Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gorgeous Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The fruits of our labour! 47.6 litres of first pressing Extra virgin Olive oil with a retail value of 700€


Another new Restaurant Find

Always considering my stomach some say, I consider it part of our role to search out new restaurants to recommend to our guests.
'The Lupin blanc', at Revest des Brousses, 
It is a lovely drive passing Simiane La Rotonde & Banon heading towards the Southern Alps, 
about 35 kms from home . Perfect for lunch (a little twisty at night!) run by an English Chef and his French Fiancée. 
Highly recommended.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Winters coming

The first sign of winter with temperatures set to fall to minus 6 this week and snow could soon follow.

Time to wrap up those plants which create interesting statuesque shapes which one cannot help think might  move around in the night!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Glorious Olives!

Our Faithful Olive Pickers taking a mid morning break.

Back to work - Karen with her new collecting bag all the way from down under.

Whilst I use our Kiwi collecting bag from New Zealand.

And Kevin uses his home made collector.Sticky back plastic and washing up bottles come to mind - but it worked well.

Keeping the team fed and watered (wined) is important!

As light fades and the temperature drops we prepare to take our haul to the Moulin

Delivering to the Mill where the Olives are pressed into Extra Virgin Oil.

And the final way in, incredibly exactly the same as last year - 245 Kilos.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Olive Picking

This is one bin that Karen and I picked from just one tree yesterday weighing almost 20 Kilos.

Our Fifth Olive Harvest.
In our first year we collected 19 Kilos of Olives.
In year two this increased to 45 Kilos and then 66 Kilos in our third year.
In 2009 we collected 245 Kilos for which we received 42 litres of superb quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil at a very advantageous price.

The increased crop is because we have been managing the trees by pruning heavily and treating with copper sulphate.The garden at Les Cypres has 9 fabulous trees which are over 100 years old whilst this year our 
crop will be increased by the Olives from our own trees which are now settling after we moved them during the construction of our house.
Of course the other key ingredient is people to pick , which we do by hand, no shaking trees, no nets, just friends and family rewarded by hearty food and drink!

This years target is 300 Kilos.

Contrasting Weather

After a glorious weekend bathed in autumn sunshine Monday was so different, torrential rain and then we were engulfed in mist, fog and bitterly cold temperatures.
And just two days later we are back to this, our more normal Autumn weather.
November really is a fabulous month in the Luberon.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Jazz in the Luberon

Whilst the tourist season might have ended there is still plenty of life going on in the Luberon.
La Bergerie, in Maubec, a popular restaurant organise regular Jazz evenings.  
The proprietor is also a talented musician playing trumpet and on vocals.
45€ buys you cocktail and appetiser, a three course meal and all the wine you can drink!
A full house and good time was had by all.

Walk on the wild side

There are so many walks in the Luberon. Today we joined some friends setting off in Murs and covering about 15 kilometres. The amazing thing is how the scenery changes every time you turn a corner.
Something you do not see very often in this valley is animals grazing so we were quite surprised to come across these farmers getting ready to round up their sheep.

The Autumn sunlight lightens our pathway!

To the  village of Murs.

where the last of the red  leaves hang from the cherry trees.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Perfect Autumn day

We awoke to blue skies and a hot air balloon in November! and 21 degrees.

Perfect weather for Olive picking, planned for next weekend.

Last year we picked 245 Kilos - this years target is 300!
Any volunteers to help welcome!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Berlin, November 5th to 9th.

Autumn in Berlin. 

Part of the former Wall in Berlin

Against dramatic skies the tallest building in Berlin, at 365 metres the Fernsehturm.

The Berliner Dom, a cathedral dating to 1747.

The Reichstag  was built to house the German parliament , around 1884, and paid for by the French!
It was badly damaged by fire in 1933, and not restored until the 1950's. More recent modernisation is the elliptical glass dome designed by Norman Foster.

The Brandenburg Gate , the quintessential symbol of Berlin. Erected around 1780 it stood in the East until the wall came down in 1989.

How the Brandenburg gate sat behind the wall.

The Schloss Bellevue, the official residence of the German President, badly damaged in World war II, and now restored.

The Triumphal column was built in 1864 to celebrate the Prusso - Danish war in 1864. It was actually moved from out side the Reichstag in 1938.

Outside the Bauhaus Museum with our friends Roy & Andrea who live in Handorf, near Hamburg.

Berlin has many fine old monuments and buildings , as well as many modern buildings.
This is the renowned Sony Centre.

And the amazing new central railway station.

The interior, a hive of activity. Note the train on the lower floor and the Warsaw express on the top floor.

Covering over 4 acres , 2711 concrete slabs were built as a Memorial to the murdered Jewish people of Europe, very moving.

Berlin has a lighter side though, 

This is its pedestrian crossing symbol , the' ampelmann' originally used in the East it is now in the West too.

Some highly imaginative buildings!

And it has to be said , Germany is always ahead of technology.

And as for the shopping, KaDeWe is simply wonderful, a cross between Harrods, Selfridges and John Lewis under one roof. Heaven!

Well , we liked Berlin a great deal and would recommend it and go back. History, culture, galleries, shopping, nightlife and great restaurants. We ate Italian, Indian, Thai and traditional German , all superb and good value.
It was interesting to see the locals going about their weekend, Large breakfasts, afternoon tea & cake are certainly order of the day, they love to shop, dress smartly, have an incredible choice of quality merchandise whether it be cars, coffee machines or clothing.
It was also interesting to see how busy the city was, and also that almost everyone we came into contact with spoke English. 

The journey home, Southern Spain to Provence.

Our route home , 1550 kilometres, took us along the coast and to our first stop Almeria.
Now I know this may sound dull - but this is the first time I have gone any where with out an advanced reservation! For me part of a holiday is the planning, checking out where to stay etc, but for the next three nights we are just turning up and finding some where. How adventurous!
Our first night in the Gran Almeria hotel  was a successful find, good value hotel, excellent Tapas nearby and dinner in  very nice restaurant.

From here we headed to Peniscola, North of Valencia. The fortified old town rises 67 metres and is connected to the mainland by a narrow strip hence the name (Peniscola is Latin for 'Peninsular')  There is an impressive lighthouse, a long 'strip' lined with hotels and apartments and a great beach.
We ate at a lovely restaurant directly over looking the sea & beach and stayed at the 'Hotel Don Carlos' 

The old town , where there are many shops, restaurants and bars.

This statue depicts  Benedict XIII who lived in the castle from 1417 until his death in 1423 . 

Two canons! Look carefully.

 and some great views.....
What was amusing was that the hotel we stayed in was virtually full with 90 rooms.
 But it was there last night of the season, everyone had to check out next morning! imagine the scene .

And finally time to cross the border , back home in France and one final stop at Collioure . 
The drive to get there is one of the most hair raising I have done (sorry Karen), especially as for the first time we hit bad weather.

But after finding a hotel, taking recommendations for an excellent restaurant we had a great night and awoke next day to clearing skies. Collioure is an amazing village. A small harbour , lots of bars, restaurant and galleries and a good beach, it is very busy in summer, even in the off season. Matisse  & Picasso once visited, put it on your list!

And finally home. 12 days, 3500 kilometres accomplished.
So France v Spain. We cannot help, every where we go to ask the question - might we live here?
It is fascinating to watch the Spanish taking their promenades, notably families, even generations  together. Everybody was  extremely friendly and helpful. There eating habits are quite unique , we went to one bar for Tapas , it did not open until 8.30pm and there was a queue outside to get in, including families with young children . Smoking is still accepted in bars and restaurants! You are given bread in every restaurant with an added cover charge and you have to pay for water. We were invited to take aperitifs in one hotel with the management between 9 and 10pm before we went out for dinner.
No wonder they need a siesta! The weather further South is clearly hotter and drier which was very evident by the landscape much of which was quite barren apart from the orange groves near Valencia. 
 Of course visiting only gives a small glimpse of life in a country, but for us  France remains our no 1 choice.