Mont Ventoux

Sep 09, 10 Mont Ventoux

Posted by in Cornwall & Provence 2010

We had a lazy start to today with a tasty French brunch of cheeses, pates and fresh French bread. This afternoon we drove up to Mont Ventoux which is a dizzying 1912m above sea level. The views were breathtaking, literally. The wind was so strong it felt like it was sucking the air out of our lungs. The temperature dropped from about 25C at the base to about 9C at the top. Mont Ventoux features every now and then in the Tour de France. It’s certainly popular with cyclists on holiday. The village we stopped at at the foot of the mountain was filled with cyclists who were on their way up or had just returned from the 21km trip up the mountain. In fact the road way up to the summit even has its own cycle path. Most of the cyclists were in fact Dutch, we counted at least a few dozen. I guess they’re learning the hard way that not everywhere is flat! Overtime it seems that the various cyclists have written messages of encouragement on the roadway up to the summit. A lot are in Dutch but the one that caught our attention was on the very summit itself. It simply read thuis, “Home”...

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More Romans …

Sep 08, 10 More Romans …

Posted by in Cornwall & Provence 2010

Today we went to the nearby town of Orange to view the Roman Theatre. It was pretty spectacular and as Annelies & I sat in the stalls that could house 8 to 10,000 people you could quite imagine the plays and mimes so beloved by the Roman masses taking place. Orange is of course also famous as the principality associated with William I the leader of the independence movement in Holland. In 1568 he declared the Dutch republic and led the revolt against the Spanish rule ….. here my knowledge runs out and much to Annelies chagrin so does hers ! We had an interesting evening meal in Orange during which I spent most of the time trying to coax any facts out of Annelies. (there weren’t many!) By the way … completely unrelated …. but the owners of our Gite have got a really cute little dog called Robbie...

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Taranis is still angry …

Sep 08, 10 Taranis is still angry …

Posted by in Cornwall & Provence 2010

01:20 – Wow … we’ve just come in off of our balcony after spending 20 minutes watching the biggest thunderstorm I’ve ever seen. It’s been going now for about 5 hours and looks set to go on throughout the night. 11:38 – Storm is over and the gorgeous Provence weather has returned. We must have had about 5cm(2 inches) of rain last night but all seems back to normal...

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“Le Petit Pompei” – Part Deux

Sep 07, 10 “Le Petit Pompei” – Part Deux

Posted by in Cornwall & Provence 2010

After last night’s storm we had a leisurely breakfast (which lasted the whole morning!) until the afternoon wind seemed to waft back the warm Provence weather. We decided to go back to Vaison La Romaine again to see the Medieval part of the town. It was well worth it. The Medieval town was built on the opposite bank of the river to the Roman town around a large 12th century fortification. The medieval town is not only perfectly preserved but is still in contemporary use today. Its cobbled streets wind upwards towards the castle through a maze of small houses, shops, art galleries and restaurants. The view from the top was fantastic. Below the fort and adjacent to the Roman town is a 12th century cathedral on a site that traces its origins back to the fourth century when the Roman Empire adopted Christianity. It’s been extended and rebuilt in places but has been a place of Christian worship for over a staggering 1600...

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Taranis is upset …

Sep 07, 10

Taranis, god of thunder of the ancient Gauls, is displeased. After days of sunshine and almost stifling heat we’ve had continuous thunderstorms, lightening and torrential rain all last night and through this morning. However I have to say I find it rather refreshing and invigorating.

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“Le Petit Pompei”

Sep 06, 10 “Le Petit Pompei”

Posted by in Cornwall & Provence 2010

Provence’s proximity to Italy has meant that, even before Julius Caesar conquered Gaul and added it to the young Roman Empire in 58 to 51BC, it had already come under Roman influence. Today we visited Vaison La Romaine, a beautiful Provencal town with oodles of interesting Gallo-Roman history. There are two major sites that have been uncovered by Archaeologists with entire villas, roads, shops, Roman baths and an amphitheatre on display. We were able to walk down collonaded avenues and roads complete with pavements, statues, frescos and mosaics just as they were nearly two thousand years ago! Just the idea of people living, working and going about daily life within the same walls and avenues we were able to walk down and touch was thrilling! Vaison La Romaine also has a well preserved medieval centre including castle and cathedral which we didn’t get to see as we were so absorbed in the Roman quarter …. I think we might go back ! 😀 By the way there’s a prize if you can guess what I’m sitting on in the picture below ….. I’ll give you a clue : They were communal and wouldn’t have smelled too sweet back when the Romans used...

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Busy doin nothin

Sep 05, 10 Busy doin nothin

Posted by in Cornwall & Provence 2010

Spent the day lazing in the sun and around the pool. Ahhh … this is the...

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La Douce Provence

Sep 04, 10 La Douce Provence

Posted by in Cornwall & Provence 2010

Well here we are again in the Provence. We were here 3 years ago a little further south in Isle sur la Sorgue. This time we’re in a place called Valreas, quite near to Orange … of William of Orange fame … so a nice Dutch connection there. Our Gite is absolutely gorgeous set among the vineyards, olive trees and cypress trees of “La Douce...

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Onward to the Provence …

Sep 03, 10

Today we left our Cornish chalet a day early so that we can travel on to “La Belle Provence” from Southampton airport tomorrow. Again our trusty guide Jane directed us unerringly the 192 miles to our overnight hotel. However not before I put in a slight diversion to Charmouth beach on the Dorset coast when I realised we were passing by it. Dorset’s coast is known as the “Jurassic Coast” because of the ancient Jurassic rocks that make up its cliffs. They’re rich in fossil beds and passing by awakened in me another boyhood passion, collecting fossils. I’ve not done this for a long time now, in fact the last time was probably in Charmouth when on a family holiday about 25 years ago (or more … gosh I really am old aren’t I ?) Anyway we could only stop for half an hour or so but it was fun … Although no new fossils to add to my collection unfortunately....

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Clay Mining

Sep 02, 10 Clay Mining

Posted by in Cornwall & Provence 2010

Cornwall, in addition to its seafaring culture, is well known as a centre for mining tin and clay. Whilst the tin mining industry has all but disappeared china clay mining is thriving. Close to the site of the Eden Project, itself built inside a disused clay pit, is Wheal Martyn, a museum located on the site of two old china clay works. The museum has preserved all of the machinery, drying tanks and buildings exactly as they were when it was in full operation. Roaming in between these industrial relics was a real privilege and extremely interesting. Right next door to the open air park is a working open cast clay pit and we were able to look down on this huge lunar landscape whilst lorries and diggers the size of houses chewed up the decaying granite and assorted rock. China clay or Kaolin is the product of decaying feldspar in granite. The feldspar changes into a fine white powder but, the other parts of the granite, Mica and Quartz stay the same. China clay, in addition to its well known use in fine china pottery, is used in a staggering array of other materials and products: Paper, cosmetics, paint, plastics, rubber and pharmaceuticals to name a few. After the museum we headed on down to a place called Charlestown. Charlestown is the main location where the china clay, especially from Wheal Martin, was exported. It was purpose built just for this purpose and is a perfectly preserved example of an early Victorian harbour … today much loved by film directors filming period dramas. All in all an excellent day out...

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As far as you can go

Sep 01, 10

Today we motored on down to St Ives and then on to Lands End. St Ives is another picturesque Cornish fishing village. However it’s also been an artists hub for a long time and is the location for Tate St Ives. This was our main motivation for going there and being the ‘cultural barbarian’ that I am I’ll let someone who understands what the heck is going on in these types of galleries explain …. Annelies over to you ….. “Interesting tour and great selection of works from Tate Britain as well as an exhibition from Dutch artist Lilly van de Stokker – cheerful looking art, great fun (not at all like Lilly herself according to our tour guide!). Needless to say Robert was unimpressed! ” Following on from our visit to St Ives we went on to Lands End the first (or last depending on your point of view) point of...

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Eden reclaimed

Aug 31, 10 Eden reclaimed

Posted by in Cornwall & Provence 2010

Today we visited the impressive ‘Eden Project’. A trip Annelies has been positively salivating over since we planned our trip to Cornwall, and it didn’t dissapoint. Over to Annelies ….. “At first site Eden looks like an amazing futuristic scene with its big bubble-like biomes nestled into the valley spread before us. We headed for the biggest one first – the rainforest biome – but we were too late to escape the humidity and high temperatures inside. The re-created jungle world even houses a waterfall. Felt a bit like a science fiction setting like “Logan’s Run”. The Mediterranean biome was a little easier to cope with. Both were fantastic. Outside the biomes the global variety of plants and gardens continues to impress us particularly when looking at the comparative images of the site only ten years ago when it was a disused clay pit looking like a lunar landscape. Love the ethos of Eden Trust – ‘Education on our dependence on plants and finding ways for a sustainable future.’ Running this attraction is merely a way to raise funds for its educational and social programmes…. Love it!...

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