Saturday, 13 September 2014


I've uploaded the pictures back to front so I'll have to tell the story of our summer backwards.
  Here is the result of 3 month's work in the garden.  We built our 2 new garden sheds and demolished the old metal one.  We've installed all the shelving and made hanging places for all the tools and are really rather pleased with ourselves.  The only downside is the tax we have had to pay to the French government for the privilege, 325 euros per shed! We always like to do everything properly so we declared our intentions to the Mairie and got the 'declaration pre-alable'  forms accepted despite all our French friends saying not to bother as we don't want to be fined even more for doing the wrong thing! We have since discovered that the tax will be abolished at the end of the year! grrrrrrrrr
I haven't had as much time as usual to do any sketching but here are a few I managed to fit in.  These Dahlia and Buddlea flowers bloom every year in my garden and I love to draw them.  I have collected 3 different varieties of Buddlea and this magenta one is my favourite grown from a stolen cutting from down the lane.  I'm glad I did take the cutting as the following year the owner of the plant dug it up leaving a big hole outside his wall.
Hydrangeas are my favourite flowers and these blooms came from the local re-cycling centre where everybody takes their garden waste as well as paper etc.  I spotted them being dumped and rescued them to take home where they lasted for several days.
Relaxing at home after lunch with some friends I drew a seashell which I've had for years but never drawn before.  It's a very difficult shape to capture on paper but fascinating to study with it's fibonacci spiral.
The same friends invited us on a picnic with them one Sunday and took us to the 'Plage de Legeur' a delightful spot by the river where the children could paddle and the adults could chill out in the shade of the trees.
Bob and I decided to treat ourselves to a lunch out after completing shed no 1 and this is the view through the window of the charming restaurant by the harbour where they cook delicious steaks on an open fire, yummy!
This is the view from my seat on the sofa where I sat at the end of a hard days slog shed building.  Those geraniums outside the window are now all the way to the top and we can hardly see out but up till now I haven't had time to cut them back! They will have to wait till we come back from our holiday now.
My next door neighbour, Isabel, gave me a few plant cuttings from her garden at the beginning of summer and I've managed to keep most of them alive, mainly by planting them in view of the kitchen and watering them with the lettuce washing water.
Here is the first page of the sketchbook decorated with various geranium flowers from my friend Kathrine who also gave me a handful of cuttings.  I think some of them have stayed alive  too despite being rather neglected due to our other distractions!
Well that's it for a few weeks, we're off in the morning in the camper car, heading south to profit from a bit more sunshine.  I've packed a couple of sketchbooks, paints, crayons and pens so there will be plenty to blog about when we return.
A bientot, see you later!

Friday, 5 September 2014


For the 19 years we owned our boat Chardonnay we had a lot of fun, exploring the coasts of England and France but also a lot of hard work to keep her clean and properly maintained.  Every year she had to be lifted out of the water to have her hull scrubbed and anti-fouled.  When we lived in England it was quite easy, the boat yard was only a mile from our mooring in Portsmouth harbour but here in France things were rather different.  The local harbour were not as careful as we would have liked so we chose to sail round to Paimpol where they had a good strong lift and plenty of space to work.
The passage to Paimpol is not very easy, either passing through many rocky areas with some strong currents or going a very long way round the outside to avoid the overfalls.  I drew this sketch after our last trip there before selling the boat.  I can remember being quite scared as the swell was very deep with white tops as we sailed along with a reef in.
We got there safely and started on the work.  The propeller was usually my job while Bob concentrated on cleaning off the slimy weeds with a pressure sprayer.  One year we had this wonderful colection of sealife, animal as well as vegetable which really was this colourful!
It was jolly hard to get everything off and restore the prop to it's former beauty with some elbow grease and lots of Brasso!
We usually stayed in the river Trieux on our way to and from Paimpol where it was very peaceful and we could relax after all our work which usually took at least a week.  It was lovely to just tie to a buoy and watch the sailing school giving their lessons, the oyster farmers tending their crops and having a barbecue for our tea as the sun went down behind the hills.
We eventually decided to sell the boat as she was becoming more demanding, needing lots of expensive bits replaced and we seemed to spend more time working on her than enjoying our sailing.
We found a keen buyer who had been looking for just our boat, a Vancouver 36 foot, and quite a rarity as only 12 were made in that model in the 1990s.  It was a sad day when we handed over the keys but we knew she was going to a good home in North Wales and would be sailed to her full potential as an ocean cruiser.  This summer we were delighted to receive a postcard from the Azores where she had safely carried the family who now own her.
We carry on our exploring now on land in our camper car but we still have a few moments now and again when we smell the sea air and remember our happy days with 'Chardonnay of Solent.'