Friday, 31 July 2015

Scavenger Hunt - July

I got my arse in gear this month and managed to put together a selection of photos for Greenthumbs's Scavenger Hunt.

D is for?

Strictly speaking a Leucanthemum, aka Shasta Daisy


eyed.......... and legless?


 I snapped this tiny puss on the edge of an upstairs window sill in France.


 I'm not sure what these are...chimney pots perhaps?  Anyways, they're cylindrical!


  I snapped this little boy at Les Sables d'Olonne where several children were having great fun playing in the water jets.


  This redundant church that I stumbled upon last year definitely had an air of mystery.



 I thought this French advertisement for haemorrhoid cream was mildly amusing...although perhaps I should have used it for the following category...???


 Not imaginative at all but the best I could do..the pub's wood pile



 Muddle Towers at night time

Whatever you want

 I quite like religious statues but I thought this one, seen in a French church, was hideous.
Who does it remind you of....?  Suggestions below please.

  Do take a squizz at the other link ups over at Made With Love and why not join in next month? 

Whatever you're doing, enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Heatwave Holiday

As you'd expect on a French holiday we visited a few markets...it would be rude not to.  The neighbouring town of Fontenay-le Comte has a good one on a Saturday so off we went.  It was fairly bustling and the stall holders were generally very friendly and tolerated my hesitant French with good humour.  

The indoor food market was particularly interesting and highlighted the different way that we and the French think about food.

 Outside were lots more stalls. where I was tempted by a basket.

After a café créme we wandered around the town and I spent ages in the Yves Rocher shop where they had 50% off on selected items.  I bought several products for a friend's birthday and asked if they did 'un paquet cadeau' ...another thing that I like about France.  Leaving the shop we noticed this vending machine in the street

for al-fresco fornication peut-être ?

Before heading back to our cottage we stopped at the magnificent Cathedral of Notre Dame, founded in the 12th century as an Augustinian monastery.

 L'Ile de Ré was next on our list.

 This was my 5th visit to this part of the world and for some reason....(probably the toll to cross the bridge, tightarse) I'd never yet made it there.  I'd heard many times that it was a very pretty little island and it did not disappoint.

Real estate on the island is expensive and the native population has been widely criticized for its insular nature and unfriendly attitude to immigrants.  We enjoyed a delicious meal on the quayside at St Martin de Ré and watched the affluent locals... easily distinguishable from us riff raff tourists!

We spent all day on the island in scorching temperatures learning of its maritime history and donkeys in 'trousers'!

In days gone by the donkeys worked at the salt mines on the island and in order to protect their legs from mosquitos and flies so abundant there, they wore these gingham trousers. These days donkeys in trousers are a tourist attraction.

On our way back to the village we stopped off at a fabulous brocante at Nalliers.  Regrettably I can't show you just how amazing it was because I left my camera in the car.  There was just so much there I didn't know where to start.  Best of all was the plethora of vintage sewing notions and clothes.  On another day I could have spent hours in there but on that day it was 41 degrees and I left, very hot and bothered, after half an hour with just a couple of old tins.

Later in the week we visited the coast about an hour away, it was very quiet everywhere as les grandes vacances, the French summer holidays, had yet to start.

En route we stopped off at this local dam opened in the 50's when many locals would have been employed here.  Nowadays the buildings and machinery lie redundant as the dam is computer operated and it seemed rather eery although the surrounding scenery was spectacular.

The remainder of our holiday was very laid back as France was experiencing a heatwave. Every time you turned on the telly there were warnings about la canicule and my old Renault without any a/c was sweltering.   We rested in the cottage garden and enjoyed the wildlife....the goats that appeared behind the house in the morning who regarded us quizzically, a woodpecker in the cherry tree, an inquisitive red squirrel and loads of lithe lizards.

 We read, I crocheted... and finished a blanket, drank beers galore and generally lazed around in the enervating heat.

I thoroughly enjoyed my fortnight in Vendée and would have loved to stay all summer long.

It must be time to start planning my next trip !

Monday, 13 July 2015

Vendée Revisited

Bonjour folks.
 I'm just back from a fortnight in France, well I say just, I've been home over a week now but it's taken me that long to recover from the journey!  I'm not used to driving such long distances or on the right but all went well I'm pleased to report. 

We stayed in an old cottage on the outskirts of the extremely picturesque village of Vouvant in rural Vendée

 and I thought it was rather amusing that Pa, the world's fiercest atheist, was reminded of JC ( as he calls him) every day as a Calvaire directly overlooked our accommodation.

We had a great view of the village which has been ranked the 8th prettiest in all of France!

Acanthus is everywhere

In 2007 Vouvant was declared un village de Peintres due to the many artists and sculptors who have set up residence there.  Many have galleries and ateliers and some showcase their work around the community.

Vouvant is the only fortified town in Vendée.  Built at the beginning of the 11th century, the site was chosen by William V Duke of Aquitaine because of it's excellent position.

Vouvant is steeped in history and the village is very proud of the legend of the fairy Mélusine which tells of the beautiful half-woman and half-snake fairy cursed by her mother for bad behaviour.  She was condemned to a sad immortality unless she married a loving but uninquisitive knight who agreed never to see her on a Saturday.  For on that day she had to bathe and watch her beautiful legs turn into a horrid scaly tail and if her husband saw her like this she would never again take human form.

I'm sure you can imagine how it ends... but before it did Melusine created a castle from an apronful of stones and a mouthful of water and of this just the tower remains.  

Mélusine is depicted all around the village....
 and that's her on top of the tower.

 The magnificent church is the focal point of the village not least because it chimes the hour twice, every hour of the day..... you could do without it at 3am! The octagonal bell tower and huge twin doors framed by carved stone arches are remarkable and the crypt is of the 11th century, rediscovered when excavations took place a couple of hundred years ago.

 During our stay we heard the bells of a nuptial mass, so being a nosy bugger I hot-footed it down to the church for a sticky beak.  En route, I came across the going-away vehicle in a side street behind the church.

I arrived just in time as the guests were still mingling outside the church

when someone was despatched to fetch the scooter and the happy couple zoomed off on it.

Also in the village I discovered the outdoors wash house used right up until the 1970's and this reproduction of the grotto at Lourdes inaugurated in 1958.

I never saw anyone there but by the looks of it, quite a few over the years must have been on the receiving end of a miracle!

If you can bear it, I'll be back with more pics of my Vendéen visit soon.