A busy month of eclectic experiences starting with the city – looking from the 6th floor of the Pompidou Centre  across the panorama . . .

. . . and looking down onto a canopy of plane trees. Here to see . .

Cy Twombly’s work from a career spanning 60 years. It was a marvellous exhibition; sadly over now. ‘Untitled’ painted in Rome during his minimal and conceptual phase in 1970’s to . . .

the ‘Rose Series’ Gaeta 2008 drawn from influence/ inspiration/ silent dialogue with Rilke’s poems. Stunning and thought provoking and an exhibition that has kicked me into reading Homer again – what a delight.

City to coast and plant buying. As equally pleasurable as being immersed in paintings. At Pépinière Filippi, plants suitable for dry gardening are displayed in a garden setting  – this below is perhaps yucca spp – possibly Yucca rostrata  – as well as . . .

. . . in the nursery. I can’t describe the excitement and anticipation of seeing  lines of pots and the plants that they hold  – mad I know.

And then it’s off to Bouzigues for some seafood to be enjoyed with a good view of Sète.

Coast to country and walking for a few days in the Cévennes. Through the chestnut woods and over streams passing dry stone walls coated in mosses and lichen. Moss is a plant but lichen a type of fungus needing algae so a symbiotic relationship . . .

. . . we encountered some history too – a group of huts set on a plateau -restored in hommage to the protestants who fought in the Camisards’ War in early 18th C. They fought a guerilla warfare ambushing the King’s men and them melting back into the wooded countryside. Locals also hid in the the buildings in the 1940’s  – the Nazis being too lazy to climb through the dense landscape.

In Saint Hilaire-de-Lavit, forgotten vehicles and a wondrous chêne vert in the graveyard . . .

. . . and iris and wisteria still in bloom.

May Day is celebrated in the village with a Marché des Fleurs under the  55 plane trees – my front garden – which shade the colourful displays. Some are very bright . . .

. . . some less so . . .

and some are quite discreet. The poem from Rilke should wrap this post up well. à bientôt.

Rose

so cherished by our

customs

dedicated to our memories

became almost imaginary

for being so linked

to

our

dreams  Rainer Maria Rilke

town and country

January 4, 2017

uzes

The Wednesday morning market in Place aux Herbes in Uzès displays many produits du terroirs, regional products and specialties. It’s a more compact affair, so easier to negotiate and altogether a more satisfying experience than the Saurday jamboree. Now, in winter, the architecture lining the narrow emptier streets is also easier to appreciate – stand back, look up and admire.

uzes-2

ferula

Look across, breathe in and admire here too, south of the town, in the Gorges du Gardon. Ferula stems of last year’s plants still stand tall although brittle and with a feeling of just about hanging on . . .

gardon-from-west

. . . the Gard flowing from the west into a horse shoe curve and then bending out again to the east and on under Pont du Gard until it slips into the Rhone, I’ve posted about about this much loved walk previously .  . . .

gardon-flowing-east-to-meet-rhone

elder

. . . the winter sun highlights details like the dried fruits on the elder and the new growth of ferula . . .

ferula-new-growth

From this panorama point le point de vue des castellas, a man made cave is visible used by the rock climbers who hang disjointedly like Looby Loo all along the south facing aspect.

cave-long-view

cave

The interior of the cave required a figure for purposes of scale but the view from this point was safer sans figure.

gardon-from-cave

Neraby at the Galerie Marina, glimpses of the countryside still in skeletal mode  . . .

galerie-marina

. . . and inside with Robert Lobet and inspirational work.

robert-lobet

You do not seem to realize that beauty is a liability rather
than
an asset – that in view of the fact that spirit creates form
we are justified in supposing
that you must have brains. For you, a symbol of the
unit, stiff and sharp,
conscious of surpassing by dint of native superiority and
liking for everything
self-dependent, anything an

ambitious civilization might produce: for you, unaided, to
attempt through sheer
reserve, to confuse presumptions resulting from
observation, is idle. You cannot make us
think you a delightful happen-so. But rose, if you are
brilliant, it
is not because your petals are the without-which-nothing
of pre-eminence. Would you not, minus
thorns, be a what-is-this, a mere
perculiarity? They are not proof against a worm, the
elements, or mildew;
but what about the predatory hand? What is brilliance
without co-ordination? Guarding the
infinitesimal pieces of your mind, compelling audience to
the remark that it is better to be forgotten than to be re-
membered too violently,
your thorns are the best part of you. Marianne Moore Roses Only

 

 

arrangements ou compositions

September 19, 2015

trolley

Say it in English or in French – this post is about the placement of items in an attractive manner – some to tantalise, attract in the hope of a purchase or  just please in the aesthetic sense – whoever arranged these knows instinctively that the viewer will appreciate the effort. But maybe some compositions have been arrived at haphazardly . . .

bar

. . . it’s a quiet morning in Les Halles in Avignon so an opportunity to take in and admire the arrangements and compositions inside and also outside . . . ..

bowls

garlic

onions

baskets

 

bread

bread 2

sausages

olives 2

olives

salads

spices 2

spices

. . . as it’s Tuesday the unoccupied fish tank becomes an installation in its own right and rarely seen.

fish tank

Outside in Place Pie, this figure was for investigation . . .

mannequin rear

. . .  even more eccentric from the front.

mannequin front

heads

silks

Ah, all so eclectic.

doll

My mind is like a clamorous market-place.
   All day in wind, rain, sun, its babel wells;
   Voice answering to voice in tumult swells.
Chaffering and laughing, pushing for a place,
My thoughts haste on, gay, strange, poor, simple, base;
   This one buys dust, and that a bauble sells:
   But none to any scrutiny hints or tells
The haunting secrets hidden in each sad face.
The clamour quietens when the dark draws near;
   Strange looms the earth in twilight of the West,
Lonely with one sweet star serene and clear,
   Dwelling, when all this place is hushed to rest,
   On vacant stall, gold, refuse, worst and best,
Abandoned utterly in haste and fear.  Walter de la Mare.

 

 

les halles olive stall

Things other than landscapes have taken my eye recently. Day to day occurrences and visual flashes add to the experience of all I’ve come to value about life here in the Gard. The senses seem to be heightened – food, of course, looks as appetising as it can be even before the pleasure of the tasting . . . .

les halles fruits

. . . Les Halles in Nîmes, the central covered market, offers not just stalls but also one of the best places to eat –  Halles Auberge – busy, well priced  and positioned where the ongoing life of the market can be viewed over a plate of coquillages. Pieds et paquets and Agrillade St.Gilloise are also on offer.

huitres

halles auberge

Just opposite les Halles is a marvel. A shop like shops used to be when I was young – a long time ago. Appetising from the outside and even more so once inside . . .

droguerie

pigments 1

pigments 2

pigments 3

. . . all the pigments that anyone  could wish for. Rich, appetising and electrifying colours can be seen in Claude Viallat’s work in the permanent exhibition at the Carré d’Art – Musée d’Art Contemporain – plus a powerful piece from Gerhard Richter which sucked me into the detail of the application of paint.

viallat

richter

arenes

Near the Arènes, hoardings screen a building site that will eventually become the Musée de la Romanité, meanwhile this stencil on the hoarding seems to evokes the sadness of the bull fighter – the arena is the stage. The fear of the performance or the possible outcome or just Spanish melancholia – I know nothing of this. What I do know and like are the swatches of silk as shown the Musée du Vieux Nîmes where the history of denim ( yes, it came from those associated with Nîmes) is well explained. Swatches of colourful cottons caught my eye nearby on daily visits to the Bar des Beaux Arts in Place des Herbes for a noissette.

soies

cottons

villaret

Maison Villaret has delightful window displays that entreat you to enter, admire and taste what’s on offer. The small pile of marzipan crocodiles shouldn’t be disturbed but maybe the tower of crystallised fruits can be.  . . . .

villaret 2

camion2

. . and to finish off a couple of camion – swiftly disappearing from the roads now. I felt Gilbert, artisan peintre, would be totally trustworthy and execute his work with integrity – great marketing. And in Uzès, another more modest vehicle that sat well with the surroundings and colour wise reminded me of the vernacular.

camion 1

olive tree

Per solatz revelhar,

Que s’es trop enformitz,     

E per pretz, qu’es faiditz

Acolhir e tornar,   

Me cudei trebalhar’                    

‘To wake delight once more

That’s been too long asleep,

And worth that’s exiled deep

To gather and restore:

These thoughts I’ve laboured for’   Guiraut de Bornelh

wall 1

Place Pie is one of Avignon’s main squares bordered by churches, many bars and restaurants, shops and the covered market, Les Halles. The market is on the ground floor of a 5 level parking garage which forms a portion of the north facing side. This facade has a most decorative finish.

wall small image

Running through the slanted 3 dimensional swirls of planted crocks, resembling cliff side terrain, runs 20 m of Iris japonica. Inside, early morning, there’s an opportunity to delve into more sumptuous delights also beautifully and skilfully laid out. The French are masters at presentation. Regular and perfectly formed shapes . . . .

legumes 1

. . . and the knobbly and irregular forms of organic produce.

legumes organic 2

Poor picture I’m afraid of the display of hats above the boulangerie stall.

pain 1

salade 1

Fresh leaves from the countryside and hams and salamis from Italy . . .

italian

. . the spice stall smells as good as it looks – full of eastern promise with cones of colourful,  dry and grainy powdery textures – great contrast to slippery shells on the coquillages stall.

epices

coquillages

To finish the meal, fruits confits and calissons from down the road in Aix en Provence.

fruits confits

calissons

Back outside, th dry seed heads float in front of the high roof. It’s a green tone landscape in early January . . .

wall 3

. . . but three hundred different species are planted on the 600 sq.m. surface. The image below shows the newly planted vertical garden. The wide expanse offered up an opportunity for Patrick Blanc to flex his artistic muscles and create a stunning horticultural canvas. Surprisingly dwarf conifers are included in the palette along with more usual suspects – cistus, helianthemum, salvia, dianthus and cytisus – now meshed together as the small leaved micraflora of algae flourished along with mosses and ferns.

wall just planted

Two alcoves on either side conjure up the effect of a rocky labyrinth as against a piece of flat tapestry style planting.

wall summer landscape

wall summer

When over the flowery, sharp pasture’s
edge, unseen, the salt ocean

lifts its form-chicory and daisies
tied, released, seem hardly flowers alone

but color and the movement-or the shape
perhaps-of restlessness, whereas

the sea is circled and sways
peacefully upon its plantlike stem.    William Carlos Williams  Flowers By The Sea

silver of the sea

November 25, 2012

Strange light this morning bouncing off the moving silvery mass of the unknown. It’s a big sea again, and has been for a week, buffeting winds bringing the weather from the west so it’s a good idea not to be deceived by the sun.

This week-end a new festival was born. Following on from the seafood festival in September, this is an entirely local event focused on the Hastings fishing fleet.  I remembered that the first post on this blog was centred on the fishing activity here too. The weather, in fact,  set the scene well . . .

A fresh catch – an army, glean or shoal – on display and also methods of preserving or curing.

The blessing of the nets and the singing of shanties by those with beards!

Hands on cooking and also appetising displays of smoked herring, bloaters, mackeral and salmon. This is Sonny’s forte. Tonight, I’m attempting Herrings in Oatmeal with Bacon  – a Rick Stein recipe –  in celebration and to support the locals.

Clouds doing funny things out in the open – looking through the marquees to East Hill  . . . .

. . . and back to West Hill. The sky and the sea  – a fast-moving landscape. The poem, just the beginning of The Moose, to fit the theme but consider reading it all – a perfect piece of verse

From narrow provinces
of fish and bread and tea,
home of the long tides
where the bay leaves the sea
twice a day and takes
the herrings long rides,

where if the river
enters or retreats
in a wall of brown foam
depends on if it meets
the bay coming in,
the bay not at home;

where, silted red,
sometimes the sun sets
facing a red sea,
and others, veins the flats’
lavender, rich mud
in burning rivulets;  Elizabeth Bishop  The Moose

in the market

September 23, 2012

Attractive colours like the Italian flag on this display of onions at the weekly market in Place Émile-Zola in Béziers. Spheres, squares and fluted lines of green. In the last couple of weeks, the odd stall features ceps for sale – not quite sure the variety and not much information comes from the stall holder but perhaps there’s an assumption all is understood and known. The soft brown caps are strokeable but that wouldn’t go down too well . . .

 . . . strokeable as well, but appear scared of being on view. Not to buy as a pet presumably and unfortunately . . . . . . .

 . .  the poultry likewise. 

In the next street, on offer are chemises de nuits . . .

 . . and couvertures lits. How to choose? Look quite scary to me.

The stall on the corner by the bins is tastefully laid out with carefully selected produce. Not too much of anything but just enough to attract and with lovely bunches of mixed flowers. I want everything on this stall – that’s good marketing I guess.

Gooses, geeses
I want my geese to lay gold eggs for easter
At least a hundred a day
And by the way

I want a feast
I want a bean feast
Cream buns and doughnuts
And fruitcake with no nuts
So good you could go nuts

No, now

I want a ball
I want a party
Pink macaroons
And a million balloons
And performing baboons and
Give it to me now

I want the world
I want the whole world
I want to lock it
All up in my pocket
It’s my bar of chocolate
Give it to me now

I want today
I want tomorrow
I want to wear ’em
Like braids in my hair and
I don’t want to share ’em

I want a party with roomfuls of laughter
Ten thousand tons of ice cream
And if I don’t get the things I am after
I’m going to scream

I want the works
I want the whole works
Presents and prizes
And sweets and surprises
Of all shapes and sizes

And now

Don’t care how, I want it now
Don’t care how, I want it now Roald Dahl I Want It Now

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