Friday, 13 January 2012


Meeting up with family in France. (My crown came
with the traditional pudding we'd eaten .)
Going to new places has always been the key thing for me in the hope of sparking ideas for stories, books or magazine articles. But on a  trip to France last weekend I wasn't looking for inspiration or ideas – but boy did
I find them!

At the moment, if (fingers crossed) my 'irons in the fire' come off, I'll be busy enough over the coming months, I don't need anything new to think about at the moment, besides the 4-day trip was to visit my brother John and his family who live in a little French village called Pommeuse. Plus my eldest brother, Eddie was coming too – so it was to be a real family reunion and I was going to have a little break from all things to do with writing. Or so I thought!

Well, the first thing was the house next door to my brother's. Four storied if you count the attic and cellar, a shuttered grey stone building standing lonely and forelorn after it's owner met a tragic, bizarre and untimely end recently. Last time I visited I was inspired to write a romantic tale around this house – this time it's given me an idea for a horror story. Okay, so that idea was filed away in the old grey matter, and I got on with the fun side of visiting France - family meals, drives out to nearby towns and walks in parks.

The newly opened Musee de la Grande Guerre
Then we decided to visit a museum - Musee de la Grande Guerre (Museum of the Great War). The museum opened just two months ago and is truly fascinating. I found myself exploring it not just for my own interest, but with a journalistic eye. The museum would definitely appeal to lots of people and it won't be that well known yet. So surely there's an article here for the right magazine. Okay another idea filed safely away.

In the museum I spotted the strangest bus. Yes, a bus – and I happily admit that I do write for a bus magazine and this bus was certainly worthy of an article. It was a pigeonnier and its passengers in the First World War were – yes you've guessed it, pigeons plus the pigeon-fancier. Camera and notebook at the ready! Got my brother to interpret the French information plaque, then photographed it and nephew Chris later interpreted it more fully. Bus enthusiasts need to know about the chassis type and engine capacity I'll have you know! I'm just wondering now if there's a magazine for pigeon fanciers – I bet there is. I'll look that up soon.

A First World War pigeonnier.
Then, as I was lying in bed, after another evening of wine, good food and cheerful conversation, my fiction-head came to the fore and I started to muse over a fictional story idea that was developing around the pigeonnier thingy. The tale is definitely in its infancy at the moment, but the spark has been lit!

The church at Farmeutier
Sunday arrived, and Eddie and I were flying home that evening. In the morning though, I went with my sister-in-law, Sue to her church in the neighbouring town of Farmeutier. The church was beautiful, I'd been there before but this time the Mass was sung and it was partly in Latin and the rest in French. Afterwards I asked Sue if it would be okay to take some photos just for my own memory and she said, “Oh, I must tell you about the statue then...”

I listened with glee and took more photos as another article-worthy story was revealed. Now I need to market research the ecclesiastical magazines and newspapers to find one where this story might fit.

The flight home was uneventful except for one of the officers on the check-in desk looking a dead-ringer for Will Smith, but that's another story. Okay, so it turned out to be a bit of a busman's holiday, but that's the great thing when you love writing - and I did get time to have fun with some other locals......


Jennie Walters said...

How interesting, Ann! I love the photos, especillay the pigeonnier (what a lovely word). Once you open your mind's eye, there are stories everywhere.... Sounds like you made the very most of your holiday.

Ann Evans said...

I did Jennie, but it wasn't intentional! Got some writing to do now!

Dan Holloway said...

My wife and I always stop at one of the cemeteries near Bethune where her great great uncle is buried. There are some extraordinary memorials and museums in the area (and a very helpful and useful branch of the War Graves Commission). I remember one museum that was particularly moving in, I think, Albertville.

I needn't ask the derivation of the village name Pommeuse! I am sure the cidre and calvados flowed!

Rosalie Warren said...

That sounds like a wonderful and very inspiring trip.

Ann Evans said...

Dan I'm sure you would be interested in the Musee de la Guerre next time you're in France, there's lots of film footage of the soldiers, it's very moving. Not sure about the calvados but I couldn't get a glass of cidre anywhere - and it's my fav tipple!
Thank you for your comment Rosalie, it certainly was.

sue said...

About the cider

In fact we've got lots of cider in the cellar - we thought it best not to let Ann know! Just so we didn't dull her inventive mind, of course!

Marjorie said...

Wow, what a creative time! I've just shown the pigeonnier to my two sons, who were just as intrigued with it as I was. I will keep an eye open in the future for your work of fiction that emerges from it :) And the museum architecture looks stunning too.

Karen said...

Lovely post, Ann, and it's great that you came back with so many ideas from you trip. Love the pic of you dancing with Mickey Mouse!