31 January 2012
It began snowing this morning, a very exciting moment because this is the first time it happened this winter…
..after three hours of snowflakes, this is the glacial view of our terrace.
30 January 2012
Went to Ventimiglia market in Italy for filling up the fridge. This orange from Sicily looks more exciting to photograph than to eat.
29 January 2012
Being home in the mountains is like being on holiday all the time. From our window, we could see the Italian and French trains going past several times a day.
28 January 2012
Watched a choral concert tonight at a church in Saorge. This group which sings a range of Eastern and Southern European gypsy songs performs regularly in our region and we always make it a point to watch them, come rain or snow. It was raining but we didn’t mind. Better be listening to real concerts than just staying home watching TV, we thought. Besides, entrance is free.
What’s also exciting about watching village concerts like this one is the venue which is usually held in a historic building. Tonight, it was held in an old-Baroque-church-turned-library. You can see the shelves of books surrounding the statue of the Virgin Mary. This church is just one among seven located in Saorge, a village of 430 inhabitants. Too many churches for few number of people but of course, they have been there since the medieval age. It’s quite expensive to maintain them though so what happens is, they are converted into public establishments like a library. At least it is better to use them that way than closing them down.
27 January 2012
H and I arrived in Nice last night, too late to catch the connecting train to home so we spent the night in a hotel and caught the first trip the next day. This is the view of the rooftops of Escarène, one of the mountain village stops of the train.
26 January 2012
Had to go home to the south today via iDTGV train so we were at Gare de Lyon to catch the mid-day express journey to Nice.
25 January 2012
One of the benefits of walking in the woods is the chance of stumbling upon strange-looking flora and fauna. This is a tree fungi that has formed a huge network of brackets. They look so beautiful and out of this world, but unfortunately, they could bring damage to the tree if not controlled early.
Ollainville, Ile de France
24 January 2012
“The plastic tunnels of Ollainville”
These are seedlings under cover not only to protect against the winter cold but also from the hungry birds!
23 January 2012
A French goat only deserves a French bread…
Seen by the Etang de Trévoix (Ollainville Lake), outskirt of Paris
22 January 2012
” These red fruits are falling on my head….”
21 January 2012
I THINK that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;
by Joyce Kilmer
20 January 2012
This friendly llama is just one among the many animals giving joy to all visitors of the adjacent lakeside woodland of Ollainville in the outskirt of Paris. People from all walks of life: the runners, the children and their families, fishing groups and all visitors who can’t resist stopping by to say hello to her.
19 January 2012
A day out in London today.
This is a view from the train when it stopped at the Olympic Park which is still under construction. The snaking structure on the left is the ArcelorMittal Orbit which will dominate the Olympic games. It is said to be Britain’s answer to France’s Eiffel Tower. Well, wait until it is finished.
A quick visit to the Natural History Museum where I saw a dinosaur model for the first time.
This is the plant-eating Diplodocus that lived about 150 million years ago. It was one of the longest living animals that existed. From tip to tail it measures more than 26 meters. Diplodocus is a national treasure that lived at the Natural History museum for more than 100 years. King Edward VII expressed a strong interest in obtaining the dinosaur after seeing a sketch of one owned by the industrialist millionaire Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie arranged for a cast to be made and presented it to the museum in 1905.
The magnificent, 30ft high, blown glass chandelier created by Dale Chihuly dominates the Rotunda or main entrance of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
18 January 2012
One of our activities in England today is the trip to the metal scrap shop where we sold a copper-plated water heater tank and its copper plumbing tidbits. It sold for 80 sterling pounds, hurray!
17 January 2012
After more than a day of driving on the road, we arrived in Calais (France) where we caught the ferry to Dover (England). The ferry crossing takes just 90 minutes. On the photo is the famed white cliffs of Dover.
White cliffs….the colour white owing to the hill’s composition of chalk accentuated by black stones or flint.
16 January 2012
While driving on the motorway enroute to England, we passed by this conical shaped hill in the north of France. This is a man-made hill formed with the use of coal slag heaps landscaped to look like real hills.
From the 18th century up to the early years of the 20th, coal mining was the main source of energy for homes and industries but when oil and other fuels came as a more practical alternative, coal mines were gradually closed down and one way of disposing the leftover slags was to make them part of the scenery, such as this one.
15 January 2012
Village exploring in France is like going to an open air museum. There are just too many things that remind you of how life was centuries ago.
This 1839 iron grill fence on the terrace has the shape of a musical instrument, it could mean that the owner of this house in those days was a musician.
Breil sur Roya, south of France
14 January 2012
Some houses in our region display filled-up bottles of water on their doorstep whenever the owners are away. I asked around and was told that this is a way of discouraging cats and dogs from using their front doors as toilets….Ouch!
13 January 2012
Ever since our return from Tuscany (Italy), we stopped buying bread as we prefer now to bake our own. Anyway, our local boulangerie (photo above) is too unreliable for a regular supply of bread for the villagers….it is open only three times a week.
12 January 2012
A quick visit to the abandoned cemetery of our village . This is a tomb fencing that had been invaded by vegetation.
11 January 2012
After H’s appointment with his medicin (doctor) in the Var, we took a side trip to nearby Trans-en-Provence before proceeding home. In the course of our exploration, we stumbled upon the town cemetery and this ash vase on the wall caught our curiosity. Reading the plaque, it says it is in memory of the victims of the Flood of 15 March 2010 where some of the tombs were washed away by the deluge.
Walking further we saw the land ravaged by the flood. Indeed, where tombs stood, they are just now an abyss…
Looking down, we saw broken pieces of cross, marble tombstones, etc…This is one of the worst natural disasters in Provence where 25 lives were lost and million euros worth of property damaged. They blame over-construction of houses as the reason. Even old vineyards have been transformed into housing developments.
10 January 2012
Went back to the abandoned cemetery of our village bringing with me this time my digital SLR. The other day, I had only my point-and-shoot which was not good enough as it was already getting dark.
This shot was taken from the gate of the cemetery where a simple iron cross stands guard. The village in the background is that of Fontan.
09 January 2012
After a hard day’s work at home, we needed to catch some fresh air before dinnertime so we went walking around the back alleys. From this vantagepoint, we could see the church tower and the miniature-model-like appearance of the village. Seen foreground are the vegetable gardens of some residents. We encountered Monsieur X who owns the garden with the plastic tunnel. Here he spends all his day even in the winter puttering in his garden. I asked him if he sells his harvest. He said no, it’s just for private consumption. The garden and few chickens provide food for his entire household all year round…
08 January 2012
It’s Sunday and we were craving to see an Italian medieval village that is not too far away to drive. We saw the sign – Collabassa.
“Great, let’s try it!”, says H. We were not mistaken. Not only it has the real medieval feel, the scenery around it and the village itself is simply breathtaking!
What are those rolled nets? They are for harvesting the olives. The Olive Harvest actually starts in October going through January.
The village is perched high on a terraced hill decked with olive trees. The nets are spread out to catch every olive fruit that drops off.
These are the first few olives that fell directly from the branches. Come harvest time, the manual combing of each branch will begin, using rakes attached on long poles. Then the fruits will be taken to the cooperatives for pressing, extracting the purest olive oil. To have a year supply of the golden oil is all that they strive for.
07 January 2012
This is the zigzaggy mountain road of Breil sur Roya which we attempted to negotiate today. At first, it was quite a pleasant drive getting up close the mindblowing scenery of rugged mountains above and a Roman viaduct below, but then, the one lane road started getting narrower and tighter and sights of smashed fencing like this one started scaring the heck out of us! We had to turn back but there was no spot wide enough to make a turnaround so we had to drive backwards for at least 300 meters until we found the ideal maneuvering point….Whew!
06 January 2012
This is part of the rail viaduct traversing above our village. On the other side of the arch is a pleasant footpath that ascends up the hill allowing stunning views of the valley and the mountains around it. I particularly love climbing here in Springtime when the alpine flowers are out and the herbs such as thyme and oregano are ready for the picking!
05 January 2012
Road maintenance works are ongoing at the Italian section of the road to home so while waiting for the traffic light to turn green, I take the opportunity to take a photo of this picturesque hilltop Italian village of Fanghetto. I remember that when we moved into this region several years ago, Fanghetto was like an abandoned villagio as majority of the houses were unoccupied or ruins. Now, it has became alive again and the ruins have been done up and even more houses added.
04 January 2012
We went exploring the nearby village of Maurion just 5 kms from home. This is the chapel that stands at the entrance of the village.
The charm of this chapel gives you the feeling of being transported back in time….
And this is the altar which, despite the fading paint and the crumbling plasters, still evoke the sacred elegance of Baroque architecture. I took this shot through the grilled window as it seems to be closed permanently.
03 January 2012
Spotted this chateau while walking up the hill just on the outskirt of our village. Unlike any other chateaux in the valley, this one is not a ruin, it is currently inhabited by several families judging by the number of mailboxes at the gate. Just looking at the many arches on the terrace and the three-level corridors, I can imagine the maintenance and heating cost involved!
Roya Valley, France
02 January 2012
Back home and still in the holiday mood, we went exploring the little alleys of our village.
Roya Valley, France
01 January 2012
We spent the night in San Remo after a fun New Year’s Eve revelry and what a better way to spend our first breakfast of the year than at an Italian caffé. This establishment forms an integral part of the fabric of Italian society, it’s where old men meet and discuss anything from food to grandchildren to football, etc…..
Went for a walk along the marina and this inflatable 2012 greeted us in blue and red colours!
“Happy New Year!”…grumbles the dog. He doesn’t look happy about the festive sash his mistress put on him.
San Remo, Italy