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A short cut

Posted on December 19th, 2017

Domaine de l’Angèle is a small winery in the countryside behind Goult. Their wines are principally made from grenache, syrah and carignan and the syrah is wonderfully spicy. The winery is off the beaten track and today I took a wrong turn. The tarmac road ended in a grass lane, but I could see the winery on the next hill, so I kept going. The grassy track became narrower and in avoiding overhanging brambles I strayed too far to the right. The car slid gently into the ditch. Fortunately the winery was close by and the owners very obliging. There was some discussion about whether we needed a tractor or a 4WD or a quad bike, which ended in a tow from the 4WD.…

Maison Empereur

Posted on December 18th, 2017

Maison Empereur is a store in Marseille, a short walk from Le Vieux Port north along La Canebière. Founded in 1827 by Eugène Bolfras as a quincaillerie, a hardware store, it is now run by the seventh generation of the same family.  The shop moved to its present home in 1845 and has since spread across several buildings selling kitchen goods, household decorative items, toys, clothing and much more. The quirky old buildings are like a maze, full of treasures from times past and present. The hardware section continues to this day, with an expanded range of cutlery and cookware. Upstairs the toy department offers a wonderful selection of old-time metal cars, dolls houses and games. You may find bathwear, shaving equipment, Marseille soaps and even…


Posted on December 18th, 2017

Every five years or so the commune clears undergrowth along all roads and tracks for fire safety to provide escape routes and access for the pompiers. It is called débroussaillage and landowners are required to clear their own properties along driveways and around houses. Tractors are fitted with stripping blades which shred all small trees and undergrowth, sometimes spitting pieces more than fifty metres. Pines are taken out but oak trees are preserved. We’re adjusting to a bare landscape and previously hidden views of Mont Ventoux, awaiting spring which will bring a re-greening of the ground.  

Badgers and honey

Posted on December 18th, 2017

Alongside vineyards near the house I came across a hole in open ground. We have plenty of badgers around here, seldom seen, but such a hole in flat terrain was unexpected. Closer inspection revealed honeycombs scattered nearby, from an underground wild bees nest. A badger had discovered and eaten all their honey. I fear there is no time to rebuild supplies to survive the winter.  

Carols in Rustrel

Posted on December 18th, 2017

Each Christmas the residents of Rustrel, a small village on the Monts de Vaucluse, invite their neighbours and friends to a series of street parties. This time it was mulled wine, finger food and delicious carrot and coconut soup, accompanied by Christmas carols sung in French, English and German.  

Goodbye, cruel world

Posted on December 6th, 2017

  There is an unfenced water bassin in the grounds of a large house below Lacoste where I sometimes walk. This morning I spied an unusual frost-covered object in the water. Sadly it was a sanglier, or wild boar, which had drowned. It may have fallen in while escaping hunters and their dogs.

The hills are alive….

Posted on November 26th, 2017

Our morning walk today was frequently interrupted by cross-country cyclists following paths looping around the hills near home. Always courteous, the riders passed with a genial Bonjour! and a Merci! to thank Saffy and me for stepping off the path to let them through. These were VTT riders, or Vélo Tout Terrain, who had set off earlier from Les Imberts on courses of varying lengths to suit old and young. The shortest was 16km, the longest 46km. There must have been hundreds of riders, all looking forward to lunch of moules frites and local wine on their return. More information: HERE

Death of a friend

Posted on November 5th, 2017

Yesterday morning Saffy and I took our morning walk. We chose the two hour path through the forest along the hillside to Lacoste, then down the Old Lacoste Road to the valley below, following a circuit back via Font Pourquière to arrive home. As we approach Lacoste the path becomes narrow and tricky, along the side of an incline. It’s not overly risky for sure-footed people in single file, but yesterday I was surprised to see horse poo on the path. Who would be reckless enough to ride a horse along this hazardous route? One hundred metres further Saffy froze, unwilling to proceed. She could sense danger. Sadly, just below the path was a dead horse, a beautiful animal in prime condition. It had…

Emmanuel Macron

Posted on September 8th, 2017

Emmanuel Macron is sinking in the polls. His approval rating has fallen to 30%, down from 36% last month and 43% in late June. President Trump is more popular among Americans at 37%. Macron was elected because many French were tired of polarised right and left politics. The right-wing Les Republicains are mired in corruption and very dependent on the old trope “we manage the economy better than the left”, code for making the rich richer and the poor poorer. On the left, Le Parti socialiste was delivering inertia on a grand scale under President Hollande who mistook power for leadership. And so Macron became the saviour of France on a promise of bringing the country together. But France remains stubbornly divided and Macron is becoming the…