Thursday, March 30, 2006

carcassonne, but not la cite

we didn't go to la cite today, but we did go into carcassonne. there were actually a few places where i could have taken some nice interesting pictures, but for some reason sometimes i'm very shy about pulling my camera out in public spaces, so today you get 'from the car' pics.

a couple of quick things to tell you about the pictures that i post on this site, first, everything is full frame. not because i'm some purist who thinks things should be full frame, not at all, i will happily crop and tweek in photoshop to make something look better, but honestly, i can't be bothered. it's a lot of work. instead i've just set up a macro (or whatever it's called in photoshop) to resize and optimize the pics in one easy step so that they aren't *too* beastly on the site. the other thing to note is something i just discovered today, and that is that if you click on the picture you get a slightly larger version where you can see a bit more detail, cool huh? i was pretty excited when i discovered it.

today was a kind of a melancholic day with bouts of anxiety, i'm not sure if that will show through in the photos or not, likely not, i wasn't doing anything terribly deep today. although, perhaps it does show in the photos because of my reluctance to pull out the camera in the square and in the park and start snapping pictures. anyway, if you sense weirdness that's what it is.

oh, and all is not lost, we capped the day off with an oh-so-healthy meal of sausages, saganaki (opa!) and asparagus. which of course means we can't say things like "well, we always have our health", but damn, it was tasty!

and now to the pictures...

just in case you thought that this part of france was all just full of 'charmant' village houses and general bucolic beauty, let me assure you that it is also full of normal city stuff.

this is basically france's version of M&M meats, only the frozen stuff is all over the store (in freezers of course, not just strewn about...)

buffalo grill is some kind of chain restaurant that facinates me. i've never been to one, but for some reason i get the impression it's much like a ponderosa type place.

another place i've never been but facinates me is the dome bar. i think it facinates me because, well, there is no dome, why the hell is it called the dome?!?!? i've wondered this for 5 years now...

and of course the ubiquitous mcdonalds...

this is another place that has intrigued me for for the last 5 years is the italian restaurant called "elephant". i'm not sure what i'm missing, but last time i checked elephants weren't very italian... this has the added bonus of being in a kind of skeezy looking hotel.

once we did get out of the city we were greeted with a big chunk of land with random crap on it.

and so you see, it's not all roses and grapevines up here... (no roses this time of year, but i assure you there are roses, honestly, there are, would i lie to you?)

i promised you pictures of la cite today, so a picture of la cite you will get.

that sort of dark bit above the bridge railings, that's la cite... soon my pretties, soon i will have pictures from inside.

yet another thing that has facinated me for the last 5 years is this pizza hut. not to be confused with the international conglomerate Pizza Hut (tm), rather, this is a hut where pizza is served. okay, technically they call it a kiosk, but really, it's a hut. it's this tiny free standing thing at the corner of a street, it's square, so that frontage you see, that's how deep it is too. and it's just sort of floating, it's not even in a square, just on a corner where nothing else is.

you say kiosk, i say hut, lets call the whole thing off...

when we drove home i took lots of pictures, but really, how many pictures of vineyards and mountains can you stand?!? yeah, me neither. so i'm only posting one. i'm posting this one because it is my mum's favourite view on her way home from carcassonne. she drives past it several times a week, and always slows down to take a look if no one is around.

she loves the little winding road.

and of course i leave you with the obligatory cute animal pictures...

this is a very very tall wardrobe, i'm going to venture to say 8 or 9 feet tall or so. the cat jumps on it from a hole in the ceiling where eventually there will be a new (not terrifying) staircase.

apparently what happens when you give a dog a piece of cheese while you're cooking dinner is that she stays near you just in case the mood strikes you again. note the waggly tail.

g'night folks. who knows what tomorrow will bring, stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

to spain for lunch

when we got home this evening we got some sad news. my grandfather died this morning of a massive heart attack. he was 89, he died quickly and at home. i'm sad and still in a bit of denial, and also know that he lived a good long life and that although it's sad, it's not a tragic thing that he has died. but, having said that, as you can imagine, i'm in a bit of a strange space. so, i'm posting the pics from today, but with minimal commentary (unless i get going, 'cause, well, we all know once i get going there's no stoppin' me!)

today my mum and i went to spain for lunch. well, for lunch, some groceries, gas, and of course, cigarettes and booze. i couldn't tell you the name of the town, but it's a border town and gas, cigs and booze are cheap like dirt. we had a delicious lunch, really and truely a great lunch, at, wait for it, a gas station... it was a restaurant in a gas station where i had a delicious grilled steak (with fries, a grilled tomato and a grilled green pepper), and mum had calimari (with the same sides as me). mum had two draft beers and i had a bottle of water. the whole bill, including tax (and tip because it's included in most of europe) was something like 21 euros, so, maybe $30. and bloody hell was it a good steak!

so, here are the spain pictures:

seriously, we spent most of our time at the gas station

but here is mum sending kisses out to the world...

and that about covers it for spain pictures. although there is one on our way out of spain, i can't remember if this is in spain or france. mum took the picture though, she calls it "industrial wasteland"

could be anywhere, oui?

then we made our way to collioure, a lovely former fishing port turned tourist beachy place. it's really quite beautiful. i can't imagine it in the summer, i suspect it would be crawling with people, but today, today it was pretty much perfect.

look, a sign!

look, a view!

for the record, it really wasn't warm enough to have your feet in the mediterranean (i was wearing jeans and a sweater), but you know, kids will be kids.

apparently they're prepared for bigger crowds...

very cute little streets with cute little houses

the picture is too small when it's reduced for the web, but there is an old-school windmill on that hill.

another cute street, complete with cute woman (yep, my mum!)

instead of one of those pay a quarter and get to look through the wierd thingy, here there was just a frame on a stick.

this shot took some creative balancing on my part, it would have been better if i were taller than 5 foot nothing.

cute curvy corner

this was the entrance to an old church. "LIBERTE - EGALITE - FRATERNITE"

it was nice walking down peace road...

down a little alley

the lines in the fields in the background are terraced grape vines growing

it was a very pretty town. i would certainly go back. i think tomorrow we're going to 'la cite' in carcassone, which is an old cathar fortified town, john commented that it looks like canada's wonderland. i'll try and take some pictures so you can judge for yourself...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

a post in three parts

so, i decided because i had 8 million pictures to post i'd parse my post into three posts but make it so they can be read starting with this one at the top and down the next two. clever no? none of this reverse chronological order for me, no sir-ee, look at me foolin' blogger. oh yeah babeeee!

and now, on to my posts.

today i did not leave the house. i don't mean i didn't go outside (as you will see), but rather that i didn't leave the general area.

i spent most of the day doing this:

stylin' slippers, no?

hmmm, i must have dashed to the loo...

it was a day of reading and not much else. certainly nothing coming anywhere near resembling this:

mum wanted to know if i knew what it was for *eyeroll*

then i realised i had no pictures for you because, well, i'd spent the day reading. so off i went to take a few pictures. who knew i'd take a billion and a half. *shrug*

oh, also, i realised that the last picture of me that i left you with was of me after 9 hours on a plane and looking haggared and exhausted. this was me today.

now, keep scrolling down and i'll take you on a little photo tour of where i'm staying... (complete with cute animal pics of course)

a tour or the house and grounds

so first some background. my mum lives in "a small worker's cottage" on a domaine. the small worker's cottage piece is because if that doesn't get added in people think she's a vintner, and, well, she's not. in truth she lives in an old priory, her house attaches to the chapel. there is one other couple that lives here, they are just down the road. it is by no means a village, although there are two other vacation homes on the domaine. but, there is a winery here that is open wednesdays and saturdays, and for those of you lucky enough to live near me then i plan on bringing wine back from them, and it's mighty tasty wine. i had initially taken pictures of it, but honestly, it's pretty boring, so they're not in here.

and now we begin our tour, first lets walk around outside for a bit...

this is my mum's house

this is my mum's garden

this is one of the several seating areas in my mum's garden

this is the weird chicken my mum keeps in her garden (which i actually like a lot)

this is a close up of the top of the dovecote on my mum's land

this is a far away shot of the back of it

and so inside we go. i'm just going to show you highlights. i had pictures of loads of stuff, but really, how interesting are couches and tables? so i'm trying to cut it down a bit. plus it's 3am and i have to drag my sorry ass to bed soon so i better get a move on with the posting...

the kitchen

the view from the back door which is in the kitchen

the worlds best bathtub

a delightful shower

the fireplace you saw at the end of my feet in the entry you likely read before this one is in mum's bedroom, not in the livingroom. the main floor used to be a stable i think and the living quarters the upper floor. i'm of course just guessing.

anyway, look at the entry below for some cute animal pictures...

i over did the animal pics today...

but dammit, they're just so cute, what am i supposed to do!?!?!

first we will start with the tom love-in. the disproportionate number of pictures of tom vs the other animals is not a matter of favouritism, but rather a matter of cooperation. tom was a born model. he cooperates. with the other animals it's a challenge. *grin*

he was a bit trepidatious at first...

but after close examination to ensure it was indeed a real camera and i wasn't just pulling a prank he loosened up and got with the flow.

"don't hate me because i'm beautiful"

"please be sure to capture my good side"

"really? you think this is my good side?"

belle was not nearly as into the modeling business. people found her laisser-faire attitude too hard to work with.

although she did keep herself well groomed...

but once the squabling started on set i knew trouble was a foot. there wasn't going to be much usable material if the models kept horsing around.

i'm always one for a good time, but wresting on set?!?!

one of the cats didn't even have the decency to show up for one frame. although having said that, the one that max made it in for he insisted on moving constantly.

it's like they don't understand how cameras work!

i tried to get the others out of the contract, but now of course tom has realized that he is a top quality model and he's paying back favours. he has stated in unequivical (his spelling, not mine) terms that he will only work in conjunction with the others.

i mean, really! can you imagine! such demands! but he truely does excel at his craft, so this does bare further consideration...

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