All the subjects covered by the website over the past twelve months have once again been a delight to compile and research. But here ar...

2014 in review: five personal favourites

All the subjects covered by the website over the past twelve months have once again been a delight to compile and research. But here are five subjects which proved particularly interesting when peeling the layers away. Click on the titles or associated pictures to read the items!

It was a bit of a Eureka moment when I realised that this unique confluence point (the exact spot mid-way between the Equator and the North Pole where west becomes east) was within driving distance of Bordeaux. The rainy road-trip to Puynormand with Bordeaux 2066’s Vincent and my son Dorian threw up a few surprises including one incredible chance encounter, and it was ultimately a strangely fruitful investigation – ironically enough for something as abstract as imaginary lines on the terrestrial globe. [Version française également disponible]
Like many people (both tourists and locals), I enjoy admiring the three bronze orientation maps located in central Bordeaux. By investigating a little I was able to meet up with François Didier, the sculptor behind the pieces, and got the inside story on how the 3D “plans-reliefs” came about. The report also enabled me to visit le Jardin de Casaque, his private sculpture garden in Lugos, as well as taking me to the village of Bages near Pauillac to see two further bronze orientation maps.
It is now incredible to think that Formula 1 races were staged in central Bordeaux in the 1950s. This Invisible Bordeaux item provided an overview of the story, which is recounted in greater detail by Frederick Llorens and Yves Baillot d’Estivaux in their book “Les Grands Prix de Bordeaux”. The blog’s added value though was to cycle the full length of the circuit, film the evidence, and then to speed up the footage to get an idea of what it would have looked like from the wheel of a 1950s racing car. It’s all very spectacular and, remarkably, no pedestrians, animals or British cyclists were harmed during the recording.
One of the priorities of today’s cities is to make them accessible to disabled citizens. To find out how well Bordeaux scores on this front, I spent a morning with my physically-disabled friend Jérôme Mabon. Together we toured the city centre using public transport, dealing with pavements, steps and browsing in shops. How accessible would Bordeaux prove to be? [Version française également disponible]
This is one of the most recent items to have been published on the blog. I’m especially pleased with it when I think back to how little information I initially had about this doctor whose statue stands proud on Place Montaud. That was until I got in touch with Brigitte Charles and Michel Pionnier from Association Histoire(s) de la Bastide who selflessly passed on a host of photos, documents and pieces of information. The article took shape and even features a moving poem which was read out at Dr Chabrely’s funeral. The poem is one of Brigitte and Michel’s most incredible finds… and definitely deserved wider exposure 120 years down the line!

Farewell then 2014! And now let’s look forward to 2015 and another year of investigating more "invisible" subjects in and around Bordeaux... Thank you for reading this far and please call again!

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