It’s taken me three years to visit Menerbes… shameful I know, considering it is practically the epicentre of A Year in Provence. Now however I’m immensely pleased it’s taken me so long as it’s clear neither Dan or I would particularly like to live anywhere else in the Luberon. We only had half an hour to walk around so this a very quick post of my top five photos. Top: Light. Below: a gorgeous garden and fantastic type face. Colours –I should mention that Menerbes also has a couple of exquisite galleries with interesting, contemporary art – mainly paintings but prints too. This is such a nice change from the usual shite you find in these tourist villages. I had been (and still am) hoping to open a pop-up gallery but it is proving almost impossible to do as in London and hire a space without an intimate knowledge of French law and a mammoth amount of schmoosing (and l’argent). If I do ever manage it, Menerbes would be my number one spot.
This post has nothing to do with food and everything to do with rain. Since the last two days have been the wettest since I arrived in Provence every frog and snail is on the move. Last night we saw about 100 frogs hopping across the road and today I put my foot in my shoe to find a snail the size of an egg asleep in the toe end! I will never again leave my shoes outside the front door.Todays view – The only plus side to all this rain is that the garden is getting a good watering… and very excitingly the cherries are starting to come out.In other news – I found a bee hive in between the window and the shutters in the Bastide. Dan was rather pleased by this as we have been hoping to keep bees for a while and they can (apparently) be transported to a new home, although I am dubious. As the hive is roughly the size of two rugby balls I think I’ll leave to to Dan to tackle.
As the wind speeds at Bourrade have now reached 100km an hour Dan and I decided to spend the day in L’Isle sur la Sorgue window shopping. On todays wish list a massive back lit map of the world!Today’s major find however was the newly opened Villa Datris, a contemporary sculpture gallery in the middle of L’Isle. Below is my edit of pieces from the current exhibition Mouvement et Lumiere.A couple of my sketch book pages showing ideas/inspiration for moving sculptures like the Mark di Suvero one above.
Beautiful tiled section of the garden path – Villa Datris also had a fantastic reading room. The library table included a collection of Arman’s work – a Nouveaux Realist whose retrospective we saw at Centre Pompidou last year. My rough drawings of his smashed cellos – We also dropped in on our favourite antique shop Le Petite Curieuse to see if she had any new weird and wonderful items. Dan fell in love with a life size painting of a cheetah (which sounds hideous but was actually tres stylized and tres chic) while I thought this baby rocking chair was the kitsch-est thing I’d ever seen!I like the blues, greys and greens on the rubble wall even if it does remind me of our yet to be completed bathroom since Dan chipped all the tiles off. I’m also appreciating the big floral statement. No trip to L’Isle would be complete without a visit to my secret fabric warehouse. The owners have literally thousands of pieces of fabric and haberdashery, all of which I would happily buy. It’s unusual that I come away without a little swatch but today I resolved myself to once and for all start my own fabric emporium. PS The ice cream of the title refers to the two balls of banana sorbet and the three balls of dolce latte and one ball of pistache Dan managed to scoff for pudding. Nothing like ice cream on a grey day!
A BIG thank you goes out to Miss Emma Wilson of London, England for all her hard graft this weekend! With Emma’s help Mr Hope and I have prepared the Vegetable garden for planting up… hopefully this friday when we’ll be trying our luck at the Carpentras wholesale flower and plant market. Below is my first rough ‘companion planting’ plan – 1&2 Pea teepees with Aubergine, Tomato and Basil. 3 Onions, Lettuce. 4 Onions, Carrots. 5&6 Squashes and Sweetcorn underneath Bean dome, Courgettes, Potatoes. The rectangular area at the top of the plan will be planted with fruit trees and bushes, some lavender and wild garlic. Just outside the fence-line are three rampant Rhubarb plants that I will leave where they are. Rhubarb Crumble here I come!Finally a collection of wild colours around Bourrade today –
We have started two major projects this week, I say we, it’s mainly Dan doing all the hard graft (digging trenches, removing rubble) while I run around re-potting plants and raking over soil. The first is to build a new front terrace for the Mas with retaining side wall boarding the existing flower bed. The second is to cut back the grass line on the drive.As well as helping Dan I’ve been working my way through the seemingly never-ending list of gardening bits and bobs. Potting up flowers …Cutting down the seven pampas grasses that had reached Triffid proportions…A mini clear-up project that will make a big difference, the front entrance to the house is never used. After clearing the leaves, unblocking the drains and cutting back / de-weeding the miniature flower bed and pots I made a few quick drawings. I’m still unsure as to what to plant in the mini bed (just seen on the right). For now I’ve filled it with displaced iris’ from Dans front trench.
On Monday morning we had a tiny dribble of rain that was just enough for me to be able to plant up the new front-drive. So yesterday I spent a back-braking day turning over the cruddy stoney soil, adding in fertiliser and putting the plants in the ground. A photo of the far end with inter-grated postbox! It looks quite sparse now but hopefully by the summer the Lavender will have puffed up and the grasses and Romarin will be considerably bigger.Soil sample – Other than the fluro colours I think Dan and I have got quite close to his original plan.