the guns at the castle. Yes, artillery was already in use at this time and the French were to make best use of it.  This information panel from the battlefield site shows the situation.

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I am no military expert but I think the French were very clever. The English, advancing beyond the town, were hemmed in on one side by the wide Dordogne river and on the other side by a smaller river beyond which is quite a hillside. The French force ‘dug in’ parallel to the river, thus forcing the English into a narrow gap. To attack they would have to wheel around 90º which is something not easy to do. Moreover, as the plan indicates, the French lines were not straight, they were deliberately wavy. Therefore any attackers could basically be shot in the back by gunners on the other curve.

And so they were. Foolish or brave, we don’t know, but despite being outnumbered the English charged the gun emplacements time and again. It was hopeless. The expected reinforcements never arrived. A final cavalry charge finished off the Englishmen. Both the commander John of Shrewsbury and his son were killed. The remnants of the army fled. There is a very modest little monument at the battlefield, the original having been destroyed during the French revolution.

It is estimated that half the English force of 6,000 – 10,000 were killed, captured or wounded while on the French side casualties were around 100.

The upshot was that Bordeaux was recaptured later in the year and thus ended centuries of English domination in France, leaving only Calais in English possession.

Naturally there isn’t much to see on the battlefield now. It is mostly woodland with some houses here and there. The general lie of the land can be appreciated, with the two rivers and flat area in between. The castle at Castillon is long gone.

The town renamed itself in 1953, the 500th anniversary of the battle, becoming Castillon le Bataille rather than sur Dordogne.  They do a re-enactment about which you can read at http://www.batailledecastillon.com/index_uk.html

The town itself is fairly pleasant, an easy 40 minute train ride from Bordeaux St Jean if you don’t have a car or don’t wish to drive. I took a few pictures of the town generally which you can see at https://1drv.ms/f/s!Am0w7qp9HCpqhJgOzXeRyQpk4UdABg

There are three of four places to eat and drink plus a fairly large Intermarché supermarket in the town centre if you prefer a sandwich and a drink by the river as I did.

Visit to Castillon le Bataille

Tagged: on July 20, 2018 by cubsur51

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Bordeaux new tram lines

I will be sending some of these pictures to various journals, but you get to see them first. Bordeaux is building a new 10km tram line (Line D) from the Place Quinconces in the city centre out to the north western suburbs of Eysines and St Médard-en-Jalles. The first section, to Eysines, is scheduled to open in about a year. Along the whole route, tracklaying is under way and a host of other jobs also. In the city centre, numerous roads are closed to traffic. Pedestrians are picking their way around various obstacles.

There  is a fairly decent map of the route at https://www.sudouest.fr/2018/03/27/chantier-du-tram-d-a-bordeaux-en-images-un-projet-vieux-de-10-ans-4316014-5022.php but the likely extension to St Médard is not shown. However surveyors were working there and I saw posters on the lines of ‘save our path, no tramway here’! The line would partly follow the line of the railway through St Médard which was closed and dismantled in 1978.

Pictures – work at the existing Quinconces tram station.

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Forming the junction for line D at Quinconces

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Track panels awaiting installation at Quinconces

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Track already in place with the Girondins monument in the background.

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Rue Fondauège

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Rue de la Croix de Seguey

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Preparatory work near Eysines-Cantinolle

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Meanwhile, to the south of the city centre, a short extension to Ligne C is under construction. This will extend Ligne C about 1.4km to a park and ride facility at the Avenue des Pyrenées in the town of Villenave D’Ornon.

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Bordeaux new tram lines

on July 20, 2018 by cubsur51

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Bordeaux – some picks

Yesterday I took a couple of bus rides and a very long walk around the area. It was mainly to see progress on the new tram line, Line D, that will run out to the north western suburbs. More of that later. I was able to take a few pictures of general interest.

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The electrical engineers working on the tram line have found a novel, interesting and almost artistic means of safely storing their plastic cable ducts until they are needed.

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The town of St Médard en Jalles, the ultimate destination of the new line, has one of those imposing town halls so common in France.

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The former railway station at St Médard. The line was closed in 1978 and later converted into the Bordeaux to Lacanau cycle path. The new tram line will come here.

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They will have to either move this or smarten it up a bit! Left in situ, the remains of one of the locomotives that once plied the route. It dates from 1913. The goods wagon and loco sit on about 100 metres of track. Far beyond any usable condition!

The station building and annex are now a popular restaurant, while a rest area and water supply for cyclists is available. Here’s the station in its working days, date unknown.

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There are more pictures of the Bordeaux to Lacanau railway at http://voiesferreesdegironde.e-monsite.com/pages/s-e-de-la-gironde/bordeaux-lacanau-ocean.html

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A short distance down the road is the old water mill at Gajac. First mentioned in documents dated 1289, it remained in use much modified until the 19th century. It is private property. This is the only view, from the nearby road.

Bordeaux – some picks

on July 20, 2018 by cubsur51

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Summer sport in the Algarve – Bowls Algarve finals day

In Algarve, Portugal, Sports general on July 6, 2018 by cubsur51 Tagged: ,

Here’s how many of us retired persons spend our days here in the Algarve. A couple of sample pictures from yesterday’s Algarve Bowls League summer final day.

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The rest at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/h11u03gk7fhfwb7/AAD75A8HDJ2kx70EvEvpzwP0a?dl=0

I managed to be bitten by some nameless bug and have a rather itchy and swollen leg!

There is an active lawn bowls scene across the Algarve all year around. Clubs are based near Praia da Luz (the venue above), Alvor, Balaia (near Albufeira), Albufeira itself at Clube Praia da Oura (winter only there), Almancil, Cabanas and near Tavira.

There are winter and summer leagues plus a host of individual inter club competitions for men and women. Clubs also have their own ‘in house’ competitions. New members are always welcome.

Clubs also welcome individual visitors and touring teams. Why not drop by if you are on holiday? Shoes and bowls are available for rental if needed. Some websites (not all clubs have one) :

http://www.balaiabowls.org
https://bowlsclub.org/club/9752/
http://www.tavirabowls.com/
http://www.valverdebc.co.uk/
http://www.alvorlawnbowls.com/
http://www.pedraslbc.com/

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Albufeira beach 28 June 2018

In Albufeira, Algarve, Portugal on June 29, 2018 by cubsur51 Tagged:

A few pictures of the old town beach yesterday afternoon, just as a bit of a flavour of how things are at the moment. Includes some of the inflatable water park now moored off the beach.

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Sample

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Designer beer barrels?

In Pictures from England on June 24, 2018 by cubsur51 Tagged:

I didn’t know there were such things until I spotted these two outside the CAMRA beer tent at the cricket yesterday. Does anyone have any more?

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Summer and a cricket match

In Pictures from England, sports cricket on June 23, 2018 by cubsur51 Tagged: ,

Cricket at Tunbridge Wells is one of the traditions of the local summer and one of mine as well. The weather is being kind. Here we see the scene

Top level cricket at grounds like these is fading out as clubs concentrate their matches in larger stadia. The garden party atmosphere of these events will sadly soon be lost.

Last day today and about eight barrels of beer to be consumed at the CAMRA beer tent.

Scenes from the final two days. For the record Kent won the match late in the fourth day thanks to some inspired bowling by team captain Joe Denly.

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