10 August 2010 Chateau de Bosmelet, Normandy, France.

The Fiveways Artists  Group from Brighton England are exhibiting a collection of original paintings, prints, ceramics, and sculpture, in a famous 17th century chateau in northern France. 
Chateau de Bosmelet
The Chateau de Bosmelet is noted for the 'Rainbow Potager'. Exhibits from the potager won a Gold Medal at the 2000 Chelsea Flower Show. Go on, admit it, you don’t know what a potager is. Well I didn’t anyway.  A potager is a garden where flowers and vegetables are planted together. The Chateau has two acres of potager, looking like a super sized rainbow coloured allotment, which attracts a steady trickle of enthusiasts. This month the walled garden is enhanced by Fiveways Artists sculpture and sculptural ceramics, while the great reception rooms in the Chateau are adorned with our paintings.
Fran Doherty [Fiveways artist] in the potager

The artists have each agreed to come over the English Channel to share invigilation of the exhibition. For three days it is the turn of my wife Fran Slade and I. So, after exploring the garden we read, paint, sketch, take photos, talk to ourselves, listen to the birds, read a bit more, and write diaries, as invigilators do. Fran said yesterday, “...this is a glorious place to be bored in, or study the meaning of existence”. We are not troubled by too many visitors. Yesterday in sunshine there were 18, today we have rain. The Baron de Bosmelet himself sits in small entry chapel across the lawns by the car park. He collects a seven Euro entry fee and sells vegetables from the potager.
Sweet chestnut tree, age 430.
Yesterday I painted a small picture in the grounds close to the Chateau. My subject was a huge 430 year old sweet chestnut tree. And thereby hangs a tale. Are you sitting comfortably? My earliest childhood recollection is that someone was trying to kill me. In fact my 68 year old memory is that my mother and other grown-ups were looking skyward in alarm at a doodlebug. I heard one of them say, “ ...it is alright while we can hear the engines. When it stops it means that it will crash and we have thirty seconds to take cover in the bomb shelters.”  The first doodlebug was followed over eons of infant-memory-time by many more doodlebugs. They had a distinctive drone, which did occasionally stop overhead.  We did indeed run to the bomb shelter and wait for the crunching thud of the deadly V1 flying bomb detonation.

Colin Ruffell age 71
And yesterday, under the shade of a very old chestnut tree, I saw where the doodlebugs came from. The Germans built V1 launch pads across Normandy. One was here in the grounds of the Chateau. The RAF learned about this site and 103 others, and bombed them, thus preventing Hitler from his master plan which was to send sixty thousand [60,000] doodlebugs across the Channel to London. The Chateau launch pad and bunker were targeted 28 times, with two bombs hitting the 400 year old house amidships.  2400 doodlebugs actually landed in the Kent, nearly half the 5000 that landed in total in the UK. Hitler killed many English children in ‘bomb alley’ where we lived. But he missed me. And the RAF failed to hit the command bunker hidden beneath the ancient chestnut tree, so the tree and I survived. 


  1. Iteresante art blog.
    I leave you my greetings



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