Friendly Friday Challenge: something fishy

The Friendly Friday Challenge is now a fortnightly challenge co-hosted by Amanda from Something to Ponder About and Sandy from The Sandy Chronicles. 

For the next two weeks, the Friendly Friday Blog Challenge is asking us to share a story, photographs, poem or recipe on the theme: Something Fishy.

Fish have always loomed large in my life. My father was a fish wholesaler and consequently could identify a good piece of fish at 20 paces. Any holiday would always involve a trip to the local fish market with my father pointing out what to look for to ensure you were buying the freshest fish and seafood. Lessons I have never forgotten.

Obviously we ate fish regularly at home and I still have nightmares about when I was served fish fingers for lunch at a friend’s house. Apart from making the obvious coment about fish not having fingers, I was at a loss to understand how these woolly day-glo orange sticks were considered fish.

Understandably, I am very picky about the fish I eat. It has to be sustainable. I love having conversations with my local fishmonger about the provenance of his offering and on more than one occasion he’s complimented me on my knowledge – praise indeed. As an occasional fish-eating vegan, I choose where I eat fish with care. There’s surely nothing worse than overcooked fish.

So, here’s my selection for something fishy!

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This year the girls are are opening up the challenge, making its focus not purely on photography but making it a little more varied, a little more open and interesting.

How to join the Challenge

  • Write a post titled ‘Friendly Friday- xxx Prompt name xxx’ with tag ‘Friendly Friday’
  • Include a link to the original Friendly Friendly Challenge post on the host’s blog
  • Optionally, you can include the latest Friendly Friday Challenge logo. Download it here.
  • Comment on the host’s Friendly Friday post, so that other readers can find and read your response.
  • Remember to include a link to your post in your comment. This will guarantee a visit, in the event the automatic ping-back does not work.
  • Visit other Friendly Friday entries by following their links. It’s fun!
  • Follow the host blogs to see future Friendly Friday Challenges
The Benefits
  • Increase your exposure in our blogging communities
  • Inspire and be inspired by diverse blog articles
  • Challenge your creativity
  • Make new friends and keep in touch with old ones

Are you joining in this year? Go on……you know it’ll be fun!

Cee’s Flower of the Day #71

This is such an enjoyable exercise, showcasing beautiful flora – flowers, shrubs, trees, bushes and leaves – throughout the year.

Cee’s challenge is all about bringing a little beauty and colour into our daily lives. Who wouldn’t be in favour of that?

Challenge rules, why not join in?

1.Feel free to post every day or whenever you you feel like it.  You can either post new flower photos or dig back into your archives.

2. Depending on the time of year, you can post any of these types of things for your FOTD.

  • Single flowers
  • Buds
  • Multiple flowers
  • Bouquet
  • Flower fields
  • Wildflowers
  • Tree or bush blossoms
  • Autumn leaves
  • Spring leaves
  • Decorative Cabbage
  • Berries
  • Still life
  • Fake or Silk Flowers

One from the Vaults: Postcard from Pais Vasco

Sadly once again we’re not down in the Basque Country enjoying bike racing though at least I get to watch this year’s race on the television. Indeed, thanks to my beloved’s broken, hip, pressure of work and Covid, the last edition we saw was (unbelievably) 2016! Here’s what happened.

Despite the wet and windy weather we had a great time watching the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. Typically, the weather was fine both before and after the race.

Fine weather in Pais Vasco
Fine weather in Pais Vasco

With this year’s race falling after Easter, I thought I’d have no problem booking our usual hotel in Getaria.

Getaria
Getaria

Sadly, there was no room at the inn and I had to look elsewhere. That’ll teach me to give it glowing reviews on booking.com! Instead, I decided to head for the hills and picked a hotel slap bang in the middle of the race’s parcours. My beloved said I’d found possibly the wettest spot in the entire Basque country – no mean feat! However, he also agreed it was a wonderfully relaxing place with a fabulous restaurant and great WiFi.

Home from home
Home from home

We typically go the start and finish of all the stages but this year there was no WiFi available in any of the press rooms which posed rather an issue for us. On the wetter stages, we watched the riders set off, found somewhere for lunch and then headed back to the hotel to work, and watched the stage conclusion on the television. Usually, we eat lunch in the press room but the lavish pintxos buffets were much more modest this year. I like to think that savings made on the press pack were expended on better safety measures for the riders.

Lesaka
Lesaka

In any event, it gave us an opportunity to try out a number of restaurants’ midday menus which are typically 11-15 euros per head for three courses, including wine, water and coffee. I fared well – though I often had to skip dessert –  with plenty of mixed vegetable platters, salads and assorted fish dishes. I even found a restaurant in Lesaka which served a quinoa salad!

This year’s race visited regular stage venues such as Etxebarria, Markina-Xemein, Vitoria-Gasteiz and Eibar with a couple we’d not visited during previous editions such as Lesaka (in Navarre), Orio (a fishing village just outside of San Sebastian) and Gerrastatxu (a new summit finish). That said, we did spend a memorable vacation in Orio a couple of years ago and welcomed the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with the town.

This year’s edition of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco seemed particularly tough and, of course, the biting cold weather and rain made it even more treacherous. Tension was maintained until the final stage, a hilly time-trial won by Alberto Contador who also took the overall. He’s a very popular figure in Spain, even in the Basque country where they have plenty of their own riders to support. He delighted the crowd by saying he might not retire at the end of the year.

Tolosa
Tolosa
Basilica
Basilica

On our travels we also visited a couple of new places, such as Tolosa and, in particular, Azkoitia and Azpeitia with their magnificent churches and basilica, many honouring Inigo de Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.

San Sebastian
San Sebastian

We also found time to have a quick wander around the old town of San Sebastian, to which we’ll return at the end of July for the Clasica San Sebastian. But that’s not all. We’ll have a third visit to the Basque country, to Bilbao, in early September during the Vuelta a Espana.

Thursday doors #111

I’m finally hors doors and am going to be dipping into my archives for red doors, posh doors, really really old doors, wrought iron doors, gates, church doors etc etc

Here is another curated selection this time it’s of rather handsome old wooden 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 Dan’s site https://nofacilities.com, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

Cee’s Flower of the Day #70

This is such an enjoyable exercise, showcasing beautiful flora – flowers, shrubs, trees, bushes and leaves – throughout the year.

Cee’s challenge is all about bringing a little beauty and colour into our daily lives. Who wouldn’t be in favour of that?

Challenge rules, why not join in?

1.Feel free to post every day or whenever you you feel like it.  You can either post new flower photos or dig back into your archives.

2. Depending on the time of year, you can post any of these types of things for your FOTD.

  • Single flowers
  • Buds
  • Multiple flowers
  • Bouquet
  • Flower fields
  • Wildflowers
  • Tree or bush blossoms
  • Autumn leaves
  • Spring leaves
  • Decorative Cabbage
  • Berries
  • Still life
  • Fake or Silk Flowers

The House where James lived…….

As you know I love trawling through property porn magazines and this property, previously owned by Sean Connery aka the James Bond, caught my eye. The six-bedroom, five-floor seafront mansion is on the market for €30 million (£27 million, $34 million).

Even though all of Nice is a tribute to the Belle Epoque, featuring homes that symbolise the golden age of the Côte d’Azur, Villa Le Roc Fleuri is truly one of the city’s most mythical. The facades of these Côte d’Azur villas, châteaux, and palaces, such as the Negresco, the region’s equivalent of the Eiffel Tower, are decorated like wedding cakes. Their glimmering reception halls bear witness to the intense lifestyle and carefree ways of the British, American, Russian, Italian and French aristocracy for whom they were built with great extravagance between the start of 20th century and the Belle Epoque era.

Villa Le Roc Fleuri

Built in 1928, Villa Le Roc Fleuri sits on top of the Cap de Nice overlooking the Port de Nice and Baie des Anges. Sean Connery, famous for bringing 007 to life, bought the rock-side mansion with his second wife, the painter Michelle Roquebrune, living there throughout the 1970s and 80s.

In 1983, it was even the set of some scenes in Never Say Never Again, Connery’s last film as James Bond.

The villa’s luxury features

The property boasts 1000m2 (10,000 sq ft) of living space, with a further 5000m2 (50,000 sq ft)  of newly renovated terraced gardens running down to the sea. Two guest houses, one of which is currently used as a studio, are located on the grounds.

With an indoor infinity pool, outdoor saltwater swimming pool as well as a spa and gym, it truly is the house in which you would expect to see James Bond drinking a martini – shaken, not stirred. Although the property has since changed hands, neighbours still call it “Sean Connery’s house”.

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The saltwater outdoor pool of Villa Le Roc Fleuri © Knight Frank
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The infinity pool at Villa Le Roc Fleuri © Knight Frank

Stone steps lead you into a covered outdoor reception area, with mosaic tiling at the front door and in the grand reception and entrance hall. The floor-to-ceiling windows show off the mesmerising views of the the Riviera’s coastline.

The master bedroom, which has two bathrooms, comprises the mansion’s entire top floor and is accessible by a private cage elevator, decorated in wrought iron flowers. Four other bedrooms span across the mansion’s six floors, three of which include a walk-in wardrobe and dressing room.

The style is resolutely retro, with decor incorporating Art Deco elements with natural materials from the region.

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The art deco interiors and wrought iron staircases and cage elevators of the Villa © Knight Frank

Adjoining the main villa is a two-car garage with a self-contained staff apartment above. With automatic gates set into stone towers, the villa is very private despite its main position on Cap de Nice.

A unique Bond-esque dream

Describing it as “one of a kind,” Knight Frank suggests the property possesses an almost literary quality.

There’s definitely some Bondness to it. Even some Gatsby. There’s nothing like it and very few properties anywhere with this style, this size, with as large a garden as this or the space.

Once you’ve visited, you can easily imagine yourself standing in the long drive when friends come by, greeting them with a bottle of champagne in your hand like Mr. Gatsby or a Martini like Mr Bond.

Now, where did I put my cheque book?

Cee’s Flower of the Day #69

This is such a lovely exercise, showcasing beautiful flora – flowers, shrubs, trees, bushes and leaves – throughout the year.

Cee’s challenge is all about bringing a little beauty and colour into our daily lives. Who wouldn’t be in favour of that?

Challenge rules, why not join in?

1.Feel free to post every day or whenever you you feel like it.  You can either post new flower photos or dig back into your archives.

2. Depending on the time of year, you can post any of these types of things for your FOTD.

  • Single flowers
  • Buds
  • Multiple flowers
  • Bouquet
  • Flower fields
  • Wildflowers
  • Tree or bush blossoms
  • Autumn leaves
  • Spring leaves
  • Decorative Cabbage
  • Berries
  • Still life
  • Fake or Silk Flowers

Wordless Wednesday #80

2021’s  Wordless Wednesday is going to feature photos from my trips to Australia. Here’s one from 2019’s #adventuredownunder. Goodness knows when I’ll be able to add to these. I’m kinda hoping to visit again in 2022-23.

Things about France that surprised me: love of Nutella

I’ve already discussed the surpising French love of le hamburger and pizza. This week I’m sticking with the (Easter) chocolate theme and (frankly) milking it for all it’s worth!

What REALLY goes into a jar of Nutella | Daily Mail Online

Surprisingly there’s nothing France loves more than Nutella – at least according to a 2020 review of the most-sold groceries in French shops (apart from wine). It was not only the most sold product – the brand dominated half of the top 10 rankings. Claiming the top spot, the Nutella 1kg (2lb) pot generated €40 million worth of sales in 2020. The 1kg chocolate pot was so popular that it outranked butter, black coffee and toilet paper.

Fifth was the 975g pot of Nutella, with turnover of €31 million, followed closely by Nutella 750g (€30 million and Nutella 400g (also €30 million). Then in 10th spot Nutella biscuits, the only non-pot version of the brand on the list. The study presumably didn’t even take account of sales of supermarket own-brands or organic versions of the ubiquitous chocolate spread.

Allegedly, the French eat 26% of the world consumption of Nutella equivalent to about 75,000 tons per annum!

Quelle surprise! Nutella is not even a French product. This brand of sweetened hazelnut cocoa spread is manufactured by the Italian company Ferrero – yes, they of the sickly Ferrero Rocher choclates –  and was first introduced in 1964. It’s so popular in France that it has its own manaufacturing capability in Villers-Écalles.

France’s longstanding love affair with the chocolate spread Nutella is a faithful kind that begins, for many, at childhood and lasts for life. French children smear the hazelnut paste onto their bread in the morning, some dip the tartine in a bowl of chocolate milk. Adults might lay off the topping during the week, but few can resist that occasional tartine de nutella. And let’s not forget the absolute classic: crèpes de Nutella. French people eat it by the spoonful to connect with their inner child.

You might remember that back in 2018, a 70% discount on Nutella at the Intermarché supermarket chain turned into a ‘riot’, with customers jostling and battling each other to get their hands on the pots.

And even though in reality it was more like a feeding frenzy than a riot, France’s passion is in no doubt.

Would there have been the same reaction to jars of pickles, such as cornichons? Certainly not! Nutella is pure pleasure for children and to offer it at a bargain price obviously attracts lots of customers. Still, although it may seem bizarre to many, it’s nice to know the French can still surprise us from time to time.

Let’s leave the final word on the subject to French President Emmanuel Macron:

Cee’s Flower of the Day #68

This is such a fun challenge, showcasing beautiful flora – flowers, shrubs, trees, bushes and leaves – throughout the year.

Cee’s challenge is all about bringing a little beauty and colour into our daily lives. Who wouldn’t be in favour of that?

Challenge rules, why not join in?

1.Feel free to post every day or whenever you you feel like it.  You can either post new flower photos or dig back into your archives.

2. Depending on the time of year, you can post any of these types of things for your FOTD.

  • Single flowers
  • Buds
  • Multiple flowers
  • Bouquet
  • Flower fields
  • Wildflowers
  • Tree or bush blossoms
  • Autumn leaves
  • Spring leaves
  • Decorative Cabbage
  • Berries
  • Still life
  • Fake or Silk Flowers