Posted in OUT & ABOUT, Uncategorized

St. Antonin Noble Val Sunday Market

local market

Summer time is here again and the Sunday market at St. Antonin-noble-val is hotting up, so if you are planning a holiday down this way in the next few months make sure you wake up early on Sunday mornings and drive down there as soon as possible to grab your parking place!

St.Antonin

Lovely fresh local fruit and vegetables, assortments of cheeses and local honey, and then a sit down for a well earned drink – cappuchino for me or a nice cool beer from one of the local bars is very refreshing.

Are you in holiday mood yet?

We now have our vacation home ready and waiting for you just 10 minutes drive from St.Antonin-noble-val here in South West France. More of this later, but if you would like to take a look, “CHEZ MACKENZIE” is here on “HomeAway”

GO HAVE A LOOK!

Posted in Blog, Color Shape Space, OUT & ABOUT

Weekly Photo Challenge Green Autumn Color and Texture Tarn South West France

How Green – How Green this walk has been! Such a lot of green moss on the trees – I have no idea why – OK, the time of year is November, in the depths of Autumn here in South West France, but not particularly wet. In fact when we went on this local walk, we had bright blue skies and a temperature of 19 degrees.

OK, I know the photo challenge is green, but I couldn’t resist adding a little red – just as important during this autumn time – and so complimentary to the color green!

Posted in Blog, Color Shape Space, DÉCORATION, Inspirations, OUT & ABOUT

Fresco Paintings — Nicolaus Greschny

Nicolaus GreschnySome years ago, we were lucky enough to view a tiny Chapel, lost deep in the less-frequented regions of the Tarn.

Its exact location is best forgotten  as one of our party of three had wheedled the key from whomever it was who held it (not me I might add).

It isn’t normally open to the public. However, by those in the ‘know’, it’s renown for its splendid frescoes by Estonian painter Nicolaus Greschny.

He has painted well over 80 paintings, the majority of which adorn the walls of churches in the South of France. A year or two later, we enjoyed a guided tour of a larger church on the outskirts of Villefrance de Rouergue, in the Aveyron, again to view more frescoes by the same artist.

fresco detail01

So what is Fresco?

Should it happens to be asked when facing both the question-master and the ten million watching public, during your attempt to win the jackpot on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”, then just choose the option that has the following KEY Words — FRESH WET LIME PLASTER – MURALS – WATER BASED PIGMENTS – WALL PAINTING and the money’s yours!

fresco detail03fresco detail04 fresco icon paintingfresco icon paintingfresco icon paintingfresco icon painting

Posted in Blog, Color Shape Space, DÉCORATION, Inspirations, OUT & ABOUT

“Les nomads du silence” — exhibition by Sculptor, Jephan de Villiers

During our afternoon walk near Ginals earlier this year, we stopped off at the Abbaye de Beaulieu to view the exhibition there by the Belgian sculptor, Jephan de Villiers. It added an extra hour to the walk but there was no rush, the weather was warm, and we got more wonderful photos!

Jephan de VilliersAs a young boy, Jephan spent long hours in his grandmother’s garden near Versailles, collecting twigs, leaves and bits of bark to construct vast yet intricate model villages. He has since enjoyed a successful life as a sculptor of international acclaim. Here are some images of work from one of his recent exhibitions, his delightful and whimsical “Nomads of Silence” – magical miniature figures reborn from the dead and decaying detritus of the forest floor.

les nomads

sad eyed lady of the lowlands

Nomads

Sticks

egg and nest

figure on wire

Posted in 3rd SHELF FROM THE TOP, Blog, Inspirations, OUT & ABOUT, Paper Ephemera

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign – Post Cards and Maps

old postcards & maps

“Don’t Forget to Send me a Post Card”……. without fail, I would always ask my friends when off to foreign lands, to pop a card in the post to me – the more weird the better.

Well, that was in the good old days of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Now we have the internet and Facebook and digital cameras and nobody feels the need to bother with postcards anymore.

Never the less, I still have my pile of postcards packed into the top drawer of the dresser, and when I saw the WordPress Daily Post Photo Challenge this week was ‘Foreign’, I thought I would pull them out and see what my friends and I where up to on our travels before the digital age!

Posted in Blog, HOUSE & GARDEN, OUT & ABOUT

Early Morning in South West France Sky On Fire

How often do you see this?

It was last Thursday, about 7 o’clock in the morning.

And the sky was on fire.

Just for 5 minutes or so.

Then the sky went back to normal.

Did it really happen?!

Taken with my ipad3, Thursday, 25th October 2012.

Fabre de Lagrange, 81140 Penne, France

Posted in Blog, Color Shape Space, DÉCORATION, Inspirations, OUT & ABOUT

A Walk, A Church, A Door, Texture & The Color Lilac

One of the things I love doing when on a walk here in South West France, whether it be in town or country, is to explore the color and textures that surround us in our environment.

Let’s have a closer look at this church that I came across at St. Sabine.

“Yes, I thought, quite a nice little country church, typical for this area of South West France.”

But as we get nearer – a lilac door no less – I wonder who thought of that color so many years ago? — A closer look is in order, me thinks………..

What a lovely pale lilac – now fading gently over the countless seasons of hot summer sun on these metal doors:

I want to get up close and personal – Let’s Go!

What a Surprise – Graffiti that I had no idea was there when I took the photo. I think there must have been some budding artists in St. Sabine when this door was painted. What fabulous texture and use of color – and on a French country church yard.

Door St Sabine France

Ah, I’ve found another door at the side of the church

A wooden door here – old and peeling – but such a fabulous color and texture — Love it!

Well, this is just a little snippet of my observations on just one of the wonderful marked pathway walks we have here in South West France. This one is on the PR19, St Antonin Noble Val (post code 82140) round trip walk.

I took these photos with my ipad3 which I always take with me on my walks now, as you just never know what you will see.

Texture and color provide great influence for all sorts of projects – painting, decor, the picture and photo frames I make…… lots and lots of things. It’s worth keeping a record for the future – you just never know when it will come in useful!

More walking snippets to come later……………

Posted in Blog, OUT & ABOUT

An Afternoon Walk—Espinas to the Abbaye de Beaulieu, and back again

L’Abbaye de Beaulieu, in the valley of the Seye, a few kilometers to the north west of us, were hosting a summer exhibition, “Les nomades du silence” by the celebrated sculptor, Jephan de Villiers. We wanted to visit so organised a little walk one afternoon with our neighbours, stopping off at the Abbaye along the way.

L'Abbaye de Beaulieu

 

“Even during the holiday periods, you can walk for miles and rarely meet other folk” —

Since moving to this area 20 years ago, we have been spoilt by all the wonderful walking right on our doorstep. You never see any discarded litter and the byways are usually well signposted.
When planning a new route with the map in unfamiliar country, you tend to focus upon the printed rights of way, but in reality, when you don your boots and hit the trail, you discover more routes and pathways that exist, that simple look like odd lines and squiggles on the map.

Here’s a map of the area, and some photos to give you an idea of the countryside—we’re in the Tarn-et-Garonne, department 82, north east of St.Antonin-N-Val.

Espinas & Abbaye de Beaulieu mapWoodland near Espinas
map-balisé
The village of Verfeilleafy laneEmpty countryramblers

Posted in Blog, OUT & ABOUT

An Evening in Biarritz — with an ipad

biarritz eveningIt was Denise’s birthday recently. What to get her? Since the release of the ipad3, there was never any other solution. I knew this was right up her street. I was always hogging the camera, so this was the ideal present.

AND, I got to grab the old ipad, he,he!

So here we are in Biarritz—for the first time. Weather hot and sunny. The hôtel was just a few strides from the beach, by the Casino, and we could walk leisurely around the old town, through the narrow streets full of little trendy gift shops backed by impressive victorian villas and grand apartments, down to the old harbour, with its boats, and old fishermen’s cottages.biarritz-night02

biarritz-night04As night fell, I was tucking into sole while Denise had chosen fresh tuna and risotto.The breeze had dropped and the lights made it all very picturesque.

Taking night-time shots with my SLR digital I’ve never found satisfactory—I don’t like to use flash as it always seems to ruin the ambiance and delicacy of the view—but without flash, the long exposure time means blurry images.

The ipad was very simple to use—you do need to try to be as still as possible when shooting—we dumped quite a few images that were way too blurry—but considering the lack of light, I really liked the results. They give the right atmosphere and “feel” to the evening.

“a picture is worth a thousand words”

In common with all images that we post on the web, these photos have been “corrected” — I always open my images in a photo editor and check overall exposure, crop if necessary, size down to 1000px wide, then sharpen a little before “saving for web” to get the final file size down to around 120kb.  I use Photoshop, but smaller, simpler editors will all handle these functions equally well.

But I do feel strongly that it is worth taking a little extra trouble to learn a few simple photo-correction techniques before uploading images to the web—as the saying goes—”a picture is worth a thousand words” and it’s a shame to spoil well-written content with underexposed, or poorly cropped images.

“Le Port des Pêcheurs” is wonderfully photogenic, with the boats in the harbour, backed by rows of “crampottes” —  little fishermen’s cottages, colourfully restored, each sporting its owners name painted over the door. I’ll be posting some more photos of the old fisherman’s port soon. Meanwhile, we’re looking to revisit Biarritz when we’ve more time—there’s a lot yet to see and do in this lovely little corner of South West France.

Posted in Blog, HOUSE & GARDEN, OUT & ABOUT, The Garden

Summer Thunderstorms in SW France

Last Sunday was hot and sunny, then suddenly everything changed.

The sky went dark. The clouds moved in at remarkable speed. All went deathly quiet……….

Summer thunderstorm SW France

Martin took this photo just before all hell let loose….

Thunder, Lightening and Hail Stones the Size of Golf  Balls!

I’ve heard of hailstorms where ice the size of golf balls fall from the sky, but never seen the like before last Sunday afternoon. Quite a spectacular affair seen from our balcony.

Unfortunately, it meant no electric for the next 2 hours. A bit annoying when you are trying to watch the Olympics – London 2012. Still, all lights and TV connection were restored in time to watch Usain Bolt win the 100 meters dash, so I was happy!