Sunshine’s Macro Monday #56

These photos were taken while I was out and about, though I was particularly pleased to have captured one of a bee enjoying my herbs.

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.

Amazing Follower Award I

Back in June – doesn’t time fly? – I was most kindly nominated for the Amazing Follower Award by the wonderful Mrs Holiman who spread’s God’s word over at God’s Love. Please check out her blog and show her some love and support.

About the Award

You don’t have to be perfect to be amazing.

Are you a successful blogger? Have you worked hard at making your blog a success? Are there people in the blogging community who make you smile? Who are they?

This award will be given to the amazing people who are there in all your highs and lows. We learn so much from each other. In the same spirit…this award is a small token of love and gratitude to all the people who have been so supportive!

My Nominees

In some ways this award is quite ironic. I’m meant to name those who have been supportive of my blog. But, as I recently explained, the WP gremlins have dealt me a bitter blow, one which their Happiness Engineers are unable to resolve. Yes, the posts of some of my most loyal followers, whose blogs I also follow, no longer appear in my timeline. So far I’ve identified over 50, but I’m sure there are more. In some cases, there’s a double blow as my posts no longer appear in their timelines. Go figure?

I try to get around the problem by looking their blogs up via Mr Google but often WP will allow to “Like” but not comment or vice versa! I know one or two bloggers who have had enough. I’m going to plough on and hope that WP get their act in order. Otherwise I may be making up another Award, one not quite so complimentary for all the bloggers toiling with WP’s indifference!

Mrs H’s Questions

1. How does my blog inspire you?

Sorry but I’m inspired by life, not other people’s blogs. If I follow your blog it’s because you write about things which are of interest to me.

2. Your favourite post from my blog?

I don’t have favourites, I follow far too many blogs.

3. Anything you want me to write about in my blog?

No, it’s your blog. You should write about what you love and know, your passions not mine.

4. Why did you start blogging? Was there one idea that clicked to help you start?

I started my blog to keep sponsors informed of my progress towards a goal but carried on afterwards because I enjoyed it.

5. Would you like to write for a living?

No, I would not.

6. Would you like to write television shows /movies?

See 5 above

7. Your hobbies during this pandemic……

My hobbies during the pandemic are the same ones I had before: cycling, cooking, travelling, yoga, photography, reading

8. The most recent book you read or are reading?

I’m reading a bunch of cookery books.

Award Guidelines

  • Put the award logo on your blog post.
  • Answer the 8 questions asked by the person who nominated you. Also, provide a link to their blog.
  • Tell us why you like their blog. How has it inspired you?
  • Nominate around 8 other amazing people who have supported you every step of the way.
  • Ask them 8 questions of your choice.
  • Follow The Ethereal Unicorn.


Thanks for reading, join in if you feel so inclined. Hope you’ve had a great weekend. Sx

Song Lyric Sunday #7

This is Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday Challenge, a man after my own heart as he posts the challenges well in advance giving us all time to choose an appropriate response. This week’s prompt is Cruel/Evil/Horrible/Monster/Wicked. As usual, I spent time mentally going through my vast music collection to find something which fits the bill.

Okay, how about a spot of rap from Eminem?

The Monster is a song from American rapper Eminem’s album The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013) featuring Barbadian singer Rihanna and guest vocals by Bebe Rexha. The song, released in October 2013, the fourth single from the album, also marked the fourth collaboration between Eminem and Rihanna. The lyrics describe Rihanna coming to grips with her inner demons while Eminem ponders the negative effects of his fame.

The track enjoyed success worldwide, topping the charts in twelve countries including Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States’ Billboard Hot 100, marking Eminem’s first number one on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

Lyrics: The Monster

I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed
Get along with the voices inside of my head
You’re trying to save me, stop holding your breath
And you think I’m crazy, yeah, you think I’m crazy[Eminem:]
I wanted the fame, but not the cover of Newsweek
Oh, well, guess beggars can’t be choosey
Wanted to receive attention for my music
Wanted to be left alone in public. Excuse me
For wanting my cake and eat it too, and wanting it both ways
Fame made me a balloon ’cause my ego inflated
When I blew; see, but it was confusing
‘Cause all I wanted to do is be the Bruce Lee of loose leaf
Abused ink, used it as a tool when I blew steam (wooh!)
Hit the lottery, oh wee
But with what I gave up to get it was bittersweet
It was like winning a used mink
Ironic ’cause I think I’m getting so huge I need a shrink
I’m beginning to lose sleep: one sheep, two sheep
Going cuckoo and cooky as Kool Keith
But I’m actually weirder than you think
‘Cause I’m[Rihanna:]
I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed
Get along with the voices inside of my head
You’re trying to save me, stop holding your breath
And you think I’m crazy, yeah, you think I’m crazy

Well, that’s nothing
Well, that’s nothing

Now, I ain’t much of a poet but I know somebody once told me
To seize the moment and don’t squander it
‘Cause you never know when it all could be over tomorrow
So I keep conjuring, sometimes I wonder where these thoughts spawn from
(Yeah, pondering’ll do you wonders.
No wonder you’re losing your mind the way it wanders.)
I think it went wandering off down yonder
And stumbled on ‘ta Jeff VanVonderen
‘Cause I need an interventionist
To intervene between me and this monster
And save me from myself and all this conflict
‘Cause the very thing that I love’s killing me and I can’t conquer it
My OCD’s conking me in the head
Keep knocking, nobody’s home, I’m sleepwalking
I’m just relaying what the voice in my head’s saying
Don’t shoot the messenger, I’m just friends with the

I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed
Get along with the voices inside of my head
You’re trying to save me, stop holding your breath
And you think I’m crazy, yeah, you think I’m crazy

Well, that’s nothing
Well, that’s nothing

Call me crazy but I have this vision
One day that I’d walk amongst you a regular civilian
But until then drums get killed and I’m coming straight at
MCs, blood get spilled and I’ll
Take you back to the days that I’d get on a Dre track
Give every kid who got played that
Pumped up feeling and shit to say back
To the kids who played him
I ain’t here to save the fucking children
But if one kid out of a hundred million
Who are going through a struggle feels it and then relates that’s great
It’s payback, Russell Wilson falling way back
In the draft, turn nothing into something, still can make that
Straw into gold chump, I will spin Rumpelstiltskin in a haystack
Maybe I need a straightjacket, face facts
I am nuts for real, but I’m okay with that
It’s nothing, I’m still friends with the

I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed
Get along with the voices inside of my head
You’re trying to save me, stop holding your breath
And you think I’m crazy, yeah, you think I’m crazy

I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed
Get along with the voices inside of my head
You’re trying to save me, stop holding your breath
And you think I’m crazy, yeah, you think I’m crazy

Well, that’s nothing
Well, that’s nothing

Source: Lyric Find
Songwriters: Aaron Kleinstub / Jonathan Bellion / Robyn Fenty / Bleta Rexha / Marshall Mathers / Bryan Fryzel / Maki Athanasiou
The Monster lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management, Reach Music Publishing

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 Jim’s post or place your link in his comments section.
  • 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.
  • Most of all, have fun and enjoy the music.

The Musette: real men do eat quiche

Quiche has an unfashionable reputation, and if it’s badly made or it’s been hanging around for too long then it loses its charm quickly. But if it’s made well and eaten fresh, it’s a dish that defines moreishness and a recipe that’s filled with techniques any cook can be proud to have mastered. It rightly deserves its status as a summer classic.

My beloved husband is fond of quiche and I’ll often whip one up when he’s so inclined. For picnics, I’ll make often individual ones, mouthfull size. Generally, I’ll use whatever’s hanging around in the fridge or cupboard but my beloved’s favourites by far are the classic quiche lorraine or cheese and onion. But whatever the filling, the pastry is always home made.

Ingredients (serves 4 hungry cyclists)


  • 175g (1 cup + 1 tbsp) plain (all purpose) flour
  • 100g (3 1/2oz) very cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 large organic egg yolk


  • 125g (4 1/2oz) lardons, preferably smoked
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 70g (2 1/2 oz) gruyere cheese, finely grated
  • 250g  ( 1 cup) ricotta
  • 150ml  (1/2 cup) double (heavy) cream
  • 3 large organic eggs, and 1 egg yolk, well beaten
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


1. For the pastry, put flour, very cold butter, cut into pieces, egg yolk and 4 tsp very cold water into a food processor. Using the pulse button, process until the mix binds. You may need to add more water but do so sparingly.

2. Tip the pastry onto a lightly floured surface, gather into a smooth ball, then cover in cling film (plastic wrap) and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

3. Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll it out as thinly as you can. I generally do this between sheets of grease-proof (parchment) paper to avoid using more flour. Line a 23cm (9″) loose-bottomed, fluted flan tin, carefully easing the pastry into the base and flutes.

4. I generally don’t trim the edges until the pastry is cooked as it may shrink during cooking. Chill pastry case in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.

5. Put a baking sheet in the oven and pre-heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/(390F/fan 350F)/gas. Line pastry case with greaseproof paper, fill with dry beans/coins/whatever and bake on the hot sheet for 15 minutes.

6. Remove paper and filling and bake for further 4-5 minutes until the pastry is pale golden. Remove excess pastry with a rolling pin, going over the fluted edges. Take care not to end up with too many crumbs in the base! If you notice any small holes or cracks, patch up with pastry trimmings. You can make up to this point a day ahead.

7. While the pastry cooks, prepare the filling. Heat a small frying pan (skillet), tip in lardons and onions, fry for a couple of minutes. Drain off any liquid that comes out, then continue cooking until the lardons, but not the onions,  just start to colour, but aren’t crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels before scattering over the bottom of the pastry case.

8. Using a fork, beat the ricotta to slacken it then slowly beat in the double cream and grated gruyere cheese. Mix in the well beaten eggs. Season (you shouldn’t need much salt) and add a pinch of ground nutmeg. Pour three quarters of the filling into the pastry case.

9. Half-pull the oven shelf out and put the flan tin on the baking sheet. Quickly pour the rest of the filling into the pastry case – you get it right to the top this way. Then carefully push the shelf back into the oven.

10. Lower the oven to 190C/fan 170C(375F/fan 340F)/gas 5. Bake for about 25 mins, or until lightly golden and softly set (the centre should not feel too firm). The ricotta gives it an almost souffle appearance.

11. Let the quiche settle for 4-5 minutes, then remove from the tin. Serve freshly baked, although it’s also good cold.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. The great thing about quiches is that you can make a tasty dish with pretty much anything using the quiche template. What about broccoli and blue cheese?

2. Individual mini-quiches are great for picnics and a great way to use up all those odds and ends in the fridge. You’re only limited by your imagination but don’t forget to choose flavourings and pairings that combine well together.

3. You can make a much less rich version of this quicke lorraine using milk rather than cream and ricotta. Or you can substitute creme-fraiche for the ricotta.

Sculpture Saturday #23

This large duck sits in the gardens of a hotel we stayed in a couple of years ago, Château des Tourelles, Pornichet – La Baule. It rather amused me as I have a much smaller rubber version that sits in my guest bathroom.

An extensive internet search sadly does not reveal the duck’s provenance.

This challenge is kindly hosted by Susan Kelly over at Ruined for Life: Phoenix Edition.

Share a photo of a statue or sculpture – go on, give it a go, you know you want to!

Friday Photo Challenge – splendour in the grass

Amanda’s Challenge this week is to demonstrate Splendour in the Grass, which sounds as if it should be the title of a film or blockbuster book.

She has some magnificent photos vividly illustrating her point on her blog StPa (Something to Ponder About., where Amanda notes:

So often we walk around in nature failing to notice the details, the grass under our feet.

Subtle changes in colour and appearance indicate the passing of the seasons. Many varieties of grass remain invisible, yet are an integral part of the natural landscape.

Let’s hope my modest efforts can rise to this week’s challenge!

Screen shot of a film about grasslands showing at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris.

Forest behind our Domaine which is much beloved by wild boars.

Desert in Arizona

Leutasch Valley in Austrian Tyrol

Place des Vosges, Paris

Australian bush between Sydney and Adelaide

Galician coast, Spain

France profonde

Victorian Ranges, Australia

Victorian Wetlands

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-purpose them.

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

Friendly Friday

One from the vaults: Another Trip down Memory Lane

Of course, at this time of year, we’d normally be watching the Vuelta a Espana and consequently we’re heading back to Marbella for the opening stages of the 2015 race. It’s an area which holds many fond memories for us, as I explain below.

We’ve just returned from a few days in Marbella, one of our old stomping grounds, where we were watching the initial stages of this year’s Vuelta a Espana. It’s an area we first visited almost 40 years ago when my parents bought an apartment there. As newly-weds with little money, we spent many a happy fortnight in the sun, exploring the surrounding area. My younger sisters spent all summer there prompting me to speculate why my parents hadn’t invested earlier. Two words – dollar premium.

In the early 1980s, we spent a month there over Xmas and New Year, taking the ferry to Santander and driving to Marbella via Madrid and Toledo. At the time, it was our longest holiday ever and truly relaxing apart from my beloved, a noted swimmer, getting swept out to sea on his windsurfer. He managed to paddle his way back to shore, albeit several kilometres down the coast, without the assistance of the Spanish coastguard, although it was touch and go.

Puerto Banus has mushroomed in size
Puerto Banus has mushroomed in size

As the years rolled by, we typically spent a week in Marbella either in May or September when the weather was warm but not so hot as to prevent us playing tennis for several hours. Retirement beckoned for my father and my parents decided to sell the flat, preferring to use the proceeds to holiday elsewhere. We however continued to spend a week there most years, often over the late May Bank Holiday.

From time to time my parents accompanied us, as did their closest friends. On my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary, we spent what was to be our final family holiday together at one of our favourite hotels, courtesy of my Dad, and we’ve not been back largely due to our move to France.

Family favourite: Marbella Club
Family favourite: Marbella Club



When we saw that the Vuelta was kicking off there this year, my beloved and I decided to take a trip down memory lane. In the intervening years, much has changed but our old haunts are still there and happily flourishing. The trip bought back many happy memories, particularly of times spent with my parents who are no longer with us. We’re not going to leave it quite so long before paying the area another visit.

Thursday doors #82

Would you credit it? We’re still in Mougins village!


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 Fréjus: Part I

After an enjoyable lunch at the Clos des Roses vineyard, we decided to explore Fréjus. We’ve cycled past it many a time but have not previously visited either its Roman ruins or its Old Town. Now, if you’ve read any of my earlier trip articles about the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur (PACA) area, you’ll know the Romans were all over it like a bad rash in 1st century BC. Consequently PACA is heir to an impressive Roman architectural legacy which forms an intrinsic part of the local culture.

Fréjus, lying south of the Estérel Massif and equi-distant between Cannes and St Tropez, has a rich historical and architectural heritage. The city is filled with monuments. These include one of the largest amphitheaters from Gallic times (1st or 2nd century), a Roman theatre, the Porte Doree (a golden door), ruins of baths from 3rd century, the Porte des Gaules, the aqueduct which carried the water from Signole for 40 km (25 miles) and the Cocteau Chapel conceived by Jean Cocteau In 1961 and finished by E. Dermit in 1965.

In 1837 at the request of the then Inspector General of Historical Monuments, Prosper Mérimée, a list of each departments’ monuments was drawn up. In 1840, the first list of its kind in France was completed and the amphitheatre in Fréjus was included. It is one of the oldest in Gaul (of the thirty listed).

While it has proved difficult to date the monument, it was most certainly built after the Coliseum in Rome, probably toward the end of 1st century AD. It’s outside the town, backing into the side of the hill, a popular material-saving device.

In its heyday the amphitheatre’s capacity was 12,000 spectators, as against 5,000 today. Its exterior dimensions were 112.75 m (370 ft) by 82.65 m ( 272 ft) and the arena itself was  69.37m (226 ft) by 39.17 m (128 ft), height 21 m (69 ft) which makes it smaller than Nîmes’ but larger than Nice’s.

The monument would have been faced in green sandstone from the Estérel but, unfortunately, the facade has completely disappeared, as well as its upper tiers. The galleries’ arches are based on 2 rows of bricks (many are marked “CASTORIS”, the name of the manufacturer). Some of the arcade walls and radiating walls in sandstone still remain. Two large openings on its main axis and a small lateral one open onto the arena (“arena” in Latin means “sand”).

During excavations a cruciform pit in the centre of the arena whose function has not been determined, was found. To protect spectators from the sun, a “velarium” – a sort of awning attached to a series of supports, often made of wood – was stretched above the seating area. Under the seating are the entrances from the “carceres” (cells) – hence the word “incarceration”- which were used to hold the gladiators.

The entertainment included gladiator fights, hunting and killing of wild animals, and fighting between gladiators and animals, or just between animals. The Romans were a blood-thirsty lot.

The ruins were celebrated by Victor Hugo during his visit to Fréjus in 1839 – (En Voyage, Volume 2). He writes:

I was in the same place where 2000 years ago lions, gladiators and tigers writhed. Now the tall grass around me is grazed peacefully by a herd of lean horses…

Subsequently, the monument gradually deteriorated, being used as a bastion, stone quarry, and even a rubbish dump, which partly explains the multiple restorations visible today. After further archaeological excavations (2005 – 2008), Francesco Flavigny, chief architect of the Historical Monuments, decided to give the building back its coherence and return it to its original function as a place of entertainment. Many events and corridas take place here, although since 2010 killing has been forbidden in the Fréjus arena. I’m assuming this refers to the killing of animals but you never know…………….