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What became of my time?

OK – many things, but here are two!

A collection of demo songs written and recorded while in Les Arches, available at:

And a small book of poetry written mostly while travelling around France prior to settling into Les Arches, and published by Rata Press in November 2013:

Look out for more posts coming as I return to England, Spain and France from the 4th April 2014!


The Big Year


The Big Year is such a lovely movie – biodiversity, birding and beauty. The casting people inveigled Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson to act together. I cried; maybe it was the French wine …

Anyone who has both a passion for nature and love should see this film!

In the toilette now – bawling, and I can’t stop … what am I crying about? Loss of precious things, loss of loved ones, the beauty of life … I don’t really know, but it hurts! And this movie released it.


From my room on the top floor of the Novotel at Charles de Gaulle Aéroport, watching the planes land, and waiting to fly to Bali, then two weeks later to see all my loved ones.

Les Vestiges


One last look at the vestiges of the aqueduct du Pont du Gard, in spring.

With just a modicum of help along the way from my friends and family … The jigsaw is complete!


And as reward I visited Arles to see just a few of the locations van Gogh painted during his time there.




On the evening of Adam’s departure, Carole, Jim and I sampled a bottle of the local Vin du Pay D’Oc – a 2008 Cab-Sav from Montaren-Serviers.

It was ordinary – while the nose was promising, the taste was thin and didn’t reach the mid-palate, just a sour, dull tannin on the front palate.

I suggested an experiment – I had just been reading this article on hyper-decanting and thought we should test the theory!


Two minutes later, the remainder of the bottle having been frappéd with short bursts of a blender over 30 seconds, we tried the results.

Although not a blind test, all three agreed that the wine now tasted much smoother and more complete, reaching the middle palate with a satisfying spicy full flavour.

In short, we had turned a €2.80 bottle into a €5.00 bottle instantly. I guess, if we had let it breathe for longer than 10 minutes originally we might have eventually approached the hyper-decanted result.

So, perhaps this is a just-in-time method for poor planners; but I’m going to trial it again soon on some unsuspecting dinner guests!

Jim and Carole arrive at Les Arches.


Eurostar sans gluten

No breakast today, but two lunches! Une salade Niçoise et un espresso double at Lille Europe before check-in. Then the lunch served between Lille and St Pancras aboard the Eurostar.


This gluten-free meal consisted of a light slice of flan with sour cream and a half cherry tomato, a small but tasty piece of grilled salmon with walnut and chive sauce, and a chocolate mousse with two pear slices and crumbled pistachios.

The gluten-free bread was all out (that’s OK – less carbohydrate), but the demi-demi-bouteille du Chardonnay made up for that!

Strong black coffee and a square of 70% chocolat noir finished the meal very nicely, even before we hit the Chunnel.

A portrait

Painting with Diana continues, now two mornings a week to keep momentum. After my first effort – a still life, the second oil is a portrait of her characterful Alfie.

While Diana reeled off two great sketches and three beautiful energetic paintings with alacrity, I managed the following.

But, most importantly, we had fun, listening to old McCartney, Cocker, the two Simons (Carly and Paul), Pink Floyd, Beatles and Stones. And I learned something about faces and colours.


Côté du Rhone

Adam cooks up a storm.


For entré, magret du canard séché (slices of dried duck breast) around young goats cheese.


And then, baked quail with bacon and rice- stuffed capsicum, accompanied by une verre du Séguret a les Côtes du Rhône Villages.


And after, Reblechon, Comté et Brie de Meaux, avec le vin rouge du Gigondas, full of vanilla and tannin tones.