Wednesday, 19 March 2014

La Rochelle - Life through the Lens!

It was just like a wonderful Summers day last Sunday (8th) so we decided to jump in the car and head out to La Rochelle, just over an hours drive from us and a relatively easy one at that - the péage is great for us, only a 20 minute drive away and we can get to the coast far quicker and it's not terribly expensive! Although once off the toll road you do end up on a single lane road where just about everyone has to overtake, at one point we nearly had someone overtaking someone overtaking!!

La Rochelle is a city and a seaport on the Bay of Biscay and it is the capital of the Charente-Maritime department. The town has played a huge part in French and English history, from Huguenot rebellions to sieges. In the Hundreds Year war it became part of England. Until the 15th century, La Rochelle was the largest French harbour on the Atlantic coast, dealing mainly in wine, salt and cheese.

 The only thing is I have always loved is that first sighting of the sea, we don't get that the route we take to La Rochelle but even so I could feel the smiles spreading over our faces as we approached the station, knowing that very soon we would be port side in the warmth of the winter sun, feeling the stress leave our bodies and embarking on some "us time" in other words me and the camera ;) *joke* Parking is now a joy as well, the new underground car park is easy to navigate and lots of spaces, so providing you go the right way around and don't mind not getting on the first floor life is good for the car!

Coming out of the car park and yes....seagulls and salt hit the senses - I did point to the direction of a Brocante but lunch was on their minds and that was it! Hitting the harbour wall and I had to stop - this is one of the places that the gulls like to gather and I fancy we had a welcoming flypast!

So calm and serene!

Welcome to La Rochelle!

Over the top - just right for the first couple of shots of the day!
Walking alongside the boats and dreaming that one day - wouldn't it be lovely to go out on one of these? We haven't been on a boat since the "ferry" around to the beach! I miss the fun of sitting on a boat sometimes especially on days such as this one! Sun, warmth, blue skies, calm water and a light breeze! The after taste of salt in your hair and on your lips...oh yes the joys of sailing but I am wandering off track - this is what the sea does to me. Now onward to the "Vieux Port" which will lead us to the eateries of which there are plenty! We did not expect each of them to be packed to the gills though!
We always make a joke here - "take your pick Mr S" 

forgot the bread - oops!

So onto the restaurant of choice Café Leffe - we have been several times before and always enjoyed the food, especially Moules! I sadly think that the did not expect the world and his wife to be out though! We waited rather a long, long, long time....we did try to leave but told to wait just another few minutes - which we did but that turned to another half an hour! Finally our food arrived and so disappointed - clearly the wrong time of year for Moules! Very small and not very tasty (this is our first bad experience so not bad in 10 years!) We have been lucky when we have eaten out and maybe had I not been trying the healthy option the burger would have been the better decision! But we still had quite a fun time - watching the world go by as we sat waiting and waiting!  Eventually after leaving our very apologetic hosts, we went back out into the beautiful sunshine to go for a walk down to a little promenade we discovered a couple of years ago.
Now to spend some time just wandering aimlessly! 

The old Lighthouse

New Ferris wheel!

Through the gates to cross the bridge - soon we will see the sea properly!

We tend to walk out of town for the ice-cream/sorbets - not only much cheaper but you get a seaview whilst enjoying something utterly delish! I almost contemplated Lemon Meringue flavour but went Lime and Rasberry instead and we get to keep the bowl!

OK so we got a little distracted along the way - sorbet time!

Love the way the trees grow!
Whilst enjoying the sorbet and view - it's nice to sit and watch the world go buy, I think sometimes just sitting you see much more. The way the trees grow,  the sea sparkles, and much more...I think next time we may have to go round to to the other side and go on the Ferris wheel!

Another area I wish to see - not sure what the statue is so really should go and find out!
Time started ticking all too fast - the last day of the half term holidays, which as we all know means panic and bedlam once home! So we walked back taking another route back - La Rochelle isn't huge but there is always another route to choose, so this time we stuck to the main walk back to the harbour, which is basically a road of restaurants on either side, in the side roads and above on second floors as well, again nothing much really changes, a new resto that may have opened or one that we liked that has closed down, thrilled to find this bike though - that's new!

Everything looks amazing against that blue sky - but  a lot of renovation works havee been undertaken over the last few years to clean the buildings, all worth it for photos such as these with the colour of the stone against the sky!

Boats coming in accompanied by the Gulls - not as many as we have seen before however - gulls that is not boats!

Homeward bound!

La Rochelle - capital city to Grafitti! and Tasteful artwork it is.

Both Mr S and myself fell in love with this beautiful wooden sailing boat!
But can you imagine how much work that takes to look after?

One more drink and then it was all over far too soon, back to the car and the journey home.....and back to normal until the Easter Holidays arrive :)

I had to take this out of the car window - I love this  building so much La Gare de La Rochelle - so impressive I think!? 

For more photos of La Rochelle please do visit me at 

I can honestly say the skies could not be much different today! Grey and very cold out - but officially it is still winter and we do have a full moon!

We have also had Pollution warnings here in the Poitou Charentes as well - quite high for this time of year, but it didn't stop the Lycéennes roaming the streets of Melle and Niort for Pere Cent.. an unusual way of collecting money these days students collect money 100 days before the BAC to go out and celebrate all dressed  up and giving sweets for "donations" - we even saw Minions on our way to Niort! 

And finally - my Kerria is out! I am so thrilled with these as this is one of a cutting that my very Green-fingered Mum took, it's quite established now, and one of 3, this is however the first to flower! #sunshineflower

Have a fab week!


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Life Through the Lens - Melle partie deux - March '14

I had the opportunity to go back to my exploring of Melle last week, I spent far too much time dallying however as only ended up with twenty minutes to cram in all the places I wanted to get to! No chance.....Melle is actually a little bigger than I anticipated and I still haven't made it to the Market Place as yet! Just reaching the church my place of destination when DD rang to say her rdv had finished and now ready and waiting for me...ahhhh I was now in "rush mode" which meant I wasn't going to get nearer l'eglise Saint Hilaire.
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L’eglise Saint Savinien with the Blue skies making a wonderful backdrop! Managed to miss this last time!
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Loving the daffodils, so many more out this week… looking through….
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That’s what I call a clean window! took me a moment to realise I was seeing the blue skies through the roof! Lovely area to sit and contemplate!
I started off from the Old hospital gardens again as I knew I would be able to get to the Eglise Saint Hilaire via the winding roads down. Of course on the way there was so many more things to see this week. Flowers coming out, buzzing Bees and many Butterflies flitting around me, part of me things there was just one and I was being accompanied on my walk!
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Honey Bee enjoying the flora!
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Another gateway to explore – another day!
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The ramparts continue round the back – I have walked down from the gardens.
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Flowering Current bush I believe! Love the colour of the Japonica against the sky.
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My destination for this walk – Eglise Sainte Hilare…
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Back to our meeting place via yet another route through the old hospital I discovered this really “happy” building!
Dating back to the XIXeme ciecle stands the Dêpot Lapidiare which would have been the store room for the Pompiers hand pumps
Another part of the Old hospital -  would have loved to have seen this before it became so dilapidated.
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And back full circle! Last flower photo of the day as well!
So as you can see Melle is really a very pretty town, with many places to discover, I am still quite ashamed that it has taken me this long to take the time to explore but now I have and know that I have a few more places to re-visit which does excite me, back to the church Saint Hilaire at some stage for internal photos!
For more photos please visit

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

March is blazing in!

What a wonderful end weatherwise to Winter,  we are enjoying it so much! March came in a bit like a Lion, with Têmpete Catherine on the 2nd March which was a bit of a surprise one minute it was still and calm, then came down the rain and huge gusts of wind! But the Monday following you wouldn't believe how calm it was and then the sun came out and it has been resting with us ever since! So many signs of Spring now showing, although we still have boggy areas flowers are blooming and the buzz of bees is in the air!

To start the month of March,  I was commissioned to work a Pop Up Studio/Photo booth for a Surprise Masquerade Party for a family that are departing for the States. George Archer who has been teaching Zumba locally will be leaving during the next few weeks, I first met George when he was about 15 at line dancing, he then got involved in the Zumba world that was introduced to our region by the lovely Lynne Stephens who ran Slimmercise which involved slimming club followed by aerobics, she then moved to Zumba after becoming a qualified ZIN and quite a few of us are now addicts and still including the Slimming club - fitter and slimmer ladies are now enjoying the music and fun that Zumba with Lynne has to offer!
 It was a pleasure being asked to be involved in the Surprise for George and his family, the photographer had far too much fun! Good luck to a lovely family....

A "Pop up Studio" is such a fun way of recording an event, all guests have their photographs taken in a professional setting, ensuring that everyone has a great memory of the time. It also means that the Event host has great memories to treasure and doesn't have to worry about out of focus snaps! The choice of  CD, Prints and PhotoCards (or all three!) can then be purchased.
I think my favourite way to capture certain moments is with a few props as well, I have been using a frame for photo shoots as well and it really is an ice-breaker,  everyone starts posing in various ways and then the relaxed atmosphere that is provided really helps to add more than just enjoyment, everyone finds their inner "star" quality and pose like never before!