Forêt Des Cèdres

001

One day last August, looking to escape the heat of Provence, we found some welcome shade in the Cedar Forest on the Petit Luberon ridge above Bonnieux. The forest was planted in the 19th century to rehabilitate an area damaged by intensive grazing. I’m reminded of The Man Who Planted Trees though I’m sure this forest was not sown by just one man alone. Continue reading “Forêt Des Cèdres”

Frames of reference

I AMsterdam

i amsterdam

We took a half-term weekend break to Amsterdam. It seemed like the city was being relaunched and rebranded/rembrandted. The Rijksmuseum reopened in April following an unprecedented 10 year renovation, the Stedelijk Museum reopened last year after a 9 year refurbishment, and 2013 marks 400 years since construction began on the city’s iconic canals. Continue reading “I AMsterdam”

Frames of reference

Three French Abbeys

abbaye-notre-dame-de-senanque

This is probably one of the most famous lavender fields in all of France. It is cultivated by the monks of the Abbaye de Sénanque and blooms in early summer. By the time we got here it was all over. We hadn’t intended to come but the road from Venasque to Gordes was closed at Sénanque and we could go no further, so we turned around in the car park. That was the nearest we got. Continue reading “Three French Abbeys”

Frames of reference

New River, Blue River

001

Myddleton House was named after Hugh Myddleton who built the New River, an aqueduct carrying fresh water into London. Over the years its course has changed but originally in 1613 it flowed through here, beneath these iron railings marking an earlier bridge. Continue reading “New River, Blue River”

Frames of reference

Banstead Wood & Mayfield

001

In France in early August we’d been too late to see the famous Luberon lavender, but back in England it’s not harvested until September. We went down to Banstead in Surrey to visit Mayfield’s lavender farm. The flowers bloomed in the late August sunshine and the fragrant fields buzzed with intoxicated bees and butterflies and other lavender enthusiasts. Continue reading “Banstead Wood & Mayfield”

Frames of reference

Château La Coste

001

Château la Coste is a vineyard 15km north of Aix-en-Provence which, since 2004, has become home to a remarkable collection of art and architecture. Signs have been kept to a minimum and the entrance was not immediately obvious, but we eventually found our way to the elegant, new art centre designed by Tadao Ando and emerged alongside Crouching Spider by Louise Bourgeois. Continue reading “Château La Coste”

Frames of reference

Rue Des Roues

rue des roues

This is the Street of Wheels in L’Isle sur la Sorgue, Provence, France. The town once had seventy waterwheels, all powered by the Sorgue river, driving mills for grinding grain, making paper and weaving silk. Nowadays the river turns fourteen vestigial wheels driving the tourist circuit around the town. We came here on holiday and stayed in the house on the right by the street lamp. Continue reading “Rue Des Roues”

Frames of reference

Jerusalem, Topography & Typography

jerusalem

Last Christmas I was given two books that I found inspirational in different ways: Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem and Simon Sebag Montefiore’s Jerusalem the Biography.

To summarise briefly, the first book has become my cooking bible, and is a testament to inspirational cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians, and the second book reveals the city’s complex history and the sources of controversy that have plagued her continuously. Continue reading “Jerusalem, Topography & Typography”

Frames of reference

The Fields Of Fyfield

001

I’m getting behind. Too many posts and not enough time. This one’s long overdue. We walked this way a month ago or more. It was another suggestion from Christopher Somerville. We printed out the map and the directions only to find when we arrived in Fyfield that I’d left the map at home. The directions were good but occasionally a map would have clarified things. It led to a few differences of opinion and a few trial and error wrong turns and turnarounds. 7½ miles turned out to be more like 10. Continue reading “The Fields Of Fyfield”

Frames of reference

From Saffron Walden

001

This walk begins where In Epping Forest ended. Butlers Retreat turned out to be the perfect place for breakfast, with possibly the best coffee in Essex. It kick started our trip up to Saffron Walden. Along the way we passed huge fields of cultivated rapeseed and roadside banks of wild cowslips, a yellow landscape that was once purple with crocus grown for their precious saffron. Continue reading “From Saffron Walden”

Frames of reference