Sauniere Society
Newsletter - Extra No.3
1st June 2020

"The old cathedrals are good but the great blue dome that hangs over everything is better"
Thomas Carlyle

This is the third newsletter since the world has been turned on it's head and we are getting generous contributions and grateful thanks from our members and readers. I am proposing to continue to publish it monthly until we go back to some semblance of normality. I would like to thank all those who have made this issue possible. If you have articles etc for the newsletter or journal (which we hope to publish at the end of July) the address can be found at the end of this newsletter together with our website and Facebook details.

The date of this issue coincides with the loosening of lockdown in England and more cautious steps in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It will be interesting to see what will happen, as it becomes increasingly clear that scientists are concerned about the path taken by politicians particularly in England. We can only wait and hope. On behalf of the Sauniere Society the two autumn meetings - in Folkestone and Scotland are booked and organised. For those of you hoping to go to Rennes-le-Chateau, L'Eveche is not yet open but Madame has suggested we visit in September. At present I think it will be extremely unlikely but we will see. I hope you enjoy this issue - comments, suggestions and answers to our quiz will be gratefully received.

from our own correspondent, 'Asmodeus'

The building workers have departed from the top of the village, Asmodeus had criticized the state of the area, which resembled a bombsite, but it's turned out rather lovely, except there will be a caveat ! The garden of the Domaine is quite exquisite, the flowers and lavender bushes looking lovelier than ever. All that is missing (so far) is visitors. The caveat is the area around the water tower (which was NOT built by Sauniere, by the way). It is paved and parking is kept to a minimum, only two places reserved for disabled parking. The Mayor is delighted with it and that's all that matters. Asmodeus is of the understanding that one of the pleasures of visiting Rennes-le-Chateau is driving to the top car park and looking over the wall to the majestic Pyrenean vista beyond. A celebrated English author once described the view as the real treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau.

France eased lockdown on May 11th, EU borders are likely to open for summer, probably from mid June. Come July or August, air flights should be happening again, although under careful supervision. Tourists (and treasure-seekers ) travelling from Blighty to France  have to undergo 14 days quarantine on arrival. Likewise, travellers to the UK  - and those returning to the UK from abroad - have to undergo 14 days quarantine. Both French and UK governments have advised against travel unless it is really essential. It is hoped that French visitors shall return, but unlikely to be the same volume.

The Abbe Sauniere's treasure story evokes strong opinions and emotions. Happily, this usually results in friendly debate, but, also some quite unpleasant arguments. Asmodeus has been witness to such scenes, occasionally on the so-called Blue Apples Day. Not only this but there is the frankly moronic habit of online trolling, quite deranged at times. Asmodeus is aware of a certain debunker, once an enthusiastic Rennie, who set up his very own website. The site included a forum in which only persons who agreed with the site owner were permitted to post on, (those who didn't toe the party line tended to receive abusive emails). That forum soon became an echo chamber. With this in view there is a welcome development: an online petition has been set up called Retour A La Serenite Sur Le Razes ( Back to Serenity on the Razes), To quote the petition:

"The milieu of "researchers" devoted to the enigma of Rennes-le-Château has experienced many highly animated debates.

What could be more normal between enthusiasts. But these exchanges had never fallen as low as in recent years with the arrival of aggressive and offensive characters. The invectives then started to fly, we no longer attacked the depths of the problems posed by this enigma, but people, insulting them, dragging their names and their families in the mud. One would have thought the summits of indignity reached if there were not to be added books and Facebook pages under pseudonym indulging in the mire. There is not much that can be done to stop this drift other than going to court. We can in any case signify the massive disapproval of all the researchers and their sympathizers who must find its expression here by signing this petition.

Let us hope that this awareness will encourage a certain publisher and his raging henchmen to find the path of honour, respect and serenity." Asmodeus understands that by May 30th, 198 signatures had been added to the petition.:

Partying with the Priests
If in the 1890's you had been lucky enough to have been invited to one of the Abbé Saunière's receptions you would have been treated to a sumptuous feast as witnessed by this menu reproduced in the book A La Table de Saunière for the inauguration of the statue of the Virgin Mary on Sunday the 21st June 1891. MENU
Something to try at home.
Marie's Rum omelette.

Put the required number of eggs in a bowl with a pinch of salt. Beat together with plenty of sugar for longer than for an ordinary omelette. Melt some butter in a frying/omelette pan and add the eggs. Cook until the underside of the omelette is golden, fold the omelette over. Sprinkle with sugar and rum and flambé. Serve with a spoonful of rum over each portion.

Did you know?

There is a place in Leith near Glasgow called Rennie's Isle.

The Cedar Court Hotel near Huddersfield, where the Saunière Society and the Rennes Phoenix Society had dinner after their joint meeting in July 2017, has been transformed into a “Nightingale” Care Home. The staff have been retrained and it is being used by Calderdale Council for shielding vulnerable people whose normal care provision has been disrupted by the coronavirus.

Jackie Beecham
Thoughts from my Garden (and a little further afield)
from Morelle Smith
Taking the Train in Covid Times

Someone was standing on the platform when I cycled into the station. Good, I thought, that means I haven't missed the train. I'd left home in plenty of time but, wheeling the bike down the path, it stopped suddenly and I discovered the elastic tie with hooked ends was wrapped around the gear chains on the rear wheel. It took twenty minutes to disentangle and then to scrub my oily fingers. So I wasn't sure I'd make the train. But I was just in time. I tethered my bike, and a minute later the train came in. No one else on board apart from the young man who'd been waiting on the platform. I offered cash to the conductor to pay for my ticket. He said they weren't issuing tickets on the train, if the station ticket machine wasn't in use (it wasn't, it was taped off). Oh, I said. He was young, friendly. So I looked out of the window - the first time I'd been on this train.

We walked almost the length of it a few years ago, Colin and I, when it was still 'the old railway', the former dismantled railway, but there was talk of reconstructing it. Let's walk along it while we still can, said Colin. It was spring then too, earlier in the year, but warmer. And now here I was, finally on the train. I had never used it, as the nearest station is five miles away from my home. I took the bus instead. But there were no more buses running, so the bike ride, and the train, was the only way to reach the nearest town, with its lure of supermarkets. (There's a small shop in the village where the train leaves from, but its range of goods is limited.)

I was cold, cycling towards the village - or my hands were, my leather jacket kept the rest of me warm. I'd got oil on my gloves and tossed them inside before I left. The air was chill and nibbled at my fingers. Coming back, I strapped the bulging rucksack onto the little carrier and it was hot then. But the weight made the bike unwieldy and a sudden gust of wind could wobble me across the road. The thought of coffee outside in the garden, in the sun, that's what kept me going.

The town, once I reached it, once I got off the train, was almost deserted, but a few people queuing to go into Home Grown or Home Benefits or whatever it's called. I really wanted cream - face cream and body cream, anticipating the hot days strung like a succession of dazzling beads on a makeshift abacus.

In another shop I bought a loaf of home-baked spelt bread. The bank was closed and the stationer's and post office. But I didn't really want a newspaper, it's one of those habits that feels a little ridiculous now. I have so much else to read, books that take me far away - the Balkans, Mitteleuropa, yes, a good start. Why would I want to read more stories of scarcity of PPEs, of deaths, usually more deaths than the day before and of criticism of the government and endless speculation about when the lockdown will be over.

I am now nudging at the entrance to the band of 'older people', though I feel about as elderly as the burgeoning grass. Not as young as the madly playful lambs but hardly frail, which the word elderly suggests to me. But - conscious of having lived a long time, with an attic full of memories. I've done many different things in my life, but it's hardly time to stop now, it could well, I think, be time for a change, but 'the times' are not conducive to change, not now when we are being exhorted to stay at home. Posters in the streets and in the station declare this, and it is announced too over the platform loudspeaker. Public pronouncements have turned into incessant warnings - repetitive, banal, unimaginative. Mostly, people smile, they are good-humoured as they go on with their restricted lives, waiting in line behind each other at the required distance, walking in the direction indicated up one aisle and down the other. It is like a very amateurish play.

But there's the river, tree-bordered, in the sunlight. From the train window, I see some black and brown cattle cross a stream, one behind the other, very slowly. We pass through the tunnel that usually is seen from the road. I like this way much better, there is something almost secretive, clandestine, about this depopulated train sliding so easily through these green and growing fields, full of their own life of vegetation, of flocks of sheep with their new lambs, with the slow-moving cattle, picking precise footsteps through the shallow water.

News from Albania

While it might seem if you read my blog (yes, do please have a look here! that I'm spending most of my time walking or cycling, actually (apart from doing a lot of writing) I have been known to spend time on the internet, sometimes necessary (as when posting on fb & twitter to link to my writing on the internet or to research publishers, writers, books etc) and sometimes as pure indulgence. Someone on the radio recently, talking about the addictive quality of the internet said that when talking about being online we should really think of it in the same terms as being 'on' heroin or 'on' speed or 'on' any other kind of drugs. He has a point. And yet...

Sometimes you come across information you might not otherwise have heard about and that happened to me recently when I read about the destruction of Tirana's National Theatre (Teatri Kombetar). This building built in 1939 by the Italians was listed by Europa Nostra as one of Europe's most endangered heritage sites. Tirana has consistently destroyed its old buildings, its own history, starting with Enver Hoxha's communist regime. (Of course he destroyed thousands of people too, so it wasn't just buildings he singled out for destruction.) From the beautiful old bazaars from the Ottoman times, to a variety of other older buildings, Tirana now has very little left in terms of architectural heritage. In the place of these old single storey buildings we now have huge high rise blocks, going up without regard for any kind of urban planning. Now it is true that some buildings have made way for green areas, (as on the banks of the river Lana) but these spaces are very few. Instead we have high-rise tower blocks jammed together, each one it seems bigger and uglier than the last.

There was strong and vocal opposition to the planned demolition of the Theatre, but on Sunday 17 May at 4.30 in the morning, telephone signals were jammed throughout the city, just before police removed demonstrators from inside the building, and the bulldozers went to work. (And this while Albania was still officially on lockdown, due to end the following day.) There was certainly no physical distancing when the police moved in to arrest demonstrators the next day, and pictures and videos show that the police were heavy-handed in some cases.

There's a lot of background to Albanian politics which would take a long essay to cover. But the legacy of architectural destruction continued after the fall of the communist regime (which is almost 30 years ago now) and this piece of vandalism, after so many tried to prevent it, is particularly heartbreaking. Several writers, artists and academics have signed a letter of protest, but the damage has been done. (If you are interested, you can read the letter here.)

And if you understand Albanian you can watch what the writer, journalist, and former political prisoner Fatos Lubonja has to say (he describes the demolition as a 'criminal act'). This link will give you some background, and is the source of this picture of the Theatre.

OK I am now off my soapbox but I just had to get this off my chest.

But there is good news from Albania too - they have had fewer than 1000 cases of Covid 19, so far, and only 31 deaths (population about 3 million).


Entertaining and Thought Provoking Quotations
The Search for Alaise Part 1
from Carol-Ann
Carol Ann lives in the foothills of the Grampian Mountains in Scotland where she has retired to indulge her passions for travel, writing and photography. Along the way she has developed an understanding of the links between sacred landscapes and the energy flows in, around and between them; the myths and legends associated with them; and the geology that either underpins them, or is part of the structures they are built with. A desire to understand how these rocks and landscapes were formed, led to the idea that whilst it is geology that gives a landscape its shape and distinctive outline; it is the minerals contained in rocks and water flows that contribute to the energy and spirituality of a place. She is also a dowser.

Between 1994 and 2012, I had managed to find twelve locations, which can be thought of as 'energy pumping stations', i.e. locations where the energy of the Earth flows vertically through different levels, as in a lift shaft. From the arteries deep underground, to the veins on the surface and up into the weather systems of the ethers above. The starting point for each journey was a simple geographic clue. The current plan is for the stories of these journeys to be published in a book entitled 'Dances with Dragons' and the content to be available on a website. Meanwhile, the first book 'Dances with Dragons in Mongolia', was published in 2018 and is available from the author (email, from Amazon in paperback and eBook format (check out and the Saunière Society had 3 copies. What follows is an extract from the story of one journey, which I thought Saunière Society members might find of interest.

Original Clue and Location: Alaise, south of Besançon, in southern France

In 1994, whilst researching information on sacred locations around the world, I came across an article about a Frenchman called Xavier Guichard (Hitching, 1978). Guichard was the Director of Police in Paris.

Guichard was an acquaintance of George Simenon, who used him as inspiration for his police chief character in the Inspector Maigret stories.
He was also Vice-President of the Prehistoric Society of France and in 1911 had been researching the origins of ancient European place names. He came to the conclusion there were three basic ones, one of which was Alesia. In 1936 he published his findings in a book called "Alesia Eleusis. Enquête sur les origines de la civilisation européenne" i.e. 'Investigation into the origins of European Civilization'. His investigations suggested a link between prehistoric sites based on the word Alesia and its derivations e.g. Alaise, Ales and Alles. The book was a limited edition and most copies were lost in bombing campaigns of the Second World War.
Guichard was killed during one of these bombing raids.
More people have heard about this book than have actually seen or read it and, because new sources often repeat information, errors have inevitably been introduced and replicated.
Given the lack of original material and renewed interest in the subject, the book has reached cult status in the 80 years since its publication.

Guichard believed the name 'Alesia' had been corrupted into many forms: from Eleusis on the Nile Delta, to Kalisz in Poland, Alessano in Italy and La Aliseda in Spain. As he researched these places and place names more closely, he found two common features: landscaped hills overlooking rivers; and a man-made well of salt or mineral water. They were thought to be sites where ancient travellers, including pilgrims, would stop and drink the life-giving waters. He found more than 400 sites in France alone, which seemed to be placed in a vast geodetic system, centered on a remote ancient site called Alaise, near Besançon.

Four basic lines
Four basic lines
24 line map
24-line map
24 line map zoom
Detailed map around Alaise

Guichard plotted 24 lines, of which four were oriented towards solar phenomenon i.e. the equinoxes and solstices. To him this suggested a carefully constructed design that would have required a mastery of both astronomy and planning. Indeed, he believed the system was not only prehistoric, but actually dated from the last Ice Age about 12,000 years ago. He based this conclusion on the observation that place names with these derivations ceased to occur in locations (latitudes) that had been covered by ice during the last Ice Age.

Later research and insights:

Many readers of this material, including Francis Hitching (Hitching, 1978), have seen a similarity between Guichard's place-name derivations based on Alesia; and the English word 'ley', which Alfred Watkins (Watkins, 1925) had used to define the 'lines of sight'

Watkins never used the term 'ley lines'. In early works he referred to them as 'leys' and later as 'ancient trackways'. The term 'ley lines' appears to have originated in the US, sometime in the 1980's and, in my experience, is often confused with energy lines, which meander through a landscape.
that went across the English countryside, joining up sacred places and key features in the landscape. Hitching concluded that fundamentally, both Alfred Watkins and Xavier Guichard were in agreement. They believed the ancient sites of early man did not happen by chance, but were placed carefully in a developing pattern.
Following the clues on the ground: July 1995 and June 2013

In 1995 our journey of discovery started in Besançon, a mediaeval town built around a fortified citadel and protected on 3 sides by a lyre-shaped loop of the river Doubs. Despite many hours poring over maps and atlases, we found no reference to any town or village called Alaise, just south of Besançon. Hence our first port of call, on arriving in the city, was the tourist information office, located across the river from the old citadel. The tourist office hadn't heard of Alaise either; but after some searching, we found a detailed map of the area and discovered a very small village of that name, about 40 kilometers to the south-east.

Using our newly acquired 'Carte Bleu' maps, we drove south, out of Besançon, along small, narrow country roads, which wound their way up and down scenic hills and mountains. This area of the Doubs is very close to the French/Swiss border and is renowned for its spectacular views and lush, green, fertile countryside. As we traveled along, we found ourselves crisscrossing major energy lines everywhere. I noted as many of them as I could on our maps and one day, given time, perhaps I'll plot them out to see what patterns are made and how they match up to Guichard's original. At all times though, the feeling was one of spirals of energy, not straight lines.

Alaise was a tiny village of about 20 houses, dominated by a church with an ancient bell tower. As we parked the car, we immediately felt a connection between the church and a statue of the Virgin Mary on the roadside in front of us. We dowsed a female line of energy following an underground stream that flowed down the hillside, through the statue, directly through the bell tower/front porch of the church and out through a dragon-headed water pipe

In 2013 I found many locations with similar dragon-headed water pipes. Including one on the side of a house in Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne; and others at several communal washing areas in villages across the region e.g. Etèrnoz, Ivrey and Hières-sur-Amby.
in the cemetery wall to the road. My mind immediately went to images of the dragon energy of the Michael and Mary lines in the UK (Miller & Broadhurst, 1989). Over that weekend in 1995 we were to 'stumble' on many statues of the Virgin Mary and little chapels, at or near roadsides, which were positioned in some very unusual places. As far as we could tell, they were directly placed on energy lines, but a lot of time and in situ dowsing would be needed to check this out.

A small sign inside the church porch said the old bell tower had been built in 1085, with the permission of a Papal edict from Rome. This suggested the church and village had been an important site at one time. On this occasion the main church door was locked, so we walked around the outside and found a second energy line intersecting the first, in the corner of the bell tower and out the other side. On a second visit in June 2013, the church was open and welcoming. It had a newly tiled roof and shining, metal chimney for the large cast iron, wood burning stove inside. Time and water damage had taken its toll on the plaster ceilings and inner walls; but given the new roof, hopefully these repairs will be undertaken soon. The altar area was brightly lit by a highly colourful, stained glass window depicting St. John the Baptist, the original patron saint of the church.

As far as Alaise was concerned, we immediately realized that whilst this was an interesting location and there were energies around, it wasn't the special energy place we were looking for. As we drove south out of the village, up the hillside and round a sharp right-hand bend, a surge of energy went through us. We immediately stopped and got out of the car. Our former lunch spot was clearly visible in the distance, but the focal point that took our attention, was a large, distinctive bluff of rock slightly to the right and set further back. The powerful line we had just crossed headed straight for this point. As we drove on, we found ourselves crossing over many energy lines, until we came to a small bridge across a river. We knew from the map we had been following this river for some time, although it had been hidden from view by trees, cliffs and a gorge. The water was clear and cool.

Once over the bridge a small, wooden signpost caught our eye. It pointed to 'Source du Lison' and we decided to follow it. A few kilometres further on, we entered a small village, nestled in a quiet valley. The village was Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne. We knew immediately we were very close to the 'energy pumping station'

Locations where the energy of the Earth flows vertically through different levels, as in a lift shaft. From the arteries deep underground, to the veins on the surface and up into the weather systems of the ethers above.
we were searching for, although we weren't quite yet at the epicenter. The valley was surrounded by high limestone cliffs, visible amongst verdant, green trees. The feel and energy of the place was magnificent, strong and soothing all at the same time. A more detailed map from the village shop, showed three rivers had their source within a 2-mile radius; but we were drawn to one river in particular, 'Le Lison'.

'Energy Pumping Station' location and description:

We followed the signs to the river source, out of the village towards Crouzet Migette. After parking the car, a winding footpath took us to another board with a map showing all the key locations at the site. We were immediately attracted to three of them. The source of the river Lison itself, a large cave called 'Le Grotte Sarazine' and an old oak tree called 'Gros Chêne'. Continuing along the winding footpath towards the source, we moved ever closer to the thundering sound that intensified with every step. The energy was increasingly palpable and, as we turned a bend, we came face to face with the spectacular sight of a surging river over 20 meters wide, coming straight out of a cave in the limestone cliffs. A blast of energy almost lifted me off my feet it was so strong. The water gurgled and bubbled as it surged out in a tremendous vortex of green-opalescent colour, spinning in an anti-clockwise direction. Our initial impressions were very clear. The sound was almost deafening and the energy generated by the fuming water was very powerful. Much more so than anything we had experienced so far. To the left of the falls, up a narrow, slippery, muddy route was a side entrance into the cave itself. Here there was an unexpected, but welcome atmosphere of calm as the sound of thundering water shrunk to a background hum.

From additional information found at the site, it seems there are catacombs of water-filled, underground tunnels beneath these limestone cliffs. Three key sites, including the 'Source du Lison' itself, Creux Billard' and 'Grotte Sarazine', are known to be linked by these subterranean water systems

The presence of an underground tunnel system was another sign this could be a major energy site.
and divers and speleologists continue to explore the complex maze of underground tunnels. Leaving the source of the Lison behind us, we headed off in the direction of the old oak tree 'Gros Chêne'.
In many locations around the world, old trees often appear to act as 'guardians' for major energy sites. From Beewah in the Glasshouse Mountains near Brisbane; the sacred site of Egyptian carvings at Woy Woy north of Sydney with its magnificent red gum; the gnarled old oak at Glastonbury Abbey; the copper beech at Bury St. Edmunds; the strange seat-shaped tree on Black Butte near Mount Shasta in California; and of course the magnificent, ancient tree of life at El Tule in Mexico, to name but a few. It was no surprise to find that this site had a famous ancient tree too.
This ancient oak was thought to be about 280 years old, but it was very clear, from the gnarled ring of roots visible in the earth, that this was the latest in a long line of old trees, which had grown on this spot. The pathway to the tree was lined on both sides by swathes of small, multi-coloured wild flowers and, as we walked along, the leaves of nettles, bushes and small trees, fluttered wildly, even though there was no apparent wind or breeze to move them. From the vantage point of 'Le Gros Chêne', we could sense that the river source, 'Grotte Sarazine' and possibly 'Creux Billard' formed three points of an energy triangle. We had originally planned to visit 'Grotte Sarazine' later in the day, but changed our minds. The timing wasn't appropriate for us to connect with any of the other prominent landscape features at this site.

The next day, before we left the small, quiet valley of Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne, we drove up towards the river source once more to sit and meditate as the rain came down.9 Whilst it was time for us to leave, it was also clear we would be welcomed back to explore further and gain a better understanding of the energy flows here. I have no doubt in my mind that there are significant energy patterns in this landscape. Whether they will turn out to be the geometric 'Earthstar' patterns, like those found in London by Chris Street (Street, 1990); or Ireland by Michael Poynder (Poynder, 1992, 1997); or another Templar zodiac similar to those at Glastonbury (Caine, 1978); or the geodetic double compass rose pictured by Xavier Guichard; only time will tell.

End of part one - to be continued in the next Saunière Society newsletter ...
Britain - A Nation of Book Lovers
Joy Millar

As someone who rarely has a book out of her hand and always a never decreasing enticing pile to read I was convinced that the future of books was in real danger. However recent research has given me hope for their salvation. It shows that nearly half of Britons open a book to read for pleasure at least once a week, with a third doing so multiple times and one in five (19%) reading every day. While one in four (24%) read e books, 60% say they typically read paperbacks while 47% prefer hard backs. Britain's keenest readers tend to be older with 34% over 55 saying they read at least once a day compared to just 7% of 18-24 year olds.

Of the nation's favourite fiction genres crime/thriller top the list followed by fantasy fiction, action and adventure, classic and historical and science fiction. Most reading is done when going to bed, in the evening, on holiday, at the weekend or in any free moment. So, happily the lure of the book is still with us and hopefully will be there for many years to come. Below are my usual selection of quotations/jokes on the subject.

Life is too short and libraries too large to waste time on books you don't like.
Maggie O'Farrell

Books have the same enemies as people: fire, humidity, animals, weather and their own content.
Paul Valery

On the lockdown:
Thank goodness we had the foresight to bulk buy books - We've got stacks of Jeffrey Archer, Dan Brown and a multitude of Ken Follett - our wood burner will never run out of fuel.

Once you have put one of his books down, you simply cannot pick it up again.
Mark Twain

J. M. Barrie to H. G. Wells
It is all very well to be able to write books but can you waggle your ears?

One thought about the start of punctuation is that it may have been necessary to help those who had to read aloud from the holy books. Early manuscripts have one, long, endless word without any breaks at all which would have been near-impossible, especially as it was in Latin. I don't know if it's true, but it's always said that monks in Irish monasteries first said that they couldn't (or wouldn't) read it, and so they started breaking the text up into separate words. Then they started putting a larger letter at the beginning of a word where they might need to take a breath ... and so on. 

Imogen Corrigan in response to Jeff Myton's question

And finally on a literary theme:

One Edinburgh reader has a Shakesperian suggestion for Boris Johnson's debacle with Dominic Cummings: "In Act V of Henry IV Part 2. Falstaff is so sure of the patronage of his intimate Prince Hal, now King, that he exhorts his companions thus. 'Let us take any man's horses, the laws of England are at my commandment'. However, the new King disowns him and forbids him, on pain of death, to come within 10 miles of his person. A lesson for our PM?

Dr J V Pepper, octogenarian and mathematician has written a series of fascinating verses on the pandemic, one of which we reproduce below.
          E N V O I

          Are we not mere tenants
          In the land that Boris rules?
          Must we not obey them
          When they think that we are fools?
          And when they say to lock down,
          Tis only for our good,
          By the gods of all our fathers,
          And where our forebears stood.

          For lockdown is a phrase,
          From the New World prison states,
          And not appropriate
          For people such as us.
          It's only for the helots,
          And never for the free.
          But the world is run by zealots,
          And not for you or me.

          So let us come to praise
          The people whom we know,
          Far cleverer than us
          In the ways the world does go.
          As through the alpine passes,
          The gilded hero runs,
          Onward to his goal,
          And sticking to his guns.

          And when the victory comes, 
          Whatever they may do,
          Let's hope it's for the many,
          And not just for the few.
          And so I end my song,
          I have no more to say,
          Or not for very long,
          But I will not go away

The Arcadian Cipher Revisited
By Robert McCutcheon

The countryside around Rennes-le-Chateau has no shortage of interesting and mysterious places. Mostly they are either centred on the plateau, which the village dominates, or in the valley of the Sals before and beyond Rennes les Bains. Where the Sals turns south past Pech Cardou and Blanchefort it is joined by a tributary, the Rialsesse. The road, the D613, running alongside the Rialsesse, continues past Serres. It curves when it reaches Pontils across the knoll where the so-called Poussin tomb stood. Peter Blake and Paul Blezard, in their thought-provoking book, The Arcadian Cipher (published in 2000) recount a curious local tradition (which is also mentioned in Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince's The Templar Revelation) that the original tomb, assuming that there was one prior to the 20th century, had a slab with an arrow inscribed on it, and that this inscribed slab was moved to the cemetery at Rennes-le-Chateau for some reason, where it was allegedly defaced by Berenger Sauniere. That could well be an unsubstantiated conflation or melding together of different themes of the story but it is what Blake found further up the Rialsesse that interests me.

Two paintings by Poussin are central to this quest, for want of a better word. Blake and Blezard examine Le Bergers d' Arcadie concentrating on the four figures in the painting. The authors place great emphasis on the clothing worn by the figures and concentrate on the colours of their clothes. The shepherdess on the right wears a rich blue skirt with a golden shawl. Blake and Blezard argue that to Egyptians blue was related to the god Amun Ra, and mention gold in relation to the godhead, the gold steps to the temple, more importantly, gold was associated with the harvest.

Next to the shepherdess is the shepherd with his foot on the stone at the corner of the tomb. He is dressed in a vivid red robe. Blake and Blezard claim that red was associated with the Egyptian god Shu, "representative of the godhead incarnate here on Earth as man". They thus regard this shepherd as the Christ figure. The kneeling shepherd in blue, the only bearded shepherd in the painting, Blake and Blezard regard as representative of John the Baptist.

The final character is adorned with a laurel crown, he wears what the authors argue is a white shroud, associated in this instance with death. And being the only unshod member of the quartet, his feet directly connect with the ground. In the Greek tradition this confirms him, say Blake and Blezard, as Pan, or in Cathar terminology, Rex Mundi, god of the physical world.

They also found a pentagram in the painting (one needs to peruse the hardback edition with its colour plates and diagrams - they are not included in the paperback edition of this book). This pentagram is not to be confused by the ones found by Henry Lincoln and Professor Christopher Cornford. Pentagrams were discovered in another Poussin painting: A Dance to the Music of Time, (which, painted in 1638, preceded Le Bergers) and, also in The Education of Pan painted around 1484 by Luca Signorelli. The Education was commissioned by Lorenzo de Medici.

Blake superimposed the pentagrams, beginning with the one found on the Signorelli painting, over an IGN map (2347 (OT). What he discerned from the superimposed pentagrams would be found in the area near Col du Paradis. The Col separates the Rialsesse valley to the west (which stretches all the way to Couiza) from the Albieres valley to the east.

Here is the route Blake walked from the Col du Paradis: there is a sign showing a picnic area, on the opposite side of the D613 are woodland tracks leading south, this is the trail Blake took. In fact, the track is so rutted that it is unsuitable for saloon cars, which is why Blake walked it, passing Estagnol which is nothing more than huts used by the forest workers to store their tools and vehicles. Blake hiked along a ridge on the small hill of Roque Rouge, passing the rise which is marked by 705 on the map. I can only presume he turned westward long and down the ridge after this, because he tells us in the book that he looked towards the summit of Pech Cardou.

Blake reached a spur on the ridge and came upon a five metres tall and four metres wide block of limestone - to quote him - "standing like a solitary tooth in the trees". This is the spot that the pentagrams had indicated on his map. He thought the view reminiscent of the scene in Le Bergers. In fact, at the bottom right-hand corner of the natural edifice, there is a small boulder similar to the one that the shepherd has foot on in the painting. On the other side of the rock, the ridge falls away sharply, and going down he spotted two large slabs leaning against the cliff face and, on further investigation, they turned out to be sort of twin caverns. He noticed that the interiors were entirely devoid of animal activity. This basically is what Peter Blake found, he was unable to discern any human work to the limestone block, the tombs seem to me like slabs which have broken off from the cliff face Looking at the photographs, which, as I mentioned, can only be found in the hardback edition, I cannot and are lying at an angle at its base. They could be used as shelters, although, going by what Blake wrote, not by animals. If my eyesight is correct, it all looks completely natural. Blake, back in London, examined the photographs he had taken of the two 'tombs', claimed to see an image of a man "either naturally formed from the lie of the strata or carved by some unknown hand". It reminded him of the image on the Turin Shroud.

Blake returned to the site in the Spring of 2000. Walking along the ridge to where the so-called headstone is above the cliff, he found that someone had covered it with a piece of fabric, dark vermilion in colour, and having the dimensions of a prayer mat. On the weathered cloth was a line of croix pattees -Templar crosses – with a small 'T' in the centre of each cross.

I do not know if Peter Blake ever returned to this isolated spot, he has no written about it subsequently. It has piqued my interest, and I have thought about visiting the site, although that would mean a trek over some rough country, but back in June 2011 I drove with my wife to Col du Paradis. Here is what I recall of that day.

I drove out of Arques eastwards. The road became windier and the landscape more wooded the further I drove. This was terra nova to us. We reached the clearing opposite the sign denoting 'Col du Paradis'. According to the map this is a picnic site, but there is no evidence for that, it just looks like a lumber clearing. There was a valley beyond the clearing eastwards (Albieres). I had no intention of visiting it though, but I fancied that we could see Peyrepertuse in the distance. Anyway, my reason for visiting Col du Paradis was that it was from here that Peter Blake, co-author of The Arcadian Cipher set out on his ramble through the Roque Rouge woodland and came across the natural monolith and the fallen chambers below it, to which he made ambiguous claims for. Not that we were going to follow his trail!!! But I was curious and wanted to see what the topography of the area was like. We returned to Arques, and now the Deodat Roche museum was open, and the entrance ticket also gave us admission to Chateau Arques. The Roche display was interesting - it was a pity that we could hardly read a word of it! I noticed that the library upstairs was closed to the public. We headed off to the Chateau Arques, undoubtably one of the more photogenic structures in the area. We climbed up the spiral staircase (my wife found that type of staircase a profound nuisance) and enjoyed the spectacular views from the top floor. What struck me looking east over the village was how red the eroded land is. Roque Rouge indeed!

For those locked down and in need of a little diversion I am sending you my fiendish little quiz that I raised a few bob for Cystic Fibrosis with at Carberry Tower a good few years ago. Harry Halls won but only came close to the solution. Vi actually solved it in three days and Steven Anderton in four!

Have fun!

Jackie Beecham

Treasure Hunt
treasture hunt image

The Abbé Saunière is supposed to have conce aled the clues to a fabulous treasure in the Stations of the Cross in his Church at Rennes-le-Chateau. Similarly fourteen stations have been discovered in a hidden scroll by the Abbé Bidet (or maybe they were found IN the Abbé's bidet - the text is obscure). Follow the clues to find where the treasure is hidden.

NB There is nothing actually buried so do not go hunting with a pickaxe and spade. What we want is the name of a location. All you need is perhaps a certain map and a smattering of French.

Part One. The Quiz
          I.    This capital of Razès (and elsewhere) is to be found within the network of intrigue. _ _ _ _ _ _

          II.   "Et in Arcadia ego" but where are The Arcadian Shepherds to be found now? _ _ _ _ _ _

          III.   A Queen of Castile shares her name with a fortified place. _ _ _ _ _ _ _

          IV.   There were many Grand Masters of the Priory of Sion but number twenty-four fits in nicely.
          _ _ _ _ _ _   _ _ _ _

          V.    One of the possible discoveries of Béranger Saunière might have caused serious consternation here.
          _ _ _ _

          VI.   Where Sauniiére allegedly went with the parchments. _ _.  _ _ _ _ _ _ _

          VII.  What the French call the Mountains which contain a pentacle. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

          VIII.  In French you may have to follow this in order to find a treasure. _ _ _ _ _ _ _

          IX.  Saunière is supposed to have used his wealth to construct one of these in French naturally.

          _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _'  _  _ _

          X.   The Mont which provided the setting for the Cathars' last stand. _ _ _ _ _

          XI.  Is the region of Rennes-le-Châ enormous one of these?  A certain Order of Monastic

          Warriors might know.  _ _ _ _ _ _

          XII.   The French wife of Jesus? _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

          XII.  What the French call these geometrical Egyptian edifices which might be secret power houses.

          _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

          XIV. This could be another name in French for the « sac à blé » which features in the tableau of the

          Sermon on the Mount in the church at Rennes-le-Château. _ _ _ _ _ _

Part Two. The Hard Part
frustrated man Found the answers? Follow Henry's advice and look at the whole thing through the eyes of a child and find what connects all of them together.
The Connection
          Now take a line from VI to IX or from IX to VI

          and another from XI to XIV by way of VIII or from XIV to XI by way of VIII.
          The treasure will be found at the intersection.

          The location of the treasure  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Jackie Beecham (keeper of Vi Marriott's archives) has kindly sent us this account of a visit to the Languedoc by Vi and her two friends, Andrew Visnevski and Colin Deane when Vi was a mere slip of a girl aged 74. Andrew is a retired teacher from RADA and Colin is a qualified Sommelier. His knowledge of wine is outstanding and he writes well too. The account of their adventures and the food and wine consumed is quite long so this is part 1, from Toulouse to Limoux via Montsegur, the Chateau of the Ducs de Joyeuse and Peyrepertuse.
With Vi in the Languedoc. Part 2: from Carcassonne back to Toulouse, via Minerve, Rieux-Minervois. Les Saintes Maries de la Mer, Nîmes, Millau. and Albi.

Next stop was Carcassonne, the largest and most impressive walled city in Europe and resembling a Hollywood set. Built in the first quarter of the twelfth century, it is as Vi put it, "wall-to-wall tourists", but stunning and we roamed around until we were tired and I took myself off to chat to the lady offering wine tastings. It is rare to find anyone in the area who can speak English and the regional accent is lilting, with "g" endings after "n," and, when very thick is almost incomprehensible. She, however, spoke beautiful French and explained it would be very difficult for me to visit the wineries as the vendange, the grape harvest had started that week and the oenologists and growers were busy. I had been told to introduce myself to Daniel Domergue (by a friend of mine Rosemary George, whose book on the country wines of France is definitive,) the leading grower but he was too busy in the vineyards. Instead we satisfied out hungry stomachs in an open air restaurant on the banks of the canal du Midi. It was enchanting. Along with our lunch of paté de foie and grilled trout, we drank a bottle of rosé wine called vin d'une nuit, signifying that the red grapes had been left on their skins for one night only and the colour of the wine was a lovely hazy pink, like the last glimmers of sunset. The waitress who served us looked as though she had stepped out of a Gothic frieze. Both ugly and beautiful, what the French call "une belle laide" .

Our evening destination was Minerve, dramatically perched on a bluff above the confluence of the rivers Cesse and Brian, both dry for most of the year but before arriving there we stopped at the church which three of us agreed was the most redolent of spiritual essence, Ste Marie at Rieux-Minervois. This is the only round church in Languedoc, a circular sanctuary and we arrived just as a funeral procession was leaving and the hollow bells were strangely discordant as the coffin was carried out. We waited respectfully for the congregation to leave and had the empty space to ourselves. There are some places where one senses divinity and this was one of them. Built in the twelfth century on much earlier foundations the dome over the sanctuary is supported by four square pillars and three round columns, inspired by Proverbs 9.1. ("Wisdom has built her house and has set up her seven columns). Outside, these pillars and columns, which are joined by arches, is an ambulatory. The capitals are exceptional, particularly the one that represents the Assumption of the Virgin. Minerve was also memorable. We spent the night there in an ancient house and visited the church of St. Etienne. This was another Cathar village and during the anti-Cathar crusade, the place was under siege for seven weeks. When Minerve finally surrendered. the Cathars, given the option of renouncing their faith and becoming Catholics or being burnt alive, chose the latter. One hundred and eighty men and women stepped out of the church and entered the holocaust. The stench of burnt flesh clung to the village for days (it was the height of summer). Poor Jesus - more atrocities have been committed in his name than Hitler ever dreamt of.

I remember the honeyed taste of the eau-de-vie I had after dinner that night, a homemade Muscat, very strong and perfumed but I slept badly probably dreaming of Cathar bonfires. Next day we drove to Narbonne, via Quarante which Catholic legend insists takes its name from the 40 Christians martyred here but much more likely called after the local river which the Celts called Caranta (meaning a sandy place). Unfortunately, we mistimed our arrival in Narbonne and entered the city at siesta time when everything closes for lunch and the afternoon snooze in the heat of the day. We walked around the interior of the cathedral of St Just and St Pasteur, all 13th century Gothic and peculiarly truncated as work on the building stopped before completion. We did manage to get to the market place before it closed completely and while a beautiful and charming girl sold me a litre of wine straight from the cask, which turned out to be as delicious as she was, Andrew bought an enormous tub of snail stew. These snails are called, locally, cagarols and the stew is called cagaraulo. They are cooked with garlic, wild herbs, raw ham and walnuts stewed in local wine and are so delicious that I polished off about thirty of them over lunch, along with a delicious salami made from wild boar.

The picnic was laid out on the high escarpment overlooking the Lake of Montady. Drained in the Middle Ages by cutting rows of dykes from a focal point to create a number of wedge shaped fields, planted with different crops, making a spoke like pattern which, which from our height , looked like a painting.

It was a perfect place to sit, enjoy our picnic and inhale the scent of the pine trees which, in the heat of the day, exude their fragrance with such intensity the smell is almost tangible. From this panorama we could see the pass of Le Perthus 97 kilometres away to the west and turning, the sweep from the peak of Canigou down to the sea and all the way to the wilderness of the Cévennes (which we later explored.)

The view of the sea forced our decision to head for water and we followed the shoreline to the delightful small town of Les Saintes Maries de la Mer, the only town in the Petit Camargue and there we spent three nights. There has been a sanctuary here since the 6th century and the small church was built on the site in the 13th. Inside there is a blackened crypt which is stiflingly hot as a prodigious number of candles burn throughout the year before the image of Sara, the patron saint of gypsies to whom this crypt was dedicated. According to the legend of this area Mary Jacobi (the Virgin's sister,) Mary Salome (the Mother of the Apostles James the Greater and John) together with Mary Magdalene, her sister Martha and her brother Lazarus and two evangelists were abandoned to the mercy of the sea in about 40 AD by the Jews of Jerusalem. Sara, their black servant was left ashore but Mary Salome cast her cloak on the waters and Sara walked across to the boat. The party was eventually beached at Les Saintes Maries de la Mer (and they were jolly lucky as it is an enchanting place!) We spent our days lying on the beach, swimming, rock climbing and in the afternoon we drove around the nearby countryside. The Camargue is a landscape of timeless beauty, where clouds of pink flamingos descend on blue sun flecked lagoons and the herds of fearless, wild white horses roam free. There are over 400 species of birdlife and purple herons feed off the insects they pick off the black cattle and white horses. The memory of this place at sunset is painted indelibly in my memory. It is one of my favourite spots on earth despite the marauding mosquitoes.

With Les Saintes Maries de la Mer as our base, we set out on expeditions first to the church of St Gilles-du-Gard, after a picnic of brandade de morue (a local delicacy, made from salted cod, garlic and olive oil all pounded together) with a bottle of pink "bubbly" and fresh Roquefort cheese with a glass of the sweet Muscat of Lunel, a wine which perfectly complements the salty tang of the cheese. We finished with a plateful of fresh strawberries. The fascinating 11th century church was erected by the Catholic Church as a direct statement of its position during a period which witnessed the upsurge of heretical movements. We lingered a while in the cool interior and then drove back through the Camargue, the lagoons all glimmering blue and pink with the sunset as all the heavens blushed. Dinner was a lavish paella, full of enormous shrimps and mussels and the locally grown rice flavoured with saffron, washed down with a jug of Sangria, the regional red wine flavoured with cinnamon and sugar and strengthened with brandy and with great chunks of orange and lemon stirred into it.

The following day we decided to go exploring in the cool of the early morning, before the ferocious noon-day heat had set in and we set off for Nîmes, and its Roman buildings. The Arène was built at the end of the 1st century, without the use of mortar or cement. The Maison Carrée was erected during the reign of Augustus and is a miracle of harmony. Despite the fact we had packed a picnic lunch, we couldn't resist investigating the local patisserie and relished the small pastry tarts stuffed with chicken livers which had been cooked in fresh rosemary with a hint of garlic. Then we headed north to have our picnic in the shadow of one of the most impressive monuments in all Europe - the Pont du Gard which the Romans built to supply water for Nîmes, or Nemausum, as they called it. The stone cutting is so precise that neither clamps nor mortar were used (and some of these blocks weigh over five tons.) The whole structure is as aesthetically pleasing as a Bach fugue. We climbed down to the river which runs through the arches and laid out our lunch of caviar with a bottle of chilled Sauvignon and shared the French loaf with the enormous trout leaping into the air to catch the crumbs, like aquatic circus dogs, before biting into the largest juiciest peaches imaginable and then simply sat and savoured the beauty of the structure above us. That evening at supper we tried other regional dishes, the grilled steak from the black bulls of the Camargue (bull fighting is popular here, which delighted Vi no end) which was very good and rather "Gamey" and the grilled Jack Dory and we consumed bottle so the local wine made from a grape variety rejoicing in the delightful name of Picpoul de Pinet, like a character from the commedia del arte.

The next day we covered the greatest distance in the entire holiday, waving farewell to Les Saintes Maries and their Sara and arriving in the late afternoon at Millau. The scenery was literally breath-taking as we held our breath before the majestic mountains on one side and deep gorges on the other, as Andrew negotiated the narrow roads and fought to avoid the occasional French lunatic. The French drive like bats out of hell but this region is so remote that we could drive for hours and only see a couple of cars and no other sign of human life. Fortunately a great deal of money had been invested in the construction of the roads which are of excellent quality. Before entering the region known as the Cévennes, we stopped and had our lunch, sitting on a wall which bordered an old vineyard, with mountains all around us (lunch was salami made from bull's meat and chèvre, a cheese made from goat's milk with the ubiquitous bottle of wine and then bread with the local honey which tasted of herbs.)

The Cévennes is an area of extraordinary beauty - remote, austere and dramatic, it varies from windswept limestone plateaux, with the isolated farmhouses of shepherds, to granite uplands with vast pastures, poor soils and icy winds in winter. I fell in love with it on sight. We made a detour to La Couvertoirade, a darkly forbidding fortified village where, in 1158 the Templars built a castle, church and cemetery. At first one wonders why they constructed anything in this savage, inhospitable landscape but they were providing posts for pilgrims to rest on their way over the Causse. We had coffee (or at least Vi and Andrew had coffee - I only drink it at breakfast and sampled the local eau-de vie at each stop instead - an eau -de-vie being a spirit like cognac, distilled from anything such as wild strawberries to carrots) and sauntered around the village for a while and then proceeded to Millau, where the river Dourbie joins the River Tarn. Millau is ringed by wooded hills and is famed for its leather which is as soft and supple as silk. It is a very attractive little town and the great opera singer Emma Calvé is buried there. Emma Calvé holds a particular interest for Vi, having famously been a member of the Parisian occult circles. We visited her sprawling castle, Cabrières, a little further to the north and built in the 11th century on the pinnacle of a crag so that it almost seems to be an extension of the bedrock itself. We dined on quail and lamb's tripe and drank the local wines and I read a French biography of Calvé which Vi had bought for me, over a glass of Calvados, while Vi and Andrew played chess.

We visited the caves at Roquefort, whose cheese was so highly prized in the Middle Ages that it was used as a medium of exchange like gold or silver. The guide spoke with a strong local accent and afterwards took us for a tasting. For lunch we had Roquefort, of course, with a loaf of the delicious peasant bread and a bottle of Muscat de Lunel and watched the largest eagle I have ever seen, a huge Zeus, a golden bird with a wingspan of more than 6 feet, soaring above us.

Our next destination was Albi but we decided to find a hotel just outside, in the ravishing countryside and investigate the city the next morning. The dinner was authentic peasant cuisine - a brawn made from kidneys, black pudding, celeriac and, as a main course, rabbit cooked in a mustard sauce and trout and we drank a bottle of the regional Gaillac wine.

The campaign against the Cathars is referred to as the Albigensian Crusade, a misleading designation, implying that the citizens of Albi were Cathars. There were certainly Cathars living in Albi, an insignificant number of them and the city was ferociously anti-clerical, but 2000 Albigeois assisted at the siege of Montségur. Albi is small and the two main attractions are the Toulouse-Lautrec museum, housed in the Palais de la Berbie and the cathedral, one of the most imposing in Europe and resembling a fortress rather than a church. It is terrifying in its austerity and sheer immensity, designed to put the fear of God into the beholder (Rudyard Kipling wrote "the brick bulk of Albi cathedral seen against the moon, hits the soul like a hammer") and one writer compared the interior to the belly of Jonah's whale. It is, iconographically speaking, an enormous representation of the Wrathful Pantocrator, the Jehova of the Old Dispensation with whom I have very little patience. The whole of the western end of the church is covered with a series of paintings showing the Last Judgement and the appalling fate awaiting sinners. Like so much Catholic architecture, its conception evolved from total corruption - it was financed by a bishop, the Grand Inquisitor of Languedoc, who was also vice-Inquisitor of all France, a particularly loathsome individual who wielded his immense power like a tyrant and spent his time torturing and murdering his personal enemies. The cathedral was built on blood and feels it, imposing as it is. The Toulouse-Lautrec museum was a respite, despite the fact that the Palace in which it is housed was the seat of the Inquisition and the home of the aforementioned bishop. The façade is equally grim, again conceived to terrify but the paintings by Toulouse-Lautrec are magical (he was actually born nearby, at the Hotel de Bosc, the son of the Count and Countess Toulouse-Lautrec) and we lost ourselves in his marvellous sense of colour, line and above all, ability to capture a personality behind the faces of his sitters. When he died of syphilis, he was only in his forties - a sad dwarf of a man and a towering genius.

Previously we had gone to a little town called Lacaune, famous for the quality of its air and specialising in an air-dried ham but all of the charcuteries were closed and we failed to find any local ham. However, hunting for postcards in Albi and sampling the local wines we found that in the market place there was a Lacaune stall and we treated ourselves to the ham as well as a sort of meat-ball made of paté and along with our dessert (a navette, a boat shaped, chocolate-covered dream, stuffed full of marron paste) headed for Gaillac. We had the entire château of Foucaud to ourselves and enjoyed our picnic in the glorious gardens, complete with fountains and water courses, a folly and picturesque river flowing past. We had almost reached the end of our adventure and spent the night just outside Toulouse.

Before dinner we entered the city to see the cathedral and again our visit coincided with a wedding, this one less provincial than the previous one we had witnessed. The cathedral, the largest Romanesque basilica in the Midi, is very beautiful and is dedicated to St Sernin, whose body lies under the high altar (I am very sceptical about the contents of these reliquaries which infest Catholic churches - one ornate golden casket supposedly contained the bones of some obscure saint but the contents looked more like the bishop's left-over turkey supper and there are enough pieces of the True Cross littered around to reconstruct Noah's ark). The construction started in 1080 and had to be huge to cope with the great number of pilgrims who flocked to see St Sernin's tomb - a pretty source of tourist revenue for the Catholic Church. We strolled around after the wedding party had disappeared and admired the exterior, pink brick and yellow stone, while sipping citrons pressés in a small café.

Our last supper was superlative and fortunately we had booked our table earlier in the day as the restaurant had been invaded by yet another wedding party (this time with a stunningly beautiful bride). We dined on salads of grilled goats' cheese with walnuts, fillet of hake with ginger and orange peel, brochette of ducks' hearts barbequed with herbs and roast duck. An excellent bottle of vine and a splendid Armagnac completed the pleasure. Ah! The simple pleasures of life - dear friends, good food and good wine! Before catching our flight back to London the next day, we sat in a restaurant by the banks of the Garonne, at the golf club and planned our next trek.

And that just leaves me to remind you of the contact details:
          Sauniere Society
          Arpinge Court
          Kent CT18 8AQ



          Facebook: Sauniere Society

If you haven't renewed your membership you can still do so by sending a cheque for £20 to the above address.

Keep safe, keep well, communicate