Thursday, 28 August 2014

Trees

In the garden there is the biggest albrizzia I have ever seen and it is flowering madly. But it flowers at the top of the tree and I cannot get a shot of it in enough detail. I first met one , well lots actually, growing wild in Tenessee and then in the south of France. They look a lot like mimosa in the leaf but the flowers are pink and white and feathery and grow in tight bunches of lots. I looked them up many years ago and persuaded Michael that my continued good health depended critically on having one of these. So we replanned the garden to plant it in a very warm place. Then I rang up the only firm in Britain who offered them for sale. I was sharply cross examined by the grower who ended up by refusing to sell me one. His argument was that only once in twenty years did it get hot enough in the Midlands for it to flower properly and I would just be very disappointed. I was quite cross and asked him who in the UK he did sell to. The reply was Cornwall Devon and the Scilly Isles and people with very large heated conservatories. Oh well. So for two weeks I have one close by and I gloat over it at least twice a day.

Yesterday was very hot and I refused to go shopping in the nearest town. Instead I spent a lot of time with iWeaveit and produced lots of drafts.

And a variant of draft published by Tien Chiu

These are all just practise and I have even managed to work out how to get a screen shot.

You might wonder what happens about feeding twelve people. The answer is a great deal of work and it has been my turn recently. Peeling potatoes for twelve is time consuming and tagliatelle has been substituted. In addition the dish washer is iffy. Never mind, home on Sunday!!

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Wednesday

I think it is Wednesday. Monday we all went to Montpellier and pottered about. I did not take any photos. Tuesday three of us drove East to Les Baux and I took loads of photos. Les Baux is a hilltop village on the edge of the Camargue with a strongly fortified castle and a spectacular view over the plains to the west.

View from the castle

The castle itself with a trebuchet to the left, used for throwing heavy stones at the besiegers.

They demonstrate these at the weekends.

 

The village is built from stone and is very higgledy-piggledy. Houses are clearly built into each other. Twenty years ago it was full of artists. Now it is full of tourists and tourist shops. I don't imagine anyone lives there in the winter. There were some art exhibitions.

As far as I could make out, these works were made by painting on canvas, then putting on a tight layer of thin plastic, pleating it as you go. Then painting the plastic, then applying heat to the plastic so you get holes through which you can see the canvas underneath. All the pictures were large at least five foot square.

I don't usually like double hollyhocks but I make an exception for these.

 

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Sunday

Yesterday at Aigues-Mortes, there was a stall selling books with interesting wooden covers with leather spines and wraparound catches. Naturally I had to have one.

The covers consist of two stout pieces of wood with a pattern cut through the top one and the one below dyed a different colour.

Here is the back. Will I ever use it? Probably not but I can put it on my book shelves and admire it.
Today Ruth, Robin and I went to Barbegal. 'The greatest technology complex in the Roman world' and there were only three or four people there. It consists of an aqueduct which split into two at the top of steep hill and fed two lines of water mills down the hill, eight on each side. They could grind enough flour to feed 10,000 people throughout the year.
This shows the bases of four of the mills on either side. You can see how steep the drop is.
And this is looking the other way, at the aqueduct which supplied the water.

And here is a drawing of what it must have looked like. Drawing from www.waterhistory.org. On the way back we looked at the Abbey of Montmajor, having eaten half a baguette full of merguez which I love. Interestingly merguez are Spanish and in Spain they are far less spicy than in the south of France. Me, I like the French version.

There is talk of going to the seaside tomorrow. Not me. I have never been enthusiastic about sitting for hours on a beach. I shall stay here and try to get to grips with iWeaveit.

 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Le Festival de Saint Louis a Aigues-Mortes

.Not far from us on the sea is an ancient town called Aigues-Mortes. It still has a complete wall and umpteen gates and you can walk round the ramparts. 800 years ago roughly Saint Louis, King of France, embarked from the town to fight the Crusades and it still thinks of itself as Saint Louis's town. So they celebrate on his birthday with a festival (like the Viking Market in Aland but more fun) and they have a serious procession. Today we got there early and pottered about until the procession started. I ought to say that half the town was in Mediaeval costume, even the waiters at the cafés and restaurants. This meant that half the town was processing and the other half was there to see their friends which meant the procession stopped occasionally because one of the knights was kissing his way round a group of friends. But the procession also stopped for such important matters as doing a show of flag waving.

Or dancing to a Mediaeval band

Or waving graciously at the subjects

But sometimes they just got on with walking in woollen robes under a blazing sun

And chain mail of course.

There were stalls selling chain mail and bows and arrows, halberds, swords and I even saw a cross bow. I also saw several tiny looms which wove narrow strips from wool yarn. See red and blue strip at the top. Completely made of wood and I don't believe in it. Everything I have ever read says they used tablet weaving for narrow strips and a warp weighted loom for wide pieces. There was not one of either around. However it was all good fun and Charlotte bought a Mediaeval hat.

 

Friday, 22 August 2014

Friday Canoeing down the River

Today most of the group drove over to the river Gardon which flows through the Pont du Gard and got into six canoes, four double and two singles. Really this blog should be entitled 'Groan, Groan'. Certainly I have pains in muscles I never knew I had. We paddled for four hours with a stop at the Pont du Gard for a picnic lunch.

Everyone plus beached canoes plus a background of Pont du Gard.

Yesterday we had lunch at Alexandre, a Michelin two star restaurant. Above is the first course which is steak tartare. Very grand and rather unusual. We ate outside under awnings in their spectacular garden.

Somebody's puddings! We have one vegetarian and I was very careful to mention this when booking. I even suggested that she could have an omelette if all else failed. The reply email said the chef would create a suitable vegetarian dish and so he did. Her main course was courgette flower stuffed with truffle mousse and everyone else was madly jealous.

Tomorrow a local town is having its annual festival and procession and we plan to attend.

 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Wednesday Camargue

Yesterday some of us went into the Camargue starting with the Bird Sanctuary. The Camargue is the Rhone delta and is a mixture of lagoons, islands, reed beds et cetera. Here live the black cattle and the white horses tended by gardians on horseback. The horses are a special breed. They are small and sure footed.

The area is also famous for the flamingos which live here in great numbers.

And they look very fetching when they step out.

There were also herons of different species, terns, egrets, cranes and storks. We were there for several hours. There were a lot of birders around loaded with camera gear. This included a man who had such a monster lens that he towed round a trolley of equipment! Then we were off to the seaside to take a boat trip up le petit Rhone which is one of the branches of the delta. One item was an exhibition by a guardian on shore for our delight.

Cattle and horses being driven by the guardian

Note the long tripod for encouraging the cattle.

And a view of another bit of the house.

 

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Wednesday Olympics

Above is a completed piece of Canadian finger weaving. I am glad I chose to do a very simple pattern as I definitely got better at even tension and no horribilinesses where one colour changes sides. Now all I have to do is lay my hands on some suitable wool. It is somewhere in between 4ply and DK and is more tightly spun than most knitting wools. I have the websites of a couple of Canadian websites so will check on costs there. Note the pseudo fossils on the marble table.

Yesterday we stayed in and pottered except that at 1700 hours we started the family Olympics. Five teams from five countries competed at table tennis, pétanque, peach-and-spoon relay race and timed swimming. After which we had Laura's birthday party, Italian food, birthday cake and champagne.

Another corner of another room. We do not use this one. A couple of people pass through it on the way to their bedrooms but I do not think anyone has ever sat in it.

Today some of the party are off to a bird sanctuary followed by a boat trip on the Camargue. The rest are off to Pezenas, a city north of here. I am birding.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Monday Pont du Gard

Pont du Gard from above.

Sunbathing at the Pont du Gar

Ancient olive tree

 

Decor at house in garden

Mannequin in camouflage in the garden. She used to live in one of the bathrooms with a gun slung over her shoulder - guaranteed to wake even the sleepiest person first thing in the morning.

And a day's effort at finger weaving. That was yesterday.

Today the temperature was in the nineties. Thunderstorms are forecast for tomorrow so we aim to stay here.

 

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Sunday in Marsillargues

Lunching in the Gare de Lyon while waiting for the TGV. Note the luggage in the foreground. There is an equal quantity at the other end of the table. Arrived at the house about half past six.

This is the house. Every bit shown is ours and a bit to the left too. So the garden is the width of the house for about 100 ft then it expands to give room for the tennis courts, the table tennis pitch, space for half a dozen cars and an enormous garden. So everyone can find the perfect place which after lunch is in the shade. I have my finger weaving stuff erected by the table tennis and will go and see if it is too sunny in a minute

I promised a photo or two of the house decor. This room is on an upper floor. Boils in the afternoon but is lovely in the early morning.

A collection of hats, not ours.

One corner of the sitting room. A grand piano and a working telescope and oddments. And oddments is the right word for this house. Stuff everywhere.

The only other item to report is that I carried out my habitual duty this morning and went for walk at 0730 bringing home the croissants, the pains au chocolate, four baguettes and a seeded loaf.

 

Saturday, 16 August 2014

First Day

Yesterday I found our hotel was round the corner from St Pancras.

Which looks like this. And inside it looks like that too. The ticket booths have Gothic arches in brick and stained glass windows. Further along the street is the British library.

I looked at their exhibition of 'Treasures of the British Library' which is full of just that. Chinese scrolls, Coptic scrolls, illuminated manuscripts, Mughal miniatures, Books of Hours. That took me quite a while. They seem to have some software which gives you access to books and you turn the pages one by one. Then I wandered upstairs to see the reading rooms.

You can see through the glass windows to the row upon row of books behind.

And here are people working. Lots of desks. Everyone has a laptop or similar. But you need a reader's ticket to access the books.

And at the end a shop full of books about books. I found three which I would have bought if this had been a day trip to London. So I noted down their titles and authors and checked them out in amazon, added them to my Wishlist. And told the family to consult it.

And this is the family standing in St Pancras station just about to go through security and passport control. You go through French passport control here. And now we are on our way. We are just about to go into the Eurotunnel.

 

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About Me

I am weaver and - -. I dye my yarns with acid dyes, I paint my warps, put fabric collages and stencils on my weaving. I have three looms, a 12 inch wide, 12 shaft Meyer for demos and courses, a 30 inch Louet Kombo which is nominally portable but has a stand, two extra beams and a home-made device containing a fan reed. And last a 32 shaft Louet Megado which is computer controlled, has a sectional warp and a second warp beam and I am the proud owner of an AVL warping wheel which I love to bits and started by drilling holes in. I inserted a device for putting a cross in. I have just acquired an inkle loom and had a lesson from an expert so I can watch TV and weave at the same time. I am interested in weaving with silk mostly 60/2 although I do quite a bit with 90/2 silk. I also count myself as a bookbinder with a special interest in Coptic binding.