Tag Archives: Flickr

Is It Spring Already?

16 Feb

Even though I have stretched my posts out to two weeks and we are not really up to much these days, it is Blogday afternoon already!  That also means that our days are counting down very swiftly towards our departure from France.  We are both now very much looking forward to getting home but there is a building sadness that we will be leaving so much behind here in France.

In the last 5 days the weather has improved tremendously.  The rain more or less stopped and we have had a couple of cloudless and reasonably still days.  Temperatures have been climbing too although it has not yet really been cold.  In the whole of January we had one frost at Jeremy and Jo’s place and since being back at La Regalade at Carcès on 3rd February we have not had a single frost.  Today the high was 16˚C and tonight will only get down to 6˚C.  Very pleasant considering that February is often the coldest month here.  Let’s hope I have not spoken too soon!

Of course all this nice weather brings Spring!  It seems too early but some mature trees are breaking bud and there are spring flowers starting to bloom.  Nice.

To get back into the chronology of the fortnight, we started on the 3rd of February by collecting Jeremy and Jo from Nice airport after their trip to visit their son and daughter-in-law in Thirroul (near Wollongong, Australia).  They had had a wonderful trip and not having to spoil it by telling them that Squeaky was missing was a great relief for us (see the previous post for an explanation).  We spent the afternoon with them and then headed up to La Regalade in the evening.  We should have gone earlier because by the time we got there it was dark and after being closed up for a month it was as cold as a witches tit.  In fact it took three days to get the villa warm again.  We also found that the sanglier had been very active in the gardens digging out plants and moving rocks and soil.

On the Thursday we met Sabine and Jean-Marc for lunch at Le Gourmandin in Le Luc.  We had a lovely time talking and eating (OK, and drinking) and suddenly it was 3pm.  The details of the meal are saved in Evernote Food, click here.

On Sunday 9th we  headed to Saint-Raphaël to go to an artisan chocolate exhibition but Leanne changed her mind when she saw how small it was. We drove around the coast a bit to Agay.  I took a few photos then headed inland in search of snow covered hills behind Draguignan.  We ended up going through Bagnol-en-forêt and Saint-Paul-en-forêt before getting to Fayence.  Got some decent shots from the side of the airfield.  On the way home we stopped for a coffee in Lorgues which turned out to be a treat.  We have been to Lorgues several times but always on a market day (Tuesday) so we had not seen the main street in its normal state. There were lots of things from details to whole big buildings that we had not noticed before because the market stalls and the crowds always dominated the scene.  It was nice to see it at rest on a Sunday afternoon.

On Monday night we met Jeremy and Jo in Lorgues together with most of the local Brit community who had all come to see Philomena starring Judy Dench.  It was the ‘VO’ edition, i.e. the original version in English with French subtitles.  It was a very good movie.

With the better weather we were also starting to get on to some of the outdoor jobs at La Regalade that needed doing before the summer rental season starts.  Wednesday was a another day dominated by food and socialising.  We were invited to Lance and Saskia’s home in Correns for lunch.  We arrived on time at 12h30 joined by four others and nobody left until after 6pm!  This is something of a habit here in France it seems, the all afternoon and into the evening lunch.

I also spent some time taking photos looking across the lake to La Regalade so I could create a panorama.  WordPress does not play nicely with wide panorama images so if you are interested just hit this link and it should take you to the latest panorama on my Flickr page.  If the link doesn’t quite work you will find the image on my photostream and in the set called ‘Panoramic Images’ on my Flickr page, click here.

And now for some photos and less rambling from me!

Just a sample of the damage done by the sanglier (wild boar) at La Regalade.  They have unrooted some of the lavender plants and pulled some of the irrigation lines apart.

Just a sample of the damage done by the sanglier (wild boar) at La Regalade. They have unrooted some of the lavender plants and pulled some of the irrigation lines apart.

This is Le Gourmandin where we enjoyed a lovely lunch with Sabine and Jean-Marc last week.

This is Le Gourmandin where we enjoyed a lovely lunch with Sabine and Jean-Marc last week.

The coast at Agay, near Saint-Raphaël.  This was one of the few very clear and sunny days we had during a period of many rainy weather.

The coast at Agay, near Saint-Raphaël. This was one of the few very clear and sunny days we had during a period of many rainy weather.

I found a gap on the perimeter of the airfield from where the view of Fayence and the show behind was clear.  I am not so sure that I was meant to be there...

I found a gap on the perimeter of the airfield from where the view of Fayence and the show behind was clear. I am not so sure that I was meant to be there…

While I was there no harm in taking another shot!

While I was there no harm in taking another shot!

The Mairie (Town Hall) in Lorgues.

The Mairie (Town Hall) in Lorgues.

Looking away from the Mairie in Lorgues this time.

Looking away from the Mairie in Lorgues this time.

Being the middle of winter on a dreary Sunday afternoon the streets of Lorgues were deserted.  This highlights how well presented the buildings actually are here.

Being the middle of winter on a dreary Sunday afternoon the streets of Lorgues were deserted. This highlights how well presented the buildings actually are here.

The spillway from the Lac de Carcès.  It is when this is opened in times of heavy rain that the river Argens floods.  This is the outlet of the Lac de Carcès which is the manmade reservoir that we overlook from La Regalade.

The spillway from the Lac de Carcès. It is when this is opened in times of heavy rain that the river Argens floods. This is the outlet of the Lac de Carcès which is the manmade reservoir that we overlook from La Regalade.

Only ~200m from the dam, this is one of the local irrigation canals that criss-cross this area. The sluice gate feeding it was closed hence the very low water level. I am guessing that this was to stop silt laden water due to the rains from circulating through the canal system.

Only ~200m from the dam, this is one of the local irrigation canals that criss-cross this area. The sluice gate feeding it was closed hence the very low water level. I am guessing that this was to stop silt laden water due to the rains from circulating through the canal system.

Probably ~500m down from the dam there is an area of rapids and small falls.  It is normally a fairly peaceful area but with the amount of water being released from the lake it is now raging.  The noise completely drowns any conversation (how's that for a pun?).

Probably ~500m down from the dam there is an area of rapids and small falls. It is normally a fairly peaceful area but with the amount of water being released from the lake it is now raging. The noise completely drowns any conversation (how’s that for a pun?).

More water...

More water…

And even more water, still at the same location.

And even more water, still at the same location.

Ample evidence of the very wet and warmer than normal winter so far.  Really just an excuse for me to attempt DoF photo.

Ample evidence of the very wet and warmer than normal winter so far. Really just an excuse for me to attempt DoF photo.

Streetscape in Carcès on a winter Thursday morning.  Not a lot going on but a nice village all the same.

Streetscape in Carcès on a winter Thursday morning. Not a lot going on but a nice village all the same.

That’s it for now.  The clock is ticking and the next time I post Dad will be here.  Really looking forward to that.

Advertisements

Happy New Year!

6 Jan

Perhaps a little late, but Happy New Year to everyone!  Why not make 2014 the year that you stop rationalising, dust off that long harboured dream and go for it?  Work backwards from ‘what is the worst thing that could happen’ until you get to ‘what is most likely to happen’ if you follow this dream.  You will probably find that there isn’t really much in the way at all.  It just seems like there might be.  That’s all the philosophical content of this post!

You know that list of things you keep putting off doing but you know is going to bite your ass one day?  My list is not too bad while we are travelling, we only have phones, iPad, computer and a camera to look after.  So it has stuff on it like needing to sort out my ‘Documents’ folder on the computer so that I am not cluttering up my backup system with stuff that should not be there.  And going through my 105GB iTunes library and deleting stuff that I no longer listen to or watch.  Real rainy day, stay inside and keep warm types of tasks.  Well we have just had several days of perfect weather for getting those things done.  The reason that this housekeeping has come to the top of my attention list is that I am having some performance issues with my laptop, especially with Aperture, which is the program I use to manage my photos.  The Apple Store guys reckoned the best thing to do was a clean install.  That means having everything backed up properly.  I knew this day was coming but had been in denial because of the risks involved but I agreed that it is time.  Part of the problem is with the way I set this computer up in the beginning – I loaded it with a backup off my desktop machine.  What that has done is carry forward 2+ years of dusty baggage from the desktop and I have now been on this laptop for 2 years so that adds up to a lot of baggage.  Time for a fresh start.  So in about a week I will be sitting in the Apple Store in Nice using their free high speed WiFi to to re-download OS X and all my applications, about 20GB worth, and setting up from scratch.  If anything comes up they will be there to help.  Wish me luck!

I was also reading an article on how FaceBook, WordPress (this site) and others mash uploaded photos.  I don’t often look at the finished blog post because I can see the photos anytime in their full glory in Aperture.  So I went through some of the recent posts and I was amazed.  The photos look terrible, at least compared to what I see before uploading.  I am certain that they were previously much better than they appear now and I have read some comments that the compression techniques have been changed.  There are now fringing artefacts, fuzzy details and generally dull colours.  I didn’t realise they looked so bad.  There are ways to improve them and I don’t understand all the options yet but it seems that they all involve spending significant sums of money and complicating the workflow.  Neither of those things are on my agenda at this point in time so I guess the photos will continue to be destroyed by WordPress as they seek to minimise file sizes.  What I might try to do is to load more of the photos on to Flickr in future.

That is of course for the posts that actually have some decent photos to upload and this does not appear to be one of those!  It is Sunday afternoon, 5th January, as I write this and I have just taken my first two photos for the year using my DSLR.  There are no photos to be taken while sitting inside keeping warm and working on the computer.

This post is meant to pick up from Xmas till now so here goes…

We spent Xmas day at Sue’s place after cancelling plans to go somewhere like Gap.  We bought lots of really nice prepared treats from Picard and had a nice relaxing time.  We started our Xmas lunch at 2:30pm and finished at 6pm.  Sue got back home about 8pm just when the drizzle we had been having all day ramped up to an icy downpour.

We had a few nice days between Xmas and New Year but we didn’t get up to anything special other than move up to the villa at Carcès on the 27th.  Jeremy and Jo invited us to join them with their family & friends to see in the New Year.  It was a lovely evening culminating in the ritual butchering of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ around the bonfire at midnight complete with fireworks.  We left the revellers to it at 2am and went back to Sue’s place (she was kindly putting us up for the night to spare us the trek back to Carcès in the wee small hours).

Today we have been to Correns for a very pleasant lunch with friends there.  I was hoping to getting out in their area to take some photos and although it was nice and sunny the wind was cold and brutal.  No photos again!

That really covers the last couple of weeks.  I have scrounged together a couple of photos just for completeness so I’ll sign off with those.

This ice-cream log was just one of our treats on Xmas day.

This ice-cream log was just one of our treats on Xmas day.

The lake at Carcès was looking very good on the 29th but it is not all that it seemed. There was an icy wind so coats, hats and scarves were required.

The lake at Carcès was looking very good on the 29th but it is not all that it seemed. There was an icy wind so coats, hats and scarves were required.

In spite of the wind it was a popular day to take a family stroll after lunch.

In spite of the wind it was a popular day to take a family stroll after lunch.

A Citroën DSuper5 parked near the villa at Carcès.  I really meant it when I said I was short of photos!

A Citroën DSuper5 parked near the villa at Carcès. I really meant it when I said I was short of photos!

Living With The Jones’s

3 Jun

As I sat down to write this today I noticed Simba, Lisa’s Norwegian Forest Cat, taking a lot of interest in the couch.  Or more specifically, some noises coming from behind the couch.  On investigation I found a small rabbit staying well out of the way of Simba whose bulk prohibited him from going in after it.  Lucky for the rabbit I managed to poke him into a corner with a broom and reach down and grab him.  He did not appear injured but he was very shaky on his feet when I put him out in the paddock.  I have no idea how he ended up inside.

The bunny just before release.

The bunny just before release.

Now back to what I sat down to write.  We have been here just over a week and we have a good routine with all our co-residents – the two dogs, Fennel and Gwen; the two cats Martha and Simba; and the ten geese.  Part of that routine is having to get up at 06h00 everyday to take Gwen for a walk, let the hens out (since the automatic door on their box went on the fritz) and let the geese out of their box and feed them.  I guess I am most pleased with how the geese have accepted having me around.  They are friendly and look just hilarious when they come running across the paddock in response to a call to dinner.

The sun doesn’t set until nearly 21h30 now so it is light until after 22h00 which is a trap that I fall into every day not realising how late it is, especially after a relatively early start.  So I do admit to taking a few afternoon naps of 90 minutes or so.

Monday was a Bank Holiday, not that these things usually affect us very much.   So we went to the International Book Festival at Hay-on-Wye.  The only ‘event’ we got in to was a presentation on the art of Titian – Diana and Callisto, Diana and Actaeon, The Death of Actaeon.  Perhaps I was having and off day, but overall I found the festival to be underwhelming and Hay to be a dull town without much in the way of interesting architecture or nice streetscapes or squares. Besides, how can they be serious when they are a medium sized town and they have thousands of visitors for the week and they don’t even have basic cellphone coverage in the centre of the town or the festival site?  Let alone 3G data.  It is just a joke.  We were relying on using cellphones to meet up with some people but we had to drive halfway back to Crickadarn before we could make a call.  If the locals are too apathetic to push the network operators for a decent service then the festival organisers should at least get a temporary base station in place to service the site for the week.  My conclusion is don’t go to the festival, they don’t deserve your patronage.

The weather has had its moments.  Tuesday was a bit miserable and I ended up spending  big chunk of the day sorting out my Flickr accounts.  Long story, two accounts, bit of a mess.  It’s much better now, I just have to get brave enough to delete the old account.

We stopped at the Wheelwright’s Arms in Erwood on our way home from a drive on Thursday.  Half a dozen locals in there were entertaining to listen to.  A couple of them were the same guys we had see here each time we’ve been in.  One of the regulars walks up to the bar, “Dave, I better get home but I’ll just have another pint for the ditch before I go.”  The Welsh version of ‘one for the road’?  This is the same guy who pronounced, “I come here for a few pints after work to quench my thirst and so I don’t cry when I get home!”

The weather on Friday was great – sunny and warm, without much wind.  We sorted things at the house and set out for a drive ending up on a big Common on the other side of the River Wye.  It was a very nice day out.

Saturday was pretty quiet and on Sunday we went for a visit to Builth Wells and Llandrindod Wells, some photos are included.

This is the sort of countryside we are surrounded by - gorgeous when the sun is on it!

This is the sort of countryside we are surrounded by – gorgeous when the sun is on it!

The three goslings from the second clutch on the morning after we arrived aged 5~6 days.

The three goslings from the second clutch on the morning after we arrived aged 5~6 days.

Out walking the dogs.  Gwen is on the lead and Fennel is standing behind.

Out walking the dogs. Gwen is on the lead and Fennel is standing behind.

The sunny side of the cottage, south facing.

The sunny side of the cottage, south facing.

Thankfully there is an English translation.  All these Welsh signs and place names is making French look pretty comprehensible.

Thankfully there is an English translation. All these Welsh signs and place names is making French look pretty comprehensible.

For me this was the highlight of the Hay-on-Wye Festival - some overpriced asparagus.  I am afraid I could glean no inspiration from the event at all really.  Leanne mildly enjoyed what we saw but was not terribly excited about it either.

For me this was the highlight of the Hay-on-Wye Festival – some overpriced asparagus. I am afraid I could glean no inspiration from the event at all really. Leanne mildly enjoyed what we saw but was not terribly excited about it either.

On Wednesday the little goslings graduated from the laundry to the glasshouse and they seemed chuffed with the move.  I cut a piece out of the end of their box and put a tray in place as a doorstep and they took themselves to bed under the heat lamp at night.

On Wednesday the little goslings graduated from the laundry to the glasshouse and they seemed chuffed with the move. I cut a piece out of the end of their box and put a tray in place as a doorstep and they took themselves to bed under the heat lamp at night.

Crickadarn is our nearest village, only about a mile away. It has roughly 6 houses, two churches, two cemeteries and a telephone box. This was apparently the ideal qualification to be used for some scenes in the movie 'An American Werewolf in London'.

Crickadarn is our nearest village, only about a mile away. It has roughly 6 houses, two churches, two cemeteries and a telephone box. This was apparently the ideal qualification to be used for some scenes in the movie ‘An American Werewolf in London’.

Just to the left of the church, two of the six houses in the village. By the way, what's the difference between a hamlet and a village? In Britain a hamlet is defined as generally smaller than a village and it does not have a church.

Just to the left of the church, two of the six houses in the village. By the way, what’s the difference between a hamlet and a village? In Britain a hamlet is defined as generally smaller than a village and it does not have a church.

View to Wern Fawr from across the valley (on the other side of the River Wye).  It is the 6-acre block in the centre of the photo, including the paler paddock and the two small woods above the house.

View to Wern Fawr from across the valley (on the other side of the River Wye). It is the 6-acre block in the centre of the photo, including the paler paddock and the two small woods above the house.

Llanbedr Hill was the closest landmark I could identify on the Ordnance Survey map.  This walk was across the Common that occupies this entire plateau across the Wye River from our housesit at Wern Fawr.

Llanbedr Hill was the closest landmark I could identify on the Ordnance Survey map. This walk was across the Common that occupies this entire plateau across the Wye River from our housesit at Wern Fawr.

The Common is quite swampy in places with small lakes dotted all over.

The Common is quite swampy in places with small lakes dotted all over.

Plenty of horses and sheep roaming.  Not sure if these horses are wild or just free  range domestic.  The sheep were certainly farmed - they were ear-tagged and most had blue or red raddle markings.

Plenty of horses and sheep roaming. Not sure if these horses are wild or just free range domestic. The sheep were certainly farmed – they were ear-tagged and most had blue or red raddle markings.

The vegetation on Llanbedr Hill Common was mainly less that 300mm high and was mostly a mixture of heather and this berried bush.  The berries are about 6-8mm in diameter.

The vegetation on Llanbedr Hill Common was mainly less that 300mm high and was mostly a mixture of heather and this berried bush. The berries are about 6-8mm in diameter.

The route of our walk on Friday on the Llanbedr Hill Common.

The route of our walk on Friday on the Llanbedr Hill Common.

It was just a beautiful day for such a walk - warm sunshine and a cool breeze.

It was just a beautiful day for such a walk – warm sunshine and a cool breeze.

The road down from the Llanbedr Hill Common which is on the right in this photo.

The road down from the Llanbedr Hill Common which is on the right in this photo.

Being elevated, the road down from the Llanbedr Hill Common gave some great views over the farmland.

Being elevated, the road down from the Llanbedr Hill Common gave some great views over the farmland.

This 1922 suspension bridge just east of Erwood crosses the River Wye.

This 1922 suspension bridge just east of Erwood crosses the River Wye.

I was too slow to notice these few sheep being driven along the road past the house and they were almost gone by the time I got outside.

I was too slow to notice these few sheep being driven along the road past the house and they were almost gone by the time I got outside.

This row of houses is at Erwood and just looked cute in the late afternoon (i.e. 19h32!) sunshine.

This row of houses is at Erwood and just looked cute in the late afternoon (i.e. 19h32!) sunshine.

The first clutch of goslings are really growing fast now… well, except one who has been named 'Mini' and is one week younger than the other four (31 days cf. 38 days).

The first clutch of goslings are really growing fast now… well, except one who has been named ‘Mini’ and is one week younger than the other four (31 days cf. 38 days).

This is the goose - she came and sat right against my leg when I sat down after leading them out of the run and into the paddock for the day.  She sat with me for ten minutes or so while the gander and the goslings all sat about 2m away.

This is the goose – she came and sat right against my leg when I sat down after leading them out of the run and into the paddock for the day. She sat with me for ten minutes or so while the gander and the goslings all sat about 2m away.

This is the largest of the three goslings in the second clutch, now ~14 days old.  They usually squawk vociferously when picked up but this time he was quiet - Leanne was feeding them dandelion and he had a mouthful that he didn't want to lose!

This is the largest of the three goslings in the second clutch, now ~14 days old. They usually squawk vociferously when picked up but this time he was quiet – Leanne was feeding them dandelion and he had a mouthful that he didn’t want to lose!

According to the local we meet on the path, the tower is 10th century and is much older than the church itself.  I don't know how many churches there were in this small Victorian spa town but from where this was taken I could see four.  Builth Wells is also an ancient market town.

According to the local we meet on the path, the tower is 10th century and is much older than the church itself. I don’t know how many churches there were in this small Victorian spa town but from where this was taken I could see four. Builth Wells is also an ancient market town.

Bridge across the River Wye at Builth Wells.

Bridge across the River Wye at Builth Wells.

The River Wye in a scene looking very much like summer.

The River Wye in a scene looking very much like summer.

There were a lot of interesting buildings lining the high street.

There were a lot of interesting buildings lining the high street.

Llandrindod Wells is only a few miles from Builth Wells and has an even better collection of Victorian buildings.  It was also a spa town.

Llandrindod Wells is only a few miles from Builth Wells and has an even better collection of Victorian buildings. It was also a spa town.

Built in 1882-4 as the rectory of the nearby Holy Trinity Church for the newly appointed Archdeacon de Winton.  It was set in two acres of gardens with stables and a coach house.  After being used by the Army during WWII, it was refurbished and opened as The Commodore Hotel.  The style of the house is Arts & Crafts a movement which flourished from 1880 to 1910.  The exterior is fish scale terracotta tiling.  Other features include Elizabethan chimneys and on the second floor, the fine example of protruding windows under small hoods, called oriel windows.

Built in 1882-4 as the rectory of the nearby Holy Trinity Church for the newly appointed Archdeacon de Winton. It was set in two acres of gardens with stables and a coach house. After being used by the Army during WWII, it was refurbished and opened as The Commodore Hotel. The style of the house is Arts & Crafts a movement which flourished from 1880 to 1910. The exterior is fish scale terracotta tiling. Other features include Elizabethan chimneys and on the second floor, the fine example of protruding windows under small hoods, called oriel windows.

Streetscape in Llandrindod Wells.

Streetscape in Llandrindod Wells.

Another streets cape in Llandrindod Wells.

Another streets cape in Llandrindod Wells.

We have seen telephone boxes in the most unlikely places in Wales. Miles up country lanes half hidden in hedges and the like. This one was in a 'normal' location in Llandrindod Wells but it was unique for another reason - there was somebody using it. This we had never seen before. In fact, who does not have a cellphone these days. Or perhaps they do but coverage is so bad they can't often use them (see my venting about Hay-on-Wye).

We have seen telephone boxes in the most unlikely places in Wales. Miles up country lanes half hidden in hedges and the like. This one was in a ‘normal’ location in Llandrindod Wells but it was unique for another reason – there was somebody using it. This we had never seen before. In fact, who does not have a cellphone these days. Or perhaps they do but coverage is so bad they can’t often use them (see my venting about Hay-on-Wye).

The Jones reference in the title was twofold in meaning.  The obvious Welsh connection but also around here we keep seeing heavy machinery and vehicles emblazoned with “John Jones”.  He seems to be everywhere and his equipment all seems very modern.  He must be the surviving transport and heavy haulage contractor.  I guess quantitative easing has to be good for some folks, at least in the short term.

I am starting to toy with the idea of making another change to how I present this blog.  My thinking is to perhaps post the photos on to Flickr instead of on this blog site and just do a brief diary here with perhaps only one or two photos.  My logic is that the main thing I use this blog for is to ‘show’ people some of my pictures.  That is just what Flickr is for.  Or maybe I should still put the pictures in the postings but also upload them all to Flickr (I have been uploading a selection there already as a trial)?

I would be interested to hear some feedback.  Just jot your thoughts in a comment below.  Thanks and see you next week.

%d bloggers like this: