A Blast From The Past

27 Aug

Relative to some recent weeks the one just past has been an action packed blockbuster!  Chris and Gem Bonwit arrived on Monday afternoon for a two night stay on their way from Milan to Paris by TGV.  Chris and I worked together at Raychem Corporation in a prior life. We had not met up for many years so it was a delight to have this time together.

After their day of travel in 35~40˚C heat the first stop was the swimming pool followed by a casual stroll along the river pathway before having dinner, prepared by Leanne, out on the terrace.

Dinner in our courtyard with Chris and Gem.

Tuesday was our only full day in which to explore the local sights so we set off early (everything is relative) for the market in Lorgues.  Probably due to the holiday season, it was very busy and seemed larger than on previous visits.  Gem was on a mission to to satisfy her retail therapy needs while Chris and I found a suitable table at a café from which to observe while staying safe.

Chris and Gem Bonwit quite satisfied with their stamp purcahse at ‘La Poste’ in Lorgues just behind them. Now those carefully chosen postcards might get back home to firends and family. Email? What’s that??

This beauty was roadside near the Lorgues market and I wasn’t the only one lurking around it with a camera.

The inside view.

Next stop was the hilltop village of Tourtour.  We had packed a few goodies from home into a cold bag and bought some bread at the market so lunch at a table in the shade of a big tree at the top of the village was perfect.  When we managed to tear ourselves away from our table with a view it was to spend an hour walking around the village with regular stops at the fountains for cooling purposes.

A rare photo with me in the frame. This was in Tourtour and Chris was the photographer. Note the white stripe on my wrist – my watch was in the bottom of the fountain. I wanted to know what the water temperature was since it felt so icy on this hot hot day. Measured 16.7˚C

After Tourtour we were headed for Villecroze to see the troglodytic grottoes.  Except that I missed an exit on a roundabout somewhere along the way and we ended up in Aups!  Only 15km off target and it was a nice drive.

Given that it was now about 40˚C, getting into the grottoes was a relief.  Some of the caverns were nice and cool.  You can find information here and improve your French at the same time!

These troglodytic caves in Villecroze started forming 700,000 years ago. Owned by various groups over the years including the Benedictine monks who used it as a hideaway during the Moorish attacks of the 10th century. During the second part of the 16th century they were fortifed and used as a refuge during the religious wars of the time. In 1633 they were given to the city of Villecroze and they were classified under the ‘Sites et Monuments Naturels’ in 1924.

The park adjacent to the caves.

The largest cavern, looking down to the entrance and cashier’s desk.

After a walk through the old part of the village of Villecroze, we had a cold drink in the square before conceding defeat due to the heat.  So we then retreated to the pool at Les Fadons, home (for now).  After cooling down and resting, Chris and Gem shouted a lovely dinner at Le Tournesol, one of the restaurants in Le Thoronet.  It had been a busy and very enjoyable day so lights out was not long after we got home.

On Wednesday morning Chris and I drove in to Le Thoronet to get fresh bread for breakfast.  This is something Leanne and I have never done even though it is only 3km away and it is quite normal for the locals to do so.  Anyway, this was the foundation for an excellent breakfast out on the terrace before it got too hot.

We left home before 10am with luggage all packed and headed to Chateau de Berne for a look around, wine tasting and coffee before needing to be at Les Arcs station by 12.15pm for Chris and Gem’s TGV to Paris.  Wine tasting before 11am?!  We left that to Chris and Leanne while Gem and I had a coffee.  The shop there is a dangerous place – lots of nice homewares etc. that is tempting to take away.  Strict weight limits on luggage prevailed though and the credit cards remained safe.  Well, except for the nice bottle of viognier Chris and Gem bought for us.  It is in the refrigerator in readiness!  Thank you.

We made it to the railway station with time to spare and no stress.  The TGV schedule was carefully designed so passengers would arrive in Paris hauling their luggage right in the middle of the commuter peak hour(s).  I am glad I wasn’t there!

Thursday and Friday were quiet days with some work to do here and high temperature still keeping us under shelter in the afternoons.

Leanne had a rush of blood to the head on Saturday morning and next thing we were walking to Le Thoronet using the irrigation channels where possible.  It was only 9am.  The prospect of a pastry and a double espresso kept me going.

At Chateau de Berne on Tuesday we saw signs promoting a ‘Medieval Festival’ on Sunday so we decided to check it out.  Turned out to be a fizzer.  Or perhaps we were totally spoilt by the experience at Brignoles last week.  Regardless, we settled for a coffee and came back home.

I have been trying to photograph some of the insects etc. around the garden.  Evenings seem to work OK for this in general.  Here are a few results…

These whitish damselflies are numerous around the gardens. They are about 40~50mm long. This was taken late in the day on 1/160, f/7.1, ISO1600, 135mm on cropped sensor (effectively 216mm) and handheld. A bit grainy and depth of field very shallow.

This is not a Hummingbird but a Hummingbird Hawk Moth. More information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macroglossum_stellatarum

In this photograph you might just see its legs if you expand the image to full size. The antenae in both images are a giveaway that this is not a bird!

And another one for good measure!

That’s another week wrapped up.  The weather seems to be on the change now.  Yesterday there was rain and a thunderstorm forecast.  We heard distant thunder but no rain here.  Today it is windy but still over 30˚C.  Better than the high thirties with high humidity we had been getting lately.  Pretty soon we will be wishing for some warmer weather without a doubt.

So to close, here is one more picture…

It has taken four and a half months for us to be reduced to drinking cask wine! Seriously though, we stopped at the local Winegrowers Coop to restock on bottles of red and they had none in stock! The cask contains the same wine. BTW, six bottles costs €23.40 (4.5 litres) and the 5 litre cask costs €14.00. The next step down is to bring and fill your own containers from the tap on the wall. Again, supposedly the same wine.


2 Responses to “A Blast From The Past”

  1. Jeff August 27, 2012 at 00:29 #

    Does this mean you have had the two seater sportscar backseat conversion done to enable you to carry your friends? 🙂 This is very popular with the Clio’s In fact near Marseille it is so popular that the theft of large numbers of Clio backseats is reported as the locals do their own backseat conversion on the cheap!

    • bikernz August 27, 2012 at 10:33 #

      No. Just had to get a rental for a few days.

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