The People Who Lived On Stilts.

Hey,

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I hope I find you well and happy today.

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All is cool here.

I have been up since the early hours, which has enabled me to have a bath, wash my hair, feed the birds, and enjoy a huge pink pot of tea and two Warburton’s Potato Pancakes…and all before the painters arrive at their usual hour of nine.

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Today promises to be much more pleasant than yesterday.

Since Big H managed to fix the radiators, our new, temporary living room room has now warmed up to a tolerable level.

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Now I am sitting here without my sheepskin coat and my big hat, which is how I was dressed all day yesterday, looking more like an extra in Doctor Zhivago than an English person!

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I read some very interesting stuff too.

Have you heard about the Stilt People who lived in the Landes area of France?

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It is quite amazing!

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This was a huge area of  totally flat plains in the south-west.

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Long ago this area was very boggy, as well as totally featureless, and the main way of surviving there was to have herds of sheep, and to keep moving them around the very poor quality ground.

In order to watch their sheep in such a flat place, the Shepherds devised a method of living on tall stilts, which allowed them to be high enough in the air to be able to keep watch effectively. and move very quickly.

It also meant that everyone could stay warm and dry.

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There were reports of these Stilt people from the 1700’s but no-one knows for sure when this practice developed.

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The Landes folk all lived their lives on stilts and they could quickly cross large distances in this fashion.

Travelling thirty miles per day was common.

It was also possible to safely cross rivers full of poisonous snakes, and pass over large flooded areas, using this method.

Young children were quickly taught to walk in this fashion and would eventually spend most of their lives on stilts.

The housewives would go to market on their stilts and stand in groups gossipping together like flocks of long legged, ungainly birds.

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Letters were delivered by postmen on stilts, and people would carry long staffs so that they could have a rest by using the stick as a third stabilising leg to give easy balance.

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They would rest comfortably like this for long periods of watching their sheep, or talking, and they would also knit to help pass the time.

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It is said that in the late 1800’s a young Landes man performed the amazing feat of walking on stilts for 58 days and he ended up covering over 2,000 miles.

I believe that he ended up in Moscow.

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This unique way of life began to disappear after the middle of the 19th century, because a huge forest was planted in the Landes area,

This, of course, changed the landscape, and made it less suitable for the stilt wearing people and their sheep, who had evolved there previously.

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The old practice now lives on only in folk performance.

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I don’t know why it all fascinated me so much.  It is just amazing how inventive people are at adapting themselves to circumstances and overcoming them.

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Thank god my life is a lot easier then that….it is all I can do to walk in  four inch heels….never mind stilts!

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Speak with you again soon.

Take care.

Jaksie x

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