Saturday, December 30, 2006

Frosty Coating

Frosty Coating

For the moment the frosty mornings have gone and the weather is a little milder but I still wanted to post another 'frosty pic' as the designs were fantastic. Everything had a coating of frost.

We did not have a white Christmas with snow but with frost!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Red Frost

Red Frost

I have been fascinated by the shape, color and exquisite design that the frost has been forming on plants, berries and leaves in the garden. I may post more images because I find them such a pleasure to look at - nature being a wonderful thing and all that.

We have has a few days of very cold frosty weather although this morning there is no frost, but lots of lovely sunshine.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Frost Lines

Frost Lines

We did have a white Christmas, one made of frost, and it made some amazing photographs once the mist lifted and the sun came out.

We leave a lot of the plants with seeds uncut until springtime to help feed the birds, these ones are a little frosted but there are lots of seed under there.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

The Crệche is complete.

Merry Christmas - Joyeux Noël

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Santa Claus

Santa Claus

Santa Claus is on his way! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

I saw him this morning talking with some children in the village of Bessières just down the road from where we live.

What fun to listen to the children asking him for the presents they wanted for Christmas. I thought about getting into line but in the end realised I had already been given my Christmas joy just listening to the children.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Door

The Door

A little like the doors, or is it windows, on an Advent Calendar only this exquisite door can be found in the town of Gaillac.

The carving is beautiful and I believe is one of the entrances to the Abbey of St.Michel in Gaillac.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Frosty Morning

Frosty Morning

It is not the first frosty morning we have had, although there have not been many, and of course we are only a couple of days away from the official start of winter.

The freezing weather lasted most of the day and I was able to get this shot of a Pyrocanthia, the orange berry variety, with a nice frosty coating.

Oooh! it's getting cold. Wonder if we will have snow for Christmas?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

French Bread

French Bread

Because there was no bread did Marie Antoinette really say "let them eat cake"?

I believe the consensus is that she did not say that sometime before the French Revolution, but the French certainly love their bread be it baguette or all the other choice shapes that are available.

I have to say that there is nothing to beat a fresh baguette from the Boulagerie with a liberal coating of fresh butter from the market.

This photograph was taken in a market town in the Pyrenees.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Pyrenees

The Pyrenees

Where we live up above the flat Tarn valley not far from Toulouse on a clear day we have a spectacular view of the Pyerneen Mountains which is also the border with Spain. The Pyrenees lie about 200 Miles south of us and in certain light they seem so close.

At this time of year they are snow capped and I know that they need more snow for the ski season to get well under way. Our weather is still unusually mild and it feels more like the first week of November instead of the week before Christmas.

This is a photograph taken a bit closer to the mountains and in full summer.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Garden Worker

Garden Worker

OK, so it is a set up. My wife took this yesterday when I was cleaning leaves and cutting the grass, obviously not at the same time but it made for a better photograph!

We had our first morning frost yesterday and then a beautiful sunny rest of the day. It still does not feel like winter and here we are so close to Christmas and the garden looks like an autumn garden if you know what I mean.

Photograph by Ghislaine James.

Still have trouble posting so I am missing days - if I had more time I would look at Wordpress - perhaps in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Sunset clouds south of France

Sunset clouds south of France

I have been asked is this picture/colors real, and the answer is yes!

Sunset clouds south of France was photographed in Les Corbières region of the south of France. It was just one of those amazing color sunsets. The sky and clounds were on fire.

It is not a recent photograph and I am using images that I already have. The reason is I am having problems since changing over to Bogger Beta and sometimes I just can't get an image posted. I am missing days and getting a wee bit frustrated.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Luca Sitting Up

Luca sitting up

As some of you know from time to time I post a photograph of our grandson Luca. And here he is sitting up and I am sure wanting to get up to all sorts of mischief.

He is with his mum visiting his grandmother and family in Brazil and is due back to the UK on Christmas eve.

Here he is photographed overlooking the beach at Recife in northern Brazil.

Photo by his Mum Izabel James.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Chistmas Shopping

Chistmas Shopping

One Sunday when we lived in Paris, well in fact we lived in Montreuil, we walked down towards the Château de Vincennes, near Paris, we came across a lovely shop selling toys. It was a magic moment because it was great playing with the toys!!

I just had to post this image because the way the dolls had been displayed was fabulous.

The name and address of the shop is Le Petit Bonhomme de Bois, Avenue de Paris, Vincennes. They also have shops in Paris as well.

Not too many shops like this in Réal!!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Olive Oil

Olive Oil

Olive oil? Well not quite but we did manage to pick nearly 60 kilo's of olives which we took to an olive mill near to Narbonne down on the Mediterranean coast and we ended up with over 6 liters of cold pressed virgin olive oil - not bad eh?

This is the post I made on October 25th Olive Tree and there were a few question about olives on that post which I thought would be better answered with some additional information about olives.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Autumn Colors

Autumn Colors

On those spectacular days when the sun shines on autumn days and shows the vines as they turn all manner of reds, browns and rustic colors, the wine season for this year is over. Soon the work will begin for next years crop.

This photograph was taken overlooking the village of Durban in Les Corbières in the south of France. The changing vines can be seen in the foreground. It is not far from where we live in Réal, a couple of hours drive, but the countryside is very different and it is part of the magic that is France.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Spring Buds


Yes I know we are heading into winter in the northern hemisphere but the picture story goes on, as does the work, in the French vineyard all year.

After a winter of preparing, cutting and clearing the vines ready for another season the new spring time growth begins and it is a lovely sight to see. As the new leaves appear and they are all new and almost greener than green against the sun.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Conveyer Grapes

Conveyer Grapes

This is the last you will see of the grapes as they are conveyed to be squashed and squeezed and the process takes places to turn the juice into wine.

The next step is buy a bottle of wine from you local wine shop, supermarket or if you live close to a wine producing area direct from the winery, then sit back and enjoy.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Good Harvest


As each tractor load of grapes come into the winery the trailer is weighed in and then once the grapes are off-loaded the trailer is weighed out, the difference is the amount of grapes that have been added to each persons account.

A great number of grape producing areas are made up of cooperatives of small individual producers who at the end of the grape harvest "Les Vendanges" know how much wine they will have 'on account' for sale also through the cooperative.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Wine Drinker

Wine Drinker

Wine, wine everywhere and lots and lots to drink.

It is a way of life, it's what happens even at 9.30am, a leather wine pouch is produced and a little livener before work continues in the vineyard. The guy had it down to a fine art and never spilt a drop.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Grape Juice


Soon, very soon the color red will no longer be ‘just juice’ but will be turned into wine, in this case red wine of course.

Whether it was the Romans or even earlier in those ancient times that first planted and harvested the grapes and made them into wine I am not sure. Certainly the Romans were here in the 118BC, the regional capital was Narbonne and the Romans harvested salt in the village of Peyriac De Mer. The layout of the salt area can still be seen and you can still get a taste of the wine.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Unloading Grapes


This is one of those tractors worth photographing. The tractors are specially made to be able to work though out the year in the vineyards. They are produced to a width that allows the tractor to work between the rows of vines, and sometimes I can't help looking at them and thinking how cool these miniatured tractors are.

After arrival at the winery it's time to tip the load into the "hole" where the grapes are collected and conveyed to the where the juice is squeezed out. No more tramping of the feet however, those day are long gone!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Have a break!


Once the first early morning load of grapes have disappeared to the winery it's time for a break and something to eat.

It is hard work picking grapes and although the mornings can sometimes be a little fresh the temperatures in the south of France can soon heat up so you have combination of hard work and as the sun climbs higher is can be very warm work.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Ready for the Journey


During the month of September throughout the south of France motorist have to be very tolerant of slow moving tractors as they make they may to and from the vineyards to offload the grapes that are being picked.

Some of the tractors are new but most have been used for many, many years and make a great sight and are definitely worth a photograph.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Grape Shower

Les Vendanges - Grape shower

So once you have filled up your 'Hotte' it's time to get rid of that heavy load.

The grapes then get tipped into a trailer which has to be water tight, or in this case grape juice tight, so none of those essential ingredients are lost before it reaches the winery.

Lots of hard work even before the grapes leave the vineyard.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Les Vendanges - Grape carrier

Les Vendanges - Grape carrier

Once the grape carrier with his "Hotte" full he then unloads the collected grapes into the container which will then transport the grapes to the winery.

All of these images were taken during a morning spent with a group of grape pickers near to the village of Peyriac de Mer in the Departement of Aude in Les Corbières.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006



Once the grapes have been hand picked or cut and placed in buckets the heavy lifters come by with a large container on their backs called a “Hotte” and collect the grapes ready to be taken to a tractor-trailer ready for transporting to the winery.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Picking the hard way

Les Vendages - Grape picking

Picking the bunches of grapes the hard way.

Cut the grapes and then drop them into you container, once filled it is time for the next step of emptying into the grape carriers big container!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ready for the picking

Grapes ready for the picking

All along the south of France, sometime during the month of September, Les Vendanges takes place. In the good old days all the grapes were all hand picked, now there are massive machines that zip along the vines to collect the grapes.

With this series we will be going with the traditional method of hand picking. These look ready to pick.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The wine country of Les Corbières

The wine country of the Corbières

Les Vendanges – the grape harvest – is finished down in the south of France and even this years “new” Beaujolais Nouveau has hit the market. I have wanted to show these images taken in Les Corbières for a while and now seem a good a time as any.

This images is of the wine growing region of Les Corbières to the south west of Réal and about and hour and a half drive from here.

This is a series of images taken a few years ago so check back and watch the progress.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Morning Light Magic

Morning Light

As the sun begins to rise and the slowly the mist starts to clear then you get the morning light magic.

A lovely time of year to be out and about and watch the season change.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Kids Corner

Gaillac Color

Amongst the autumn leaves and flowers I found this wonderful colorful kids corner in Gaillac.

Still lovely sunshine to enjoy wandering around.

Tree House

Tree House

Gaillac is the local wine center of this area; it is also a lovely town to wander around exploring the little allies that appear round every bend. It’s not so big that you won’t get lost and you can find yourself back to where you started very quickly, but that is the magic of Gaillac.

Yesterday was another day where the temperatures were unusually high, lovely and warm with autumn colors to enjoy a stroll around the town.

This tree house shows off the colors of autumn and the warm south of France sunshine.

I tried unsuccessfully to post this yesterday. There seems to be some glitches in the system somewhere!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Rabastens Door

Typical French doorway of once upon a time!

Photographed in the town of Rabastens about 8 Klm from Réal.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Fun Tree

Time for a fun photo taken in a fun tree. My wife as the ever ready model.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Give it up!

There has been some posts about the new law that will be effective at the begining of next year 2007.

This post on Erics photo-blog give more info Tobacconists strike back

As an ex-smoker I found this image quite powerful. I wonder over the years how many ashtrays full of cigarettes butts I filled up?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

War – what is it good for?

Absolutely nothing is the answer in the song.

Today is Remembrance Day, or Armistice Day, a National Holiday in France, which remembers the end of the First World War on a very poetically set time and date of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month 1918 after about 20 million people died over a period of four years.

I fall short, just, of calling myself a pacifist but I am definitely anti-war. It is pointless; no lessons have ever been learned so why continue the killing? I have visited many of the war graves of the 1st and 2nd World War that patchwork the country side of northern France and Belgium. On this day I try and urge politicians and would be war mongers to visit these places where in the silence former so called enemies lie peacefully without argument.

On the 11th November 2004 my wife Ghislaine and I visited the Chemin des Dames, 80 kilometers of East of Paris. One of the killing grounds of WW1, this image is of the German War Cemetery from the Second World War at Le Fort de la Malmasion. It is case of when wars get mixed up, or at least the dead!! There are over 11000 German dead laid to rest here which is in front of an area that was heavily fought over in the First World War.

In the UK Remembrance Day is marked by the wearing of a poppy. A nice story on the BBC website of how this began can be found here: Wearing a Poppy

If you would like to see a larger image of the above image go here: large image of the WW2 cemetery at Le Fort de la Malmasion , or if you would like to view a slide show of images taken at the French and German WW1 cemetery at Cerny en Laonnois click here: Chemin des Dames

Friday, November 10, 2006


From which big oak tress grow and plenty of food for the squirrels.

Photographed in the garden today.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Global Warming

Is it global warming, or is it just an unusually warm period that has fooled nature into thinking springtime has arrived?

Trees are changing colour and shedding their leaves and yet today when I took this photo the afternoon temperature was 22°C and this bush is budding with new leaves.

I think it is due to change this weekend, but it is still nice to enjoy magical days like today – warm, sunny and only 45 shopping days to Christmas.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

How many days?

How many shopping days are there before Christmas?

I have kept this image which was taken in Heidelberg, Germany in September. It is of the inside of a Christmas shop where you can buy are sorts of decorations, trees, in fact all the paraphernalia for the festive season. The amazing thing is that the store is open all year round, although I think it might be closed on Christmas day.

Just thought I would remind you it’s not that long until……………..

Check it out the Christmas Special

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Lisi asked about cutting the grass.

Well here is a photograph I prepared earlier, in fact taken by my wife Ghislaine, of me hard at work in the garden at Réal.

Monday, November 06, 2006

November Light

This scene I have posted before. It is a view from the bottom of the garden in the tiny hamlet of Réal looking towards the village of Roquemaure in the Tarn, France.

This is where I live.

Just in case you have forgotton where Réal is!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Aix Fountain

I have not had time to get out with my camera lately so I am having to post photographs taken on my travels in France.

I do like fountains and this is one of the many fountains in Aix en Provence, and if you have ever visited this beautiful town you will know that there are quite a few.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Lucky the cat

This photograph is for our friends in Germany Michael & Kerstin that we spent some time with earlier in the year.

This is stray cat called Lucky (I hope I have the right one) that is fed each day my Michael & Kerstin.

And thanks you Michael for all your web help!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Cahors Fountain

As a reminder a week ago we were enjoying the last sunny warm day of a very late summer.

We can't really complain as the weather, although now a lot colder, the days are still lovely and sitting in the sun is still a pleasure.

No frost here but way up north there has even been snow.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

La Pigeonnier

Le Pigeonnier is something that can be seen though out the region. I need to do some more research that’s for sure. I thought it was for keeping pigeons for their eggs and eating the pigeons themselves.

However I am told that it was for producing manure for the fields. Pigeon dropping make good fertilizer so I have been informed although I will make other enquiries.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Parking Reservé

The theme for the beginning of the month is about something that is about to disappear. Well I am not sure where to find out about the monthly theme but time will tell when this sign will eventually disappear – eaten by a tree!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

River Lot

The river Lot at Cahors France. Sun, water, reflections!

What more do you need for a nice photograph?

Toussaint Flowers

Halloween is upon us and in France it is a relatively new thing, imported from the US and the UK over the past 10 or so years.

Here the French get ready to place flowers on the graves of their loved ones who are no longer of this life. Whole areas are given over to the pre-sales of these flowers in preparation of the 1st of November - TOUSSAINT

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Last of the summer wine

This is France – my France! Un pitit expresso au café.

The last of the summer wine or so the weather man is saying. Looks like the change is about to take place during the course of this week, well we can’t complain is has been so nice to enjoy the Indian summer.

Taken in the town of Cahors in the Lot.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Taxi Driver

We spent the day in the town of Cahors which is in the departement of the Lot about 100 kilometers north of Réal. I want to go back and take a more photographs but I did manage to get few.

I have been talking a great deal about the weather we are having, I’m not complaining because we have had another day that would fool you into thinking that we are no further into the year than the month of July. For sure the trees are beginning to show their autumn colours but only just and temperatures are reaching as high as 25°C maybe more.

Sitting outside having lunch today was a pleasure when you realize than we are at the end of October. We are enjoying it whilst it lasts.

I could not resist taking this photograph of a taxi driver, he also preferred to enjoy the warmth of day and have a siesta, after all no one was looking for a taxi and they strolled about in the sunshine.