Chateau de la Falque – Accommodation for 3 Nights

The inner courtyard leading to our room.   Photo by Amanda.
Chateau de la Falque in Saint-Geniez-dʼOlt, France – Our Accommodation for 3 Nights.

Chateau de la Falque in Saint-Geniez-dʼOlt, France.  Photos by Touch of Cinnamon.

Our Accommodation from Saturday 22nd to Tuesday 25th April 2017.

After Belcastel we took a fairly long and, as it turned out, eventful journey to our next accommodation.  A minor missed turning meant that we ended up travelling through the beautiful, historic Sainte-Eulalie-d’Olt, the next town along from where we were staying.

Relais du Silence -Chateau de la Falque in Saint-Geniez-dʼOlt, France.
Photo by Touch of Cinnamon.

Unfortunately, I was the one driving and had the unenviable task of trying to navigate (using the spiteful wench of a sat nav) through the smallest of cobbled streets.  She (sat nav) seemed to think that roads, a mere hand-span wider than our vehicle, are perfectly passable.  These narrow two-way streets often ended in a 90-degree turn on to yet another narrow street.  Narrow roads don’t normally bother me when I’m driving in Ireland, but in France, I found them nerve-racking, maybe because I was driving an unfamiliar hire car and didn’t want to lose my deposit!?  To both our amazement, we managed to squeeze through and were heartily pleased when we arrived at our next accommodation, ‘Chateau de la Falque’ in Saint-Geniez-d’Olt.

A taste of the narrow, two-way streets I had to drive through in Sainte-Eulalie-d’Olt, France.   Images lifted from Google Maps.

 Chateau de la Falque in Saint-Geniez-d’Olt, France. 

View from where we parked. You walk under the stone archway to get to the courtyard and our room.   Photo by Touch of Cinnamon.
Chateau de la Falque in Saint-Geniez-dʼOlt, France.

Nestled between Saint-Geniez-d’Olt and Sainte-Eulalie-d’Olt, we seemed to have this beautiful, golden spa hotel pretty much to ourselves!  I’d have like to have learned more about the property but my French is none existent so I couldn’t ask the French-speaking receptionist for information but on my return, I spotted the following bit of info.

“Occupying a stone convent dating from the 17th century, this refined boutique hotel sits on 5 acres of parkland. It’s 1.7 km from Saint-Geniez-d’Olt village and 5.3 km from Parc naturel régional des Grands Causses.

A spa features a sauna, a whirlpool and a steam room, plus massages and treatments. There’s also a quaint courtyard and a chapel. ” 

The convent and its small complex of surrounding buildings were beautifully restored and walking through the stone archway to the inner courtyard made me feel very privileged.

Relais du Silence – Chateau de la Falque in Saint-Geniez-dʼOlt, France.   This image is the property of the hotel.
Click on the image for their website.

The above image and the next two photos below are from the accommodations own website.  If you click on any of these images, they’ll take you directly to their website.

The Entrance  & our Bedroom.    These images are the property of the hotel.
Click on the image to visit the China Junior Bedroom on their website.

Our bedroom and bathroom.   These images are the property of the hotel.
Click on the image to visit China Junior Bedroom on their website.

The room was larger than expected and decorated in a pseudo-Chinese style with a great bathroom and the added bonus of a seating area.  As we were on a tight budget we used to pull the table over to the couch to eat breakfast and make up our packed-lunches before leaving for the day.  Living the high life, eh?  😀

The style of the room wasn’t really to my taste but it was large, clean and very comfortable for our three-night stay.   I only took a few snaps from inside the room but they were blurry, hence me using the hotels own photos.

Our room is the first door on the Left. Photo by Touch of Cinnamon.
Relais du Silence -Chateau de la Falque in Saint-Geniez-dʼOlt, France.

The exterior of the building was definitely to my liking. It really was beautiful and a pleasure to return to at the end of a tiring day’s travels.  At night it looked particularly stunning and if we hadn’t been so tired each night, we’d have sat out in the inner courtyard with a bottle of red, but all we wanted to do when we got back, was sleep.

The inner courtyard to the rooms at night.  Photo by Touch of Cinnamon.
Relais du Silence -Chateau de la Falque in Saint-Geniez-dʼOlt, France.

Views looking over the grounds and courtyard at night.  Photos by Touch of Cinnamon.
Relais du Silence -Chateau de la Falque in Saint-Geniez-dʼOlt, France.

We were surrounded by fields but only a short drive away from two towns.  There was an Intermarché with a petrol station within 5 minutes drive.

Each morning we woke to the sound of cow bells as the cattle came in for milking and in the evenings we were serenaded to sleep by the soothing mating calls of crickets. Perfect!

As for the town of Saint-Geniez-d’Olt, neither of us were particularly enamoured by it but in all fairness, we had been spoiled by some of the places we’d been lucky enough to visit prior to arriving here.  Having said that, the accommodation was wonderful and made a great base to visit some really special and beautiful villages and countryside nearby.

Chateau de la Falque in Saint-Geniez-dʼOlt, France. Photo by Amanda.

There was a spa at the hotel but we didn’t go in.  We had intended on doing so but didn’t have the time in the end, plus it was quite pricey.

There was only one minor negative to this property and that was the view out of our window, it overlooked an industrial estate of sorts.  This was the only negative detail I could point out but it still wouldn’t stop me from staying here again, in the future.

The cost for the 3-night stay was €270 + taxes for the 2 of us, making it €45 per person, per night.   We didn’t eat breakfast at the property but it was available for a fee.

Below are three little video clips.  Again I apologise for how bad they are, I was using my phone and had/have a bad knee causing me to limp, hence the jerkiness of the clips.

Thanks to Amanda for her contribution.  All photos are the property of myself or Amanda unless otherwise stated.

Belcastel, France – Day 4 Cont…

Belcastel, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Les Plus Beaux Villages de France – The Most Beautiful Villages in France

Saturday 22nd April 2017 and ‘Day 4′ of our travels (continued).

A bit of background on Belcastel:

The incredibly beautiful village of Belcastel is situated in the Aveyron department in the Midi-Pyrénées region of France.  It’s about 20 kilometres west of Rodez and most definitely a must-see place if you’re in the area.

Belcastel, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Belcastel, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Continuing north, we headed cross-country to our next destination.  As we drew closer to the river Aveyron and its many tributaries, the landscape became more dramatic with lush, tree-lined valleys, rock promontories and crystal-clear rivers and streams.

Amanda on the bridge at Belcastel, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Belcastel, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

All this beauty should have prepared us for the wonder that was Belcastel but to turn a corner and suddenly see the beautiful Château de Belcastel appear as if by magic in its hidden valley was simply breathtaking.

The beautiful stone bridge at Belcastel, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Belcastel, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.
My friend Amanda in the centre photo.

Belcastel is a picture perfect, chocolate box fantasy of a village.  Spanning a sharp curve of the Aveyron River, the majority of its buildings, including the restored château, are on one side of the bank whilst the church and a sprinkling of hotels and cafes can be found on the other.

The beautiful bridge at Belcastel, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Belcastel, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Each is joined by a 15th century arched stone bridge which practically sparkled in the glorious sunshine.   Just above are a few shots of this beautiful stone bridge.

To my amazement, I saw a gentleman guiding a young woman, in a car, over this bridge. There was barely enough room but she managed to cross unscathed.  I wish I’d taken a shot of this great feat now.

Belcastel, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Hidden away until the early 20th century, the village was relatively inaccessible and it was as recent as the 1970’s that the château was purchased and restored by a local architect. This spurred individual property owners to join in the restoration of the village and lead to its extremely well deserved Les Plus Beaux Villages de France appellation.

Belcastel, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Fish scale roofs (apparently referred to lauze-roofing), thickly forested hillsides, and overhanging balconies with skirts of verdant wisteria all add to the fairy-tale-esque feel of this spectacular place. Stunning.

We visited so many beautiful historic towns and villages on our ‘Les Plus Beaux Villages de France’ trip but I have to say, Belcastel was one of my favourites.  God willing, I will come back here because this magical place deserves more than one visit.

Belcastel, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Sincere apologies for the poor quality videos, that’s my doing.  It’s been pointed out to me that I should have turned my phone around.  Sorry about that.  😀

All photos and videos are the property of myself and Amanda.

Thanks for visiting.

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, France – Day 4 Cont…

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Les Plus Beaux Villages de France – The Most Beautiful Villages in France

Saturday 22nd April 2017 and ‘Day 4′ of our travels.

A little bit of background on Sauveterre-de-Rouergue:

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue is located in the Aveyron Département of the Midi-Pyrénées in Southern France.  It’s roughly 35 km south-west of Rodez.

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Heading north, Sauveterre-de-Rouergue was our next stop. Having done a bit of research since then, it seems that this little village was something of a design project in its day

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Essentially made of nine blocks set three by three, the centre ‘block’ is a large, open, arcaded public square surrounded by eight separate blocks of buildings, each set around a garden with its own well. Not a bad bit of planning for the 13th century!

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue is a very old royal “bastide” that dates back to 1281 and retains its original layout.

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

There are still lovely half-timbered or Renaissance-style houses on the main square,  with about forty-seven arcades surrounding it.

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Nestled under the beautiful stone arches are a number of sweet boutique-style shops where local craftsmen and shopkeepers sell their wares.

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Well off the beaten track, the village was remarkably quiet for a Saturday afternoon and we enjoyed yet another impromptu picnic in the sun before hitting the road once more.

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Thank you for taking the time to visit my site and I hope you enjoyed today’s collection of photos by Amanda and me.

Monestiés, France – Day 4 Cont…

Monestiés, Tarn Département, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Les Plus Beaux Villages de France – The Most Beautiful Villages in France

Saturday 22nd April 2017 and ‘Day 4′ of our travels.

A little bit of background on Monestiés:

Monestiés is located in the Tarn Département of the Midi-Pyrénées in Southern France.  It’s 15 km east of Cordes-sur-Ciel and approximately 22 km north of Albi.

It’s a small village but it’s classed as one of the ‘Les Plus Beaux Villages de France and our next stop after Cordes-sur-Ciel.

Our visit to Monestiés was very brief but we got to enjoy a quick coffee sat under a young Wisteria vine before buying bread for the journey to our next lodgings in St-Geniez d’Olt.

Monestiés, Tarn Département, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Though very small, there were a wealth of various architectural styles in evidence and not one but two beautiful churches to admire. 

Monestiés, Tarn Département, Midi-Pyrénées, France

It was not until we were on the road again that we were to realise that we had actually only seen a small part of everything this village had to offer, as the village was actually split in two by the main road.  Ah well … maybe next time …

Cordes-sur-Ciel, France – Day 4

Cordes-sur-Ciel, Tarn Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.

Cordes-sur-Ciel

Saturday 22nd April 2017 –  ‘Day 4‘ of our travels.

A bit of background on  Cordes-sur-Ciel:

Cordes-sur-Ciel is located in the Tarn department in the Midi-Pyrénées region of southern France.  It’s approximately 1 hour 15 minutes north-east of Toulouse and 30 minutes north-west of Albi.

If you’re in the region, Cordes is an absolute must, just be prepared that it’s very steep and can be very busy in high season.

Cordes-sur-Ciel, Tarn Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.

Cordes-sur-Ciel, Tarn Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.

Day four and we were on the move again to our next location but not without wringing every drop of sightseeing that we could in the process.  Painfully aware that not only was it a Saturday and so market-day but also a blissfully sunny day, we headed into the small hilltop town of Cordes-sur-Ciel expecting to be crushed in our first French crowds.  Instead, though it was undeniably busy, it was cordially so and we were easily able to drive to the very pinnacle and admire the once again glorious views before exploring the town itself.

Cordes-sur-Ciel, Tarn Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.

Cordes-sur-Ciel, Tarn Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.

I honestly feel that our fleeting visit did not do Cordes-sur-Ciel justice.  More ‘touristy’ than the places we had seen so far, this was nonetheless very tastefully done with a greater emphasis on local crafts and artisanry than the usual grockle bait.*

Cordes-sur-Ciel, Tarn Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.

Amazingly well-preserved, it was one of the larger bastide’s we were to visit and consequently there much to see and many narrow roads to explore.

Cordes-sur-Ciel, Tarn Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.

Established in the early 13th century, Cordes quickly became prosperous on the back of its cloth, silk and leather trades and the stunning architecture reflects the success of its merchants. Gothic arches abound and almost everywhere you turn there are beautiful sculptural touches to the buildings in an array of differing styles.

Cordes-sur-Ciel, Tarn Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.

Cordes-sur-Ciel, Tarn Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.

Much of the towns surrounding walls are also intact and we would often turn a corner to see a grand and imposing gateway framing a picture-perfect view of the skies and valley beyond.

Cordes-sur-Ciel, Tarn Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.

Cordes-sur-Ciel, Tarn Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.

Cordes-sur-Ciel is a must see in the region and we were very lucky to see it in such glorious sunshine and relatively calm. It is noted for its crowds once the season starts in earnest.

Cordes-sur-Ciel, Tarn Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.

Cordes-sur-Ciel, Tarn Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.

*Grockle bait. A phrase is taken from the south of England where ‘grockle’ refers to the migratory tourists that flood into the more popular coastal towns of Devon and Cornwall the minute the sun so much as peeps out from behind a cloud. ‘Grockle bait’ therefore refers to those products and/or stores which cater almost exclusively to said, tourists. Usually overpriced, under-appointed and thoroughly scowled upon by the natives. We saw the same brand of pâtés de Foie gras being marketed as produced locally in just about every town and village we visited…

Cordes-sur-Ciel, Tarn Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.

Special thanks to Amanda for her wonderful photographs and words for this post.

Ambialet & Brousse-le-Château – Day 3 Cont…

Brousse-le-Château, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.

Aerial views of Ambialet to the left & Brousse-le-Château to the right.
Photos source unknown.

Friday 21st April 2017 –  ‘Day 3′ of our travels (continued).

On leaving Castelnaud (see my previous post), we headed towards Ambialet and it was here we hit our first road block – almost literally! The satnav was stubbornly trying to send us down a road which had been helpfully blocked by the local gendarmerie.  After a few (admittedly poor) attempts at trying to force the satnav to reroute us, we were both getting a little frustrated and more than a little annoyed at finding ourselves back at the same roadblock again and again.

As tempers threatened to flare, and blood sugar crashed, we decided to go into the nearest village, stop, regroup and grab a bite to eat before heading off again.  That village was Giroussens where we sat on a bench overlooking the Giroussens Panoramique, a gorgeous panoramic view over a verdant, river-ribboned valley whilst we ate an impromptu picnic of pâté, fresh French bread and fruit before moving on to Ambialet.  Magnifique.

Seat and view where we ate lunch in Giroussens.

Ambialet

A bit of background info on Ambialet:

Ambialet is a commune in the Tarn department in southern France.  It’s a small town and not on the list of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France but is worth visiting for the surrounding scenery and pretty riverside location alone.

Ambialet’s castle was a stronghold of the Cathars and was sacked during the Middle Ages by Simon de Montfort.

The beautiful scenery around Ambialet, Tarn Department, France.

Ambialet in the Tarn department of southern France.

Ambialet, which we eventually reached via a completely different route, was small but notable for the approaching scenery as much as anything else. Trailing alongside the river Tarn, steep hills and wooded valleys abounded and after a brief stop for a spot of guerrilla photography, we decided to push on to Brousse-le-Chateau.

The beautiful scenery around Ambialet, Tarn Department, France.

Ambialet in the Tarn department of southern France.

Brousse-le-Château

A bit of background on  Brousse-le-Château:

Brousse-le-Château is a small village in the Aveyron department of southern France, set in an idyllic and peaceful location perched on a rocky spur above the banks of the Tarn and Alrance Rivers.

It is classified as one of the ‘most beautiful villages in France’ and is within Regional Natural Park of the Grands Causses.

The medieval castle dates from the 13th – 15th centuries, with the towers and original castle ramparts casting their protective gaze over the pretty village as they have for more than 600 years.

Brousse-le-Château, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.

The journey to Brousse-le-Château was a joy itself.  The wide, crystal clear Tarn to the right of us, the Parc naturel régional des Grands Causses all around us and the occasional small but perfectly formed village made the journey fly by.

Pizzeria we discovered en-route to Brousse-le-Château.

We even picked out a dream holiday home which was annoyingly already occupied by a pizza restaurant of all things (see above pic) but we could forgive that one flaw for the glorious views over the water and its abundance of turrets (a must have in Amanda’s eyes).  Brousse-le-Château did not disappoint however.

The view from the bridge looking at Brousse-le-Château, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.

Brousse-le-Château, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.

More so than many of the other Bastides we would visit, there was something rather militaristic about Brousse. Just enough that one was in no doubt that this was a village that had seen considerable conflict over its long lifetime. The fortified walls remain and unlike the fairytale turrets of Carcassonne, the château here looked rather more solid and indomitable than decorative.

Brousse-le-Château, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.
This photo is by Christophe Finot – Wikipedia

Brousse-le-Château, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.

The perilously steep and ruggedly cobbled streets were a little perilous under foot and difficult to navigate with my dodgy knee so we were unable to venture far into the village itself but what we did see was beautiful.  Its sprawling silhouette and untouched streets looking more like a set piece on a sound stage than the living, breathing village that it is.  The temptation to return in a long dress and mantel will remain with me forever I suspect …

Brousse-le-Château, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.

Brousse-le-Château, Aveyron Department, Midi-Pyrénées, France.

We instantly fell in love with Brousse-le-Château, the wonderful feelings that this place evoked will be ours to treasure for a lifetime.  For me, I have to say, it might also have something to do with Brousse being awash with my all time favourite flowering plant, the beautifully romantic ‘Wisteria’.

My all time favourite flowering plant….Wisteria.

 

As an aside, today was the first time we were to fall afoul of what was to be an ongoing adjustment problem: finding food.

Being out of season as it was, most places were closed and the few that were open kept very short hours – 12 till 2 at lunch time and perhaps 7 till 9 in the evening. After this, nothing.  And I mean nothing.  Even the supermarkets (when they could be found) were open for a couple of hours in the morning and again in the afternoon. Consequently, we found ourselves scouring the streets of Cordes-sur-Ciel at 20h45 desperately searching for food.

We managed to dash into a Pizzeria just as it was about to close and they graciously served us with probably the biggest Pizza and Salad I have ever seen. Under normal circumstances, you could have fed a family of four with our meal once the bread and sides arrived but by this point, we were starving so normal be damned…

Brousse-le-Château by Pierre PONCHEL – Wikimedia

The photos are my own or Amanda’s unless otherwise stated.

Thanks for reading.

Castelnau-de-Montmiral, France – Day 3 Cont…

Castel-de-Montmiral, Tarn department, Midi-Pyrénées region, France.

Les Plus Beaux Villages de France – The Most Beautiful Villages in France

Friday 21st April 2017 –  ‘Day 3′ of our travels (continued).

A bit of background on Castel-de-Montmiral:

The village of Castelnau-de-Montmiral is situated in the Tarn department in the Midi-Pyrénées region of France.   It has Albi to the west and Gaillac to the north-west.

It’s perched on a hilltop amongst beautiful scenery,  above the valley of the Vère river.

The village was founded as one of many bastide towns in the region in 1222 by Raymond VII of Toulouse and is among the ‘The Most Beautiful Villages in France.

Castel-de-Montmiral, Tarn department, Midi-Pyrénées region, France.

Castel-de-Montmiral, Tarn department, Midi-Pyrénées region, France.

After Puycelsi it was a short trip to the hilltop village of Castelnau-de-Montmiral. Though not as pristinely restored as the village of Puycelsi, the beauty of this ‘Les plus beaux village’ lay in its authenticity and the almost palpable sense of age and history that seemed to ooze from its narrow streets and stone buildings.

Castel-de-Montmiral, Tarn department, Midi-Pyrénées region, France.

Castel-de-Montmiral, Tarn department, Midi-Pyrénées region, France.

Half-timbered ancient houses with overhanging balconies lined the cobbled streets leading to the centre of the village where the medieval main square, edged with dark corbel-vaulted arcades and dotted with quintessentially French bistro tables, was perfectly positioned for people watching.

Thoughtfully placed blocks of stone were also evident throughout the village, worn smooth no doubt by a procession of weary travellers through the ages struggling with the steep and winding cobbled roads as we did.

Castel-de-Montmiral, Tarn department, Midi-Pyrénées region, France.

Castel-de-Montmiral, Tarn department, Midi-Pyrénées region, France.

Space is obviously at a premium in Castelnau-de-Montmiral and the closely packed medieval buildings are strangely reminiscent of the Shambles at York though on a far grander scale. Even the Church (Notre Dame de l’Assomption), home to a 14th-century reliquary and a 15th-century altarpiece, came as a bit of a surprise, hemmed in as it was between dwellings and other buildings.

Castel-de-Montmiral, Tarn department, Midi-Pyrénées region, France.

Castel-de-Montmiral, Tarn department, Midi-Pyrénées region, France.

There is no lack of space though in the glorious vistas to be seen from the village itself. Overlooking the river Vère and the nearby forests of La Grésigne, the views were beautiful, unfortunately, I don’t seem to have any photo’s of my own.  The photo below is by Amanda.

Castel-de-Montmiral, Tarn department, Midi-Pyrénées region, France.

All photos are either by Amanda or moi.

Thank you for coming along to take a look, hope you enjoyed it.

Puycelsi Village, France – Day 3

Puycelsi Village, Tarn Department, France.

Les Plus Beaux Villages de France – The Most Beautiful Villages in France

Friday 21st April 2017 and ‘Day 3′ of our travels.

A little bit of background on Puycelsi:

Puycelsi is in the north-west of Gaillac in the Tarn department of Midi-Pyrenees, France.  It’s a medieval walled village surrounded by ramparts and the beautiful Tarn countryside.

Its narrow streets are edged with charming 14 and 15th century stone houses with terracotta tiled roofs and wooden shutters. Unfortunately, my photos don’t do it justice but take it from me, it really is worth visiting if you’re in the area.

O.K. back to the post…

So on the 21st April, I decided to be brave and have a go at driving in France.  This was a fairly major thing for me to do but I really wanted to give it a go and I’m so glad I did.

Driving in France meant I’d be driving on the right-hand side of the road, in an area I’m not familiar with, in a car I’ve never driven before, with signs I can’t read, but I did it. Actually, I/we did it ALOT.  We covered over 2,500 km in the 18 days we were away and had a fantastic time.

After crossing myself and saying a little prayer, I tentatively set off driving in the directions of Bruniquel, the first of the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France on our list. Disappointingly, we didn’t end up walking through the village as the parking was further away from the village than my poor injured knee could cope with.  I do regret that I didn’t just go for it, as the place looked lovely from the online photos I’d seen.    Anyway, we took a couple of photos of the village from a distance and carried on to our next destination…’ Puycelsi’.

Puycelsi Village nestled in the beautiful scenery in the Tarn Department of France.

Puycelsi Village, Tarn Department, France.

Puycelsi Village, Tarn Department, France.

The drive was really pretty, made more so by the beautiful weather we were having.  It was a delight to drive through the wonderful hilly scenery dotted with pretty towns and villages. old stone bridges and stand alone beautiful historic buildings.

We were lucky enough to see a few deer and red squirrels.

Above us was just as interesting.  The sky seemed to be full of birds of prey, which particularly thrilled Amanda, who’d intermittently let out squeals of delight that made me jump out of my skin and slam my foot on the brake a number of times.

Puycelsi Village, Tarn Department, France.

Puycelsi Village, Tarn Department, France.

Puycelsi Village, Tarn Department, France.

Puycelsi Village, Tarn Department, France.

Puycelsi is set high on a plateau overlooking stunning scenery but it was the village itself that won both our hearts.  It became the benchmark for all the other villages to live up to, so much so that Amanda coined the phrase ‘it’s no Puycelsi’ when visiting other villages that didn’t meet the Puycelsi standard.

Everywhere we looked was picture perfect.  Golden stone buildings against blue skies and the lush green surrounding hills.

Puycelsi Village, Tarn Department, France.

View from Puycelsi Village, Tarn Department, France.

Puycelsi Village, Tarn Department, France.

Puycelsi Village, Tarn Department, France.

Puycelsi Village, Tarn Department, France.

Puycelsi Village, Tarn Department, France.

Puycelsi Village, Tarn Department, France.

View of Puycelsi Village from a distance.
This photo is borrowed from the Internet but I can’t find the original source of the photo to accredit them.

Puycelsi Village, Tarn Department, France.

The cobbled streets were adorned with stone pots and borders filled with flowers and plants.  It was early in the season but I bet within a couple of weeks the place would be ablaze with colour.

Thankfully for me, there was also plenty of seating dotted all over the place.  This was a God send and meant I could rest my very painful, injured knee whenever it became too much. I know, suck it up, Adele!

In some of the videos I’ll be sharing from this trip, you’ll hear me huffing and puffing and generally being a feeble wench. I was in pain and struggling to walk, this wasn’t helped by the steep gradient of some of the tiny streets and that I’m so unfit. 😀

Puycelsi was a gem of a place and I really want to return with my family sometime in the future.

My travelling companion, Amanda, in Puycelsi Village, Tarn Department, France.

Bruniquel from a distance. We decided to go straight to Puycelsi and not stop here.

 

 

The photos are my own or Amanda’s unless otherwise stated.

Thanks for reading.

Château Labistoul (Our Accommodation) – Day 2

Château Labistoul – View as we approached our accommodation.

After collecting the hire car from Enterprise in Carcassonne we set off for the next leg of our trip.  We were heading two hours north to Campes close to Cordes-sur-Ciel in the Tarn department, southern France.

Amanda was the first to try driving here and did a brilliant job.  We were lucky enough to be given a car with an inbuilt sat nav.  It also helped that we’d paid extra for an automatic car as it gave us one less thing to be worrying about..gears.

The journey from Carcassonne to Cordes-sure-Ciel was lovely, as was the weather.   We pulled over on the way to eat a quick sandwich overlooking vineyards and the dwindling view of the breathtaking Pyrenees we’d left behind.

We arrived at our accommodation around 5 pm and were met by one of our Dutch hosts, Marjo.  Marjo was really attentive, helping us with our luggage and getting us settled into our extremely spacious accommodation set in an 11th-century property.

Prior to arriving we’d booked to have dinner on the evening of our arrival, so while we were waiting we took the opportunity to walk around the property and take a few photos.

Dinner was delicious, unfortunately, the photos I’d taken were all blurred so I couldn’t add them.  At dinner, we also got to meet Jacques, Marjos’ husband who was equally attentive and great company. They’re a really lovely couple and helped make our stay a truly wonderful experience.

We spend two nights in this magical property and hope to return for longer as there’s so much to see in this beautiful area. I’ll be writing further posts about the other wonderful places we visited in this area sometime soon.

We paid €196 + taxes for the two of us for two nights, breakfast was included in that price. We paid an additional €25 each for our three-course meal that we had on the evening of our arrival.

Château Labistoul – Front View / Parking / Entrance

View of the separate rentable Gite situated next to Château Labistoul.

Château Labistoul – Side of building after coming through the main gates.

Wonderful Château Labistoul and the beautiful grounds surrounding the property.

Château Labistoul – View looking back to the side of the property & the gated entrance.

Château Labistoul – View of the entrances to both our private Living Room (door to the right) & Bedroom (left). Plus private Outdoor Seating Area.

Château Labistoul – Private Living Room with sofa bed and coffee & tea making facilities.

Château Labistoul – Bedroom With double doors leading out to the private outdoor Seating Area.

Château Labistoul – Same Bedroom but looking towards the Hall.

Château Labistoul – Private Bathroom leading onto Hall / Stairs / Bedroom & private Living Room.

Château Labistoul – The sink area in the Bathroom with slit window to the left of the sink.

Château Labistoul – Bathroom window is a small slit in the thick, stone wall.

Château Labistoul – Hall & Stairs from our rooms.
You go via the Hall to get to the Bedroom, private Living Room, private Bathroom & shared upstairs Dining Room.

Château Labistoul – Upstairs shared Dining Room.

Château Labistoul – Upstairs Dining Room with old loom, set right above our rooms. We weren’t disturbed by any noise during our stay.

Château Labistoul – Antique sideboard in the Dining Room.

Château Labistoul – Hall leading to Bedroom, private Living Room, private Bathroom, Stairs & double doors leading out to the back of the property.

Château Labistoul – Back view of the property. Double doors leading out from the Hall.

Château Labistoul – The beautiful grounds surrounding the property.

Château Labistoul – Beautiful Outdoor Seating / Dining Area / Courtyard.

Château Labistoul – The beautiful grounds surrounding the property.

Château Labistoul – Wall enclosing the outdoor Seating / Dining Area.

We booked via booking.com, see the following link.

https://www.booking.com/hotel/fr/chateau-labistoul.en-gb.html?aid=311076;label=chateau-labistoul

This is the owners’ website:

http://www.chateaulabistoul.fr/new/index.php/en/

All photos are either the property of Amanda or moi.  I hope you enjoyed them.

Carcassonne, France – Day 1

I recently returned from an 18 day trip to France and thought I’d post a few photos of some of the places I’d visited while there, the first being ‘Carcassonne’.

Carcassonne is in southern France’s Languedoc area and is a beautiful example of a fortified medieval town.

Okay, I’d better get a few details out of the way first, so here goes:

We flew out on Wednesday, 19th April with Ryanair from the UK’s East Midlands (EMA) airport to Frances’ Carcassonne (CCF) airport, and despite their bad reputation, everything went smoothly and we actually arrived ahead of schedule.

The flight takes approximately 2 hours, which meant we were in Carcassonne for 10:00am local time.

By the time we collected our luggage, cleared customs, got a taxi, and waited for the hotel car to pick us up from outside the ramparts, it was around 11:50 before we got to our hotel.   As we couldn’t check-in until 4 pm, we dropped our luggage at reception and went out exploring.

The basic cost of our flight, one way, was £44.86 for the two of us.   If you were just going for a night or two you’d not need to pay for checked luggage as you get 10 kg of hand luggage each included in the cost of your flight, we were going to be away for 18 nights so needed a suitcase each.   So on top of the £44.86, we had the cost of x2 checked luggage, x2 priority boarding and x2 fast track, making the final total for our flight, one way:  £103.86 for the two of us.  Obviously, it’s not necessary to have priority boarding or fast track but it certainly made the trip easier and less stressful.

My friend Amanda is in the photo above, she’s looking directly at the camera.  I’ve known Amanda for over 25 years and knew she was the perfect travelling companion for this sort of adventure.

The holiday quickly became known as the Thelma & Louise trip. You’ll be sad to learn there was no murdering, dramatic driving off cliffs or dalliances with Brad Pitt.

Amanda, thankfully, has a far better grasp of the French language than myself. My limited French is seriously poor, and this despite me doing an online course for a couple of months prior to us travelling. So money well-spent there haha.

Best Western Hôtel Le Donjon

Our hotel for the evening was the Best Western Hôtel Le Donjon, Carcassonne. It lies  within the old city walls and cost us €135 for a standard twin room for the night in mid-April 2017.

We stayed in the main building on the first floor, overlooking the pretty gardens at the back of the hotel. The room was comfortable and clean, with a wonderful view which added to the experience.

To get to the hotel we took a taxi from tiny Carcassonne airport, although it is possible to get a shuttle straight to the gates of the old town for around €5.

Our taxi driver, without being prompted, rang ahead to inform the hotel that we were on our way. The cost was about €18. He dropped us outside the city walls at a designated spot (only permitted vehicles are allowed within the city walls) where the hotel sent a car for us and took us directly to the hotel. The process went perfectly and I’d highly recommend this hotel as a base for a night or two.

The hotel does have a private carpark but we didn’t have need of it as we didn’t collect our hire car until the day we checked out.

On the morning of our departure from the Best Western, we asked the hotel reception if they could organise a taxi to take us to Enterprise car hire at the airport. The hotel’s guy picked us up and dropped us outside the ramparts of the old town at the same place we’d been dropped off by our original taxi driver. We didn’t have long to wait before the same taxi driver arrived.  We were at Enterprise car rental within 10-15 minutes.

Best Western Hôtel Le Donjon via Bookings.com:

https://www.booking.com/hotel/fr/bestwesternledonjon.en-gb.html?aid=311076;label=hotel-202248-fr

The car hire was probably the most expensive part of the trip, costing over €1000 for 17 days.  This was mainly due to us leaving the booking of it to the last minute.  It was compounded by the fact we wanted an automatic, that there was 2 of us going to be driving, taking out the maximum amount of insurance cover and needing to drop off the vehicle at a different location….Bergerac airport.

We were very happy with the car.  We were given a Toyota Auris Hybrid and couldn’t believe how economical it was.  We traveled over 2,500 km and only put about €120 worth of fuel in the car.

A big thanks to Amanda for letting me use some of her photos in this blog post.  Between us we got a few good shots.

 

Christmas Part II – Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany 2016.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016

I got back from my trip to Füssen and Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany late Tuesday night and thought I’d do a couple of quick posts before I procrastinate and never get around to sharing.  If you’re ever looking for somewhere to spend a few days, whatever the time of year, both places are beautiful and well worth a visit.

This post is Part II of my Christmas experience in Germany and looks solely at Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a beautiful Bavarian medieval town on the famous Romantic Road.  It’s not going to be wordy just a few snaps taken from my time there. Hope you enjoy them and if you have any questions, please ask, hopefully, I’ll be able to help.  Thank you and season greetings.  Adele. x

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016

Rothenburg 2016

Rothenburg 2016

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016 This is the beginning of the Christmas market. It winds through further streets and into buildings behind the main square. The Rothenburg Christmas Market “Reiterlesmarkt,” named after a local Teutonic legend, which began during pre-Christian times as the story of a horrid rider who carried the souls of the dead. As Christianity swept through Europe, the figure developed from a wild man into a loving, gentle man who gave gifts to all people on earth.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016
Rothenburg Christmas market in the Market Square. It winds through further streets and buildings behind the main square selling small gifts, orniments, hot food and lots of mulled wine.
The Rothenburg Christmas Market “Reiterlesmarkt,” named after a local Teutonic legend, which began during pre-Christian times as the story of a horrid rider who carried the souls of the dead. As Christianity swept through Europe, the figure developed from a wild man into a loving, gentle man who gave gifts to all people on earth.

 

 

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016. Hotel Eisenhut, Entrance and Reception Area. The hotel is in a great location, right beside the Christmas Market. The shared spaces are beautiful but the room we had was very dated. The room was clean and large but the overall appearance was a letdown. I would still recommend Hotel Eisenhut despite our room.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.
Hotel Eisenhut, Entrance and Reception Area.
The hotel is in a great location, right beside the Christmas Market.
The shared spaces are beautiful but the room we had was very dated.
The room was clean and large but the overall appearance was a letdown.
I would still recommend Hotel Eisenhut despite our room.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016 This was our hotel for 2 nights, Hotel Eisenhut.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016
This was our hotel for 2 nights, Hotel Eisenhut.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.
Rothenburg is truly beautiful, everywhere you look you’ll see cobbled streets, brightly coloured medieval buildings and quaint shops geared towards the many tourists that visit this wonderful place each year. I personally didn’t go for the shopping but mainly to soak up the Christmasy atmosphere in one of Europes prettiest and best preserved medieval towns.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016. We'd been lead to believe that Rothenburg would be mobbed with visitors but we found it to be fairly quiet, with no queues in the shops and the restaurants being virtually empty. Maybe it's the recession or we just happened to fall lucky.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.
We’d be lead to believe that Rothenburg would be mobbed with visitors but we found it to be fairly quiet, with no queues in the shops and the restaurants being virtually empty. Maybe it’s the recession or maybe we just happened to fall lucky, either way, I highly recommend visiting this town on the famous Romantic Road.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016. The walls of Rothenburg.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.
The walls of Rothenburg.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016. The walls of Rothenburg.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.
The walls of Rothenburg.

My favourite Brätwurst was the wild boar sold at stalls in the Christmas market. We spent most of our time eating and drinking. The mulled wine was a firm favourite, making us all feel very festive and warming us during the cold winters days and nights.

My favourite Brätwurst was the wild boar sold at stalls in the Christmas market.
We spent most of our time eating and drinking. The mulled wine was a firm favourite, making us all feel very festive and warming us during the cold winters days and nights.

Pretty Christmas decorations are everywhere.

Pretty Christmas decorations are everywhere.

Treat yourself in the many gift shops, stalls, coffee shops and restaurants.

Treat yourself in the many gift shops, stalls, coffee shops and restaurants.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.

When the tourists leave and the mist descends, Rothenburg feels completely different but equally as special.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016. It's getting late here and the mist thickens. I can't help but think of Whitechapel, London and Jack the Ripper when I look at this photo.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.
It’s getting late here and the mist thickens.
I can’t help but think of Whitechapel, London and Jack the Ripper when I look at this photo.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016. The empty streets and mist gives the town a completely different feel.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.
The empty streets and mist gives the town a completely different feel.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016. There's hardly anyone around by 9 pm and then the mist begins to descend.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.
There’s hardly anyone around by 9 pm and then the mist begins to descend.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016. Rothenburg becomes eerily quiet when the shops close and the mist starts to blanket the town.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.
Rothenburg becomes eerily quiet when the shops close and the mist starts to blanket the town.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016. The walls are deserted at night. The mist gives the place a really creepy feel but we loved it.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.
The walls are deserted at night. The mist gives the place a really creepy feel but we loved it.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016. There's still a bit of life outside this hotel and in the adjoining walled beer garden.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.
There’s still a bit of life outside this hotel and in the adjoining walled beer garden.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016. Very few people were on the streets after 9 pm but this hotel and bar seemed to be buzzing.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.
Very few people were on the streets after 9 pm but this hotel and bar seemed to be buzzing.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016. The streets are virtually empty of people by 10 pm.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.
The streets are virtually empty of people by 9 pm.

 

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016. The streets begin to empty just in time for the mist to cover the streets.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.
The streets begin to empty just in time for the mist to cover the streets.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016. The streets begin to empty.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.
The streets begin to empty.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016. Beautiful cobbled streets of Rothenburg.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.
Beautiful cobbled streets of Rothenburg.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016. On the walls, it's deathly quiet and scary but we loved it.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.
On the walls, it’s deathly quiet and scary but we loved it.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016. Our hotel as the mist begins to descend.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.
Our hotel as the mist begins to descend.

We got up on our last day and went out for a walk and to watch the sunrise from the battlements.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016. Beautiful morning sunrise on the last day of our trip.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.
Beautiful morning sunrise on the last day of our trip.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016. Sunrise from the battlements.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.
Sunrise from the battlements.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016. Sunrise from the battlements.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.
Sunrise from the battlements.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Christmas 2016. Wherever you are in the world, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. Adele x

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Christmas 2016.

Wherever you are in the world, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

Seasons Greetings
Adele

christmas-flower

Christmas Part I – Füssen, Germany 2016.

Füssen, Germany - Christmas 2016.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.

I got back from my trip to Füssen and Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany late Tuesday night and thought I’d do a couple of quick posts before I procrastinate and never get around sharing. If you’re ever looking for somewhere to spend a few days, whatever the time of year, both places are beautiful and well worth a visit.

This post is Part I of my Christmas experience in Germany and looks solely at Füssen. Füssen is a lovely Bavarian town at the very southern most tip of the famous Romantic Road, just north of the Austrian border and right beside the Alps. Neuschwanstein Castle and Hohenschwangau Castle lie south-east of the town. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to go into the castles but made the journey up to Marienbrücke or ‘Marys Bridge’ where we were afforded a fabulous view of Neuschwanstein Castle and the surrounding lakes, towns and countryside.

It’s not going to be a wordy post, just a few snaps taken from my time there. Hope you enjoy them and if you have any questions, please ask, hopefully, I’ll be able to help. Seasons greetings. Adele. x

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016. Image links to Wikipedia .

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.
This image is from Wikipedia and links to that page.  All other photographs belong to my husband and myself.

Füssen, Germany - Christmas 2016. Marienbrücke or ‘Marys Bridge’, with fantastic views of Neuschwanstein Castle.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.
Marienbrücke or ‘Marys Bridge’, with fantastic views of Neuschwanstein Castle and the gorge below.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016. View down to the gorge below Marienbrücke or ‘Marys Bridge’.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.
View down to the gorge below Marienbrücke or ‘Marys Bridge’.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016. View down to the gorge below Marienbrücke or ‘Marys Bridge’.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.
View down to the gorge below Marienbrücke or ‘Marys Bridge’.

Füssen, Germany - Christmas 2016. Neuschwanstein Castle

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.
Neuschwanstein Castle

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.

Füssen, Germany - Christmas 2016.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.

Füssen, Germany - Christmas 2016. We always had time for mulled wine.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.
We always had time for mulled wine.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016. Street view of Füssen.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.
Street view of Füssen.

Füssen, Germany - Christmas 2016. View of Füssen at night.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.
View of Füssen at night.

Füssen, Germany - Christmas 2016. Füssens' Christmas market is small but lively, with a lovely atmosphere.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.
Füssens’ Christmas market is small but lively, with a lovely atmosphere.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.

Füssen town, though not as pretty as Rothenburg, has a certain charm of its own and has the added bonus of beautiful scenery, lakes, skiing in the winter and is home to some of Germanys most visited landmarks ‘Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles’.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016. The above image is of Alpsee bei Schwangau. The scenery around Füssen is beautiful. With the backdrop of the Alps and a number of lovely lakes, it makes it a perfect year-round destination.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.
The above image is of Alpsee bei Schwangau.
The scenery around Füssen is beautiful. With the backdrop of the Alps and a number of lovely lakes, it makes it a perfect year-round destination.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016. Lechfall (Gorge, river and weir)

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.
Lechfall (Gorge, river and weir)

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016. Lechfall (Gorge, river and weir)

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.
Lechfall (Gorge, river and weir)

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016. Lechfall (Gorge, river and weir)

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.
Lechfall (Gorge, river and weir)

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016. Lechfall (Gorge, river and weir)

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.
Lechfall (Gorge, river and weir)

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016. Christmas Market.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.
Christmas Market.

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016. Neuschwanstein Castle

Füssen, Germany – Christmas 2016.
Neuschwanstein Castle

Wherever you are in the world, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

Seasons Greetings
Adele

christmas-flower

Rachael Hawnt & The Beautiful Secret

Rachael has a beautiful voice that I’d like to share with you all, she’s also a distant relation. As you can see, I’m eager to claim her as my own because I believe in her and think she has a voice worth listening to, as does the multi-talented Ash Cutler.

Please, if you can, take the time to listen, follow and share their music. Thank you.

This next song ‘I Have Nothing’ a Whitney Houston cover really showcases Rachael’s’ vocal skills. From about 1:20 in you’ll hear the sheer power and range of her incredible voice.

Hope you like them too, please support them if you can. I’ve put both ‘Rachaels’ and ‘The Beautiful Secrets’ Youtube Channel links below:

Rachael Hawnts’ Youtube Channel

The Beautiful Secret Youtube Channel

Thank you

Adele

PS: Below is the original of ‘Lost On You’ by LP (Laura Pergolizzi), absolutely fab in my humble opinion, definitely worth a listen, especially if you enjoyed Rachaels’ cover version above.

We’re Alone Now

We're Alone Now

We’re Alone Now

We’re Alone Now

Fragile souls in the arena
bristling claws and teeth,
cornered.
Bloodied by caustic tongues,
haemorrhaging self-belief.
Their words dissecting,
infecting.
Still unable to summon the strength for the fight,
nor the bile to counter.
A last pitiful cry…..

… We’re alone now

Touch Of Cinnamon

Lyrics for James Blake – Retrograde

I decided to alter this piece. I prefer it this way, hope you do too.

He…

He... 1

He moves on all fours,
malevolence igniting fervour,
powerful,
delicious in his maleness, unrelenting in his pursuit.

He circles me,
bellowing his intent,
deadly,
stomping out boundaries; ominous warnings fired at other males.

He savours each battle,
bathes in their defeat,
dominant,
worthy of each bloodied form; deserving of the heart he already possesses.

He captures the sweetness,
conquers with calloused fingers and tender persuasion,
coveting,
whispering words, beautiful and rapturous. Fracturing me to a kneel.

He makes me feel extraordinarily female,
delicate and tiny,
belonging,
hiding among sinew, distended veins and protective menace.

He’s unfolding before me,
gentleness seeping from his soul, cleansing; atoning,
humbling,
this is what makes him beautiful. He’s vulnerable; like me, he’s caught by the heart.

He’s earned the right,
all rights.
Don’t go into battle, you WILL lose,
for we are armed….we are armed with love.

Touch Of Cinnamon

Re-posting one of my favourite pieces because ‘He’ drives me crazy.

Down We Go

Woman Praying 1

Oh father tell me, do we get what we deserve?

How do I climb out of the belly of beast,
when his skin is all I want to wear?

How do I stop the lick of his flame,
when all I desire is to feel the burn?

How do I get these feet to carry me home,
when my legs only know how to kneel?

…but only for him.

Oh father, we get what we deserve…
so down we go.

Inspired by the song ~ Way Down We Go by Kaleo

Ode To Facebook

Facebook-Meme

Come sit beside me,
lets take a look
at what I saw
on my Facebook

Cryptic updates,
attention seeking
widespread ‘LOL’s’
and people freaking.

Stolen words
so bland and trite
from foolish pens
that cannot write.

Another photo…
my neighbours brunch
there’s one of breakfast
and Sunday lunch!

Loads of (((((HUGS)))))
and talk of karma
from catty teens,
the queens of drama.

Greetings galore
a birthday thread.
“I wuff oo babes
I wish you were dead”

Kids speak “text”,
“Hey, hows yu m8?.
Adults ponder…
and participate.

Numerous photos
of hideous sprogs
Cats abound
and ugly dogs.

Politics, dogma
in boxes, square
“Down with this one…
and that one there!”

My work is done
Please hear my call:
Write on paper…
not someone’s wall.

Facebook

Remnants of War

Remnants of War

Steely jaws blunt with condemnation
replace the cries of the wounded.
Wielded with cold disdain
they cut away the beauty,
revealing only her betrayal.
Silver tongues whisper contempt
announcing her treachery.
Delivering her sentence with a final cut,
she wears her shame for all to see.
Like an invisible crown of thorns
she carries her burden through the streets,
its weight raw with humiliation.

Embrace Me

Stranger

 

Do you not recognise me?

I am the sum of you all
yet free of gender and race,
measured not by my wealth
nor the allure of a face.

Evolution and deities
draw a truce in this shell,
it is a place of the ageless,
where the tolerant dwell.

I am no stranger,
I am the reflection of impartiality.

Game of Thrones

Tywin Lannister, played by the wonderful actor Charles Dance readies himself for his final scene.

Ready Charles?

Tywin Lannister Ready

 

One…..

Tywin Lannister 1

 

Two…..

Tywin Lannister - 2

 

Three…..

Tywin Lannister - 3

 

Action!

Tywin Lannister - Action - Acting His Final Scene

 

Your time on ‘The Throne’ (pun intended) is over.  R.I.P. Tywin Lannister, you’ll be missed…

….well maybe not by Tyrion, but by me and maybe a handful of other ‘Thronies’.

PS.  I so wish I’d altered one of the stones covering his eyes, to make him look like he was winking.  Damn!

 

Recrimination

Recrimination

This ageing body is my coat of retribution,
grudgingly worn, familiar, but of no comfort.
I find myself sniggering at my fingers’
attempts to rub out the years,
The touch itself feels leaden and crude.

Again I recite the caustic words to the mirror,
picking out my crimes one by one.
Is this contempt or disgust?
Either way, I dress to the sound of recrimination,
and paint a smile on my thinning lips.

Deadwood

Deadwood - Family Tree

I’m pruning the family tree tonight
putting an end to further growth
you should have kept your sap within
and honoured our wedding oath

New shoots you have been sprouting
in a garden not your own
her plot was on the larger size
where many seeds had blown

Small wonder that I’m seeing red
and giving in to rage
I’m chopping off a rotten branch
to create another page

I just got Gold in a poetry contest with this little ditty.  Yeah I was shocked too!

Marks Of The Past

Soul-mate - “Love is simply the name for the desire and pursuit of the whole.” ~ Plato, The Symposium

Soul-mate – “Love is simply the name for the desire and pursuit of the whole.” ~ Plato, The Symposium

Adriana Mezzadri – Marcas De Ayer (Marks Of The Past)

I grieved your absence long before I knew your name
You were the time-worn scar carved under my skin
The severed necessity I could feel but not see
Your mournful echoes were forever wounding the present
But still I slipped the guilt on my finger and wore the lie
For he was not you, yet you were always the other half of me
Tell me querido, can you feel the marks of the past?

Touch Of Cinnamon

“According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.”

“Love is born into every human being; it calls back the halves of our original nature together; it tries to make one out of two and heal the wound of human nature.”

“Love is simply the name for the desire and pursuit of the whole.”

― Plato, The Symposium

Temporary Light

Temporary Light

Apollo The God Of Light – Caden

Riding on the back of bullish charisma, you touch down
Infecting those caught in your storm with confused excitement
Blind to their own dismantling, they conform, wide-eyed and awestruck
Placing heaped plates of creativity and hope at your wandering feet
These diligent little worker ants await direction, but will inevitably starve
For you are oblivious to the furore; already restless; already moving on
Did no one tell them your light here was only temporary?

Touch Of Cinnamon

We’re Alone Now

We're Alone Now

We’re Alone Now


Fragile soul in the arena, bristling claws and teeth.
Cornered.
Bloodied by caustic tongues. haemorrhaging self belief.
Their words dissecting.
Unable to summon the strength for the fight, nor the bile to counter.
A last pitiful cry
I’m alone now
Defeat’s ponderous hand, final, heavy.

Suddenly there was you……

Rising up, you position yourself between us.
Fearless.
The room falls silent. Muted in disbelief.
Look away now little one
Moving slowly the challenge is on; eyes fixed.
Dark heat. A pulsing fury. A bellowing
No longer alone.
The beast is free. No more defeat!

Roles reversed, their time to feel pain.
Carnage.
Swift retribution. Slow blood. A reckoning.
Baby, please stop now!
Gathering me up, you build a fortress around me.
Prowling it’s perimeter. Watchful. Ready. Breathless.
We’re alone now but for each other.
They have the company of their defeat.

Relentless vigilance takes it’s toll.
Weary.
Baby, come in from the cold. Put down your fists.
Let me soothe you.
Tenderness chases away the animal, delivers me the man.
Female warmth and exhaustion finally claim you.
Sleep querida, we’re alone now.
Let me be the girl you love.

Touch Of Cinnamon

Lyrics for James Blake – Retrograde

Curried Couscous

Curried Couscous

Curried Couscous

Further photos at the bottom of the page

I’ve recently been on an economy drive and also decided to get healthier after over doing it on holiday this summer.  I don’t know about you, but whenever I diet or start a ‘health kick’, I tend to end up thinking of nothing but food.  As a result I’ve been torturing myself by watching loads of cookery programmes, one being Jamie Oliver’s ‘Jamie’s Money Saving Meals’ on Channel 4. Now the following recipe isn’t from the show, but the show did get me trying to use up as much of the produce in the fridge as possible.  We’ve become pretty bad at over-stocking the fridge of late and by the time we venture to the back, the food is out of date and we end up throwing it away…it’s primarily vegetables that end up in the bin. This really grates on me, so I’m hoping that we can change our ways and save a bit of money in the process. *Fingers crossed*  This recipe is a good way to use up those stray vegetables lurking in the back of the fridge, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Note that the images at the bottom of this post are using approximately double the amounts shown in this recipes following details as I tend to make loads and use it throughout the week.

Anyway, here goes……

2 x Carrots
1 x Stick of Celery
1 x White or Red Onion
1 x Red Bell Pepper
1 x Green or Yellow Bell Pepper (I tend to use all three or whatever I have in)
2 x Gloves of Garlic
1 x Cup of Frozen Garden Peas
1 x Tin of Chick Peas
2-4 Tablespoons of Curry Powder or Individual Spices
1-1 1/2 x Cup of Couscous
1 Jug of  Chicken or Veg Stock x 2 cubes
Small Drizzle of Olive Oil
Pepper to Season

Fill the kettle with water and boil.  You’ll be needing the water for the couscous and peas.

Put your couscous into a LARGE bowl, (one big enough to accommodate the swelling couscous and the veg when it’s cooked).

Make the jug of stock using the boiling water and your choice of stock cubes and pour over the couscous.  Just enough to cover the couscous.  Cover the bowl with a tea towel and get on with preparing the veg. (Remember to stir the couscous from time to time and add more of the stock when the previous lot has been absorbed)   I use the best part of a half a jug of stock to one cup of couscous.  It only takes about 5 or so minutes to be fully absorbed.

Open and strain the tin of chick peas.  Give them a quick wash under a tap to remove as much of the slime that accumulates in the tin.  Put the frozen peas and the chick peas together in a microwavable bowl. Cover with boiling water and cook on full power for about 2 minutes (or whatever it says on your chickpea tin)  When cooked, strain them and put to one side.

Finely chop some garlic and place to one side.

Finally chop the carrots, celery, onion and place them in a bowl.

Finally chop the bell peppers and put to one side. (I like to use all three colours, simply because they look nice in the dish.)

Heat a drop of olive oil or vegetable oil  in a deep, large frying pan.

Add the bowl of onionscelery and carrots to the heated pan and cook until the onions start to go soft, but not browned.  This only takes a few minutes…3-5 minutes.

Add the curry powder to the veg in the pan and mix thoroughly.   I add quite a lot because I like the flavour.  In this particular batch I used my madras powder as I’d run out of curry powder.

Next add the garlic, bell peppers, peas and chick peas and a bit more curry powder.  Ensure it all looks well coated in the curry powder and fry off until everything is cooked through.   Again, this only takes about 3 or 4 minutes.

Once the contents of the pan are cooked and the couscous is nice and soft, add the pan of veg to the bowl of couscous and mix together.  Alternatively you could add the couscous to the frying pan and give the couscous a quick warm through, but I tend to make too much to fit in the pan, so I add the veg to the bowl of couscous instead.

Any leftover curried couscous can be refrigerated and used over the course of the week. I have it with various curries and chillies, with salads, in pita bread with left over meat etc. It’s particularly nice warmed up with cold, diced tomatoes mixed through it.

Take One Kitchen and a Whole Heap of Neglected Veg.....

Take One Kitchen and a Whole Heap of Neglected Veg…..

A Few Stray Veggies Rescued And Used In Veg Curry and Curried Couscous.

A Few Stray Veggies Rescued And Used In Veg Curry and Curried Couscous.

Couscous and Remaining Stock

Couscous and Remaining Stock

First Ingredients for Curried Couscous

First Ingredients for Curried Couscous

Couscous ingredients

Couscous ingredients

Ingredients for curried couscous and vegetable curry, plus a side of spicy prawns

Ingredients for curried couscous and vegetable curry, plus a side of spicy prawns

Chilli and Coriander Prawns Bargain at €0.85c, Reduced From €3.40c

Chilli and Coriander Prawns
Bargain at €0.85c, Reduced From €3.40c

Carrots, Celery and Onion Frying Off in Pan 3-5 minutes

Carrots, Celery and Onion Frying Off in Pan
3-5 minutes

Veg Frying Off With A Light Coating of Curry Powder

Veg Frying Off With A Light Coating of Curry Powder

Cauliflower, Onion and Potato Curry (before the other half spoiled it by adding loads of mushrooms)

Cauliflower, Onion and Potato Curry
(before the other half spoiled it by adding loads of mushrooms)

Curried Couscous, Vegetable Curry and Spicy Prawns (Everything but the prawns we already had)

Curried Couscous, Vegetable Curry and Spicy Prawns
(Everything but the prawns we already had)

Left-Overs After 3 Meals Have Been Served Up. Plenty For The Rest Of The Week

Left-Overs After 3 Meals Have Been Served Up. Plenty For The Rest Of The Week

Thank you for taking the time to read this post and if you do try the recipe, I hope you enjoy the food.

Warmest Regards

Touch Of Cinnamon

Switzerland & Italy

Vitznau on Lake Lucerne, Switzerland - Image taken by my husband - June 2014

Vitznau on Lake Lucerne, Switzerland – Image taken by my husband – June 2014

I’m recently back from a wonderful holiday to Switzerland and Italy and will write more when I can…this is just a quick overview of my time away. Most photo’s are courtesy of my husband, bar 2 from outside the accommodation in Rome. Please click on the images to take a closer look.

We flew with Aer Lingus from Dublin to Zurich, hired a car and drove down to our accommodation, spending 3 nights in an apartment in Vitznau, on Lake Lucerne.

Our Vitznau Apartment - June 2014

Our Vitznau Apartment – June 2014

This is the view to the side of us, from our Vitznau apartment balcony - June 2014

This is the view to the side of us, from our Vitznau apartment balcony – June 2014

We then drove south through the Gotthard Pass passing through some stunning scenery and made our way over the border into Italy, spending 3 nights in another apartment in Pianello del Lario, on Lake Como, Italy.

Gotthard Pass, on our way to Lake Como from Lake Lucerne - June 2014

Gotthard Pass, on our way to Lake Como from Lake Lucerne – June 2014

Top Left, under the apex of the roof is our apartment in Pianello del Lario, Lake Como - June 2014

Top Left, under the apex of the roof is our apartment in Pianello del Lario, Lake Como – June 2014

View from our apartment in Pianello del Lario, Lake Como - June 2014

View from our apartment in Pianello del Lario, Lake Como – June 2014

View from our apartment balcony, overlooking Lake Como at night - June 2014

View from our apartment balcony, overlooking Lake Como at night – June 2014

After 3 wonderful days there, we dropped the hire car off in Lugano (it’s just over the border, back into Switzerland) and took the train down from Lugano to Florence via Milan and stayed 8 nights in Florence… 1 night in a hotel and 1 week in a beautiful villa near Impruneta in Florence, Tuscany where we met up with friends from Australia.

Entrance from courtyard into our Villa in Impruneta, Florence - June 2014

Entrance from courtyard into our Villa in Impruneta, Florence – June 2014

Side view of our Villa in Impruneta, Florence - June 2014

Side view of our Villa in Impruneta, Florence – June 2014

Another side view of the Villa in Impruneta, Florence - June 2014

Another side view of the Villa in Impruneta, Florence – June 2014

Pool with a view, Impruneta, Florence - June 2014

Pool with a view, Impruneta, Florence – June 2014

Another view from the pool area, Impruneta, Florence - June 2014

Another view from the pool area, Impruneta, Florence – June 2014

At the end of our week in the villa, we kissed our friends goodbye and took the train from Florence to Rome for the final leg of our journey and stayed for 2 nights in an apartment, in central Rome, before flying back from Rome to Dublin…..again with Aer Lingus.

Outside of the apartment in Rome. Photo taken from the internet. June 2014

Outside of the apartment in Rome. Photo taken from the internet. June 2014

Another image of the outside of the Rome apartment. Taken from the internet. June 2014

Another image of the outside of the Rome apartment. Taken from the internet. June 2014

Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome - June 2014

Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome – June 2014

Hopefully, at some point, I’ll get the chance to write more in-depth posts about each location and individual property, adding corresponding links to accommodation and once I’ve had the opportunity to work my way through the thousands of photos, I’ll add a few additional pics from the holiday/vacation.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post and I hope you enjoyed the images.

Warmest Regards

Touch Of Cinnamon

Unashamed

Ready

Yasmin Levy – Firuze

Belted silver coins cascade, kissing flank and rounded thighs,
each step rousing a seductive melody; calling him to her.
Delicate fingers lost in sinew; reading the man….soothing….igniting,
half hidden by his thunder, a brooding body of stone.
A body desecrated by battle hungry men and rubbed smooth by her surrender….
female, honey sweet surrender…warm….soft….breathless.

Moving only for him, hips sway in unspoken beckoning,
a whisper of white against liquid amber flesh.
Blood thirsty cables trace their way under ochre skin….male….burnished and musky,
his heady scent still covering her, staking its claim.
A primal, unchallenged claim. Kneeling she offers her wrists in submission…
feminine, honey sweet submission…..total….delicate….unashamed.

Touch Of Cinnamon

Till Death Do Us Part

Till Death Do Us Part

Extras in our own ill-fated drama, teetering on termination; awaiting the axe.
Playing obsolete roles for the ignorant masses,
Too fat and complacent to catch the shift in us,
Too close to the stage to see the sleight of hand; the illusion.

All they can do now is clap on, unaware.
Confused when the lifeless thing in the corner is examined and pronounced dead.
Stunned when the rings are thrown into the crowd as they separate and take a bow.
Leaving by different exits to take up new roles, on a new stage.

Touch Of Cinnamon

Warriors Cry

A warrior's quest to possess and win the heart of the daughter of the lake.

A warrior’s quest to possess and win the heart of the daughter of the lake.

The Warrior & The Nymph

Music: To Zucchabar

“Flee daughter of the lake, for today begins the battle of all battles,
Hide among the shadows and blackened reeds,
Run from me for a thousand years,
Drink the air from mine lungs, if thou will,
But little Naiad, thou WILL be mine to possess.”

No more hidden meanings, a revelation of intent,
An absolute.
A whispered proclamation, not a tentative confession.
“Little Naiad, thou WILL me mine to possess.”
Relishing the kiss of her scent as she takes flight.

“Flee daughter of the lake, let the lovers dance begin,
Hide among the shadows and blackened reeds,
Run from me for a thousand years,
Drink the air from mine lungs, until I am no more,
But little Naiad, thou WILL be mine to possess.”

No more chivalrous restraint, weapons drawn in pursuit,
A crusade.
Dark pools deplore, echoing out his defiant cry.
“Little Naiad, thou WILL be mine to possess”
Exquisite is the hunt; delicious is thy resistance.

“So flee daughter of the lake, the chase almost as sweet as thy submission,
Hide among the shadows and blackened reeds,
Run from me for a thousand years,
Drink the air from mine lungs, watch me perish,
But little Naiad, thou WILL be mine to possess”

Find shelter in devotion; the warming kiss from loving lips,
An awakening.
Thou have mine heart, mine blood I spill for thee.
“Little Naiad, please be mine to possess”
Pallid is mine flesh; fear and pleading fill mine eyes.

“Don’t flee daughter of the lake, stay close so I might see thee before I cease,
Don’t hide among the shadows or blackened reeds,
Don’t run from me for a thousand years,
Don’t drink the air from mine lungs, hold me in thine embrace,
Please little Naiad, be mine to possess.”

His tender words tumble, creating a breach in her defence,
A weakening.
Reasoning unfolding, his arsenal shattering her sensibilities
“Warrior man, I WILL be thine to possess.”
Throw down thine arms, cover me in forever and ever words.

“No more fleeing, daughter of the lake; bind thine wrists together with mine,
Walk along the shallows and gilded lilies’s,
Love me for TEN thousand years,
Kiss sweet breath into mine lungs, I beseech thee,
But little Naiad, I AM thine to possess.”

Touch Of Cinnamon

Plaques Project

Flower Pink Plaque - IMGP7659

Keep scrolling down to see more pics.

I’ve been pretty busy this week being ‘crafty’…..making plaques/wall hangings.

Flower Pink Plaque - IMGP7656

My son had a school business project to do and being a typical teenager, he left it until the last-minute to start working on it. It appears that a few weeks back (it could be months back, knowing my son) he was given instructions to set up a company, put together a business plan, design, make or indeed outsource the making of a product that he then had to sell. He came up with the idea of making plaques as he’d done this before, last year, at a previous school. Unfortunately, he never got on with it and found himself swamped with work that actually goes towards his leaving cert results, which this particular business project doesn’t.

Anyway, he ‘outsourced’ the making of these plaques to you know who! So that’s what I’ve done this week. I won’t have time to sell them, so it looks like I’ll be sticking a few euro in an envelope for him to hand into school and then be giving the plaques away to friends and relatives. If nothing else, it’s been a great experience at doing something I’ve not tried before.

I’ll pop up the images of the finished plaques and as I do more I’ll try to remember to take some pics of the entire process, from beginning to end. I was so intent on getting some done, I forgot to do that. Ooops..sorry!

Hope you like them.

🙂

Touch Of Cinnamon

Blue Butterfly Plaques
Blue Butterfly Plaques
Blue Flower Plaque - IMGP7683
Blue Flower Plaque - IMGP7682
Home Sweet Home Plaque
Home Sweet Home Plaque
Bird Nest Plaque - Close Up
Bird Nest Key Plaque
Flower Pink
Bird Key Plaque
Green Butterfly Plaque

One of a pair of plaques. 'His and Hers'

One of a pair of plaques. ‘His and Hers’

 

One of a pair of plaques. 'His and Hers'

One of a pair of plaques. ‘His and Hers’

Touch Of Cinnamon

Meet Sofia Ava

This is my baby girl, Sofia Ava. She’s my very sweet Chinchilla Persian kitty.

Sofia is one of 3 cats that I have.

These first pics are from the day we brought her home, over a year ago. She’s 3 months old in these shots and still very very tiny. Ratty, her little cuddly toy, is smaller than the length of my hand and I have small hands.

I named her Sofia as this is the name I’d give my daughter, if I were ever blessed enough to have one. Ava is the Persian name for ‘sweet melody’ or ‘little voice’ She had the sweetest little voice when we first got her.

Sofia Ava - First Day Home
Sofia Ava with ratty

Here Sofia is a little older, around 6-9 months, I think.

Sofia Ava - IMGP3558

Sofia Ava - IMGP3553

I’ll add more images when I can, but right now, she looks like a mental patient. She’s refusing to let me brush her very long hair and has a ridiculous amount of knots that can only be removed, at this stage, by cutting them out. My poor hands and arms are ripped to pieces by the little mare. She may have the face of an angel, but she’s a scorpie, strong-willed, Diva in reality 😀

Sorry to bore you with kitty pics, but I do love my little girl.

Touch Of Cinnamon

Valentines – Is The Art Of Romance Dead

Is The Art Of Romance Dead

Friends and I were discussing ‘Romance’ and what it means to us. Whether we see it as being over-rated or undernourished. This led to a lively and interesting discussion.

We all agreed that the notion of romance is purely individual. A personal ideal. What one finds romantic another may consider a cliché or even an overtly contrite expression.

Is what some consider to be romance or romantic not some capitalist ploy dreamt up by our wonderful marketing division to separate us from our cash? 

We’re constantly bombarded by advertisements telling us that flowers, music, chocolates are a romantic gift and yet are they? We’re assailed by images of couples strolling languidly hand in hand across sandy shorelines, obviously in love (because they are very well-trained actors paid to be in love for that particular 90 second commercial), and told that the only way we can express our inner love is by travelling to exotic climes, involving vast expenditure. 

Couple on Beach

In a day and age where such gifts are common place, can they truly be said to contain any more romantic notion within them than the plastic wrapper or glossy brochure they are delivered in? Maybe, once, such overtures could be considered to be a heart warming gift. When the notion of obtaining such was, in itself, a task to be reckoned with. But these days? Maybe when the notion of courting or wooing a lady or even a man (gasp – the scandal that would cause) such things as sonnets and fancies were appropriate and heartfelt. But now, one can wonder into any Hallmark cards shop and pick up a standard piece of tat knocked out by some oike in an office on his personal computer with a software package. Can that be considered a show of romance, when the most difficult thing is deciding which crap verse you find more pleasing than the rest? Also, gone are the days of long-term courting and relationship. The chase. The verbal fencing with your heart’s desire, as you grow to know each other. These days the pursuit of the apple of your eye (or at least of that moment) seems to consist of no more than “grab your coat you’ve pulled”. Maybe this is a result of the instantaneous gratification culture that appears to be ever increasing…..and thus is reflected in our need of high-speed “microwave romance”. 2 minutes and it’s done. And of course, when most relationships are over as quickly as they began, who can afford to spend time being truly romantic?

Surely what we should be concentrating on is the notion. What moves the individual at the time to express themselves. Maybe not even that. Maybe we should look at that which is carried out without any ulterior motive or attempts to carry favour. The common place, everyday occurrence that says “I care for this person” and that their very existence motivates and colours all that I do or care to do.

I am sure some people will still feel there is a place for the extravagant overt and often vulgar gushing shows of “romance”. But is that because they have now linked romance to expenditure? Could we now be looking at a generation who subscribe to the notion of pecuniary romance?

Ok, what if you’re not embroiled in a microwave romance and are in for the long haul, does that change the notion and nature of romance? Do you substitute long stemmed roses for doing the ironing or allowing your partner certain liberties in a quid pro quo sort of arrangement (and I leave you to decide what kind of liberties)? Or is it the absence of romance that is to blame for the short-term nature of many relationships? In other words, are we so sold on the notion of romance as an idealistic (and arguably unrealistic) dream that consigns so many ‘real’ relationships to the scrap heap?

The question though “Is the art of romance dead?” is also an interesting thought. Just what is the art of romance? Is it in the physical or mental? Is it in what we offer or what we do? Or in all of these things?

The actual word “art” would imply something that is learned and practiced to achieve a certain level or degree of aptitude. Can you learn romance? Surely if you learn it then it becomes a lesson in the ability to manipulate emotions and that, to my mind, is a rather malicious thought. To manipulate another to achieve your own goals by “playing with their emotions”, and whilst there are an awful lot of people of this nature in life – does that make them Romantic? Would you honestly want to date or have a relationship with someone who has practiced to be romantic? Wouldn’t practicing said skills actually make you a Lothario (or female equivalent)? Maybe it would seem to be ideal, that there should almost be a lack of art thus rendering what is carried out as romance is indeed genuine and sincere.

Once, in times gone by, man used to woo his chattel. To ensnare her with words and poems of love and devotion. To cry from the very roof tops that his love was purest and mightiest of all that should grace or walk this planet. Who could not be enthralled by such moving oratory? It certainly seems the ladies were, and interestingly enough up-sprang a new market for all those out of work poets and writers. It is well documented that for a small fee a love poem or letter could be penned by a professional for your lady love (is this the earliest documentation of the “hallmark” cards franchise I wonder) Even Shakespeare himself did this. Who could blame them? Out of work and starving, you take whatever you can get and damn the morality of it. Let the others figure it out for themselves. It would be very evident when the young lady hoped to hear words of love drip from her betrotheds lips only to receive “There once was a woman from Ealing”. So could it be that even our idealistic view that, when compared with the past, “romance is dying out” could be a false one?

But going back to my earlier point if an art is to be learnt, then it needs to be taught. If we are to assume that the “art” is dying then are we to also to assume that the teachers, who were eager to impart their knowledge, are not in such abundance anymore. Are the masters of the “art” dying out? Could it be that as society and cultural demands have evolved we now have a new endangered species? Ladies and gentleman I present to you the “Beast of Romance”, soon to be extinct!

Or is it? Are we, even now, not seeing a return to letter writing? With the advent of email we have never seemed to communicate as much. Putting the abhorrence of text speak aside, it seems we are slowly returning to flirting by mail. This in itself is an aged tradition. But there is a lot to be said for being able to write a message to someone. You can be inventive, you can consider, you can be loquacious to a degree never before seen. In short a message can be so much more a representation of you and your inner thoughts than can be instilled into a stammering tongue tied conversation.

Rubbish Love Letter

In my opinion women are as much to blame as men for the death of romance but then given that society wants most women to look like undernourished 12 year old Japanese boys, is it any surprise that we are acting more and more mannish? Honestly, some women diet to the point where there are probably more hormones in an 8 ounce steak than in their entire bodies.

Having said that, the laddette culture is a relatively recent phenomenon and romance was fatally wounded long before its inception. If I am honest, I blame the women’s lib or, to be more precise, the world’s knee jerk reaction to it. Many women reject romance as some sort of ‘honey trap’ in which if you accept a bunch of flowers you will be instantly chained to the kitchen sink, loosed only to pop out the odd sprog now and then. Many men are either scared to be romantic for fear of this extreme reaction OR think ‘well if women want to be equal then we don’t have to give them romance and they can do all the running’.

The most damning nail in the coffin of romance is for me cult of individualism whereby people think that the world revolves entirely around themselves and will do nothing unless it has immediate and real benefits for them – an approach which is not conducive to thoughtfulness and loving gestures. This of course ignores the fact that a relationship, ANY relationship, is hard work and requires effort from both parties if it is to thrive and survive.

Of course – I could be wrong…

Let’s look at it slightly differently; surely, romance should not be used to control emotions but to please the other, to make them happy if you will. It is not some form of rudimentary mind control and if the object of the art was not fond of romanticism then they could of course reject it. In many ways then, the art of romance is the art of pleasing someone, not the art of manipulating them.

And it is an art in much the same way that lovemaking is an art. No one suggests that you attend your local college and get a Btec in shagging however!! The skills of lovemaking are learned when one is attentive to their lover. Taking note of what pleases and displeases and then using that information to good effect in the next encounter. Romance then is much the same. Some people may find flowers or chocolates or mucking in with the chores romantic whilst for others it might be something as simple as cooking them a favourite meal or remembering an anniversary. The trick then is in identifying what pleases and then elaborating on this in the future. And like lovemaking, variety is an essential element. You might like a bunch of flowers but a duty posy every birthday and anniversary is NOT a romantic gesture!

In this sense then Romance cannot be taught as it is a matter of individualism, both for the object and subject. Whenever someone steps outside of their comfort zone to please the other, that is romantic. Taking the effort to act out of character is romantic. Listening and understanding and responding to what has been said is also romantic. But these things have to be contextualised. Otherwise they are diminished or rendered irrelevant.

Finally, whether the gesture stems from the heart or from hard work, both will be equally appreciated I suggest. If you cannot write prose but have the sense to go out and seek out someone who can help, then so long as it is personalised (and not your stamped out Hallmark tat) then you will have put the thought and effort in to make it special. Having said that, there are no doubt hordes of love starved individuals out there that would happily welcome the hallmark stuff but this says more about the abject lack of romance in their life than it does about the quality of the gesture. In the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is king….

Contributors by A & D Waldram and myself.

Touch Of Cinnamon

Wisteria Keepsake Box

Wisteria Keepsake Box - Front View

Wisteria Keepsake Box – Front View

Wisteria Keepsake Box

This little box has a special place in my heart. Wisteria Cottage is an imaginary place that I’ve written about in the past. This keepsake box was mentioned in one of those tales and I’m hoping to make more pieces from those stories over the coming months.

Why Wisteria Cottage? The flowering wisteria vine is my favourite flowering plant and I have two growing over an archway in my garden. My stories are/were set around a fictional cottage, so when creating the box, I used my favourite flower/plant.

The box is my first attempt at decorating a paper mache box. I prefer the inside to the outside and would like to redo the lid in particular. The purple crocheted flower on the inside of the lid is the first one I crocheted for a marriage blanket I’m making. This blanket also features in one of my stories. There’s a false bottom inside to place letters, cards and photo’s.

I’ve drawn inspiration for my crafts from past words that I’ve written. Hopefully I’ll continue to draw on this source to create and develop my little crafts and curios.

For anyone that’s interested, if you want a closer look at the detail, just click on the image and it should enlarge.

Warmest Regards

Touch Of Cinnamon

Wisteria Keepsake Box (inside lid).

Wisteria Keepsake Box (inside lid).

Wisteria Keepsake Box (Inside)

Wisteria Keepsake Box (False Removable Base)

Wisteria Keepsake Box (Close-Up Of Front)

Touch Of Cinnamon

Welcome

There Are Words That Kiss Us As If They Have A Mouth

Bliss – Wish You Were Here

As you can see there’s very little in here as yet. It’s early days and the format will probably change many times before I settle on something that suits.

I should say, straight off the bat, that I’m no writer, a fact that will become glaringly obvious the more I attempt to put my thoughts into words.  Please forgive me and simply smile if and when you stumble upon any of my embarrassing faux pas.

I guess this place will be somewhere for me to drop thoughts, music, images, basically anything I like. I’m of the opinion that most blogs are usually places to be a little self-indulgent, mine will be no exception.

Right, I guess I’d better get moving and start putting things in here that I like, maybe stick a few additional words in here today and if I’m brave enough, I might even take down my security so those that have the misfortune to stumble upon this place can actually come in and take a look.

So welcome to my blog.

Touch Of Cinnamon