Sunday, January 1, 2012

A look back at 2011...January to May

Everyone does it at this time of year, looks back at what they got up to and--in my case--uses the first post of 2012 to share the crème de la crème of memories, not to mention photos that I forgot to include at the time. Settle back, glass of wine or cup of coffee at hand, and enjoy.
Midnight on December 31, 2010 found Peter, Kate and I in Chiang Mai, along with my long-lost cousin and his wife (who now live in Thailand) releasing paper lanterns into the night sky and watching a magnificent fireworks display. 

Back in Bangkok, I interviewed Australian chef and ultimate Thai food expert, David Thompson. Here's just part of the extraordinary dinner he cooked for us at Nahm.
After a return trip to Chiang Mai, a city I have to be dragged away from, we flew to Luang Prabang in Laos. After the kind of taxi ride that takes as many hours to describe as it did in reality (and in reality, it should have taken half an hour) we arrived at the Golden Lotus Guesthouse. It's located on a narrow laneway and, the next morning, when I went outside, I was met by the vivid colours, smells and chat of a  street market.

More evenings than not, we'd head down to one of the many restaurants along the Mekong, order a couple of beers and watch the sun go down.


This year's wanderings around Asia ended back in Thailand and a week or so on Koh Chang--Elephant Island.
Fresh seafood and noodles at a little café right on the beach.
The view from our deck along the lagoon--a boardwalk leads to the beach, which you can just make out in the distance.

On Valentine's Day, we tuktuk-ed to the end of the island, to where the fishing boats come in...

Back in Léran, I began my annual knock-down-drag-out fight against the weeds--except that, rather than cursing them, I now gather dandelion leaves for salads.

One by one, all the daffodils I'd planted burst in bloom...
...while violets showed up of their own accord.


One sign of warming weather was the annual deluge of asparagus at the market.

Meanwhile, back in the garden, the Angelique tulips (no prizes for guessing why I chose those) burst into flower.

Kate came to visit, and we threw a huge party to celebrate Peter's birthday.
And Léran had the first of its annual vide-greniers.

Our walking group, the Lérandonneurs ventured across the countryside (and through the mud).

 The garden came into bloom, the perennial herbs (at the bottom of the photo) pushed up new shoots and the roquette/rocket/arugula seeded itself all over the place. A note about those white dots to the right of the path. These are the tops of concrete posts which once marked the boundary between the two gardens--our house was originally two houses. I dug down about 40 cm and, as far as I could make out, the posts went much deeper. A friend had a go. Same thing. Eventually, he bashed the tops in with a hammer, we covered them with earth and there they will remain.
 Loads and loads of geraniums go in the window boxes, and in pots on the terrace. As well as buying new plants each season, I've also managed to save geraniums through the winter by keeping them in the attic and treating them with benign neglect.
This is not a shot from an Ingmar Bergman film but some of us trudging past the cross just outside the village.... where we planted dozens of rosemary, thyme, sage and other plants. Probably the only water from a watering can that they will ever get...The water here came from garbage cans-ful driven up in the back of someone's truck.
 Another walk, this time to learn about--and draw--the landscape.
 Meadows crammed with a wild flowers, a picnic lunch under a tree, and a view of the village of Lieurac to go with it.
Good friends came to stay. Here's a photo of one of many, many, many meals we ate outdoors over the course of the year. The main terrace faces north so, however hot the day is, we stay relatively cool. The smaller terrace, just visible midway at the top of the shot, gets sun year-round. As the seasons move towards winter and the sunlight moves down the garden, we move a little table out on to the lawn.
Love the savage red of poppies.
 Lettuce seedlings all ready to plant in the garden. I buy them half a dozen at a time, and hope that we can eat them before the snails and slugs do.
The annual rose festival in the village of Camon about 15 minutes away. Every single house here has a rose bush planted beside its front door.
We'll travel hours for a festival. This one, in the Pyrenean town of Céret, celebrates cherries. In fact, Céret is famous France-wide for its cerises. We ate in this lovely little square both nights we were here.
Crimson, blushing pink, scarlet, yellow, we gorged on cherries.
Stalls lined the main streets. A merry-go-round kept the kids happy. Dancers danced. Singers sang. We watched a calligraphist at work, ate an impromptu lunch of goat's cheese and fruit, and eventually drove home.


Rob said...

Glad you liked Koh Chang! I settled down there a few years ago... the pictures are great! Were you staying at the Blue Lagoon Resort?

Angela Murrills said...

Thanks for the comment on the photos. Indeed we were staying at the Blue Lagoon Resort--for the second year in a row.

Judy said...

Jill and Allen are friend who we met in La Paz, Mexico, where we've lived for fifteen years. Jill gave me your blog site since we're planning a trip to France/Spain this September. Your photos are wonderful. I can almost smell the fruit. And the green grass (something we don't have here in the desert). Looking forward to the photos you post during the trip you're now taking. Judy Ristity