Friday Photo Challenge – close examination

This week Amanda is encouraging us to explore the finer details of our photos through Close Examination by using macro Mode, Zoom in (a little), or crop afterwards to take macro and close-up photographs. For me, after months of Macro Monday, this is an easier challenge.

These are from my modest hanging-box garden on the terrace.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m much enjoying these weekly challenges hosted on alternate weeks by either Amanda or Sandy because they force me to think about what’s in my photo archives and how I might re-use them.

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

Friendly Friday

One from the vaults: Speedy girl

Yet another blast from the past (July 2012) about my cycle training. You will have observed that all my training is about going faster on the ascents. I love descending but……..you’ve got to ride up in order to ride down.

Last week’s tummy troubles, probably caused by a virus, resulted in a bit of a blip in my training but I’m back on the case. My coach has suggested I make three trips up an insanely steep climb going fast, faster and fastest. I may just have to wear my “Speedy Bike Club” jersey. My Swiss friend calls me Speedy girl. He’s being ironic as I’m many things, none of them speedy, on a bike. So, we both have this particular jersey making it a very select club. That’s right, my beloved is NOT a member.

I’ll need all the help I can get, psychological and otherwise, as it’s definitely going to be a tricky climb. It’s not long, just over a couple of kilometres, but I find it really difficult, particularly the stretches at 16 and 17%. It’s the sort of hill where, as you climb, you keep checking that you really are in your granny gear, just in case you’re not, and there’s still one more gear. Of course, there never is but I still have to check!

Over the years I’ve developed a couple of techniques for ignoring the voice in my head that says “Are you insane? Turn round and go home now.” I try to imagine something pleasurable, whatever takes my fancy on the day and at that moment. Or, I promise myself a treat once the exercise is over. It might be an ice cold coke, an ice cream, a juicy peach or a cup of coffee. Again, whatever I fancy and what’s readily available. So tomorrow, I’ll once again be gritting my teeth and trying, against the odds, to think pleasurable thoughts.

As tomorrow’s  a rest day in the Tour [de France], I may just mentally revisit some of the best moments from the last ten days as I climb this particular hill, looking for all the world as if I’m riding in slow-mo which, of course, I am.  Few local riders brave the climb, or conversely the descent (best bit), so I’m not likely to be overtaken: scant consolation. Though passing motorists occasionally proffer encouragement from their car windows.

However, my real dilemma is going to be the three speeds. I can’t go any slower or I’ll just fall off the bike. Conversely, I find it really hard to go any faster as I’m already “on the rivet”. I’m just going to give it my best and see how I fare. Already I’m beginning to regret my whim of doing this particular uphill individual time-trial.

Who do I think I am? Sir Bradley Wiggins? I think not, as he and former team mate Chris Froome were likened to stick insects on Twitter. Not an accusation that can be levelled at me. Nor would I feel comfortable in the new generation, seemingly translucent skinsuits they’re all wearing. Although I may have come up with a solution – SPANX skinsuits. I’m calling the company tomorrow though there’s the vague disquiet that the surplus, compressed flesh might just roll out of the suit in folds at the wrists and thighs. Still, it’s worth a try.

Thursday doors #78

This is my second batch of doors from a recent trip to the medieval village of Mougins.

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).

French Basque Country: Espelette and…………..

So where next? Can I suggest Espelette (Ezpeleta in Basque) a delightful village situated in the foothills of the Pyrenees to the east of Saint Jean de Luz, and south-east of Biarritz below the Mondarrain mountain.

The village is famous for its chilli peppers and those grown in this region even have an appellation controlée to vouch for their authenticity. After the harvest at the end of summer the picture-perfect traditional Basque white-washed houses with either red or green shutters feature drying piments and the effect is wonderfully colourful.

It’s a real pleasure to stroll down Espelette’s streets to take in the unique scenery and visit its many stores and boutiques selling not only the famous peppers but also many more local products such as chocolate and cheese. Espelette can sometimes get a little crowded, especially during the summer high-season and on bank holidays, but the views are still awesome. There is a reason why so many visit this place – it’s just so charming.

The origins of the Espelette Pepper date back to 1650 when a Basque sailor who had been traveling with Christopher Columbus brought some chili peppers back to the Basque Country. These peppers were first used medicinally and then later for conserving meat and ham. Over time, they have become a cornerstone of Basque cuisine. Although it is called “Espelette Pepper,” it is actually grown in 10 villages of the region, among them Ainhoa and Espelette. The European Union has even granted a protected designation to the Espelette region which means only peppers from this particular area can have the name Piment d’Espelette.

The peppers are so important that there is even an annual Espelette pepper festival that is celebrated during the last weekend of October which includes Basque dance exhibitions, traditional music concerts, parades and Basque sporting competitions.

At one end of the main street is 16th century castle that is now the village mairie (town hall) which also houses the tourist office and exhibition spaces for:-

  • chilli peppers around the world
  • local Agnes Sauret the first lady to win Miss France (1920)
  • local Armand David, an intrepid 19th century explorer

The local church of Saint-Etienne has a typical Basque interior with three levels of wooden galleries going round the walls and a very decorative 18th century altarpiece. It’s off the tourist path. Indeed, this part of the town is often over-looked by visitors but it’s very peaceful with a gentle stream flowing nearby. You can also see the grave of the first Miss France who’s buried here.

There are several other villages nearby which also have similar Basque architecture to Espelette and are equally charming to visit, including Sare and Ainhoa which are both listed among the most beautiful villages in France.

The surrounding countryside of low mountains is perfect for exploring, preferably by bike. Or, you could take a small train that climbs the mountain at La Rhune for a different view across the countryside.

Alternatively, just 8 kilometres (5 miles) from the Spanish border, you’ll find Saint Jean Pied de Port one of the traditional starting points of the Way of St James (the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela). It’s a delightful walled town and Unesco World Heritage Site with numerous gates.

Frankly, I could go on for ever as there are so many pretty picturesque towns, many of which we’ve visited on our bikes. But don’t just take my word for it, come and see for yourself!

French Basque Country: Bayonne

If things had gone according to plan, I’d now be enjoying a vacation in my beloved Basque Country but as I’m not…………………….let’s return to my series about the French Basque Country.

A mere eight kilometres (5 miles) from Biarritz is the wonderful town of Bayonne which we’ve visited a number of times, the last one being on a Saturday in 2018 on our way down to San Sebastian.

Bayonne (“Baiona” in Basque) is located at the northernmost point of the French Basque Country where the Nive and Adour Rivers meet. It’s renowned for hosting one of the largest French summer festivals, called the Fêtes de Bayonne. This is the French version of Pamplona’s San Fermin (Running of the Bulls) and attracts more then one million visitors annually. It may not have been that particular festival but the town was full of people who’d dressed up and were playing medieval games.

Even though Bayonne is technically a city, it feels more like a large town. A stroll along the Nive River which separates the two main neighbourhoods of the city, Grand and Petit Bayonne, is both beautiful and relaxing. The buildings are decorated in a lovely mixture of Basque and French architecture, each adorned with colourful wooden shutters. Both sides of the waterfront are lined with bars and restaurants and make for great places to stop and take in the most beautiful views of the city.

Thanks to the Adour River which connects Bayonne to the Bay of Biscay, the city was well positioned and grew wealthy with the help of the whaling and cod industries. This influx of money helped finance many of the city’s buildings, including the massive gothic cathedral.

Because of Bayonne’s commercial importance and its close proximity to Spain (aprox. 30 km [19 miles] away), the city features many fortified structures. Most of the original wall that surrounded the city is gone but it’s still possible to see some of the remnants when wandering through its streets. Some other examples of the city’s defensive structures include the Porte d’Espagne, Château-Neuf, Château-Vieux and the citadel. Unfortunately, most of the fortifications are closed to the public, however, it is possible to view them from the outside.

Grand Bayonne is the more commercial part of town but also its ancient beating heart where one finds the Sainte Marie Cathedral, which dominates the city’s skyline. The construction of this gothic cathedral started in 1213 though it wasn’t finished until 17th century (with exception of the north tower, finished in 19th century). Alongside the cathedral is the cloister, which dates back to 1240 and  is one of the largest in France.

Not far from the cathedral, you will find the Château-Vieux (Old Castle). Built in 12th century by the Viscounts of Labourd. This was originally the official residence of the governors of the city (including Edward, the black prince). It’s still owned by the military and is therefore not open to the public.

The impressive Town Hall of Bayonne (La Mairie or L’Hôtel de Ville) is located at the intersection of the Nive and Adour Rivers. It was built in 1843 in neoclassical style and was originally home to the customs office. The six statues on the roof represent the economic and artistic activities of the city. Apart from the town hall, the building also houses a theater and a café with a nice terrace in the square in front of the building.

Next to the Nive River is Bayonne’s covered market called “Les Halles”. This is the perfect place to discover the area’s bounty and particularly the lovely gâteau Basque. The market and its surroundings are especially busy on Saturday mornings, when local producers gather there for an open-air market.

Bayonne also has a botanical garden, called Jardin Botanique, located at the Avenue du 11 Novembre (next to the Tourist Office). It was opened in the late 1990s and it stands on top of a bastion between the cathedral and the ramparts.

Apart from wandering through the streets of this beautiful neighbourhood and enjoying its architecture, in Petit Bayonne, you can visit the Basque Museum. Founded in 1922, it contains a nice collection of Basque and local French history. It is located in a small palace from 16th century called “Maison Dagourette.”

Another interesting museum located in this same aea is the Bonnat Museum. It is named after the local realist painter, Léon Bonnat, whose own work makes up most of the main collection. It was due to reopen in 2020 after extensive renovation works.

Sitting in the highest point of Petit Bayonne you will find the Château-Neuf built in the 15th century by Charles IV. This massive building now belongs to the university and is again unfortunately closed to the public.

From Petit Bayonne, it is possible to cross the Adour River via the Pont Saint-Esprit to the neighborhood of Saint-Esprit, where the citadel and train station are located. This neighborhood was originally part of Gascony and therefore different from the rest of Bayonne. It was settled primarily by Jews who had escaped from the Spanish Inquisition at the beginning of 17th century.

The Jews contributed much to Bayonne’s growth particularly through the introduction of chocolate which first gained its foothold in Bayonne and then later spread to the rest of France. Today, there are still many chocolatiers found in the city, such as the L’Atelier du Chocolat which has a workshop on the far end of Saint-Esprit. Well worth a visit!

Sunshine’s Macro Monday #51

These photos were taken while I was just out and about, nowhere in particular!

 

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 Challenge was hosted by Irene a formidable photographer who encouraged us to scrutinise the smallest of details by getting up close and personal and bringing someone or something to life in a photograph. It was a one day challenge without prompts which I have continued to pursue. Feel free to join in and brighten everyone’s Monday.

 

Food Award I – III

As a keen amateur home cook and baker I was, of course, delighted to be nominated by three wonderful bloggers for the Food Award.

Firstly, Mrs Holiman over at God’s Love, spreading the Lord’s words, who has her own wonderful chef aka Mr Holiman.

Next, Rishabh Kumar who shares his poetic journey with memories on Myjooypress.  He freely admits to being less experienced in the kitchen but he’s clearly mastered some classics already.

Finally, last but not least, Wild at Heart who writes over at WildScaredCrazy who claims she wouldn’t have had this award if it was given on the basis of her cooking and eating skills. But, now that she’s gotten it, she’s claiming it with joy.

Please drop by all these blogs, check them out and give them a supportive follow!

My Nominees

Are you someone who loves spending time in the kitchen? Do you have a food blog? Do you post fabulous pictures of food on your blog? Do you have recipes on your blog?

If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, please consider yourself nominated. Answer any five questions from those posed below.

Mrs H’s Questions

1. What is your favourite dessert?

It used to be my mother’s lemon meringue pie – a legend it its own lifetime. But now that I can’t eat dairy, I’m much less fussed about desserts. I’ll happily skip them, or maybe have some fresh fruit.

2. What is your favourite snack on a hiking trip?

One of my home-made oat bars.

3. Do you like Mayo?

Only if it’s homemade and vegan.

4. Would you rather a hamburger or a hotdog?

TBH, even before I became vegan, I wasn’t overly fond of either. However, I do make vegan burgers so that’ll be “Hamburger” then.

5. What is your favorite salad dressing?

One that’s appropriate for the dish in question though, of course, it’s hard to beat a classic French vinagrette.

Rishabh’s and Wild at Heart’s Questions

1. What do you usually have for breakfast?

Glass of water with fresh lemon juice, something with oats or homemade nut butter or spicy avocado on toast, then black coffee.

2. Are you personally a good cook?

I love cooking and people seem to love eating what I cook, so I’m probably not too bad! Check out my recipes under “The Musette” banner.

3. Do you like chocolate? What is your favourite type?

Yes and I like my chocolate to be at least 70% cocoa

4. Which type of food can you NEVER EVER eat even if some one threatens you to eat it?

I don’t eat dairy, soy, meat products or fried foods.

5. Which food did you or you are eating forcefully?

Not sure I understand this question. I only eat foods I enjoy eating.

Award Rules

  • Thank the person(s) that nominated you.
  • Pingback to the creator, Elisha at https://africaboy.home.blog/
  • If possible, use the same featured image as your nominator(s).
  • Answer the five questions.
  • Create five questions about food.

Hope you’re all having a great weekend. Stay Safe! Sx

Song Lyric Sunday #2

Check out Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday Challenge, a man after my own heart as he posts the challenges well in advance! This week’s challenge is Different/Same which really made me put my thinking cap on.

How about different productions of the same record? In this case “Low” by Lenny Kravitz from his Raise Vibration Album (2018). I don’t think multi-Grammy award winner Lenny needs much of an introduction!

This track is from his 11th studio album and features posthumous guest vocals from Michael Jackson. It was released as the album’s second single on 25th May, 2018. “Low” became Kravitz’s first song to peak #1 on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs, thanks to several remixes by David Guetta (version below), Tom Stephan, and Junior Black.

 

Here are those all-important lyrics:-

Low

If you wanna talk to me
Know that I am planning to see
Yeah, yeah, hey, hey
I don’t want this thing to be
Staining my reality, yeah, yeah

Don’t lift me up
To turn me down
I just want a lover
Baby stay with me on the floor
Talk with me, let me go
Got to keep below
Talk with me, let me go
Got to keep below

Don’t lift me up
To turn me down
I just want a lover
Baby stay with me on the floor
Talk with me, let me go
Got to keep below
Talk with me, let me go
Got to keep below

If you bought the fantasy
It’s murder in the first degree, yeah
Yeah
Is my sexuality
Creating such a tragedy, yeah
Yeah

Don’t lift me up
To turn me down
I just want a lover
Baby, stay with me on the floor
Talk with me, let me go
Got to keep below
Talk with me, let me go
Got to keep below

Don’t lift me up
To turn me down
I just want a lover
Baby stay with me on the floor
Talk with me, let me go
Got to keep below
Talk with me, let me go
Got to keep below, ooh

I’m so tired of playing this crazy game
Someone’s always left out in the rain
Is there a chance that we can make it, uh
Just keep it real ’cause we can’t fake it, yeah

‘Cause you and I can’t take this anymore
We’ve got to keep our feet right on the floor
There’s no more secrets, no more lying
Baby I’m really, really trying
To get to love

Don’t lift me up
To turn me down
I just want a lover
Baby stay with me on the floor
Talk with me, let me go
Got to keep below
Talk with me, let me go
Got to keep below

Don’t lift me up
To turn me down
Baby stay with me on the floor
Talk with me, let me go
Got to keep below
Talk with me, let me go
Got to keep below, ooh
Don’t lift me up
To turn me down
Baby, stay with me on the floor

Talk with me, let me go
Got to keep below
Talk with me, let me go
Got to keep below, ooh<

Source: LyricFind
Songwriter: Lenny Albert Kravitz
Low lyrics © BMG Rights Management

Challenge Rules
• Post the lyrics to the song of your choice, whether it fits the theme or not. If it does not fit, then please explain why you chose this song.
• Please try to include the songwriter(s) – it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due.
• Make sure you also credit the singer/band and if you desire you can provide a link to where you found the lyrics.
• Link to the YouTube video, or pull it into your post so others can listen to the song.
• Ping back to this post or place your link in the comments section below.
• Read at least one other person’s blog, so we can all share new and fantastic music and create amazing new blogging friends in the process.
• Feel free to suggest future prompts.
• Have fun and enjoy the music.