The morons who deliberately started this fire and then pelted the firefighters should be severely punished.

Gaol time would be to good for them and just add to the existing strain on our prison service.

“Bring back the birch” was a popular saying, not so long ago. Something is needed. Maybe public floggings or perhaps bring back the stocks. Some kind of public humiliation is likely to be more effective than gaol time which is seen by some as a badge of honour.

Chateau Hautefort

The weather, since we arrived, has been nothing like we had anticipated. We had expected for the temperatures to be higher than back in the UK. Apart from a couple of days, the temperatures have been quite low, the days have been dull and the last couple of days have been decidedly wet.

With that in mind, we decided to hedge our bets and do a château tour.  At least, if its raining, we can be inside.

So off we set on, Sunday morning, for Hautefort which is to the west of Brive-la-Gaillarde in the Perigord. And so as to not get distracted we programmed the satnag for the quickest route, including tolls.

Before one reaches the village of Hautefort, you are treated to glimpses of the château from several miles out.  Built, as it is, on a promontory the château dominates the landscape. Shame the weather detracted somewhat but here is a shot to give you some idea of the scene.

Chateau Hautefort - A distant view through the rain and mist
Chateau Hautefort – A distant view through the rain and mist

We initially parked immediately below the château and walked up into the village. Planning to have lunch before entering the chateau proper.

Although there were several eateries, it transpired that they were fully booked. This being a Sunday, I suppose we shouldn’t have been surprised. Never mind, just a few hundred metres further on we came across Le “Me” Loko, a brasserie. We were soon seated, orders taken and beers delivered. I had what was basically a Ciabatta roll filled with hot roast beef, onions, mushrooms and gravy with chips and salad on the side. Gerry had a salad of prawns with pineapple and sun-dried tomatoes. Not a gourmet meal but good nonetheless.

Throughout the meal we were observed by a white wolf, well perhaps a white alsation type dog. She seemed to keep coming and sitting by our table with a canine smile, patiently waiting for any scraps. Obviously she didn’t know me and how rare scraps are when I am around. I did ask her if she had seen John Snow recently. She seemed to perk up at the mention of his name. Or, maybe, I just imagined it.

After lunch we completed our tour of the village, which meant we had walked the perimeter of the château base. Arriving back at the car park we decided to move the car up nearer the ticket office, to save ourselves from having to climb the hill again.

The château is most impressive and one forgets that it is also an ancient fortress. However, the presence of a drawbridge acts as a quick reminder.

Apparently Chateau Hautefort is built on the site of former Roman camp and historical records indicate the presence of some kind of fortress as far back as 1000 A.D. Since then the château has gone through some dramatic transformations culminating in the grand building which dominates the landscape.

For many years the château was left untended, until 1929 when it was purchased by Baron and Baronne de Bastard. Baron de Bastard carried out considerable works to save and restore the château. These works were interrupted by WW2 when the château was used to store art collections from eastern France. After the war restoration works continued before stalling again due to the death of Baron de Bastard.

Baronne de Bastard took up the baton, continuing the restoration.

In 1959 the gardens were opened to the general public and by 1962 the buildings became habitable. There aren’t that many rooms inside to visit and to be honest this isn’t like visiting the likes of Uppark, Arundel Castle or Windsor Castle. Where the rooms are stuffed with pictures and furniture.

You have to remember the origins of the château, as first and foremost a private residence, that has only recently become a charitable institution. And then there is the major catastrophe that struck on the night of 30th August, 1968 when a fire destroyed the building with the exception of the wings. Baronne de Bastard decided to rebuild and that restoration continues to this day, albeit under the management of a charitable foundation.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and would recommend others to take the time to tour both the château and the village.

Tis The Season To Be Wary

Please excuse the play on words. It may be Christmas but, down here in Oz, it is the height of summer, in fact Monday was the longest day. Being the longest day may have a different meaning for the various folks involved in fighting the bush fires raging across the country. With temperatures up in the mid to high thirties these folks will be sweltering dressed in their safety gear while they fight to close down these fires.

Earlier yesterday (Monday) afternoon, we had noticed that there was a lot of aerial activity and had seen helicopters and fire fighting (air attack) planes buzzing across the sky.

Planes similar to the following..

Attack Aircraft (Air Tractor AT-802A)

It transpires they were probably  headed for a bushfire which started on Brentwood Road in Wattle Grove area of Kenwick, a Perth suburb, just 10 kilometres (6 miles) away from where we are.

My granddaughter, returning from the gym, had asked if we had seen the smoke while we were out earlier. Apparently, this local bushfire was just a short distance away from where her friend lives.

The following picture shows the plume of smoke visible from the front doorstep.

Smoke Plume - Bushfire - Brentwood Road, Kenwick, Perth WA
Smoke Plume – Bushfire – Brentwood Road, Kenwick, Perth WA

Later in the afternoon, while I was typing this post we became aware of a fresh plume of smoke, this time in the exact opposite direction from the original fire.

Smoke Plume - Bushfire - Near Waterperry Drive, Perth WA.
Smoke Plume – Bushfire – Near Waterperry Drive, Perth WA.

This fire was near Waterperry Drive just under 4 kilometers (2.4 miles) away.

Smoke drifting down the road - Bushfire
Smoke drifting down the road – Bushfire

The wind was blowing the smoke directly over our heads and down into the garden along with ash from the fire. As soon as we noticed the ash, Steve had the air-con turned off. Apparently fires can be transferred by hot embers being sucked into the air-con and entering the roof space.

First of the Water Bomber Helicopters - Bushfire - Near Warton Road, Perth WA. (Airline: McDermott Aviation Aircraft: Bell 214B-1)
First of the Water Bomber Helicopters. – Bushfire – Near Waterperry Drive, Perth WA. (Airline: McDermott Aviation Aircraft: Bell 214B-1)

Soon there were more aircraft in the skies overhead. A helicopter from Channel 7 News was sat up high, make slow circuits round the site of the fire. This was then joined by a small biplane, assumed to be a scout for the emergency services.  Through the tree lines I saw at least two of the “attack” aircraft heading into the fire zone. Shortly after, two helicopters entered the fray.

Helicopters - Bushfire - Near Waterperry Drive, Perth WA.
Helicopters – Bushfire – Near Waterperry Drive, Perth WA.

These aircraft are Bell 214B-1 operated by McDermot Aviation. They carry water in “the ‘Tsunami” Belly Tank” slung between the skids. You can also see the  “elephants trunk” hanging below, which they can dip in any nearby water source and use to refill the tank.

The two choppers were making regular circuits, flying off to refill, then returning to douse the fire. Out of site from my viewing point I assume there were many fire fighters active on the ground. I could hear sirens for the emergency service vehicles from my location.

Later in the evening you wouldn’t have known that there had been a fire. The skies were totally clear of any smoke from either of the bush-fires, although they were still the subject of active alerts.

Thankfully, according to the local news, nobody was harmed in either incident. Though, some property was lost to the fires.

This is, apparently, the closest fire to their home that my daughter and her husband have experienced. Lets hope there are no more but, with the temperatures set to rise in the next two days, we won’t be holding our breath.

There is also a suspicion that at least one of these fires was started deliberately. Given the monetary cost, and the potential risk to human life, should either case be found to be arson then the full weight of the legal system should be brought to bear.




Curzon Rooms Fire – It Was Only A Matter Of Time

Once again, and the second time in less than a month, The Curzon Rooms in Waterlooville have been the target of arsonists.

The Curzon Rooms building has been an eyesore for many years, slowly decomposing, while the owners and Havant Borough Council have played pat-a-cake around the planning regs. The generally poor condition of the building has not been a welcoming site for potential businesses who may have been tempted to come to Waterlooville.

Havant Borough Council have not made life easy for the owners of the Curzon Rooms otherwise the site would have been redeveloped many years ago. In the meantime Waterlooville Town Centre has slowly gone down hill while the council focus on creating a “retail park” style shopping centre on the west side of the town.

So what was already an eyesore has now become even more of one. It is time for HBC to get the building forcibly demolished.

Curzon Rooms fire, Waterlooville. Picture Malcolm Wells
Curzon Rooms fire, Waterlooville. Picture Malcolm Wells

Police probing ‘suspicious’ derelict Waterlooville building blaze hunt youths – Local – Portsmouth News.

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