12 days of Christmas: day 6

On our trip down memory lane this year we stayed in Meersburg on Lake Konstanz. I took this photo at dusk, as the light was fading, of Burg Meersburg, Germany’s oldest inhabited castle. Its central tower was first built during 7th century, though the original structure is no longer visible. Burg Meersburg is known as the old castle, in reference to the neighbouring 18th century New Castle.

Back in the early 90s, we’d lived in Hegne overlooking the lake and Meersburg, a ferry ride across the lake had been one of our favourite places for a Sunday afternoon stroll, complete with Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake).

12 days of Christmas: day 5

I love hydrangeas but I am death on two legs to most plants, aided and abetted by our very sunny and windy terrace. The only things which survive are succulents. It’s sadly an inhospitable environment for hydrangea, which are known as “hortensia” in France. They grow much better in rather damper and more humid climes such as UK and the north, west and south-west coastlines of France. This one was happily growing in the gardens in Mainau which was part of our May trip down memory lane to the Bodensee.

December- The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year Tag

How could I not join in with this tag? Of course, I normally only post awards and tags on Sunday but, if I put this one in the queue, it’ll be Easter before it’s published. So I’m going to break with custom and practice……….

I must firstly thank James A. Best, author over at myplace3187 for kindly tagging me and I’d like to wish him Merry Christmas and every happiness, health and much success in 2020.

The Meaning of this Tag

” Love the giver more than the gift.”

– Brigham Young

Those Pesky Rules

  1. Thank the person who tagged you and link their post to yours.
  2. Copy and paste the meaning of the tag into your post.
  3. Answer the questions.
  4. Tag at least two people.
  5. Have fun and enjoy the rest of the month.

I’ve Tagged YOU

I’m going to spread some of that much-needed Christmas cheer by tagging everyone who follows my blog. The clock’s ticking, so you’d better get cracking and answer the questions below. Happy Christmas and a very Merry New Year to you all!

James’ Questions

1. If you could be a character in a holiday movie. Who would you be?

I’d be Macauley Culkin in Home Alone because he had such fun in that film.

2. What kind of holiday shopper are you : Black Friday? Christmas Eve? Year long hoarder?

None of the above! I don’t give birthday or Christmas gifts to anyone. Instead I give people presents as and when I see something I know they’ll love.

3. What colours are your favorite holiday decorations?

The decorations on our tree are gold with the odd bit of pink.

4. Would you rather build a snowman, go sledding, snowball fight or stay inside drinking hot cocoa?

Go sledding! My beloved and I have a double sled which goes really fast with our combined weights. He steers, I cling on and act as brake man.

5. If you were Santa Claus, what type of cookie would you want to be left out for you on Christmas Eve?

A vegan one!

6. If someone offered you a Gift Card to any store. Which one would you choose?

Villeroy & Boch

7. Name three words that best describe Christmas to you?

Happy down time

12 days of Christmas: day 4

We visited Mallorca in April to celebrate my beloved’s birthday and spent the Saturday exploring its capital Palma, dominated by its cathedral reckoned to represent the image of a great ship on the sea. Overlooking the  Mediterranean, the Cathedral was built on the site of a former Mosque after James I, the King of Aragon and Count of Barcelona, had conquered and evicted the Moors.

Building works started with the Royal Chapel in around 1300, during the reign of James II (1276-1311), the first monarch of the Crown of Majorca, though the more important building work took place in 14th and 15th centuries. The building’s interior was strongly influenced by the Baroque period in 17th and 18th centuries, that coincided with a period of economic and social splendour for Mallorca’s church and society.

In 1902, Bishop Pere Joan Campins commissioned the architect Antoni Gaudi to renovate the whole church which he completed in 1914. This included the renovation and decoration of the central nave and main altar, plus illuminating the space with glass windows, as well as artificial light and candelabras.

12 days of Christmas: day 3

This photo is of the private pier of the 5* Carlton Hotel in Cannes. Empty during the winter months, it costs an arm and a leg to laze here during the summer, whether or not you’re staying at the hotel! I took this after one of our famous Sunday brunches at the Carlton. The beach in Cannes is currently undergoing reconstruction and we’ll probably have to wait until Easter next year to find out what will emerge.

12 days of Christmas: day 2

In late February my beloved had a meeting with a professor at Montpellier university, giving me an opportunity to wander once again around the town. This time I visited its famous Fabre Museum. This building, on the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle – every French town has something named after de Gaulle – is almost opposite the museum. It’s the Pavillon populaire, built in 1890, which now houses free photography exhibitions, typically three a year, featuring world-renowned contemporary photographers. I visited in the hope of gaining some inspiration for my own modest efforts.

12 days of Christmas: day 1

We visited Castres again in January of this year, where this time I had a pleasant meander around its Goya museum. But that’s not what’s depicted in the photo. These houses in Castres’ handsome Old Town line its Agout riverbank. They’re brightly-coloured houses, with corbelled façades and basements immersed in the river, and have earned Castres the nickname of “Languedoc’s little Venice“.

The earliest houses date back to the end of 12th century and for hundred of years served as workshops for tanners, “chamoiseurs” and parchment-makers who used the water from the river to work the skins. The basements and sinks were found below, above the dryers or “soleliers,” between the two living floors. Faithfully restored, they are a photographers’ delight and provide the town with a link to centuries past. I confess I love photographs where the subject is reflected in water.

12 Days of Christmas: Intro

For the last couple of years, I’ve selected my 12 favourite photographs that best summarise our year. A selection of these usually make it onto our Christmas card/Christmas letter. This year, largely because I was disappointed with the print quality of last year’s card, I’ve chosen just one photo which will be revealed on Christmas Day.

It’s a difficult task whittling down thousands of photographs. This year I’ve sort of done it on a month by month basis.

Of course, I’ve shown quite a few of my photographs on the blog this year so you might not necessarily agree with my selection. I could have shown a series of photos entitled the “The 12 Best Doors” from various locations but maybe I’ll save that for another year!

Christmas is done and dusted!

I know there’s a few days to go but I have nothing more to do. I’ve sent the Xmas cards (I don’t buy any presents) and the flat looks suitably festive without going the whole nine yards bearing in mind we won’t be here for Xmas.

Over the years, we’ve spent few Christmases at home and most of those were occasioned by my work commitments. Last year I actually drew up a chronological listing of our various Christmas celebrations. We’ve spent one with the outlaw –  our first and last – eight with my late parents and sisters, three with friends, one in Australia, one in Arizona, one in Dubai, three in Switzerland, two in Germany, one in Spain, seven in Austria, one in Italy and 13 Home Alone.

Since we moved to France, our solitary Christmases have generally been topped and tailed with festivities with friends. Often we’ve eaten at home over the period: oysters and champagne for Christmas Eve and fois gras – sadly now forbidden – for Christmas Day lunch, after our morning ride along the coast. However, if the weather’s been inclement, we’ve happily eaten out at one of the major hotels, just as we often used to do when we lived in London.

As you may have gathered, I’m not a fan of family festivities though, given half the chance, my beloved would have spent every Christmas with my late parents. I however find it all too much:  too much food, drink, television and family. Nice to do occasionally, but not every year. Of course, if we’d had children, it would probably have been different.

This year we’re heading to the sunshine and our maiden holiday together in southern Portugal where we may well stray across the border into Spain. I’ll tell you all about it in the New Year.



Things I’ve done: stolen a car!

In the run-up to Christmas I’m veering away from my usual posting schedule – no doors ’til the New Year. Instead here’s a post about something I teased you with in the responses to one of my recent awards.

You’ve seeen my picture, do I look like a car thief? Well appearances can be deceptive. Let me tell you about my joy ride in someone else’s car.

When it comes to driving, I was a late starter. I only learned when I absolutely had to, no sooner. I had always said that I would never have a company car. But as soon as I had that bit of paper in my hand, I went to see my boss, who also agreed to pay for my car parking space. This meant I could drive into work!

I’d learned to drive in a small Vauxhall car in central London and although I’d ordered my new company car, I had to wait a couple of weeks for its arrival. The company had one spare car still under lease that I drove until my new one put in an appearance. It was a silver, boxy turbo-charged Volvo with big rubber bumpers, perfect for a new driver.

I would drive to work early, drop the car off at the garage and go down the gym. The garage closed at 19:30 in the evening and, if I hadn’t picked the car up, they would drop it off outside the office and put the keys through the letter box. It was a perfect arrangement.

One Thursday, I’d arranged to leave « early » at 17:00 to do some much needed late-night shopping. I went to the garage to collect the car and when I arrived asked the caretaker where my car was, he pointed in the general direction of the exit. Well, I had mentioned I’d be leaving early.

I leapt into the car and drove off. The keys were kept in the ignition as cars were often parked several deep to maximise the space. As I drove towards the West-end, I thought the car felt a bit sluggish and someone had moved the position of my car seat. I’ve got short-legs so I like to sit far-forward and upright. It fact it didn’t feel like « my car » so I did a quick eyeball: mileage, leasing company sticker, A-Z in driver’s side pocket, umbrella on back seat?

I didn’t leave an umbrella on the back seat? Nor did I own the gloves residing in the glove box. It wasn’t my car, it was the right colour, right mark, but it wasn’t turbo-charged and there was just one different letter in the registration plate. I’d been so keen to get out of Dodge City that I’d driven off in someone else’s car!

This was well before mobile phones (1993) so I couldn’t ring the car parking garage to explain. I just had to drive back. An hour after I’d left, I was back in the garage. Of course, the caretaker had worked out what had happened. The chap whose car I’d mistakenly taken, hadn’t driven off in mine, he’d kindly gone home on public transport.

The caretaker had however rung my number and spoken to one of my colleagues so the entire office knew I was a car thief. The following morning, they’d knocked up a front-page newspaper article about the City Car Snatcher! I can only thank my lucky stars that the incident occurred well before the advent of social media!

Of course, by the time all this was sorted out, it was too late to do any shopping!