Diary of an Adventure

Copenhagen

We are in a very clean, streamlined apartment in Copenhagen. A zillion steps away from the house in France, which was full of character, dirt and an eclectic mix of horror. Again, our lives in the vineyards are unbelievably rich and spoilt. To be savoured and appreciated.

An interesting aspect is that our luggage is somewhere in Charles de Gaul. The freedom of traveling without luggage is liberating. If kind of smelly! No problem in France, but not great for us über cleanliness types. The question being how do we travel lighter???

Sunny skies, a gazillion people out walking, my face growing pinker by the second without its sun cream. Cappuccino rapidly replaced by a beer watching the constantly changing activity on the boats.

Birthday time in Copenhagen. Big surprise, with my apple to go on the chain that holds the SIM card pin. Death by chocolate cake, which is perfect with red wine.

A week of learning, discussion and inquiry. The awards evening was quite something and very professional. We missed out on the Project of he Year Award, but were still the recipient of the UN Core Values Award and I managed not to fall going up to the podium. Even if I did have to do a rapid spin type turnaround to give a speech I wasn’t expecting to do. Must remember to fasten the jacket buttons!

A cruise around bits of the harbour before dinner at salt. A restaurant at the Admirals Hotel. The massive beams like pillars of a ship, subtle light dancing across the cutlery, refracted into a thousand lights by the glassware.

A starter of salmon, seared with lemon juice, served with a Chablis. Fillet and a California Red and in case we had any space left, a sorbet with peach melba. Most enjoyable. The art, on the few walls, consisted of great swaths of primary colours, with swirls of dark bits. Like the food, if taken in isolation it would be in your face, but in context it added the right amount of contrast.

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Diary of an Adventure

Viviers-sur-Rhône

The cycle in the Village has turned, and we have fresh table cloths – red – at the Patisserie where we have our morning coffee and more-ish croissants. The baker greets us as he leaves with his baskets of baguettes and we (Hesta, Terry and Kirsten, that is) are invited for cafe at the Chateau Bar.

The team that vacuums the piles of leaves arrive on Wednesday, do a lousy job, and leave. The streets somewhat cleaner. Not a tidy lot these French.

Ginger, for dinner and live music. The streets of the square filling with people dancing. The band was versatile, the music good and the sky that magnificent ultramarine blue of the Impressionists.

Market day starts early, with the first vehicles seemingly parking in the garden at 4am. We wondered amongst the fruit, fish, meat and cheese stalls, the basket filling with ‘must have’ goodies. Leaves from the trees fluttering around us.

We drove for two hours, with the assistance of the ever helpful tourist map, to find the Roman bridge, which was 1,2km from the house! We passed a number of other bridges, a couple of villages and a Roman amphitheater. Fortunately we had a strategic supply of wine with us.

A small painting (postcard size) of a doorway on the hill in Marsanne, leading to unknown worlds. Others of the red shutters of one of the hill top villages, and the garden of our house, with a zillion more that I haven’t managed to get to. The charcoal and acrylic still giving me a tough time searching for suggestion and vibrancy through intimation.

The road snaked, drunkenly, through the Ardèche mountains, thick green woodlands giving way to barren white rock formations. Fabulous cycling country, as long as you like hills! We passed through picturesque villages, their twisting medieval streets no place for vehicles. Stopped at the markets, as much to rest queasy stomachs, as to search for that elusive Provencal table cloth, all overlaid by the smell of lavender. The crowds meant that we were more than happy to be back in our village, hidden from the world by its wild garden.

Pick nick alongside the Rhone, the city on the hill against a Turner sky, spectacular. The music se had come to listen to, somehow unimportant.

Joanna of Valois, a statue on the hill behind the city, our morning walk destination. Terry found the path, tucked behind an old goat shed, that winds its way up to the statue. Great views over the rooftops of the city, and across to the bridges across the Rhone. Not sure who decided it was the spot to erect a mobile phone tower.??

Chicken and Nüssli salad lunch, in our magic garden. The perfect time for sabrage. Red wine stocks a worry!

‘Magic Garden’. Charcoal and Acrylic on paper, a painting of our garden at the cottage in Vivier. I used the charcoal at the end of the painting to keep the colors clean, which with white, creates a flow through the painting.

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Diary of an Adventure

Aly’s birthday

Marsanne
L’Hôtel***
du Domaine de la Vivande

Yellow sunflower fields, and blue skies. Pale stone houses, terra-cotta roof tiles and shutters of lavender. Picture perfect. For now, the wind is no more than a murmour in the absolute quiet of the country side.

A long table in the shade of the oak trees, our lunch table that consumed vast amounts of wine to accompany the terrine (Terrine de pintadeau de la Drôme et son coeur de picodon et tomates confites, douillet de salade) and salmon with a lemon sorbet (Tartare de saumon au couteau, segment de citron et menthe, sorbet citron)

A warm-up for the weekend of Aly’s birthday. Wonderful food, from the Michelin rated hotel, served against the backdrop of the village, climbing the hill in the distance, with clouds, dancing between the tall cypress trees.

We stopped at the village grocer to fill our basket with bits for an evening pick nick. Arms full of fresh baguette, wine and olive tapenade from the region. Café under the trees watching the afternoon maneuvering of vehicles in the narrow streets. Of course we had too much food, and we even had wine left. A first??

After seemingly too short a sleep, we walked up the hill to the old stone church. The bare walls with windows looking out across the countryside much more appealing than the ornate, glided interiors normally associated with churches. Wild flowers, spots of brilliant colour.

Birthday Menu
– Composée Drômoise : Salade, ravioles frits, ceoutons de pain d’épices, bleu du Vercors, caillette, cebette

– Filet de bar, façon bourride en canapé aux petits légumes de saison, pomme de terre de Pays en pomme vapeur
-Eventail de magret de canard poêlé aux abricots et au miel, polenta frite au basilic, légumes craquants
– ravioles de Romans, “entre terre et mer”

– Faisselle de fromage blanc de la Drôme, crème fraîche et coulis du moment
– Assiette de fromages secs régionaux :
Tomme de vache d’Ardèche, Saint Marcellin, Bleu du Vercors, Picodon de Dieulefit

– Tourbillon glacé aux pêches de Marsanne et vanille
– Crème brûlée aux Nougat de Montélimar

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Diary of an Adventure

Belle maison avec jardin

Viviers – Rhône-Alpes
Belle maison avec jardin

The green gate is sandwiched between the theater and a nondescript corner that leads up the hill through the old town. Butterflies flit through the garden of shadows, the house being swallowed in wisteria. Hammocks, the indicator of afternoons with bubbles and wine. Barking dogs, music, and stories. Silver bangles ‘well behaved women, seldom make history’, percussion to the wind blowing through the leaves. Soul, from the small fishpond fountain. Beautifully crafted tatin, works of art from the patisserie. A kitten for entertainment.

Lunch, brochettes ou boef, at the restaurant on the square.

The house is a ramshackle collection of rooms, in the process of refurbishment and restoration. The shutters are that particular distress of green that comes from eons of painting trashed by summer sun. The hinges, great chunks of iron.

Hesta, has joined us and after another plat du jour (Parma ham and melon, followed by chicken with gorgonzola cheese), this time at Ginger, we walked up through the winding streets of the city. Every corner another photo, another painting.

Patisserie, charcoal and acrylic on paper. I didn’t have anything to seal the charcoal, leading to dirty colors. My worst.

Morning walk down to the river and across the bridge, to find the spot where Signac painted his pictures of Viviers. The trees have grown, making it difficult to get his clear view of the bridge and the cathedral on the hill. Still, the sun turned the stone into shades of gold, church bells filled the air and even the bridge murmured as we walked across it. More than enough for a painting!

A walk up the twisting alleys of the old city to the cathedral. Bored cats watching our progress. Squares, white walls topped by the blue sky, an invitation to stop for a glass of wine.

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Vue de Viviers
Charcoal and Acrylic on Paper
23cmx29cm

Diary of an Adventure

Saint-Égrève

Rhône-Alpes Region, France

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Alyson and Eugene stay in the small village of Saint-Égrève, on the edge of Grenoble, the apartment block part of the park grounds. Overshadowed by the white chalk mountains, its a world of green. Tree leaves – ever restless – rustling in the wind. The gardens, riots of colour, with beds of white, blue and purple planting, giving way to the hot yellow and reds. Magnificent.

Mostly, everything in Grenoble is closed for the Fermeture Annuelle . The city is empty, with only a few cafe’s open, and the morning market reduced to the essentials. Wine, cheese and tomatoes full of sunshine. We stopped at the Business School, where Aly lectures, before finding a cafe table for cappuccino, which turned into beer somehow.

We collected Kirsten from Lyon, being surprised at the actual size, of what we thought was a small rural airport. Eventually, we made our way to the arrivals of the correct terminal.

A morning walk through the park to the patisserie for fresh croissants, car packed with bubbles and wine for the drive down to Viviers.