Tour de France, junior varsity team

The house we are renting comes with 2 bicycles, at our request.

It seemed like a lovely idea at the time…the French countryside, endless vineyards and olive trees, dry, sunny days that went on forever, and we two cycling leisurely, baguette and wine in our side bags.

Hold that image!

The truth is we are tired and sleeping late.  Breakfast on the terrace is full of fresh croissants, homemade jam, fruit, sheep’s milk yogurt, and dark, strong espresso.  By then the Mediterranean sun is getting high in the sky, the village cobblestones are warming up and voilà, who feels like getting on a bicycle at that point, I ask you? Continue reading

St. Jean de Buèges, France

There is a very small village in the Languedoc Rousillon region of France that is now our home for a month. Simply by putting our suitcases into our house we raised the local population from 109 to 111 for the month of September. Yes, very small village.

This is a necessary slowing down, a putting on the brakes that can only be done when everyone around you is doing the same…when the lifestyle dictates the road speed. It’s noon…go home and eat lunch…you may as well lie down a bit, too, because nothing opens again until 2:00.

Yes, the lifestyle posts the road signs…and we plan to obey every rule!


Weekly Photo Challenge: FROM ABOVE

This week’s Photo Challenge, to photograph something FROM ABOVE, instead of straight on, from the side, or any other angle allows me to show you pictures of the thing I (unknowingly?) seem to photograph a lot…Food.


Hmmm…now if you’ll excuse me, I suddenly got very hungry!


Weekly Photo Challenge: CULTURE

CULTURE  has countless meanings, depending on where you are standing at the moment.  Here, in my home in the U.S., I (love to) think of something ‘other’…international…different from ‘American Culture‘.

So, in photos I have chosen to show one of my favorite cities…Istanbul…with a culture all its own…different, even, from surrounding countries because of its unique geographical position straddling two continents…part of the city in Europe, part in Asia, across the Bosphorus.

Istanbul is a striking study of East meets West…centuries-old iconic structures and mosques…

schoolchildren in uniform with iPod buds in their ears…and my favorite moment that I was too slow to capture…a burka-clad young woman on a moped!

Extra-ordinary! Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: UP

The Pic du Midi, in the Midi-Pyrénées of France, remains for me one of the most spectacular points on earth.  It’s beauty is how it scrapes the sky, and the stillness and calm that accompanies being UP 2877 meters (9439 ft) in the air.


Pic du Midi Observatory started its life in 1878…people Climbed to the top…with equipment! and completed construction in cable car until 1952!  The extremely sophisticated telescopes and equipment at the top have been instrumental (pun intended) for scientists around the world, including NASA, and now that it is open to the public, accessible by a two cable car ride, it feels like a sanctuary in the sky.  People actually whisper, not to disturb the silence.

It is not the highest peak in the world, nor as famous as some of its cousins to the east…and perhaps that is the attraction.  Straddling the border between France and Spain, its telescopes peer deep into space.  One can overnight there, and I’m certain that is truly a ‘peek’ into heaven.

An aside…there Is a restaurant at the top of this ascent…no ‘golden arches’, rather a lovely restaurant serving either a two or three course meal, including wine. This Is France, after all…never mind that we are 9,439 feet above sea level, a proper meal is a proper meal.

Here is  video of the ascent from the village of La Mongie at the bottom all the way UP.  At minute 4:17 you can begin to see the Observatory at the top.



Weekly Photo Challenge: CHANGE

As they say in France, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”  (The more things change, the more they remain the same)

Often the smallest changes produce the greatest impact.  The large ones, well…”Plus ça change…”

When we were very young, my brother, sister and I would pile into the family station wagon each summer for our annual road trip to…somewhere reachable by car.  My father got the greatest enjoyment out of stopping as we crossed the state line from Pennsylvania to New York and saying, “See kids…see how different it is here…isn’t it grand in New York State?”  We would look behind us, at the sprawling green hills and trees, look in front of us, at the sprawling green hills and trees, and slowly, eyeing each other for a spark of insight, mumble, yyyesss.

And onward to state lines up and down the seaboard.  (Was our entire road trip one big inside joke for my father?  Anyway, that’s a whole other story)

And So went the CHANGES we noticed crossing provincial lines and country borders between (and within) France and Spain…back and forth, hugging the border.  The signs signaled a CHANGE, not so the countryside.

Now the food…

Ch ch ch changes…


Weekly Photo Challenge: COLOUR

This week’s Photo Challenge is COLOUR.  I have taken the liberty of changing the spelling to the proper English spelling, in honour of my Canadian (member of the Commonwealth) husband’s birthday today.  Happy Birthday, honey…hope you like your gift. (this is it)

I Love the colour found in Nature…the brightest, truest colors.  We found some brilliant colours all around us while on a trip to Wales.  I’ve been paying very close attention to green lately, and how Many different shadings and hues there are.  A description of the countryside as ‘green’ totally misses just how rich and abundant the colours really are.