Friday, February 26, 2010

Belle Mères Move, Part 1

Well, we made it, we are now at Belle Mère's. President Sarkozy stepped in with regard to the striking oil refinery workers, so France did not come to a grinding halt.  And we were able to continue unhindered with our plans.

Yesterday morning MG went to collect the van that we have hired and when he backed it into our drive, I got quite a shock, van! It's more like a small lorry, but it is very important we have a tail lift, and standard vans don't come with tail lifts,  you will see why in a second.  All three of us got in the cab, Crusoe was very excited to be allowed up front, on the seat, he loved looking out of the windscreen. Six hours later after a very uneventful and uncomfortable journey we arrived at Belle Mère's.

Well you can imagine what Belle Mère's house looks like at the moment, piles of stuff and packing boxes everywhere, she would never forgive me if I published a photograph of it.

This morning we got up bright and early, first job move Belle Mère's plants, these are not going into storage, Belle Mère has had permission to put them in the garden of the house she intends to buy.


After we had done this, I had some errands to run in town, and MG went to get his hair cut, I promised you lot's of picture's and I think I have delivered. I took my camera with me, whilst doing my errands I snapped everything in my path!  I am sure you will be able to see why I love this place so  much.

Steps down to the port

This market is in town every morning until 12.30 pm. I would never go to the supermarket again if I lived here.  The proper market is every Wednesday, it is one of the biggest in Provence, with some fabulous stalls and yes I will be going.....with  my camera of course.

Something for the children and something for Julie at Being Ruby!

The port, no tacky gin palaces or floating nightclubs here, just fishing boats and modest sailing boats.

When the local fisherman return with their catch, they sell it, from a stall in front of their boat, can you get fresher than that?

Fancy an Ice cream?

In the old town, behind the port, lots of narrow streets with fabulous shops

My favourite cafe

Bunch of flowers? One of the biggest flower markets in the south of France is nearby and all the florists go early in the morning to purchase, there is so much variety and the prices are so reasonable (compared to our part) that you could flower up your whole house quite inexpensively.

OK, let me take a closer look.

Smell that Mimosa!

Whilst waiting for MG, I think I will have a quick aperitif before lunch.

On the way back, the market has gone, reavealing the treelined walkway, the trees are covered with glittering fairy lights at Christmas and provide much needed shade in the summer.

Saw these guy's windsurfing, whilst we were on the way back to Belle Mère's and could not resist snapping them through the windscreen.

Well back to Belle Mère's for lunch and more hard work this afternoon, have a lovely weekend, back soon.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Off to The Cote d'Azur

Poster designed by Susan W Berman

On Thursday we are off to Belle Mère's for a week, she is moving house after more than thirty years in the same property, she has decided to downsize, within the same area, but closer to the centre. So we are hiring a van and going over to help.  She has sold her property but unfortunately due to French bureaucratic complications she cannot yet go ahead with the house she wants to buy.

For the time being, she is putting her belongings into storage and moving into rented accommodation.  She has been getting up at 5am every morning to try and pack without distractions and at the last count she had packed 56 cartons.

 I am never quite sure where to say I am going when I visit Belle Mère as The South of France is very complicated name wise: The Riviera, The Cote d'Azur, The Mediterranean Coast, Provence, PACA, (Provence, Alps, Cote d'Azur). The Var, The Cote Varoise. You could say that Belle Mère lives in all of these places.

The name the Cote d'Azur was coined in 1887 by the writer Stephén Liégeard in his book The Cote d'Azur, obviously he named it after the stunning colour of the Mediterranean.

There has always been dispute over The Cote d'Azur/Riviera's western boundaries, some say it's at Hyères in the département of the Var and others, Cassis in the département of the Bouches-du-Rhone. I think it depends where you live, let's not beat about the bush, to say you live on the cote d'Azur, is to live, in one of the most glamorous and desirable locations in the world. (It makes me feel hoity toity, just saying it!).

I hope we will be able to get there, as the oil refinery workers have gone on strike, not sure for how long. I hope the van we hire has a full tank of petrol, and what happens when we get there, after a six hour drive, we might not be able to move Belle Mère, no petrol, diesel, flights, trains, taxis, supermarket deliveries, removal men! Nothing, the whole of France could come to a grinding halt.

When we do get there we will work hard and play hard, I think Belle Mère has got some interesting things lined up for us, so I will be taking my camera and sharing my experiences with you.

Posting and commenting on your lovely blogs could be a bit sketchy for the next week, as MG and I will be busy, and sharing (fighting over!) The laptop, but I will do my best.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sunrise, This Morning

This is what sunrise looked like this morning, when I arose at 7am. I could not resist taking this photo, as the colours were amazing.

And this was the view from our bedroom balcony a couple of hours later.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Little Bird Story

I know spring is definitely on it's way now, as this morning, for the first time I heard the beautiful sound of doves cooing in the garden.

 In spring, a couple of years ago we had several pairs of nesting doves in our garden, one day when we were about to take Crusoe for a walk, we discovered a little dove chick, floundering on the ground in the courtyard.  We quickly picked him up, before Crusoe could discover him and snaffle him between his eager jaws.

 MG carefully brought him inside and we found a little cardboard box and lined it with kitchen roll, I then rushed upstairs to the office, got on the computer and googled baby bird care.  After gleaning some new found knowledge on baby birds, we then put some drops of water, via a pipette on his beak, which he licked thirstily.

According to the information I had read, doves are terrible nest builders, so our little chick, had probably fallen out of the family home, however doves are very good parents, and if you put the chick somewhere outside, the parents will locate them and continue to feed and care for them until they fledge.

So we taped the new chick home into a tree, and watched and waited anxiously. At first nothing happened, little chick was making strange squawking noises, rearing out of his new home and attempted to flap his fragile wings.


Eureka, a few hours later the parents managed to locate him, and for the next few days we watched the parents frequent coming's and going's, always with tasty morsels for their errant chick.

One morning, he had vanished, he had obviously flown the nest, but on closer inspection we found he had not gone far, he was hanging out in the Gazebo, where his parents were still able to feed him.


He stayed in the Gazebo for a few days, growing big and strong, we visited every day, and he even let us stroke his tiny head, then one day, just like that he had gone.

I would like to think that the dove I heard this morning was our chick, returning with his mate, ready to nest and rear his own young in our garden.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An Unexpected Day Out

Yesterday, it was MG's birthday, I was downstairs making cups of tea when he called out, "Get ready, we are going to Pau, for lunch".  I was amazed, as MG started his own business last year and it has been almost impossible to winkle him out of his office since.

Oh joy, finally, I get to slough off my fleece and wellies.  Hair washed and blow dried, make up on, sophisticated outfit on, heels on, grab handbag, camera and keys, ready and off.

Pau is about a forty five minute drive from us and it is a smart town, I will write a more in depth post about it at a later date. The main thing is, it has very nice shops and restaurants, which are somewhat lacking in our rural but beautiful corner of the world.

First of all we had lunch at one of our favourite haunts.

  One of the things I love about France is the laissez-faire attitude towards dogs in restaurants and hotels, Crusoe get's to travel with us everywhere we go in France, and often the restaurant staff don't even need to be asked to bring a bowl of water for him, they just do it as a matter of course.

 I have seen dogs in the restaurants at The Crillon and The George V in Paris, this would be unthinkable in the UK with all the health and safety laws.  As you can see Crusoe is extremely well restaurant trained, he usually behaves beautifully and has a knack of making friends with restaurant staff, always paying special attention to the waiter or waitress who is serving us.  Once, when we were staying at a hotel, Crusoe escaped from our room, we looked for him everywhere, he had been spotted by surprised breakfast diners, running through the restaurant, where did he end up, why in the kitchen of course, making friends with the Chef.  Crusoe certainly has his priorities right.  Anyway, I have digressed.

After lunch we went for a stroll.  Pau usually has a number of a certain type of little old lady patrolling the streets, these little old ladies are extremely well coiffed and made up, clad in Chanel suit, matching quilted Chanel handbag, gloves and Ferragamo shoes.  I was longing to spot one of these little old ladies, so I could take a Sartorialist style photo, but alas, there were none to be seen, perhaps it was too cold or maybe they are at their other residences in Paris or the Cote d'Azur.

After our stroll we hit Galleries Lafayette where MG made some birthday purchases. Afterwards we visited a few more shops.

Sadly, I was just about to go into the shop below, after admiring the rather gorgeous dress and shoes in the window, when MG decided he had shopping fatigue and wanted to leave, well, it was his birthday! Maybe I will go back later in the week.

All images apart from lady with Afghan Hound and Coco taken by moi.