Monday, 7 December 2009


The lack of postings is because I have been having a break in the south of France. My dear friends, Judy and Richard Jarvis, moved to the Gard region four years ago and I’m a frequent and lucky visitor to their home. I’m a big lover of cities generally, and London in particular, but it is really good to get away and enjoy the rural life in this part of France.

Whilst the UK has been suffering some pretty awful weather I enjoyed some excellent autumn days: blue skies, lots of sunshine, and fabulous sunsets. The good weather also enabled me to earn my keep and help them with some big jobs around their extensive gardens.

First off was to prune one of the big almond trees, which Richard and I did from ladders. I don’t think we overdid the cutting, although it does look a little gaunt in this photo. Perhaps I’ll photograph it in full leaf next year.

Then it was fallen leaves to sweep up, and bonfires to be set and lit. All relatively easy and quite enjoyable stuff but perhaps we were trying to delay the grand projet. The long front drive is laid with gravel over compacted earth and over time has begun to ‘disappear’. It was time to consider how we might revive it.

We decided the ideal solution would be to add a fresh layer of gravel, which seemed like it would be relatively easy: select the stone, work out the quantity we needed, agree a price, and get the delivery driver to ‘tip and spread’ it and we’d rake it into a smooth surface.

Hhmm. It sounds easy. Well it was 14 tons in all, in two deliveries, and we hadn’t realized just how heavy it would be and how difficult to rake.

It took the best part of three days and a huge effort to shovel, barrow and spread evenly; I had the blisters to prove it. The end result though was impressive and actually pretty satisfying - a sense of a big job done well.

Meanwhile, Judy had been picking the fruit from the 23 olive trees. It's a huge task and the timing is important.

We took the first load to the mill where you open an account and once all your harvest is handed over you can be repaid either by cash, or by an agreed quantity of olive oil.

It’s a lovely way to do business and you have the added benefit of enjoying your own oil over the following months.

We did have breaks from work: a great day looking around Aix en Provence, and a trip on the one overcast day to La Roque-sur-C├Ęze where I got this ethereal photo of the medieval bridge.

It seems appropriate to close with this sunset photo which I shot the next day just as we saw it and no, I haven't tricked it or used Photoshop.

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