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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Gorge du Loup
01/07/2008, Ile Porquerolle

Ile Porquerolle is an important conservation area, and home of the Botanical Conservatory, a government project to protect Meidterranean diversity. Joel of Peregrine and Sarah walked across the island, and back via the Conservatory; it's only about 5km. The picture, when I get to load it, is the tiny creek, Gorge du Loup, showing the incredible transparency of the water.
After three days we moved round the corner to Plage de Notre Dame (actually the picture in the last post), which is slightly quieter. This is usually a slightly easier (less weedy) anchorage, but it quickly went into our all time top 3 b----ration factor places, as it took us about 15 goes to get the hook to stay caught! Lots of weed.
We moved in the company of new friends Michelle and Joel on Peregrine, who shared lots of great knowledge about their anchorages in France and Italy with us, which was really useful.
The move also introduced us to circumnavigators Warren and Jill on their restored RNLI lifeboat, sailing yacht Swn-y-mor (which means Sound of the Sea in Welsh). As we write we can't remember her age, but we think she was working up till the seventies. Warren and Jill had caught a tuna but couldn't eat it all, and generously donated three huge tuna steaks to Roaring Girl. They made four excellent meals!
One of the great upsides of cruising is the people you meet.


Places and people
Not only Auckland but Hollywood (or at least Hove).
26/06/2008

In addition to making superyachts and running space for leisure craft, La Ciotat's main claim to fame is as the place where the earliest moving pictures were made. They were first shown in Paris in 1895, and were treated with awe and astonishment there as well as London and New York. On 21 March 1899, at the Eden theatre, an audience of 250 people were amazed by a short film of a train arriving at the La Ciotat freight station. The story goes that people were so startled, they ran out of the cinema, thinking the train would come through the wall.
The Lumiere brothers, who invented the cinematograph, came from this area, and were inspired by photography and the light of the locality. The Eden is the oldest moving picture house in the world, and is now undergoing renovation as a museum.
We plan to stay here tomorrow given the forecast and leave for the Iles d'Hyere on Saturday. Classic Med: either too much wind or none at all!.

Places and people
Church of sailors
Sarah
22/06/2008

Inside, the church has undergone a lot of restoration. It is very lovely, though with rather more gold than Anglican-raised eyes are used to! But much more restrained than the dripping gilt and blood of Spain...
This is very much a sailors' church, filled with images of boats. This caravel mosaic is above the altar, in pride of place surmounting another statue of Mary and child.
From the ceiling hang what in any other context would be called mobiles: model sailing ships made in great detail which are motionless in the still air of the basilica. More models are displayed in glass cases in other rooms of the complex, showing ships from the founding of the city to the present day.

Places and people
Still hot!
21/06/2008

It was a great night, and stayed about 25 till the sun came up again and it got even hotter.

Places and people
Party, party!
21/06/2008

Paul arrived, as planned, at Marseille train station on Saturday afternoon. We were there to meet him, and walked back to the boat. Midsummer night is traditionally a major music festival across France, and Marseilles celebrates with gusto. We wandered the streets of the district known as Le Panier into the wee small hours.
The area was the old town until systematically destroyed by the Nazis in 1944. It was rebuilt in the '50's, and there are many small streets, unpassable for vehicles, and steep stairs clambering up the old cliffs of the defensible creek that attracted the Greek colonists who founded the first city here in 600BC.
At every corner, in every square, there was music. Funk, hip-hop, rap, salsa, rock, fusion. Guitars, accordions, ouds, drums of every shape and size, sax and trumpet and whistle. DJ's spinning, people dancing, drinking, talking, kissing.

Places and people
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
Packing
Pip
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
Pip
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
Sarah
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
Pip
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

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