Lavender Overload Alert!

9 Jul

You have been warned – if excessive pictures of lavender tend to make you feel squeamish then you might want to scroll down a couple of screens before you settle in to reading!

The development of the lavender crop over our three visits to the Valensole Plateau

I think it was last time that I commented how the lavender was not yet actually fully in bloom, so when the weather looked favourable on Tuesday we headed back to the Valensole Plateau for some more photography.  This time the colours were much more intense.  Check the comparative series above.

Full version of number three from above

What can I say?

Added beehives form a variation on the lavender theme. Which reminds me… no matter where you stop beside these fields there is the sound of bees on the wing. If you look carefully you can see them traveling in all directions. Looking directly at a nearby lavender bush there is always at least a dozen bees

We didn’t expect sunflowers until next month but this young field was right beside some lavender and looking great. I always thought the flowers tracked the sun through the day but these were all facing away. I guess they either used southern hemisphere seed or they were just planted the wrong way around!

As promised, lavender and sunflowers in the same shot

And again, but with clouds!

Just sunflowers

To complete our day on the plateau… I have probably taken this shot before but I could not help myself

We had a call from Jeremy at 10pm after returning from the lavender, confirming a walk for Wednesday.  Jeremy’s friend, Richard, had selected the track and we were being picked up at 6.30am.  Better get some sleep!

Wednesday morning arrived a bit too soon but we were ready when Jeremy arrived.  Our first stop was in Salernes to collect Richard and then we were off to Moustiers, again!  Turned out that our walk was near the Gorges du Verdon which is en route to the Valensole Plateau and the lavender fields.

The starting point for our walk was at 575m AMSL and ended at 1225m AMSL.  The distance each way was only 3.7km so the average gradient by my maths is near 18%!

Route of our walk

The reason for going out early was to get the upward leg done before the heat built up.  We started walking at 8am.  The track was mainly stones over a hard surface which was like walking on marbles a lot of times.  We didn’t rush the ascent and got to the top in just over two hours including a good break on the way.  By now it really was starting to get hot.

While we were sitting at the top chatting and having our snacks a rare Griffin Vulture soared along the cliff about 50m above us.  Magic!  Unfortunately my camera was in the backpack at the time and he didn’t make a second pass.

Leanne on the lower part of the track. The gradient was very gentle here but you might notice the stones on the track. On the way down these were like walking on marbles and especially on the steeper parts was very tricky. Not to mention that we were getting a little tired by then

These bees had swarmed about a metre to the side of the track

I had a couple of caption ideas for this shot but decided to leave it and see what you come up with. Just drop a note in the comments at the end

L-R: Brian, Leanne, Jeremy and Richard

1200m AMSL, ~650m above our start. View down Lac de Sainte-Crois

Zoom in and pan over this image. The Valensole Plateau is on the right.

A hobo found on the mountain. Lavender fields visible on the Valensole Plateau

We took the same route back down but the combination of the marbles and now being a bit tired made the going at least as slow as the climb up.  I ended up seated once with many other near misses.  Unfortunately, Jeremy rolled his ankle and fell about one kilometre from the bottom.  After a rest he continued carefully and in quite a bit of discomfort.  It was a relief to get back to the car because it was now very hot and we were all a bit weary.

Being his right ankle, Jeremy wasn’t really in good enough shape to drive so I drove his car from Richard’s place back to Les Fadons and delivered him back to Jo.  We called to see how he was on Thursday to find out he had just got home from the hospital.  X-Rays confirmed he had broken a bone in the ankle!  Ouch!  Now he is in a moon boot for 6 weeks in the hot weather. That is going to suck.

On Saturday morning we were in the little sports car at 6am headed for Avignon.  This was the first day of the school holidays so we wanted to avoid as much of the traffic as possible.  We stopped on the way for some breakfast and were parked and entering the Papal Palaces in Avignon at 9 o’clock.

The palaces were magnificent.  They also had a very good audio guide system that was included in the entry price.  You could get as much or as little information as you liked during your visit.  Because today was the start of the annual month-long music and arts festival there was an elaborate temporary grandstand in one of the courtyards along with stage, lighting and backstage facilities.

One aspect that surprised me was how much change there had been over the centuries with the buildings.  At various times certain towers were taken down and the materials used for defenses, even a whole wing was deconstructed and later reinstated.  I am sure you will find plenty of detail on Wikipedia.

The west façade of the Papal Palace

Another angle across the front of the palace

Petit Palais Museum viewed from one of the towers of the Papal Palace

Pont Saint-Bénézet from across the road showing the small chapel of Saint Nicholas

Looking back at the Papal Palace from the end of the bridge

Being the beginning of their festival month there were some interesting characters about

View from the bridge towards Mt Ventoux

The reason for visiting Avignon on this particular day was to meet up with Martin Lowery, his wife Anna and their Amsterdam based son Sam.  They had just spent the week cycling in the Mt Ventoux area where Martin had ridden up the famous mountain. Not to be out done, Sam rode up with him… then down the other side and back to the top again before they both cycled back to their hotel.  That must have hurt!

After visiting the Papal Palace and exploring the city, we met up with Martin, Anna and Sam in the afternoon.  We took up residence at a reasonably quiet café/restaurant for some refreshments, engaging conversation followed by a very nice dinner.  A lovely time indeed.

Charged with a double espresso it was sadly time to return home.  We left the underground car park building beside the palace in Avignon at 9pm and were parked at home at 11pm.  No speeding and no traffic.  Easy.

After a busy week we spent Sunday very quietly around home before dinner with Sue who wanted to thank us for helping out at her place while she was away in the UK.  Lovely meal (well, except for the cucumber soup for me!)  There ends another busy and interesting week.  Have fun with the caption challenge I left for you.


2 Responses to “Lavender Overload Alert!”

  1. Jeff July 10, 2012 at 00:48 #

    Caption1: “Bugger, we walked right past the pub and I did not even see it!” 🙂
    Caption 2:”I think I’ll break my ankle right about there..” 🙂
    Caption 3:” Brian says there is another lavender field just at that point there!”

  2. Gary July 9, 2012 at 22:12 #

    “There’s supposed to be a fricken lake around here somewhere!”

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