France 2

An earlier post details a visit to Spain for olive oil and wine, calling at St Bertrand de Comminges a village in the French Pyrenees close to the border dominated by the vast church. The village has a few decent restaurants so it’s always worth a stop for lunch on the way to the Spanish supermarket. The Border at this location is crossed before the high Pyrenees and the road follows the River Garonne into Spain. So we went again in search of cheap Rioja. The church was built between the 12th and 16th century, the Gothic part completed in the 14th century by a bishop who went on to become Pope clement V. The church is unusual in that it contains a church within a church, the carved wooden choir stalls were designed to enclose the clergy from the common people, they are notable for the fine carving of scenes from the old and new testaments. High up on the wall is a stuffed Crocodile, legend says it was killed in the river Garonne by St Bertand whilst it was terrorising the locals bathing and washing clothes. It one of five stuffed crocodiles listed as French national treasures. Another reason for visiting the village, there is a tourist shop that sell expensive umbrellas, Karen had looked at them before and regretted not buying one, last time we called the shop was shut , so this time we were successful, they are beautifully hand made and come with a lifetime guarantee, a bit like the Tilly hat. It now has pride of place by the back door.

Spanish wine, although it’s good stuff we went for Rioja
Church at St Bertrand de Commings
The crocodile
Carved choir stalls
The umbrella

Cowden Japanese Garden

Yesterday we had a trip out to a recently re-opened Japanese garden on the road to Sterling near to the town of Dollar, the garden was first created by Ella Christie in the early 1900’s, she was inspired by an expedition to Japan and it’s magnificent gardens. She chose a female designer, Taki Handa to create to site in the grounds of Cowden castle. The site was vandalised in the 1960’s and has been brought back to life in recent years, the renovation is on-going.

I would certainly recommend a visit,

Japanese Garden Cowden


We have recently returned from a trip to France to collect some stuff we had left at a friends house in late 2019, intending to collect it the following Easter Covid got in the way so almost two years later we finally got there. The trip had its ups and downs, It was lovely to see our friends we had made there over the years, although the ones who where storing our stuff were away on holiday until the last week we were there. We visited our french friend and neighbour who lived opposite our old house, who was delighted to see us, we had briefly glanced at our old house and garden and were shocked at its sorry appearance. Cutting a long story short, she told us the new owners were unhappy and claiming that the house was uninhabitable and had been asking for our address and phone details with the view of taking us to court. It all left us a bit upset, having owned the house for 19 years and lived there for over 12 years, it had been a large part of our lives, we put it behind us and moved on in the knowledge that we had handed over a home that was far from perfect, but needed the TLC a 250 year old house deserved.

House 2019 as we left it

Living room


On the way home we called in at a small village called Fampoux, close to the town of Arras in northern France. Over lockdown I had done a far bit of research in my family tree. I had discovered my grandmother had eight brothers and a sister, many had died young, two brothers in WW1 within two weeks in August 1917. We found the grave of Peter in one of the six sites in the village. Martin the other brother is buried about 60 km away in Belgium. I was taken aback to discover that buried a few metres from Peter was the grave of his nephew Francis aged 19. I was aware of him in my family tree but had no idea he had been killed in the conflict eight days earlier than his uncle.

Sunken Road cemetery Fampoux


Due to an unfortunate mishap in the transmission of an email between Alyth and Blairgowerie, (Perhaps they were held up at one of the temporary traffic lights that seem to be popping up everywhere) my sky photographs were not presented in this morning zoom meeting of Alyth Photographic club, so here they are.

Taken last Saturday from the shore of Loch Ness, view from the Abbey at Fort Augustus looking towards Inverness.

This was the second of two recent visits there after not visiting in 20 months, we have put our apartment up for sale again, it has been rented out to staff and sadly in a bit of a state. We checked on the progress of it being put back in order by the management team, which seemed to be going very well.

Church Lafitole France

This is a photo I took some while ago of the church opposite my old house in France, The street lights go off at midnight leaving the village in complete darkness at certain times of the month. I had an idea to go and take some long exposure photographs. I cant remember what exposure it was 20-30 seconds possibly.

Abandoned house on Skye Scotland

This photograph i took on Skye some time ago, I loved the house and the tree against the white cloud.

Move to Alyth and lockdown

In late October 2019 we moved from what we had been our home for eleven years in south west France to the small town of Alyth in Perthshire Scotland.

We had ruled out England considered other areas of Scotland, some too far north, the Islands too remote for us. We had looked at Perthshire before, nearer to family, not too far from Edinburgh or Glasgow, we liked Perth and were soon to discover the city of Dundee.

We found our house very quickly, and fell in love with it, it had its problems, the town had suffered a freak flood in 2015, so we couldn’t get house insurance to give us full cover. We pulled out of the purchase but only a few weeks later finding through an adviser suitable insurance, so we were on again much to our relief. We still love the house, I am learning to love the oversized garden with it’s far too many trees and noisy crows.

Pitnacree Cottage

It is a lovely town surrounded by beautiful countryside with friendly residents and lots going on.
I joined the local photography and the art group, I volunteered at the food bank in Blairgowrie five miles away. Karen found a job at a local bank.

I started working on a project with the members of the photo club in conjunction with Perth Museum to put together an exposition of old and new photographs of Alyth in the Alyth Museum.

Then came Covid19 and lockdown, we are lucky to be here where we can work in our garden, take walks into “The den o Alyth” a beautiful location, up the hill or into the countryside past the potatoes and raspberry fields.

The photographic project is on hold probably until next year now, I am still working at the food bank emptying the box at Tesco twice a week dropping it off seeing hardly anyone else, just another woman volunteer occasionally who sorts it out and arranges distribution to the council.

Commercial Street Alyth

Fundación Rodríguez-Acosta

On the side of the Alhambra hill in Granada sits the Fundación Rodríguez-Acosta a home created at the beginning of the 20th century by Jose Maria Rodriguez Acosta (1878-1941) an artist. Dwarfed by the Alhambra above. The house where the Rodriguez Acosta Fundation-Museum is situated is a compendium of styles and is decorated with objects brought from all over the world, It has beautiful gardens with ponds, frescoes, statues, carvings, magnificent views over Granada and hidden tunnels from the Alhambra above. It is well worth a visit we prefered the gardens to the Generalife in the Alhambra.


We traveled this week further from Granada to spend two days in Seville a city we have briefly visited before, the last time some seven years ago at Easter, we hadn’t planned to be there during Holy Week and stayed further north away from the city. It was the first year for decades that heavy rain led to the cancellation of the processions of the virgin Mary, Seville dripped and our mood for various other reasons was dour. We hoped this visit was better and the sun shone and we enjoyed ourselves, we ate and drank well, just the two of us. Perfect.


We are staying in Spain for a while, just for a change, a long holiday to explore Andalucia, we are just south of Granada in the Lecrin valley we are just settling in discovering the village and the surrounding hillsides which are covered in olives, almonds, oranges and lemons.  So I decided to resume my photo blog and see how it goes.

The village we are staying in lies beneath the Sierra Navada we had the first heavy snow last week. We have two ‘Lavoirs’ in our village back home in France both are long disused, this one here is the first I have ever seen used.