Saturday, May 4, 2013

Letters of the Blanc Brothers

This is Philip Hoyle, an acquaintance who lives on the causse above Sauliac-sur-Cele. One of the reasons for my trip to the Cele Valley last weekend was to not only swap some books at the village book swap, but also to purchase a copy of Philip's newly-published book "Les lettres des freres' Blanc" (Letters of the Blanc Brothers) Philip, an Englishman, owns a large farmstead  up on the causse and divides his time between this old farm and Budpest, Hungary. Beginning his career as a social anthropologist studying Arab cultures mostly in the northern Sudan, Philip switched mid-life and finished his working career as an English teacher. Retired now, he works at the restoration of the old farm and its many crumbling structures including a huge old barn. He has a passion for building dry stone walls and sleuthing out the history of his farm. He's discovered three holes in the earth beside and under his barn that lead to narrow fissures and openings in the limestone causse. Both animal and human bones have been recovered from these small underground caverns.

But Philip is most interested in the people who lived here in the early 20th century. This is what his book is about...the lives of the Blanc family during the years of the first World War, 1914-1918.
More about the book and its stories in my next post.
The restored roof of Philip's three-story barn.
A lovely laburnum tree in full bloom
Blossoms on a Judas tree in Philip's yard. We have a variety of this tree in the US which we call the Red Bud tree.
One of the openings into underground fissures in the causse. I would never go into this, but Philip has had a team of local speleologists who have and who have done some excavating. This is where the animal and human bones were found.


  1. Oh that fissure is so intriguing... fascinating! and how lovely to meet the author and learn more about the local history. Lovely post.

  2. Those fissures must be fascinating. The Célé valley is full of caves, many of which have paintings, although most of them are private and can't be viewed. Pech Merle is worth a visit.