31 Oct 2009

A weekend of Lodève and Joan Baez

Friends from Fremantle - Ron and Gaye - who have an apartment in Lodève, have been in France these last couple of months. We’ve managed to catch up here in Bize a few times – and consequently had a very social time doing it.

Incidentally, they have been keeping a blog of their own about their stay here, with some lovely photos of Spain. They’ve convinced me that Bilbao and San Sebastian are a must-see, so that will have to go on my increasing list of ‘places I would like to visit’.

Last weekend I went over to Lodève and spent a very pleasant weekend in their stomping ground, so to speak. Doesn’t do me any harm at all to move out of my comfort zone!

Their apartment in Lodeve
And while I’m very biased about this region and this lovely village, of course I can accept that there are many beautiful places here in France – and Lodève and the surrounding countryside are just that.

Very different – the vines peter out as it’s a fair bit higher, and you actually get to see a bit of livestock – non-existent in most of the Languedoc of course. Here, it’s grapevines and then more grapevines. Now why did I decide to settle here…?

Lodève itself is a town of about 7,000 people with a great Saturday market. We wandered into the cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Fulcran de Lodève) and were greatly amused to hear chopsticks being played by a young boy up the front of the church!

The highlight of the weekend was the Joan Baez concert in Montpellier – even better, it was a free concert being held outdoors, at the end of a week-long guitar festival.
We drove down to Montpellier – about a 40 minute trip, and did a park-and-tram ride into the centre of town. We were very organised – packed sandwiches for dinner, and arrived in plenty of time to get a space fairly close to the stage.

We were in fact just behind a small fence, on a grassed mound that was high enough for the vertically challenged (i.e. me) to get a great view across the sea of heads.

There was a young guy standing immediately in front of us. He smoked about 4 or 5 joints in the first hour or so of the concert and was enjoying himself immensely. And then he decided he could play a game of chess, and still have a great time. And that’s exactly what he did!

And as I’ve mentioned before, October has been (and is continuing to be) incredibly warm. A few weeks ago there was a frost, and we figured we’re well and truly into autumn weather, heading towards winter – and it all turned around again. We’ve been basking in mid- and sometimes high-twenties. A little bizarre really, but certainly no complaints.

Anyway, the weather on the night was amazing – we were all prepared for a cold evening, and ended up in shirt-sleeves for the duration. And Joan Baez gave a great concert to a very enthusiastic crowd of perhaps 20,000 people.

Fantastic ……………..

The archway (Arc de Triomphe or Porte du Peyrou),
leading to the Esplanade du Peyrou, the venue for the concert.

28 Oct 2009


The latest addition to my garden (well, garage actually) – is a worm farm! I’ve wanted one for ages and did some research on the net and found a supplier in Pezenas. It was interesting to find that it’s the brand Can-O-Worms, designed and manufactured in Australia.

I called into the factory on the day we (Neil and Jane and I) were heading up to the Millau Bridge. The woman who served us spoke good English and told us the story of how she came to be importing them into France. She worked near Sydney for about five years, and came into contact with them there, and saw a business opportunity.

And now she has a successful recycling/composting business that employs five people, breeds worms and supplies them with the worm farms. She has also done the ground work to getting local communes (councils) and schools involved. A nice story.

So, as I was buying one for Margaret who lives in the village, it was a rather tight fit in the car with three adults and two of these things – they’re rather cumbersome. And it was Neil who ended up squashed in the back seat with the worms, hoping there weren't going to be any escapees…..
Because I bought two farms, I was given a book on worms as a bonus. So my bedtime reading at the moment is Worms Eat my Garbage !

And two weeks after set-up, mine seems to be going great guns. The instructions advise all the types of things that can be fed to them, and suggests that the smaller things are cut up, the easier it is for the worms.

Now Neil took this very seriously, and can be seen here carefully cutting avocado skin into manageable size pieces!!

He made a real good job of the cardboard insert of the toilet rolls, (the woman at the factory said it was a real treat for them!.....) Sadly, I didn’t get to record that on film. He and Jane and are so impressed with the setup, they’re going to buy themselves one in Scotland.

I debated about taking a photo of the worms at work, and decided that a picture of my kitchen scraps being composted probably wasn’t in good taste….

But I can report everything seems to be going according to plan, and hopefully soon I will have worm castings for the garden/pot plants, and liquid fertiliser on tap!

27 Oct 2009

The Scots were in town . . . .

I’ve just had a visit from my Scottish friends Jane and Neil. This is their second visit – they were here back in April 2007. They’re now back in Bonnie Scotland with instructions not to leave it such a long time between visits.

A few trips out and about – the Millau Bridge (failed to take any photos this time!) and a side trip to Roquefort where we bought – yes – blue cheeses!

We also managed to get to the medieval village of Mirepoix where the annual apple festival was being held. Each year there are sculptures made of apples, and this year the theme was 'music'.

Jane and I tried the most divine freshly squeezed apple juice, Neil preferring to take his fermented (cider) and then watched the apples being pressed the old-fashioned way.

And interestingly, there was also a bit of line dancing / boot scooting happening which kept us amused for a while!

Because we're having a run of beautiful weather – very warm for October – we decided to do a BBQ and have the family and a few friends around.

It was also a chance to say farewell to a few of those friends who are (fortunately temporarily) departing la belle France – Bonnie and Terry from the nearby village of Agel who have now left for States for a few months; Bernie and Shayne from Capestang who are soon headed back to Australia for a spell, and Duff who is returning to Algeria for his 4-weekly work rotation.
One loaf, with plenty left over for the freezer!

Now, Neil and Jane are the sort of guests who are not only great company, but are damned fine hands in the kitchen. They made hosting the bbq for 13 people a veritable doddle.

And here they are amongst the smoke – looking after the cooking side of things. And Neil’s overnight-marinated pieces of foil-wrapped salmon were a huge success.

21 Oct 2009


Each year, the village group do long-ish trip to another country, and then later in the year a shorter break to somewhere relatively close by. And last week, the short trip was across to Provence for 5 days.

Now even though I’ve visited a few times, each time was either a quick visit or just passing through, and I hadn’t really seen a great deal of the countryside or villages.

So, needless to say, it was a very busy few days, staying in the same hotel in the lovely coastal town of Sainte Maxime for four nights, and heading out in a different direction each day.

The company – as always – was convivial, and the weather was stunning. However, there was one day when we had a real taste of the infamous Mistral wind, but not bad enough to interfere with our day’s plans.

So what follows here is really a few ‘holiday snaps’ and video clips. I’m getting a bit behind the eight-ball with these posts, and have a few more to write up!

Street name - Rompecul (or rompe cul) literally means
'break your backside' - to put it politely - and
is the name of the street in the photo above .....
This little boulangerie is actually in the village
of Olonzac, 10 mins from here - but just thought
I'd include it as it's such a great little shop.

How to lose 'street cred' when mooring
your boat near St Tropez ....
Port Grimaud
Gorges du Verdon (this great photo is from
Wikipedia - mine didn't turn out anywhere near
as good, and didn't do the scenery justice).

Moving sideways

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