27 October 2010

The Languedoc and Paris

So before too long, off we went again, this time towards our old stomping ground of the Languedoc where Peter and I did battle with various bits of French bureacracy - not sure whether we've had a win yet, and my visa renewal is sure to be a long ongoing saga. It was nice to be in the familiar serenity of the valleys of vineyards until the weather packed up and we had two days of torrential rain. We did manage to visit Rouquefort and do a tour through the caves where they make the famous smelly cheese. Another damp day we went to Carcassonne, and we also introduced Rita to some of our favourite towns such as Sete (where we also managed to see a Raoul Dufy exhibition - one of my very favourite artists), and Pezenas.


Then it was Paris where we spent a week with Rita in a lovely apartment next to the Seine on the very smart Ile St Louis. This small island is like an oasis from the rush of the hectic city. It's almost as if someone dropped a small French village into the center of Paris, with its markets, bakeries, fromageries, cafés and us! Winter struck when we were there - a real wake up after the warmth of Greece, but at least we knew we could leave it behind when we left!
Our days in Paris were spent walking, and eating and shopping (well, Rita and I anyway!), and walking more. It was once again lovely to be there and have enough time to explore those parts I never seemed to get to on previous visits. There was a very big new Monet Exhibition on at the Grande Palais but sadly it was prebooked until November unless one was prepared to queue for 3 hours, which we weren't. We did visit Musee Marmotten though, after a lovely bus ride through to the 16th arrondissment. A lovely gallery of mostly Monet, and well worth the extra effort to get there.

After 6 weeks of wonderful travelling we headed back to the Languedoc in the TGV again - a wonderful way to travel but pity they had to stop the train a few stops earlier than expected - French strikes yet again. We spent a few more days in the Languedoc before another drive back to Greece to settle back into Koroni for our first Greek winter........ whatever that may bring.

25 October 2010

A Painting a Week - No 59

For Sale - 25th October 2010  [SOLD]
Koroni from Above
Size: 21 x 15cm
Price A$90
(Postage and handling included)

Back in lovely quiet Koroni now after our 6 weeks of travelling. The town seems subdued now that most of the tourists have left, but unlike a lot of Greek seaside or island towns which virtually close down in winter, Koroni still has a buzz about it. 

Right now the streets and shops are adorned with masses of brightly coloured blue and white flags hanging in readiness for Oxi Day ('No' Day) on 28th October. At the start of the Second World War, Mussolini delivered an ultimatum to the Greek Prime Minister, demanding that Greece allow Italian troops to occupy the country, or Italy would declare war and invade. He replied with a simple Greek word: Oxi! - (NO!). Something definitely worth commemorating and I'm sure the country will do it justice on Thursday.

If you're interested in purchasing this painting, please email me at either jackiesinfrance@hotmail.com or jackie@jackiesherwood.com to arrange payment and delivery. Please note that there is now a Currency Converter in both this blog site (scroll down), and my website (http://www.jackiesherwood.com/)

18 October 2010

A Painting a Week - No 58

For Sale - 18th October 2010  [SOLD]
Paris Café
Size: 21 x 15cm
Price A$90
(Postage and handling included)

As mentioned in my email, we're currently in Paris so this is an appropriate painting for this week. Almost every corner seems to have a cafe with brightly coloured chairs all lined up under the awnings, and in this cold weather, plenty of outdoor gas heaters. The predominent colour of the awnings and/or chairs seems to be red. Needless to say, I've many many photos of cafes in various colours, so they will be appearing frequently in the weekly paintings I'm sure, along with market scenes, coloured baskets nd all the other goodies I've snapped whilst travelling.

If you're interested in purchasing this painting, please email me at either jackiesinfrance@hotmail.com or jackie@jackiesherwood.com to arrange payment and delivery. Please note that there is now a Currency Converter in both this blog site (scroll down), and my website (http://www.jackiesherwood.com/)

15 October 2010

Belle France again

Its wonderful to be back in the French countryside. We arrived in France nearly two weeks ago, but our internet access has been almost non-existent – divided between MacDonalds or sitting outside the Uzes Tourism office using their free wifi! Strange that in Greece there are internet cafes everywhere you turn, but a little few and far between here in France. We have just arrived in Paris – had to push our plans forward a day to beat the train strike. The French are particularly grumpy right now about Sarkozi’s pension reforms!We have a week in an apartment here with Rita, and then it will back to the Languedoc to tie up more loose ends, and then time to start heading back to Greece. Its been an amazing trip and we’ve certainly covered a lot of ground, with my hundreds of photos to prove it.
So back to early days in France. 

 We spent 3 days in Menton, just inside the French/Italian border, and the subject of a few of my earlier paintings. In my mind its a more laid back town than the other large places on the Cote D'Azure and a perfect base for visiting Nice or Cannes. Unfortunately though after spending a very busy day in Monte Carlo I was struck down by a 24 hour bug and didn’t get to do much visiting of anything!

Monte Carlo was great though and I was, as usual, totally awestruck by the size and number of opulent boats in the harbour there. A very large Boat Show was just finishing up, so that probably attracted even more boats than usual, and just to really rub it in, when we left the Menton area and headed into St Tropez for lunch a couple of days later, lo and behold there was a regatta underway and with even more boats. I must say, I am beginning to wonder just how many more of the damned things can fit into these small harbours around the Med – as you can see in the St Tropez pic here, you can barely see the buildings.

Next stop was a week in an apartment in Uzes which worked well as a base for visiting the westernmost parts of Provence. One little highlight of that stay was the visit to the Haribo lolly factory (makers of jelly bears etc) where Rita and I left armed with various bags of goodies – at least I don’t have to take mine in a suitcase to Australia! We also spent time in Arles, Nimes, L’Isle sur la Sorgue, St Remy de Provence, Aigues Morte and visited Pont du Gard.

Our apartment in Uzes was in the Place aux Herbes – 3 floors up overlooking the square where there was a huge market on the Saturday. Our evening entertainment was the masses of starling-like birds which congregated each evening on the roof of the church outside the kitchen window – they arrived in small groups and assembled all along the roof as the numbers grew, and then when everyone had arrived ..... whoosh they'd all start squawking and take off en masse to the plain trees just outside our bedroom windows in the square where they faffed about and squawked until they’d settled in for the night (unless of course One was a little noisy when One was closing One's shutters..... and then boom.... the sky would darken as they flapped around and squawked before settling in again!

Needless to say I have masses of photos of these all wonderful places, so check out my online photo site http://picasaweb.google.com.au/jackiesinfrance
More soon about the Languedoc and Paris

12 October 2010

A Painting a Week - No 57

For Sale - 12th October 2010
Languedoc Poppies No 6
Size: 21 x 15cm
Price A$90
(Postage and handling included)

This week, another little one from my Languedoc Poppies series – not quite the right season at this end of the world but probably appropriate to those of you who are waiting for spring to kick in in Australia and New Zealand.

A French painting is appropriate this week as we're now in France and its lovely to be see the French countryside again, even though autumn is settling in. In a couple of weeks when we return to the Languedoc from Paris we should have lots of vibrant coloured grape vines to feast our eyes on. The light here is certainly much gentler on the eyes than Greece but I do miss being surrounded in those vibrant blues and turquoises.

If you're interested in purchasing this painting, please email me at either jackiesinfrance@hotmail.com or jackie@jackiesherwood.com to arrange payment and delivery. Please note that there is now a Currency Converter in both this blog site (scroll down), and my website (http://www.jackiesherwood.com/)

05 October 2010

ITALY and all that ......

Gosh, didn’t that time go quickly, and I’m now writing this blog from belle France. More about France a little later though.......

Once the ferry landed in Italy (not a ferry we would recommend to anyone – I think they may have brought it into service for the relatively short overnight trip from Corfu and then perhaps put it out to rest!) It didn’t have any of the ‘refinements’ that we’ve become used to which is typical when you’re trying to show Australians that travelling on Greek ferries can be rather pleasant!

After a breakfast visit to Alberobello to see the trulli houses, we headed across Italy to the Amalfi Coast – my first time back there since the 80’s. It seemed busy then but now 30 years on, its a wonder its still functioning due to its bombardment of tourists – and this is the shoulder season. The drive there from Salerno was amazing but frightening due mostly to the oncoming traffic (and we are used to that from living in Greece!) but at least in the narrower sections there were people with walkie talkies monitoring when the buses needed to get through.
 Positano is as beautiful as ever though – probably more so now with seemingly every building preened to its best earning capacity, beit a restaurant, bar, art gallery or shop (clothes, handbags, shoes, souvenirs, every shaped bottles of lemoncello – you want it, you can get it there). The place was heaving, but still briskly managed to get everyone fed and watered, with rather high cover charges every time you put your bottom down somewhere.

We took a ferry ride to Amalfi for a day and that was more of the same but still lovely. It was a real treat being able to view both Positano and Amalfi from the water for a change and see how much is tucked into the hills.

Next off to the next most popular holiday spot in Italy (of course excluding Venice) and that was Cinque Terre. Just how the Italians manage to squeeze so much into such a small area is a mystery to me, then I guess that defines Italy (and the Italians!) We stayed in one of our favourite quieter towns, Moneglia, away from the madding crowds, and only a short train ride from any of the Cinque Terre Villages. We did manage to get to all five villages, my favourites still being Riomaggiore and Vernazza from our last visit, and did the walk between Vernazza and Corneglia and although it wasn’t listed as the more difficult one, it was certainly ummmmm taxing – over half of the one and a half hour being mostly rugged steps uphill, and plenty of narrow pathways perched on the side of the cliffs with big drops down to the sea below – not really my idea of fun, though it was good to share comments with the others that we passed, particularly the Australians! It seemed almost mutual that ‘ladies’ over 50 would prefer to be sitting in a cafe somewhere! But it’s great to have done it. Corneglia was a pretty town right up on the top of the hill – there was a harbour down the bottom somewhere, but absolutely no energy left to head anywhere but the train station to get to Riomaggiore for an ice cream, which I might mention we did seem to do every day whilst in Italy.
So the next adventure was to head off in the other direction and we got a ferry from Rapallo to Portofino – once again a tiny place jammed packed with thousands of people. My last visit to Portfino was in November and although as I mentioned before being late September, we were out of the main tourist season, I just couldn’t believe how many boats were squeezed into the tiny harbour – which made it look even more gorgeous than ever really – I would say one could have easily just hopped from boat to boat to cross the middle harbour most of the time. Once again though, the Italians were working their miraculous stuff and managing to effortlessly feed and water everyone with the minimum of fuss. Strangely, we found Positano beat both Cinque Terre and Portofino hands down for overpricing.
So after a week between these coastal places we headed inland briefly for a visit to Sienna and that was well worth it – such a beautiful place again, particularly the Piaza del Campo, then got back to nature by having a picnic along the side of the road with the rolling hills of Tuscany to look at – ahhhh – that was more like it.
I have been managing some sketches some of which may appear in this blog at some stage – most places we’ve stayed in just recently haven’t had wifi, so its been tricky loading up too much to go online, though I have managed to add some more photos to my Picasaweb albums.... My battery is almost out now - vive MacDonalds eh.....more later
A bientot