Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring is in the air!

Spring is in the air so it is time to unleash the plants which have been wrapped up since November.

This has been the one of the driest and  mildest winters for several years.

So unlike last year when many plants suffered with the snow and cold our plants are looking pretty healthy.

Our first gite guests arrive next week so this weeks tasks are the first grass cut of the season 
and to open the pool although the water is still a little chilly!

And to get us in the mood the first event of Spring is the Maubec flower and plant show held today which is always very popular and a great excuse for everyone to come out, eat and drink and pretend to be interested in plants!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Who is going to win?

When moving to a new area it is important to find a good hairdresser, especially for the ladies! Karen who for all the years I have known her has kept her hair short and a good cut is very important.
Luckily in our little village there is such a hairdresser, Arielle. 

She has come up with an idea, really just for a bit of fun, for people to choose the best haircut and she asked Karen to be one of the candidates which is quite a complement. As it has turned  out she is the only candidate who actually lives in the village so that is a double complement! 

So in just over two weeks time, the votes will be counted and the winner announced. 

A 'Grande soiree' is planned with as many as 200 people expected as well as the local newspaper and radio station. Of course as you would expect in France food and wine will also be laid on.
Watch this space for the result!
It's nice to feel part of the village!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Spring is in the air!

We have returned from holiday to the most wonderful weather, cool at night but clear blue skies by day encouraging the cherry blossom to come out and take over as the Almond blossom fades.

This is cherry blossom.

Whilst this is Almond blossom - can you tell the difference?

Spring daffodils on our terrace, a true sign spring has sprung!

Remember typically Provence is 10 degrees warmer than southern UK, so that is why it was 18 degrees today. And typically we have 300 days of sunshine - I am not sure the UK competes on that one!

April is even better, Cherry blossom everywhere and temperatures of 20 degrees or more.

Even we can get it wrong!

After our first week away we were due to transfer to a second villa for the next fortnight. Between the six of us, we had spent many hours surfing the internet looking for that perfect property. The right location, the right accommodation, the right view and the right price! We also used the help of a local managing agent. And we still got it wrong!

Whilst we were there the Bequia Music festival took place, most enjoyable.

Janet, Karen and Simon enjoying themselves.

What was unnerving at the time was we suddenly became homeless, we had vacated the first villa, stocked up on 'provisions', had the important wine and beer delivered only to find the property totally unsuitable for 6 people. One of the bedrooms was , well not a bedroom, and the beach access had been closed off.

The beach at Friendship Bay where our hotel was located.

So an urgent meeting was held to decide a plan of action. We managed to take refuge at a nearby hotel and with the help of the villa agency and internet sourced another property which we hoped would tick all the right boxes!

Our new pool , perfect for sun sets!!

And it did, we could walk to the town, watch the boats come and go,  enjoy the pool and the services of the  owner who lives next door, this even includes the option of a day sailing in his Yacht! I think we came up trumps!

A great view from our home 'Octopussy'

Jack's bar on Princess Margaret's beach where we enjoyed many lunches

During our time here we enjoyed strolling around the local produce shops and food market, swimming and snorkeling from some gorgeous beaches including Princess Margaret's Beach, some memorable  food especially the Lobster Pizza and the basic but cheap food served on the former set of the Film 'Pirates of the Caribbean' in St Vincent.

From here we had a rather 'turbulent' week! Our sea crossing from Bequia to Union Island was in rough seas, and then from Union to Palm in even rougher seas in what I can only describe as a a tin bath or the staff Ferry. I really thought my time had come!

The staff boat, note the central motor and water protection.

Palm is a private island of just 35 acres and when the sunshines it is truly magical. 

Our home for four nights on Palm.

One of the local residents

Having just got over the bad weather and crossing we boarded our yacht which at the last minute was switched from a Catamaran to a mono-hull with skipper and chief. It had been due to take us to Grenada over four days.

This is the smallest habited island in the world! just one person lives there and it is a bar!

With stunning views and sunsets

Instead we were blessed with an unqualified skipper who preferred smoking  something strange and drinking  rum punches! as a result of which when Karen got into difficulties snorkeling in the Tobago Cays there was nobody keeping an eye out and able to help her, thank goodness for the skipper of another boat who picked her up.

The Tobago Cays with turquoise waters.

On the penultimate day as we left Chatham Bay, off Union Island our boat hit either rocks or a reef and came to a shuddering halt . We ended the charter there and then, and subsequently received all our money back, small consolation in the scheme of what might have happened.

Windsong II our yacht in Chatham harbour before disaster struck!

We were now once again faced with re routing and working out how to get to Grenada from Union and our best option was to take a private boat. We found the skipper - 'Tiger'! and thought we found his boat, but as we went to board it was rather smaller than we anticipated. Moral of that story, check exactly which boat the skipper owns! And so we headed off across the sea getting completely soaked to Carriacou where we finally took a sensible ferry to Grenada!

Tiger preparing our water taxi!

Crossing the water

Grenada is a lovely island and from our hotel we had a great view of the beach and ocean. It is also a rain forest which means when it rains, it does, for almost five days!

Arriving in Grenada. Happy to be on dry land!

The beach outside our hotel and view out to sea.

Perfect for sunsets!

And our final destination, Barbados where we happily installed ourselves in some friends apartment to get over all the excitement and prepare for the return to home!

A nice out look from our apartment in Sugar Hill.

And great beaches, this is Mullins on the West Coast

Our impressions of the Caribbean - wonderful in winter, never to hot, typically 28 degrees and low 20's at night. Great beeches and sea for snorkeling, swimming etc. reasonable value, prices much in line with Europe, cheapest meal was under ten pounds ahead, dearest sixty. Everyone was relaxed and friendly, but some folks took a little warming up to get the best from them.

Duty Free shop could do with up dating!


Don't look at the words behind!

Happier times on the boat.

Fun times.

No comment!

And we missed - the view from our home, our cats, friends, French bread and decent coffee.