Sunday, 25 August 2013

And the answer is...

...Portugal, as you many of you who left comments on the blog deduced! But not Lisbon. I'm in the far south in the pretty sea town of Faro, the capital of the Algarve.

Moorish influences abound - the buildings decorated with patterned tiles and wrought-iron balconies, the strongholds from the Middle Ages, the searingly bright sun - which is probably why so many of you who left guesses on the facebook page thought it was Morocco or Tunisia. We have also been in the grip of hot air blown up from the Sahara, according to the Algarve Daily News.

Here's a photo, purportedly of me, taken by Maddy yesterday on the Isle of Farol, where the lighthouse which gives the town its name is flanked by dazzling beaches. There's no doubt what was most important at that moment!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Where? One more clue

All your suggestions on the previous post are plausible...but none is correct, so far. I'm really enjoying myself wandering around taking photos of details of my surroundings as the idea for a new book germinates. (It may come to nothing - always a possibility - but will surface somewhere along the line, as it always does.)
So before I give you the answer, here's another glimpse showing characteristic features of the place, and a clue as to the general geography of the town, in that the pediment above the door is eroded by salt winds. It has been extremely hot and sultry the past week, and the language my daughter is learning has surprising difficulties and differences from those of its neighbours, but is one that is growing in importance...

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

A foreign puzzle...

I have had to leave France for foreign parts, accompanying teenage daughter who is taking a language course. While she gets to grips with a whole new linguistic world, I too am absorbing a new town, wandering around with my camera and notebook. Who knows, there may be a seed for a new novel here...but where are we - any ideas?

Saturday, 17 August 2013

The brocante hunt

Under heavenly blue skies at Simiane la Rotonde, we gathered, eyes darting and twitching to run in pursuit of our quarry...on the ground, on tables and stone walls, all manner of quirky items from the sublime to the ridiculous, from the long discarded and broken to the collectors' pieces. A mixture of oddments from local attics and artefacts brought by professional dealers. This is what a good vide-grenier in a village in Provence looks like. Take your time. Have a browse. Imagine that shabby chic farmhouse with outdoor dining terrace. What catches your eye? 


Thursday, 15 August 2013

The hunting season

Today is the opening of La Chasse - open season for hunting. Across the region there are wild boar, small animals and birds that don't know what's about to hit them. By the weekend, I can guarantee you, there will be at least one report of an innocent cyclist who has been shot by accident by over-enthusiastic amateurs who (literally) shoot anything that moves across the countryside.
Like many of you who love the French countryside, I am addicted to a gentler form of summer hunting: the brocantes and vide-greniers that provide a jumble of rich pickings. A sign on a wayside tree provides the same thrill of the chase as we sling the leather straps of bags across the body and stride out with purpose...(to be continued).

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Inspired by art

Inspired by my visit to Brigitte Willers' exhibition, I've been looking at quiet corners and scenes of gentle neglect rather more attentively, in particular the interplay of light and shadow. This is what good art does, after all: it invites to you look closer at the world around, and perhaps to see things differently. What she captures so well is the sheer brightness of the light here and the dappled effect as it filters through the plants and trees planted everywhere for natural shade. Grape canopies hang over dining tables, though here one of ours has run rampant over an old garden chair.
Here are some more photos I've taken with the idea of strong light and shade in mind. Another brocante chair is placed underneath an upstairs terrace just out of the sun's glare.

You can see the strength of the midday sun out in the courtyard:

Steps in the shade of an acacia tree have been covered with fallen blossom. The tree is humming with bees.

A plain plastic watering can and chair are blotched with light:

The wide leaves of the catalpa tree dapple the courtyard as well as the raised kitchen terrace:

With the sun almost directly overhead, this table and chairs make shadow spirograph patterns! 

Monday, 5 August 2013

Face to Face: Brigitte Willers

Face to Face is the title of the painting used on the poster advertising Brigitte Willers' August exhibition of gloriously detailed aquarelles in Viens. Every year, she explains, there's one image that seems to sum up what her work is about, and the key is here, on the reflections of the landscape on the old truck window and the rust that seems to be taking over the ancient farm vehicle, taking it, little by little, back to earth.
'I'm interested in reflections in glass, which can be as fascinating as those in water,' she told me at her gallery in the Old Bakery. In this picture, the truck faces the ridge of the Grand Luberon but the side window reflects back a view of the hilltop village of Viens.
Willers' paintings are full of complex patterns and almost photographic detail. Her scenes of year-round Luberon life focus on the rustic and neglected, the run-down and forgotten corners. The patina of rust is another of her fascinations.
But these are contrasted throughout with vibrant close-ups of nature, the explosions of colour summing up beautifully the balance between the picturesque decay and rampant flora in Provence, all lit by the brightest of sunshine.
If you are anywhere near Viens - close to the town of Apt - before August 25th, Brigitte Willers' work is well worth seeing. If you can't get here, click here for her website.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Happy doing nothing...

The hammock has been slung between an oak and a wild fig tree, shaded by the leaf canopy in a position that catches the breeze. The heat induces delicious scents, from spiced fig overhead to resins from the pines. A cool drink and a good book, and happiness is complete.

I'm sorry I haven't been more active on this blog - or any other, come to that. I've got things to do, as you can see...
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