Telling you about Tuesday (and Wednesday!)

On Tuesday, Mr FD couldn’t decide whether to go cycling or not in the afternoon, so while he was making up his mind, we drove to visit Les Salins, which are former sea salt works. Salt has been “created” here since 4 BC, until about the 1990s. It’s now a bird reserve, where one can see herons, egrets, flamingoes etc. But sadly, not on Mondays and Tuesdays, as that’s when it’s closed!

So, having rattled gates and tried to find alternative entrances, we ttook a photo from the vierwing platform, and decided that instead we would wander along the beach for a while, just enjoying the sunshine, and being with each other.

We headed back about 11.00, and I had a read and a snooze until lunchtime. For lunch there was something, but I can’t remember what! Nope. It’s gone…no idea!

Mr FD had decided that he wanted to go cycling, but not up hills, so he went out with just one other cyclist, along the coast. The others headed inland to climb up hills. I decided to explore Bormes-la-Mimosa, a village about 15 minutes away.

I knew there was a park there, so I hoped to find something to paint, but there was nothing that inspired me. I passed this house, covered in wisteria, which I considered painting, but there was nowhere to sit.

Having wandered through the park, I then explored the village, coming across more picturesque sights:

I treated myself to a banana ice cream (yummy!) and then did a little bit of window shopping in the boutiques and craft shops.

Nothing really caught my attention, so I didn’t feel deprived! This cat was quite photogenic – but not very friendly

Bizarrely, when I returned, there was still a cat sitting by the pot – but it was a different cat! I suppose they must take it in turns to sit and be photographed!

I got home, and Mr FD and I sat on our balcony for a while, in the late afternoon sun, reading. This is the view that we had from our balcony:

At about 6 o’clock we went down to the bar to partake of a couple more Grimbergens & to chat with people.

Dinner was a themed “Fish Night” – so it was Provençale Soupe de Poisson (fish soup), served with grated cheese, croutons and rouille, a slightly spicy, red mayonnaise. I haven’t had fish soup for ages, and had forgotten how much I enjoy it! In fact, it was more “Shellfish Night” as the choices were Moules Marinière, or bulots (winkles). I like mussels, but shouldn’t be having shellfish, as I have lowered immunity at the moment, and shellfish can be a source of problems. Happily, there was a non-fish choice, and I was happy to have duckling instead! A bit of cheese, and a chocolate éclair…Then, tisane, and “The Bridge” before bed!

On Wednesday, we left about 9.00 and drove home, pausing at one of our favourite places for lunch – Aix et TerraWhenever we go south, we try to schedule it so we can stop for lunch either on the way down, or the way back (or both!!)

It’s both a factory, making delicious dips, and tartines, and spreads, and a restaurant, with dishes that showcase the products.

There was an amuse-bouche of black olive tapenade, and then we shared a starter of tartines and crostini. The tartine was a dried tomato paste with coppa, and the crostini was an artichoke spread with melted cheese. Then we both had a burger, served with carrot chutney, and the most delicious chips I think I’ve had in France!

Finally, I had a café gourmande – I have to say, if ever I see this on a menu I usually choose it, as it gives the opportuinity to try several desserts. This one came with a little salted caramel financier, a tiny lemon meringue tart, and a crème brulée au thé des 13 desserts (This tea blend is made with the flavours of the traditional Provençal 13 desserts, eaten on Christmas Day: dried fruits, nuts, marzipan etc) Delicious!

We got home just around 4 o’clock, charged with looking after our friend’s dog, Marvin. Here he is being taken for a walk this morning




Back home again…

Hello dear readers – I’m sorry I didn’t blog more while I was away, but a mixture of being busy, being tired, and slow wifi meant I couldn’t be bothered. Sorry! That sounds rude, but isn’t meant to be.

We had a lovely time, and I did quite a lot of things, but I have found that this time I’ve been more tired than expected.

So, I left you on Sunday evening…we’d been to the Provençal market in the morning:

a flower stall

a cheese stall

There were lots of fruit stands, selling the most delicious looking strawberries, of which we meant to buy some later in the stay, but sadly we forgot! Never mind… In the afternoon, Mr FD rode, and I stayed in the holiday village. I spent a happy hour painting this little picture of the view across to the sea:

Dinner was perfectly acceptable – it’s not haute cuisine, by any means, but there’s certainly plenty of food, which suited the cyclist and walking groups who were there this week. There was watercress soup, which was nice, and then I chose chicken in a cream sauce, with pasta and veggies. A bit of cheese, and a small portion of gateau. You can help yourself to as much as you wish, so you can imagine that the hungry cyclists certainly went back for seconds! After a short group meting and a tisane, we went back to our room to watch an episode of The Bridge.

On Monday, I decided to spend the whole day at the Botanical Gardens in Rayol, about 40 minutes drive from La Londe. I wanted to go by myself, so I could take my time, pause when I wanted to, and not have to worry about other people. I hada lovely day!

I arrived at about 10.30, and paid my 11€ entry fee. The view from the first terrace was a delight!

I sat there for a few minutes, basking inthe warm sunshine (despite being well covered!) and then wandered off through the gardens. There weren’t a huge number of flowers out, but there were lots of greenery. It’s a large area, divided into different gardens, with plants from different  areas of the world with arid/ dry/ Mediterranean climates. So there’s a South American garden, an Australian garden, a Canary Islands garden…etc

I walked up to the Pergola, and then sat for about 30 minutes, finishing off a zentangle that I’d started a while back. I left it on the seat, weighted down by a pebble, with a note saying “If you’d like this drawing, then please take it…” I don’t know if anyone did.

The view across the sea from where I was sitting was lovely too, so I spent a while just looking, and admiring. Then the wander continued, past flower beds


and wood anenomes

Down a shady path to discover a charmingly rustic building beside a waterfall

and then down towards the sea…

This was the view from the little terrace where I sat to read and to eat my lunch. There were seats, and a little house, which had originally been a fishing shack. With the waves lapping on the tiny beach, and the warmth of the sun, I felt quite soporific. The picnic had been provided by the holiday village – I’d already left the tub of lentil salad back in our room, as I hadn’t fancied that, but the rest was OK : a roll, some dried ham, a piece of camembert (which had become very runny in the heat), a bag of crisps, a banana, a cereal bar and a couple of biscuits. After about an hour and a half I set off again to wend my way back upwards… pausng again and again to take in the views


At the top of the climb is this rather impressive house from the 1930s, due for renovation

and along to the North American garden with its impressive cacti

I sat just below this garden to paint another little picture of the view, which gave me another opportunity to rest

Time to head for home, so I slowly meandered back along the paths, taking a photo of this slightly odd plant:

I had a really enjoyable, relaxing day, and would recommend these beautiful gardens to anyone. It was particularly enjoyable because, early inthe season, there weren’t that many people. I can imagine that in the height of summer with crowds of visitors, it might be less pleasant, but no less beautiful!

I got home, and, as the cyclists hadn’t arrived, I went down to the bar for a gin-and-tonic. Then when Mr FD arrived, with some of the others I had a very nice Grimbergen “Printemps” beer.

Dinner was less impressive – it was “Italian” night (although I’m not sure any Italians would have agreed!) – vegetable soup (not even minestrone!), followed by a very mediocre Spaghetti Bolognaise, or cheese tortellini, or a seafood sauce to go with pasta. I didn’t really enjoy anything that I had, sadly. The desserts were either a Tiramisu gateau, or a strawberry gateau – which actually tasted like trifle-as-a-cake! That was nice!

Another meeting, a tisane, and then back to the room to watch another episode of The Bridge, before bed. I was tired, but content, having done just under 3.5 km of walking around the gardens.

I think I’ll tell you about Tuesday another time!

Down South

We arrived yesterday at about 2.00 after a reasonable journey – everyone had arranged to meet up for lunch at a particular service station, whee there’s quite a nice picnic area. I’d made “healthy flapjack” and a raspberry cake to share. I was happy with the cake in particular because I’d adapted a recipe. It is near enough this one however, mine had 150g flour, and no ground almonds. And, instead of rhubarb, and one of the eggs I used two pots of a rather unpleasant peach compote that I’d tried and really didn’t like. It worked – a bit dense but very nice.

After we’d arrived most of the cyclists went off on a ride, but Mr FD decided to stay with me, so we + Paul, an elderly husband who cannot cycle anymore, after having a heart problem two years ago, we went for a drive. In fact we drove up the road where Paul had had his problem – as we got nearer to the Col (and it was a long way up!) he pointed out the spot where he’d almost collapsed. Luckily for him, a driver stopped to ask him if he was OK, and took him to hospital. We had a pleasant drive, and stopped for an ice cream, but were disappointed by the flavours on offer and finally decided not to have one!

In the evening, we had our meal – there is a very good choice of food here. I had asparagus soup, followed by delicious roast beef, gratin dauphinoise, and green beans, then cheese and a slice of coconut tart. After dinner there was a short meeting and then we went back to our room to watch an episode of The Bridge, which Mr FD had downloaded.

As we walked back through the village we were happy to hear the Scops owl which we remembered from our last stay here. However, it made its noise all night! It’s quite a distinctive sound and in the middle of the night, we were slightly less thrilled!

This morning Mr FD & I visited the Provençal market, and also had a walk along the nearest beach – it’s the furthest I’ve walked this week, so I feel a bit tired. Also, I’m having problems with my feet hurting. I’m not sure if this is as a result of chemo – I was told to expect pins-and-needles, but nobody mentioned just sore feet, but I can’t think of any other reason why my feet should be hurting. It’s not like I’ve walked very far!!

We had lunch – cold buffet of crudités, and salads, followed by fish, pasta, mixed vegetables, and a tiny piece of milles feuilles (which was all I wanted!) – and now the cyclists have gone out. As for me, this afternoon, I’m staying in the holiday village, drawing, blogging, sleeping, reading…not exerting myself. It seems the most sensible option.

I have some photos, but the WIFI is very slow, so I’ll upload them when I get home. You’ll just have to imagine it.

Yesterday was definitely my lucky day…or was it?

Yesterday I wrote: “ I’ve just had a phone call that tells me I’ve won something – unfortunately having entered so many free competitions, and the call was on a very bad line, I couldn’t understand what I have won. I asked if they could send me an email… let’s hope I can understand that! I’ll keep you posted!”

And Michelle commented “Do be cautious about phone calls telling you about winning something. After dealing with my dad falling victim to a phishing scam, I am more wary than ever”

Well…the promised email to my “competition email address” (I have one address specifically for entering competitions) never materialised – which makes me think they didn’t have it.

Then – way-hay, lucky me!! – I got another phone call in the evening, telling me I’d won something else …2,000€ worth of something. What a coincidence! Again, I didn’t quite understand what the woman said, so I used the same tack.

“Can you send me an email confirming it, please?” I asked. “You have my email address?”

”” she asked.

“No,” I said. “That’s not my email. I think you are mistaken. It’s not me.”

“Well, give me the correct email address, please”


“Sorry, no, you must want somebody else. Goodbye.”


Obviously the you’ve-won-a-competition phishing scam has reached our area. I’ll simply ask them to confirm my email address before agreeing to anything else – and my “competition email address” is not a very common one, so it’s unlikely they’ll guess it. I am usually careful about giving out information anyway, but thanks to Michelle I was just a little more alert than I might have been usually.

Oh, wait…no, I didn’t…

Coming to the Surface.

This has been a tricky week – although I felt really perky on Friday, which is unusual for the day after chemo, it all went downhill after that! I was hopeful for a quick recovery, when I was awake for most of Friday, and even got up for a couple of hours, but Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and even Wednesday turned out to be more difficult! The metallic taste in my mouth was much more prevalent, which made me feel mildly sick a lot of the time, although I am still enjoying my food, as long as it had strong flavours: Marmite to the fore! I felt really fatigued and breathless even after a teeny-tiny bit of effort, and my eyes have also felt dry and tired too – perhaps it’s because the chemo affects the mucous membranes, which is why my mouth is dry and has the horrid taste, and my tongue feels a bit weird too. I might ask the pharmacy for some eye drops. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I’ve managed short walks, but have required sit-downs during them. The fresh air has helped though.

I’ve not slept too well either – this might be in part due to the fact we’ve been watching “The Bridge” on the i-player. It’s a great scandi-noir thriller series, but there have been a lot of murders in it, which has affected my dreams! Also at one point I dreamt that Mr FD was applying for jobs with his CV badly typed on yellow paper, and mentioning “working with dodgy men in vests”!! He is applying forjobs (no luck so far) but he assures me that it isn’t on yellow paper and doesn’t mention men in vests.(That’s UK vests, not US vests)


It didn’t help that I was sick on Tuesday night…we still don’t know why, but suspect that my stomach rebelled over too much garlic in the garlic bread that Mr FD made to go with the chilli (again, strong flavours). This meant that yesterday evening I was worried that I might vomit again, just as a result of eating dinner, but luckily I didn’t. I felt a bit nauseous, and had a slight stomach ache, but it was OK.

Even today, I still feel tired typing (!) and, while the taste in my mouth is less metallic, there’s still something there. I could suck on mints, but they make me feel a bit queasy after a bit!

Anyway, I’m hopeful that I’m on the road to recovery, especially as we’re off with Les Cyclos to La Londe on Saturday. We went there a couple of years back (see here)

and had a good time. Although I won’t be up to doing much, we hope that it will still be good. We’re staying in a holiday village:

so if I feel really tired I can stay there – I’m taking drawing equipment, watercolours, a well-stocked Kindle, and maybe even my knitting (blankets for cats) I’m also taking my computer, so hopefully I can blog from there too. I seem to remember there’s a little botanic garden in the town (unless I’m mixing the place up with another of the many places we’ve been to with the Cycle Club – which is perfectly possible!) and a beach a couple of kilometres away, so I should be able to drive to these. It probably won’t be warm enough to use the swimming pool though!

Unfortunately, Mr FD has had a problem with his bike – something on the carbon frame has cracked which means he can’t ride it. He’s taken it back to the shop and we are hoping that the “lifetime guarantee” will mean that he’ll get a new frame, but this isn’t certain. Even if he does get a new frame, it won’t be ready for Saturday, so it means that he has borrowed his old cycle, which he’d given to a friend of ours, and is spending today tinkering with it, to get it up to scratch – this means he’s putting on different wheels, his super-duper saddle etc etc. – and giving it a good clean. I think he’s a bit disappointed – but at least he will have a bike to ride.

So…finally, I’m back in the land of the living (just!)


I’ve just had a phone call that tells me I’ve won something – unfortunately having entered so many free competitions, and the call was on a very bad line, I couldn’t understand what I have won. I asked if they could send me an email… let’s hope I can understand that! I’ll keep you posted!



Three Days: Three Quotes challenge :: Day 3

I was nominated for this challenge by Bev…You can read more about it on my post fromp a couple of days ago.

Today’s qutation is from Lao Tzu

Lao Tzu, or Laozi, is a Chinese philosopher from the 5th or 6th century BC, and he is credited with creating the Taoist school of philosophy.

This quotation is one that Revd Canon Mark Oakley used in one of his talks at the Vocational Discernment weekend that I went to in November. The weekend was entitled “This is my Son: Listen to Him”. He was talking about how who we are, what we believe about ourselves, will affect not only what we think, but the decisions we make, and how we react to others, and to God. As an extreme example, if we have been brought up in an abusive family, constantly told we are unloveable, we will find it hard to believe that God loves us. But there are so many, less extreme examples too…

But, if we can let go of those perceptions that we have of ourselves (that I’m unloveable, that I can’t speak out in public, that I’m not good at that, that I’m not worthy of this…etc…etc…) then that will allow us to begin to percieve what our possibilities are, and to start to become what we might be…



This second part of the quotation – which Mark didn’t mention – reminds me of the quotation from the Gospels “He who seeks his life will lose it; and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.
God calls on us to be generous with everything – our possessions, our love, our time, our life – and not to hold back. If we cling onto Stuff we become obsessed by it, by wanting more Stuff, by making more money, by grabbing more things. If we can learn to “let go”, then our lives will become simpler, and we will receive those good things, gifts from God. This is what 40 Acts has been about: giving and not counting the cost. Being generous. Opening oneself up…

Becoming what God wants us to be.

Three Days: Three Quotes challenge :: Day 2

I was nominated for this little challenge by Bev – you can read the rules etc on yesterday’s post…

Today’s quotation is actually rather similar in feel to yesterday’s, to be honest. Maybe this is because I have felt the need for life affirming quotations recently!

This one comes from Julian of Norwich.

Quoting from Wikipedia: Julian of Norwich (c. 8 November 1342 – c. 1416) was an English anchoress and an important Christian mystic and theologian. Her Revelations of Divine Love, written around 1395, is the first book in the English language known to have been written by a woman.

If I remember correctly, Julian longed to understand the love of God, and the suffering of Christ more deeply, and prayed that she might experience this. She became ill, and as Julian was lying on, what was thought at the time, to be her deathbed she suddenly she saw Christ bleeding in front of her, and saw a series of visions. Through these visions, she received insight into Christ’s sufferings and his love for us. Julian’s message remains one of hope and trust in God, whose compassionate love is always given to us. In this all-gracious God there can be no element of wrath. The wrath — ‘all that is contrary to peace and love — is in us and not in God. God’s saving work in Jesus of Nazareth and in the gift of God’s spirit, is to slake our wrath in the power of his merciful and compassionate love’. Julian did not perceive God as blaming or judging us, but as enfolding us in love. (from the site The Julian Centre)

The quotation above is reasonably well-known, but I like this version that adds more of Julian’s words:

“There is a Force of love…that holds us fast and will never let us go…”

This is what I have been experiencing through these past few months. I pray that you, dear Readers, will experience it too.