Sunday, 22 November 2009

Salad Days

One of my greatest surprises is the beauty to be found in polytunnels!

Infamous infrequency

Even for our infamously infrequent blog, I know that we've been remarkably inactive!

A number of things have contributed to this...

1) Sloth - hey it's winter, we're nearly hibernating!

2) We're not actually hibernating at all. In fact we're very busy, but European cross-border legal directives (Lindsay) and LP Gas association annual reports (Guy) are not really what this blog is about.

and lastly... 3) Techno-hassle (to quote Neil from The Young Ones - yes, we are that old, and no, it wasn't in black and white). I've been trying to set up automated publishing to our new Facebook page and to date have had little success. I think I may have just cracked it, though - with a FB application called NetworkedBlogs, for those who might be interested.

So hopefully this will auto-publish into Facebook and I can get blogging again. I do actually have a few things I want to post.

But don't hold your breath - see points 1 and 2, above.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Stalled Movie Distribution Career

I've just been trying to upload a slideshow movie that I've made of the Mas des Grand'Terres highlights, but it keeps crashing halfway through uploading. So, instead, here are a few of the stills used to compile the movie, showing a few of this summer's new features...

I've been framing some of my best photographs of Provence and hanging them in the gîtes.

The tractor shed upgrade is now complete, with floaty curtains, rehung tractor portraits, new lighting and a new floor, plus rustic wooden wall cladding.

See.  I haven't had my feet up all summer!


Sunday, 30 August 2009

Storms and Shocks

We had our first summer storm a few days ago and after an hour of heavy ran, the sun came out and steam began to rise from the garden.  This reminded me of some pictures that I'd taken a year or so ago and I went back to look at them again.  Here they are...

I was (pleasantly) shocked to see how much change has happened in the garden since I took this shot back in June 2008.  Here's the same scene now...
Obviously, the grass is looking a little less lush, as it's the end of August and it hasn't been rained on since May (excepting the storm).  But haven't the pampas grasses grown?  Not to mention the cherry tree halfway down on the right.  And it's hard to imagine that we've only had our pergolas for just over a year.  You can see the posts were in in June ’08.  Now the spiky garden is already looking very established around the pergola with the siesta bed in it...

Monday, 10 August 2009

Olive Grove

This olive grove lies at the foot of the cliffs upon the top of which the 'village perché' (perched village) of Les-Baux-de-Provence sits. This photograph was taken from the ramparts of the medieval castle as the sun sank lower in the late afternoon.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Picasso Underground

I've written about the Cathedrale d'Image at Les Baux before... a rolling sound and light show in the disused bauxite quarries hollowed out of the centre of the Alpilles hills.
This year's theme is Picasso.  Rather than present his work chronologically, it explores various themes that ran throughout his life - his women, war, bulls and minotaurs, and so on. 
It's impossible to geta a clear impression of what the show is like with a hand held, still camera.  (These are just a stab in the dark - literally.)  Images cross-fade and juxtapose all around you, immersing you in them.  That combined with the rough hewn nature of the quarry walls, makes this an ideal way to explore the work of the master cubist.
It's 45 minutes, offers an extremely cool respite from the fierce Provençal heat and we urge every one of of our visitors to experience this unique and inspiring spectacle. 

Friday, 24 July 2009

Sunrise, Sunflowers

I got up at dawn yesterday to go and photograph the sun's first rays as they hit the sunflowers growing near Tarrascon, about 15km south from our place, between Avignon and Arles.

The low angle of the first sun rays makes the light amazing - causing the sunflowers to glow.

And if any body doubts that sunflowers face the sun, they definitely face East to greet the rising sun as is shown here.

If you'd like to see more of these shots, click on the title of this post to link to our Picasa web album.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Trumpets of Jericho

The Bignone has just flowered down at the second pergola.  It's common name in French is Trompettes de Jericho - Trumpets of Jericho.

Monday, 13 July 2009

(Other) Festival time again

It's festival time again and the principal activities of our village festival are drinking Pastis and avoiding bulls!

Unofficial, all-inclusive bull avoidance takes part in the streets. I'll try to take some pictures tomorrow.

The more organised bull avoiding is in the village arena, where the Provençal version of bull- fighting takes place. The bulls are not killed. In fact it's more dangerous for the 'Razateurs' who try and cut small string rosettes from the bulls' horns. I've put togethr this little slide show to give an impression of 'Les Courses Camarguaises'...

Friday, 10 July 2009

Festival Time Again

The Avignon Festival started this week. I haven't had tome to go into Avignon just yet, so I thought I'd put up some shots I took at last year's festival to give a bit of flavour....

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Bulls' heart steaks "Margherita"

We've been buying Coeur de Boeuf (Bull's heart) tomatoes at the farmers' market in Velleron.  They are aptly named - heart shaped and enormous, and you can cook hem like meat.  They're sweet and flavourful and their flesh is so firm that they can be sliced and grilled on the barbecue.

The other night, we cooked them in just that way and then tossed torn fresh mozzarella and basil leaves over them and finished with some good olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Delicious! 
 The combination of tomato, mozzarella and basil is called 'Margherita' after the classic pizza topping named Margherita after the queen of Italy, because of its red, white and green colouring; the colours of the Italien flag.  

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

A Purple Patch

At the end of June, it's a purple patch that we go through.  The lavender and perovskia are really going for it and they have been joined by the agapanthus now.

Here they're mixed with cosmos (pink daisy) and berberis for contrast.

And we've got another purple patch going beside the pool (above) with a low growing bed of ageratum, alysum, verbena and lobelia (not in shot).

The perovskia (Russian Sage) provides a great back ground to these dark red hollyhocks too.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Shooting the Cat

It's not easy, photographing the cat, you know.

Especially when it's a wild one that's adopted you.

She'll let us pet her now, but it took a long time to gain her confidence.

And perseverance pays off in the end.

Lindsay has named her Sweetie-Pie.

She doesn't come in the house.  But she does catch mice so she's welcome to stick around!

Thursday, 25 June 2009


This is Roussillon in the Luberon.  Until the beginning of the 20th century it was a centre of pigment mining.  The pigments were used for paints of all kinds, and Rousillon is a good advertisement for its own product as all of the houses are rendered with various tints and shades of the local red rock.

Indeed, I am told that Roussillon means red earth in the old language of the South of France.

Les Sentiers des Ochres, Roussillon

These cliffs are the old ochre works in Roussillon.  In the 19th Century natural pigments were mined from these hills.  

The disused quarries, called "Les Sentiers des Ochres", are now open to the public.  The circuit takes about an hour and a half.

First you descend the stairs into the bowl of the quarry.

The cliffs glow with intense reds, yellows and pinks.

Strange pillars of stone are left standing.  Perhaps the rock in these columns was not rich enough in pigment to warrant cutting?