Day 265: Où est la piscine

8 April 2011

High Point: A vintage fire fighters helmet from 1931 that had been handed down to fire fighters in Voray sur l’Ognon was presented to Steve, very humbling.  Steve says it’s easily the coolest thing we’ve ever been given!

Low point: Steve winning no swear Friday yet again, even after a strong start from Matt, potty mouth

An early visit to St Remy fire station to start the day, where the fire fighters and mayoral representative provided us with a tour of the fire station and a well needed cup of coffee, the fire fighters were amazed at the miles that the crew have been covered in 9 months.

They very kindly presented us with a commemorative plate and fire station tops, unfortunately Steve was given a captains shirt, and cap, so was unbearable, he even had the audacity to ask the captain for his actual rank badge, which he obliged with.  His cap no longer fits his head! ;o)

It was back on the road then to our next destination, the village of Voray sur l’Ognon, on the outskirts of the town of Besancon. Having been to St Remy before myself, the place itself is very special, and as we drove out of town I wished I could have stayed longer, but we have a deadline and many miles to cover in the next two days.

The drive to Voray sur l’Ognon, was a seven hour slog, passing the city of Lyon, the food capital of France, some say the world, no stopping for us, we were expected at 6pm.  The drive along the motorway was scenic, and at points the Rhone River ran alongside us, it really is a big river.

We had arranged to meet the local fire fighters on the outskirts of the village, as we waited what looked like a cross between an ambulance, and an ice cream van came whizzing round the corner, out jumped five smiling firemen, with big handshakes, I couldn’t work out where the hoses and water must be kept.

The short drive into the village can only be described as comical, with the backdoors of their engine constantly opening, with the odd fireman hanging out, waving and joking around. We stopped quickly at the fire station and then were directed to where we would be staying, a centre for kayaking with accommodation, next to a beautiful river where the kayaking takes place. As we unloaded our bags, the mayor popped by to say hello, and then it was back to the fire station.

James, Amy and I were in the Voray sur l’Ognon fire engine as the back of ours had been hijacked by the local children, who were very excited by the engine and the expedition, back doors open again, but with James and I hanging out this time.

The smell of the hog roast that was cooking on a rotating homemade barbeque contraption was salivating, and it seemed that most of the village had turned out to say hello.  I’ve never been somewhere where people joke and laugh as much, there must be something in the water, note to brain, bottle it, flog it, this time next  year Rodders, we’ll be millionaires!

We were shown round the fire station, which was a small building, and there was a small portable generator with hoses parked up, mystery solved.

A few photos with the locals, and Martha, Matt, Steve and I took the opportunity to enjoy the view from the top of the engine, we unfortunately stayed up there after the photos as the “display” by the local fire fighters started.

Their attire is very cool, and the helmets are straight off a star wars set, as the generator coughed a few times before it kicked in, we enjoyed the view of the two sets of fire fighters pointing the hoses at each other, a hose off!  Unfortunately as the water started to shoot out, the hoses changed direction, and we were soaked, to the huge amusement of the locals. We’d been royally stitched up.

Time for something to take the edge off the day, now this is a charity expedition, but if the locals offer you a glass or two of champagne, it’s rude to refuse, and rudeness is not acceptable.

We sat down to dinner, us, the fire fighters and a few locals, perhaps 20 of us in total, the room was buzzing with laugher and conversation in broken French, English and hand signals. The food arrived and the most amazing smell filled the room, it tasted even better, we were truly being spoilt.

Dinner lasted a few hours and several courses, I think I may sign up for more charity work if it’s like this, I’ve been told its DEFINITELY NOT! The jokes and laughter didn’t stop all through dinner, they even managed to put a bib on the local fire chief and stick him in a high chair, he’s the smallest man on the team!

After dinner, Steve was presented with a fire fighters helmet (used from 1931 – 2002) that had a long history of brave men who had worn it over the decades, some of whom are no longer with us.  There was defiantly a lump in most of our throats, perhaps a tear or two in Steve’s eyes.

Such an amazing gift, as it’s a part of their history, along with a donation to the charity. I think they really appreciated what Steve and the crew are doing and “GOT IT” as it were.

Off to bed, what amazing people.


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2 Responses to “Day 265: Où est la piscine”

  1. very enjoyable reading made me laugh, as well as what you lot have achived,met amazing people and arrived home safley.What next.

  2. Great acheivements for the group to see other parts of the world which shows what can be done with determination,to meet other natonalities who shares and appreciates the way of life how we should live with others.such kindness is very much appreciated by the organization and the people, for the money is very much needed.