Friday Photo Challenge – working together

I love these weekly challenges hosted on alternate weeks by either  Amanda or  Sandy because it forces me to think about what’s in my photo archives and how I might re-purpose them.

Here I’ve used some of my many photos of cyclists where the riders in a team work together to ensure their leader wins the stage/race. It’s real teamwork.



If you’ve enjoyed this post, why not join in the fun?

Friendly Friday

One from the vaults: Marital aid

While I love a good argument, my husband dislikes any form of confrontation, particularly one he’s likely to lose. Yes, I generally like to have the last word. So he tries very hard never to give me the satisfaction of having it. Just about the only thing we ever used to argue about was directions while driving the car.

Yes, of course, that old chestnut. Women can’t find their way out of a paper bag, read a map, nor do they have any spatial awareness. While guys never ask for directions, never check on a map beforehand, never turn around after making a wrong turn etc etc But all that ended with the advent of GPS.

Having a GPS means never having to ask for directions, never having to check the route beforehand, never, ever having to say sorry, and, of course, if you do get lost, it’s not your fault!

Yes, there’s another woman now telling my husband, and your’s, exactly what to do and when. Hard as it is to believe, he’s actually listening. Has anyone ever heard a GPS with a man’s voice – no, I thought not.  The more sophisticated versions will even find you restaurants, petrol stations, whatever you need. How many marriages has this device saved? Is anyone keeping track?

They also do similar devices for bikes, and I’m sorely tempted to get one. However, it’s rare for my husband to take me on a wild goose chase on two wheels. Not that he hasn’t tried. But, it’s more that I now know my way around the surrounding countryside so much better than he does.

What he really needs is a device which keeps track of his peripherals: glasses, wallet, keys, mobile phone, briefcase. Now I know that my husband is not alone in being regularly parted, often only temporarily, with these things. But boy, do we waste a lot of time and energy trying to find them. While this would  deny me many more after dinner stories and jokes, frankly we’ve been married so long I already have at least three book’s worth, how many more do I really need?

Thursday doors #64

We’re back across the border and once again on home territory admiring a selection of doors from Valbonne’s Old Town whose Fete Saint Blaise we visited earlier this year. Like lots of old French towns, it was a veritable treasure trove of beautiful old doors.


Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Norm’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

Trip to Vence

I’m slowly running out of material from my various trips and travels though I might just be able to eke them out until 11 May, when some restrictions may be lifted.

We’ve previously explored La Colle sur Loup, Saint-Paul de Vence and now we’re heading further up into the hills behind where I live to Vence, the site of my favourite training hill, Col de Vence. I particularly like the small individual shops in and around its charming, circular walled Old Town. It’s a town I frequently visit, usually on my bike.

Vence was formerly the ancient Roman settlement of Vintium, and subsequently became the bishopric and seigneury of the Villeneuve family. The town has conserved much of its historical heritage, erected largely in the Middle Ages, including the five entrance gates into the heart of Vence: the Porte du Peyra, an original entrance although rebuilt in the early 19th century; the Porte d’Orient added in 18th century; the Porte du Signadour, an original 13th century gateway; le Pontis, added in 1863; and the Portail Levis, one of the original entrances, although the tower that originally stood above the gate has since been lost.

We typically park in Vence’s Place Maréchal Juin, the main town square before following the Avenue de la Résistance towards the historic centre, entering through one of its original gateways in the ramparts. We’ll usually enter through the Porte du Peyra, next to a 16th century ash tree donated to the town by Francois I, and the Château de Villeneuve, now converted into contemporary art museum.

Public executions used to take place in Place du Peyra, but it’s now a peaceful square with cafes and a fountain! The layout of Vence’s historical centre broadly follows a circular route, with various smaller roads that all lead sooner or later to the main square, Place Clemenceau where a market is held every Tuesday.

Many of the most important historic monuments in Vence are in and around Place Clemenceau, including the Town Hall, and along the adjacent Passage Cahours. These include the jewel of the city’s religious heritage, the Notre-Dame de la Nativité Cathedral, a classified historic landmark, former HQ of the diocese of Vence and France’s smallest cathedral.

Built on the site of a Roman temple, later a Carolingian church, its architecture and furniture reflects the richness of Vence’s heritage. Inside it contains stalls sculpted by Jacotin Bellot, a carpenter from nearby Grasse (15th century), a beautiful 16th century altar piece, a unique set of 17th century polychrome wooden statues, a mosaic by Marc Chagall (“Moses saved from the waters”) and a Saint-Veran sarcophagus dating back to 5th century.

Another of Vence’s highlights is the Chapel of the Penitents Blancs, on the approach to the Old Town, boasting a cupola covered with multi-coloured varnished tiles and a Renaissance belltower. It’s home to a number of exhibitions throughout the year.

All around the Old Town there are lots of cafes, and there is still a strong art connection in Vence with numerous small art galleries. Outside the historic walls you can also take a stroll around the Place du Frêne, to check out the views of the surrounding hills, and the newly renovated Place du Grand Jardin.

A 15 minute walk from Vence, there’s the Chapelle du Rosaire, also known as the “Matisse Chapel”. The small chapel was designed inside and out by Henri Matisse in the years following the end of WWII and is reckoned to be among his greatest artistic achievements (albeit not in the traditional ‘Matisse’ style). It’s delightful – small yet perfectly formed.

Most of the pleasure from visiting Vence comes from simply strolling around the old town admiring the ancient houses and the picturesque and shady old squares full of cafes and restaurants where you can just relax and enjoy the setting. It is the ensemble – the attractiveness of the town as a whole, the flower bedecked streets, the views across the countryside – that will stay longer in your memories than any one of its particular monuments.

We’ve had shoes, now we need handbags

I’ve recently bemoaned my ability to visit two exhibitions of exquisite shoes. One in London at The Wallace Collection featuring the iconic shoes of Manolo Blahnik and more recently in Paris for those red-soled beauties from Christian Louboutin. Where there are shoes, there must be handbags and here they are!

The V&A museum in London has heeded my call and is staging an exhibition dedicated to what it calls the ultimate accessory featuring everything from designer handbags to despatch boxes, vanity cases and military rucksacks.

Bags: Inside Out was scheduled to open this week and explore our enduring fascination with bags. It will feature Margaret Thatcher’s iconic Asprey handbag, Winston Churchill’s despatch box and a World War II gasmask bag with royal connections, alongside innovative designs from leading designers including Hermès.

The exhibition promises to share an exclusive look inside the world of the factory and atelier, from heritage to streetwear brands, while exploring the function, status and craftsmanship of bags which conceal and transport our most treasured belongings, through the examination of more than 300 objects varying in scale from tiny purses held on a fingertip to luxurious travel trunks.

Lucia Savi, the exhibition’s curator said:

From a lavish 16th century burse made for royalty to the everyday tote bag, this exhibition offers an understanding and insight into the function, status, design and making of bags across the world and throughout history. These portable, yet functional accessories have long fascinated men and women with their dual nature that combines private and public.

The first section of the exhibition examines bags as practical objects designed to hold our belongings, featuring holiday outfits to confidential documents, make-up to money and even gas masks. Rare exhibits on show include a large embroidered burse used to protect the silver matrix of Elizabeth I’s Great Seal of England, a gas mask bag owned by HRH Queen Mary during WWII, Winston Churchill’s red despatch box and Vivien Leigh’s attaché case, as well as a striking and deeply desirable  Louis Vuitton trunk from the early 1900s.

The exhibition then moves on to looking at the central role of the bag in celebrity culture as well as its notoriety amongst the political and societal elite, and the rise of the It bag phenomenon in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Highlights will include a Hermès Kelly named in honour of Grace Kelly and a Lady Dior handbag named after Princess Diana, a Fendi Baguette bag worn by and stolen from Sarah Jessica Parker in one of Sex and the City’s most famous scenes and a glittery gold Louis Vuitton Monogram Miroir Speedy bag by Marc Jacobs popularised by Kim Kardashian.

There is also be a focus on the use of bags as a blank canvas for slogans, personal statements and political messages and their role as a public platform to share beliefs and convictions through objects including an anti-slavery reticule bag from 1825, the I am Not a Plastic Bag tote by Anya Hindmarch and a My Body My Business handbag by artist and activist Michele Pred.

The final section of the show looks at the design and fabrication process from sketch to sample, sewing to selling. With material specialists stationed in different locations around the world and skills passed down within century-old fashion houses, this section aims to lift the lid on the ingenuity employed by leading brands.

Highlights include a maker’s table allowing visitors to get up close and personal with bag making processes and materials alongside newly commissioned interviews with designers and makers, as well as sketches, samples and prototypes from international fashion houses will show the innovative early stages of the design process.

There is also a nod to the future to conclude the exhibition, highlighting designers experimenting with innovative and environmentally sustainable materials including a Stella McCartney backpack made from recycled ocean plastic waste.

Bags: Inside Out was scheduled to run from 25 April  to 31 January, 2021 at the V&A in London.

The exhibition is the latest in the V&A’s series of fashion exhibitions and follows Mary Quant (2018-2019), Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams (2018), Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion (2016 – 17), Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear (2016 – 2017), Shoes: Pleasure and Pain (2015 – 2016), Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty (2015) and Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s (2013 – 2014).

All images © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Sunshine’s Macro Monday #37

These photos were captured on my iPad mini while meandering around the gardens where I live during the lock-down period.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your helpful feedback and kind comments on these posts – most encouraging.

Sunshine’s Macro Monday is a challenge hosted by Irene encouraging us to scrutinise the smallest of details by getting up close and personal and bringing someone or something to life in a photograph. It’s a one day challenge without prompts.  Irene posts a Sunshine’s Macro Monday post each Monday, just after midnight Central Time (US) so don’t forget to use the tag SMM and mention Sunshine’s Macro Monday somewhere on your post, create a pingback or add a link in the comment’s section of her post.

Coffee and a stroll with Steve and friends

I’ll be honest, I know Steve lives in a beautiful spot and is surrounded by magnificent flora and friendly fauna, but it’s cold. Consequently I’ve agreed to host a stroll with refreshments this Monday morning so that Steve (and his many visitors), plus Muffin, can enjoy some warm French Riviera sunshine.

We’ll be wandering around our 27-hectacre Domaine, which includes three interconnecting lakes, an arboretum, plenty of flower beds, boules pitches, tennis courts and our yet-to-be-opened 50 metre outdoor pool.

The Domaine is fairly undulating but there are plenty of benches on which to rest weary feet and enjoy the view of the sea, a mere 10 minute walk away. Sadly, we cannot walk along the seashore as lockdown conditions in France are much stricter than say US or UK. Of course, we’ll be practising social distancing and I have plenty of masks, gloves, hand santiser and infection control wipes for everyone.

Spring has duly sprung, thanks to recent showers and plenty of sunshine. The trees have plenty of new lime-green leaves, others are awash with blossoms, the meadow grass is full of all manner of tiny wild flowers and everything is bursting with life and the promise of summer.

We have plenty of birdlife, particularly those noisy black and white magpies which are far too quick for me to photograph. But there are many other birds in the Domaine all building nests as far as possible from the reach of those greedy magpies. The ducks keep heading off in pairs into the long grass, clearly up to no good! You may spot the odd squirrel but I suspect most of the Domaine’s wildlife is out and about only under cover of darkness, particularly with so much day-time dog walking going on.

Steve’s guests often bring some baked goodies for us all to enjoy with our tea and coffee. This time I’ve baked up a bit of a storm with scones, cakes and cookies so please dig in. Any leftovers can go into doggie bags to take back with you. I do hope you’ve enjoyed your little trip to my corner of French heaven and thank you so much for coming! We must do it again sometime. Maybe when you know what is finally over.

As I mentioned above, quarantine is strict in France but fortunately we can enjoy the Domaine because it’s private. Even though we’ve lived here for over 15 years we’d not previously truly explored every nook and cranny as we now do on our daily walks. It’s also given us a finer appreciation of our wonderful flora as we see it changing daily. All clouds have silver linings. You just have to look for them.

Vogue Parody: 73 Questions

The original version of this challenge is the “Vogue 73 Questions Series” where celebrities answer the same 73 questions, many of which you can find on YouTube, some of which are highly amusing. Now the blogosphere has come up with its own version.

Jaycee from Thinking Moon most kindly tagged me for this monumental challenge. I confess I’m a bit nervous about answering so many questions about myself, plus some of the questions feature my bêtes noires (favourites) and appear to be geared for a much younger audience. Oh well, here goes……….I hope you’re sitting comfortably with a cup of coffee, or maybe something stronger, this is a looooooooooooooong one.

1. What’s your usual Starbucks drink?

Not a place I frequent but if I did it would be an Americano or long black.

2. What does your work station look like?

I work from home where I share a massive two-sided desk with my beloved in our office. It’s easy to see which side is mine. Hint: mine’s very neat and tidy.

3. All-time favourite food?

Prior to the dairy ban, it was home-made macaroni cheese that all-time comfort food. Now, it’s Lobster or Oysters.

4. Favourite author?

There are a number I really like such as Evelyn Waugh, Kazuo Ishiguro, Margaret Attwood and Gabriel García Márquez but I don’t really have a favourite.

5. What do you think of open relationships?

It’s just so not for me.

6. What’s your favourite video game?

I have never, ever played any video games. Life’s too short. I already spend enough time in front of my laptop.

7. What’s your guilty pleasure/treat?

Reading in bed.

8. Your favourite movie?

The Shawshank Redemption

9. Favourite book?

I don’t really have one but if pushed I’d say “Manchester United Ruined My Life” by Colin Shindler because it made me laugh so much.

10. Best advice you’ve ever received?

Be yourself

11. Twitter or Instagram?

A bit of both

12. Are you a desktop or a laptop person?


13. What projects are you working on right now?

I’m currently planning for our retirement. My beloved has promised to quit his current role at the end of this year and we’re hoping to slowly and surely slide into full-time retirement.

14. What’s your favourite colour?


15. Did you get good grades in school?

I did indeed

16. Dream job?

You could say that I lived the dream with a number of interesting and challenging roles and now, in semi-retirement, I just lend my beloved a very big helping hand.

17. Played any sports?

Loads: tennis, squash, hockey, trampolining, lacrosse, swimming, cricket, netball, volley ball, football, cycling

18. Do you have a degree?


19. Nationality?

British at the moment, soon to be French.

20. What’s your favourite type of blog post to write?

Travel, sport, photographs, recipes and anything that takes my interest.

21. What do you like to collect?


22. Describe yourself in 3 words?

Happy, smart, amusing

23. If you were a rapper, what would your rapper name be?

My mother deliberately chose names which she thought couldn’t be shortened. To annoy me, though she never succeeded, one of my sisters used to call me Shezza, so I’d be Frenchie Shezza.

24. Who was the last person you DM’d?

A good looking, much younger man than my beloved husband but that’s our secret, okay?

25. What’s on top of your wish list right now?

A long bike ride in the open air

26. Sorting House?

Is this a reference to your Hogwarts house? Please note, I’ve never read any of the Harry Potter books or seen any of the movies – way too scary for me.

27. How many tattoos do you have?

I am totally tattoo free and that’s the way it’s going to stay.

28. What are you most grateful for this year?

That we chose to go on holiday in February to Dubai before lockdown.

29. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you this month?

I’ve learned to really appreciate where I live. Specifically a 27 hectacre Domaine full of interesting places I never knew existed and I’ve lived here for 15 years!

30. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you today?

My beloved (Officer in Charge of Drinks) made me coffee for breakfast, tea mid-afternoon and I’m hoping for a chilled rose wine later.

31. What’s the best thing ever?

Meeting my beloved husband while I was at university.

32. Favourite season?


33. Favourite holiday(s)?

Australia and the Basque Country

34. What fictional character do you relate to the most?

To be honest, after giving the matter due thought, there really isn’t one.

35. Do you like surprises?

No, I so don’t like surprises.

36. What’s the biggest surprise you’ve ever had?

That would be my beloved asking me to marry him six weeks after we started dating. I said yes.

37. What surprise made you cry?

My youngest sister and father turning up unexpectedly in 2013 for Father’s Day. The first one we’d spent together for many years and sadly it was to be our last with him.

38. What’s the best surprise you’ve ever given someone?

See 36 above.

39. Do you like muffins?

Not especially, unless they’re ones I’ve made.

40. Do you cook often?

Yes, I adore cooking and cook every day. I have lots of recipes on my blog entitled “The Musette”

41. What’s your favourite dessert?

Before having to give up dairy, I was a sucker for my mother’s lemon meringue pie which was legend. Nowadays, I tend to swerve desserts unless it’s fresh fruit or maybe a sorbet.

42. Is there a dessert you dislike?

Delicious looking desserts containing loads of dairy because I can no longer eat them.

43. Cake or pie?

Cake, just so long as it’s vegan.

44. What’s your least favourite food?

I no longer eat meat and have had to up my fish intake. However, I don’t really enjoy fishy tasting fish such as cod, haddock, whiting etc

45. What’s your favourite condiment?

My tomato and chilli jam

46. It’s 4am on a Saturday night, what would you eat?

Nothing as I’d be fast asleep in bed

47. If you could teach a college class, what would it be called?

I’ve taught English language classes to French seniors and teenagers both of which were a lot of fun. How about “Easy Over English with Sheree.”

48. Best animated film?

I absolutely adore animated films but hands down it’s the Toy Story franchise

49. What has a guy done or said to impress you?

I’m not easily impressed which my beloved will confirm however I’m always impressed when he says something along the lines of “breakfast is ready” and he’s done more than just make coffee.

50. The best thing to do on a first date?

I have absolutely no idea, I’ve been married for over 42 years. On our first date, we went to a football match which is my idea of a heavenly date.

51. The worst thing to do on a first date?

See 50 above

52. What’s the funniest pick-up line a guy could use on a girl?

See 50 above

53. Best comic book character?

I loved The Adventures of Tintin by the Begian cartoonist Georges Prosper Remi, aka Hergé. My favourite character is Captain Archibald Haddock, Tintin’s bestie.

54. What are three things that are always in your handbag. 

Money, credit cards and a hankerchief

55. Favourite drink?


56. If you could play a historical figure in a movie who would it be?

Elizabeth I

57. Kittens or puppies?

Puppies every time

58. Tell me your favourite sushi roll?

I don’t have one

59. What kind of lipstick do you use?

Colourless lip balm

60. What kind of foundation do you use?

I don’t use foundation

61. Blow-dry or air dry?

My hair only gets blow dried at the hairdressers otherwise I just leave it to dry naturally.

62. Who is your fashion icon?

Katherine Hepburn

63. Favourite Disney Character?

I really don’t have one except maybe the entire toy cast of Toy Story.

64. What are you doing tomorrow?

It’s another Monday in lockdown so I’ll be working, working out, cooking, cleaning and going for a long walk.

65. A movie you laughed the hardest through?

The recent winner of Best Picture at the Oscars made me laugh, a lot.

66. A movie that made you cry?

I’m not easily moved to tears though I suspect as a child I may have cried when Bambi died.

67. If you could sing a duet with someone, who would it be?

I cannot hold a single note, no one would ever want to duet with me unless I lip-synced.

68. If your life was a song, what would the title be?

Lucky me

69. What’s your favourite animal?


70. Favourite illustrator?

Again, I find it difficult to choose just one. I’ve always loved Beatrix Potter’s illustrations in her own books and E H Shepherd’s illustrations for The Wind in the Willows and Winnie-the-Pooh.

71. A person you want to have coffee with?

There’s lots of people I’d love to have coffe with but if I had to plump for one it would be Dorothy Parker.

72. What country do you wish to visit?

I’ve already visited a lot of countries and I’d love to revisit Japan and Australia.

73. Best way to decompress?

Sitting on my terrace, with my beloved, watching the sun go down, sipping something long and cool which he’s prepared

My Nominees

Congratulations for getting to the end. Now, just as long as you’ve read the entire post – no cheating and just heading for no 73 – please consider yourself nominated. Go forth and Vogue!