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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Drowning in colour
Sarah & Pip
22/05/2008, Les Baux: Cathedral des Images

Five minutes walk from Les Baux is the amazing Cathedral des Images, an old limestone quarry. The removal of great blocks of stone created a series of enormous galleries which look as if they are themselves built and dressed, but are the bare walls left behind by the quarrymen.
For some 30 years, this has been the home of an annual spectacle, commissioned and curated by the private owners. This year, it is an homage to Van Gogh, who of course spent some time in the region, particularly at Arles and St Remy de Provence, both of them close to here.
The start of the exhibition is a series of photographic reproductions of his self-portraits. The copies are very high quality. Next to each one, there is a reproduction of a detail, usually an eye. These capture the complexity of colour and brush work, the astonishing greens and blues and purples that create the auburn stubble across a cheekbone, or the sallow curve of the eye socket.
From here, you enter an enormous cavern with scattered pillars. Great projections of paintings play across these surfaces, changing in a sedate dance to Beethoven and Mozart. You stand in the astonishing yellow of the cornfields, disappear into the starry night. Above you the great heads of Provencal people bend down to look at the gawping audience, listen to the running school children. The delicate faces of Chinese and Japanese women, themselves details beside a window or behind a still life, peer across the dark floor.
A stunning experience, which for both of us gave a new understanding of colour. A new feel for how it might be used and how the artist transmogrifies the bright poppy leaves or threatening clouds. We certainly gained an understanding that we wouldn't have got from seeing the originals (some of which we have seen!), because of the detail, the quality of reproduction and the sheer scale.
A must-see if you are in the region, and if the Cathedral des Images expositions are always this good, then put Les Baux and the quarry on your list any time you come this way.

Places and people
Citadel town
Sarah & Pip
22/05/2008, Les Baux

Les Baux is named from the Provencal word for a rocky outcrop or promontory and you can see that this citadel grows out of the rock. It has commanding views all the way to the sea.
Nowadays it is a very touristy place, with restaurants and giftee shoppes full of yellow and blue cloth (printed in China, we wonder?) But it is still fascinating to wander the medieval streets and see the stone houses piled upon each other. The feudal lords of the town, who owed allegiance across a range of dukes such as Savoy, were essentially independent, controlling a large swathe of land. It was not until the 1680's that this area was 'integrated' into France.
Incidentally, bauxite, discovered in the limestone of these hills, takes its name from the village.

Places and people
Garden lunch
Sarah & Pip
22/05/2008, Les Baux

Pip got back to Port St Louis on 20 May. Both of us did the trip by train, partly because of having lots of luggage but mostly because we are very aware of our carbon footprint having flown to NZ this year. It cost more, not least because we both avoided the change in Paris, but was incredibly simple. St Pancras/Lille/Nimes/Arles. By the time you count waiting around in airports and the transfer from airport to station at Marseilles, travel time was about the same. Let the train take the strain!
On 22nd May we took the car (hired for a week) to the nearby town of Les Baux, situated in the Alpilles about 50km from here. We celebrated Pip's return with lunch in this lovely garden restaurant.

Places and people
12/05/2008, Cardiff

Back to Cardiff and Jenny's. Packed and repacked, adding in tea bags and heaven knows what, as Sarah sends odd requests. Ready to make the journey home to Sarah and Roaring Girl.

Places and people
Bluebells, summer visitors and Hornblower
06/05/2008, Gunwalloe and Penzance

Three days, I stayed with Melanie. We visited a beautiful bluebell wood. I rested my leg and helped her get ready for the tenants and move to the other house at Helm's Deep. Mel left on Saturday morning to join Fiona at Portsmouth, dropping me off at Gunwalloe, and I walked back to Helm's Deep via the coast path. My leg held out well for the first two hours, but on a nasty decline, it started to hurt me again. It took me another two hours to drag myself to Helm's Deep. Ice-packs and a mammoth Hornblower DVD session helped.
The next day I walked from Helm's Deep to Penzance. Having had enough at this point, as the weather was turning again, I jumped on a train back to Torquay. The rest of the path will have to wait for another day.

Places and people
Camaragaise harness
03/05/2008, Port St Louis

The first week in May saw Port St Louis celebrate the Festival of the Camargue, which included a meet of horses at Port Napoleon. It was possible to join a ride to the beach and lunch and so on. I didn't do it (although tempted) partly because it cost quite a bit and took a whole day, but also because I had no appropriate footwear. Those stirrups are pretty tough when you're wearing sandals.

Places and people
Bloody cows
01/05/2008, Falmouth to Helford

Dropped off at the other side of Falmouth by Mel, I walked on. Just past Trebear and the gardens there, I was striding forth down a hill, and the muscle above my knee began to twinge a bit. I was cutting through a paddock full of cows. Badly kept cows: some had bloody tails as if whipped around a barbed wire fence, others were heavy and desperate for milk, and others had been milked. Not impressed by the husbandry of these cows. But having been chased (or at least intensely scrutinised) by another load of cattle between Cawsand and Portwinkle, I was a bit wary.
These girls were all on my path. I cooed to them the entire way across the paddock, told those that desperately needed milking that I wasn't going to chase them at all, got to the other end and realised my leg was really sore. I dropped down into Helford, to where the ferry crosses the river, and thought I needed to get it checked. After crossing the river, I realised I couldn't make it up the hill, and called Melanie for rescue.
What with all that, I didn't take any pictures.

Places and people
Falmouth arrival
30/04/2008, Veryan to Gunwalloe

I could not decide whether the little foot ferry across to St Mawes was running that early in the season, so I caught a bus there and just missed the ferry to Falmouth. I wandered the quay, looking at the pretty shops and rang Melanie.
We arranged to meet, and I caught the next ferry to Falmouth, where I purchased new shoes and a fenderstep. (Long required, and hard to get in France or Spain.) Melanie picked me around, and whisked me back to Gunwalloe, where she was getting the place ready for the summer tenants. Two days to go and a mad panic!

Places and people
I am not dangerous
29/04/2008, Gorran Haven to Veryan

The weather was not looking so good but decided to go at 9.30. The heavens opened shortly after. Too far to turn back, I have to go on to. The first village I come to is Gorran Church. Not even a shop. The bus on Tuesday left at 0930. Mised it. On to Beswinger. I know there is a YHA there. Should be a place to dry out there, methinks.
Well, I get to Boswinger. There is a holiday park on the corner, but thinking of a warm place with simpatico people, I go on. Wet, cold and ready to stop on, I knock on the YHA door.
A chap's head pops out the window. "What do you want?"
"A dry place and room if you have one."
"No. I've a school group in." All this, while he is hanging out of the window, as if I was a mass murderer. After some prompting, he suggests a B&B about six miles away. I ask if the holiday park might help, and with no specific answer, I put my pack on and trudge soppingly back up the road.
At the holiday park reception, the answer is "sorry, we're not really open for the season yet." But in answer to "do you mind if I dry out a bit", they say "no problem".
Having missed all the buses out of the village, I ask about the shuttle taxi. The nice man rings - to find out the taxi has just gone to the airport and is at least one and a half hours away. Ironically, it had left from the same pub I had left dry, only this morning.
Pondering my future and thinking - I'll just get a bus back to St Austell and get on a train, and give up.
A deliverer of publicity leaflets turns up, and yep! I get a lift out of here. Yes, yes, yes!
Next stop, Veryan . Sandy, my new-found friend, delivers attraction leaflets to all accommodation out this way, is most helpful about where to go in Veryan, and puts me right for striking distance of St Mawes and Falmouth.
The B&B is fab. The lovely lady dried all my stuff. Warm boots, and then the sun came out!.

Places and people
Really bad weather
28/04/2008, Charlestown to Gorran Haven

The weather isn't so good today and having found the first part of the walkway is closed, I decided the destination today is Mevagissey, but on the back road. Well, again I made Mevagissey by 1pm (must be getting fitter) so keep going.
Having been pleased with myself earlier, when a big rain squall came in, I was happily having a cup of team. Not so lucky this afternoon: about 1/2 mile out of Gorran Haven, the skies opened. Rain and hail. Lots of hail.
So I'm now staying here for the night.

Places and people
Tall ships
27/04/2008, Fowey to Charlestown

I have to say at this point every day I have asked myself - do I still want to do this? In the morning the answer is yes. In the afternoons, I have wanted to get on a bus or a train. No more walking. But then I wake up to think - well, keep going.
But today I changed allegiance from the coast path (has enough cliffs) to the Saints Way, which took me over rolling country and farms, then around Par beach, coming down in the picturesque port of Charlestown, where the tall ships sail from and are repaired.
Stayed at the hotel. Very nice.

Places and people
A long day
26/04/2008, Looe to Fowey

When I left in the morning, my target was Polperro about 5 miles. A bit shorter, but with very sore feet, I'm OK with that.
The walk out of Looe was truly stunning, a beautiful day with a long up and down track arriving at Polperro (in the pic) by 1.00. Feeling fit so I decided to keep going. Polruan, Fowey, is another 7 miles.
Arrived once again on the stumps that are my feet, just in time to see the last ferry pulling in to Polruan (6.55pm). Phew! A quick trip across Fowey harbour to another night in another Ship Inn (not very nice).

Places and people

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Who: Pip Harris and Sarah Tanburn
Port: Ipswich
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