Saturday, 28 July 2012

Arles: shutters, clear skies and dragon flies

We were Arles last week. A beautiful small town in the south of France bursting at the seams with spectacular Roman monuments, affordable restaurants, cafés, museums, shops and boutiques, 

We first went to Arles in 1989, unintentionally. We were headed for Avignon, but our train went to Arles instead. We never reached Avignon until a few days later. We fell in love with this small Roman town and went back nearly every year after that. Until we had children that is. The last time we were there was when I was pregnant with our now 11 year old. I was a little nervous that it would have changed over the past 11 years but no, it's the same!

It is simply lovely. Here is the view we had from our hotel room. I love roman tiles, they make me feel like I'm on holiday, down south, somewhere a little exotic.

In the town centre, which ever way you look you see something that pleases the eye.

I love the narrow streets, though driving down them is rather harrowing.

I'm never quite sure what will get to me when I visit a place, but I can say without hesitation that the summer of 2012 brought me a shutter obsession. Just ask my kids, though they may just roll their eyes in reply. Old, delectably ageing wooden shutters in lovely pastel colours. Colours that require intense bright sun to look good. 

Here are some minty green ones.

Pale blue/grey shutters.

This half shuttered window was intriguing.

Moss green and pale blue.

The blue used so often must be inspired by the colour of the sky.

And also, by nature's wondrous surprises.

More Arles shutter photos can be seen here (thumbnails) and here (slideshow).

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Online Pigeons

We've been watching this pair in the evenings as we eat dinner in the garden. They prance up and down the electricity wire making a hell of a racket. 

Oh, and for the record, don't be fooled by that blue sky. It's not been like that very often. Grey has been the favoured colour of the sky this past week. 50 to the power of 10 blinking shades of it.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Loire Gold

We're in the Loire staying with friends. We've been coming to this gorgeous little village for the past nine years. Every time we visit at a slightly different time of year. Last year we arrived when the sunflowers were nearly over, this year they're just starting to flower. Last year there were giant hay stacks. This year there are huge wheat fields nearly ready for harvesting. Dusky gold wheat fields against the big skies is something you certainly don't see in Paris.

I love the creamy gold of the stone in this region.

Here is an old rusty horse shoe. Also golden.

A troglodyte cave, with mandatory giant spiderweb.

Some extraordinary curled, dried, dusky golden leaves.

Red poppies look lovely against the pale creamy stone.

To be honest they look lovely anywhere.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Perfect Parisian roses

I read recently that there are more than four hundred public parks and gardens in Paris. Because very few people have a private gardens the public parks become a place for day time socialising, a place to meet up with friends. In summer if the weather is good and you go to your local park, there is a nearly 100% chance that you and your kids will meet somebody you know. We are very lucky in that our local park is pretty big by Paris standards. The gardeners do an amazing job. The planting changes throughout the year with a constant array of flowers blooming at different times of the year. 

There was a time not so long ago when a trip to the park meant trailing after a small child making sure they didn't eat sand or topple off the climbing frame. Now the kids are older I have more time to look around me. Lately I've been noticing the Paris roses. Beautiful roses. Here is one we grew on our balcony. The plant which I got a few years ago only produced one flower. But what a flower!

The same rose a week later in the rain.

Here is a perfect rosebuds just below the Sacré Cœur.

The same rosebush.

A perfect pink rose in the park on Avenue Junot.

I saw this rose in the gardens of the Église St Pierre de Montmartre. It looks like artfully scrunched up tissue paper.

Red roses in the Montmartre vineyard.

An old fashioned pink rose in the gardens of the Musée de Montmartre.

Last but not least, red roses with an attractive back drop.

You can see some more photos of Paris flowers in bbonthebrink's flickr set 'Nature in the City of Light'
here (thumbnails) and here (slideshow).