31 December 2008

A Winter Swim

Brrrrr.... rather him than me! I called out and asked if it was cold and he replied it was wonderful!

Have a great New Year's Eve everyone.

For an update on Mistral and Mama Mia, the Hell Hole dogs who arrived at Pension Milou yesterday - please click on the link.

30 December 2008

Graffiti in the Old Town

Yes...well I wish I wasn't showing you these photographs. Graffiti in the old town - in the Places des Fours (that's where the bread oven would once have been found).

I took the photo at the beginning of December but today, in Nice-Matin, the square is featured with the words 'Sad decoration for Christmas.' Too right. Hopefully now that it's had some publicity, it will be cleaned up.

For anyone interested, today is a BIG DAY at Pension Milou as we are adopting two dogs rescued from a Hell Hole. Shut in a roughly 2 metre square run for 8 years, never let out and never cleaned out. Yes, living on 8 years of excrement. They were lifted out of there yesterday and are currently en route to me from the Languedoc - should be here in a few hours! Obviously, I've not met them - the first dogs given a home by email! If you want to follow the excitement please read more on Postcards from 'Pension Milou.'

29 December 2008

The Old Town - Gourds

One tumbled, decorated gourd. Next time I walked past this window, the gourd had been put back in its proper place.

What is a gourd? Click on the link.

28 December 2008

A Menton Christmas - the Postman's Keys

Yesterday, we saw a big bunch of keys in the postman's hand.

In the Old Town, many of the old narrow houses have been transformed into apartments, with the mailboxes just inside the main door or gate. For security, these doors are kept shut, hence the postman has to open each door or gate with one of his many keys.

In the main photo, he is closing one of the gates - he'll then cross the street and climb the steps to the gate you see on the left. In the smaller photo, he unlocks a door.

Delivering mail in the Old Town is no mean feat with much walking and many steps to climb.

27 December 2008

A Menton Christmas - the Postman

The local postman on Rue Longue in the Old Town of Menton. At last, after months and months of work, most of the street is paved - but still much work to do.

The lady is getting money from her purse - perhaps a Christmas tip but unlikely as normally the postmen and women come around with calenders, enabling us to buy one and at the same time, give as much or as little as we wish. My post lady, Crystelle is fabulous. She'll phone me from her portable to check if I'm in for a parcel and then she'll lug it down the track. How's that for good service!

Note the keys in the postman's hand. Come back tomorrow to see where he uses them.

26 December 2008

A Menton Christmas - the Snooze

Whilst everyone else was rushing about preparing for Christmas, this gentleman was taking a snooze in the sunshine.

After yesterday's excesses, it's perhaps what we should all be doing today...

25 December 2008

A Menton Christmas - Merry Christmas!

Climbing Santas in the medieval hilltop village of Gorbio, near to Menton.

Merry Christmas everyone!

24 December 2008

A Menton Christmas - Where art thou, Mother Christmas?

Not a sexy Mother Christmas outfit (although doubtless that too) but a display to show off jewelry for sale in the small Wednesday market of Carnoles, near to Menton.

Where art thou, Mother Christmas?

Where are thou, Mother Christmas?
I only wish I knew
Why Father should get all the praise
And no-one mentions me.

I'll bet you buy the presents
And wrap them large and small
While all the time that rotten swine
Pretends he's done it all.

So Hail to Mother Christmas
Who shoulders all the work
And down with Father Christmas
That unmitigated jerk.

- Roald Dahl

This poem was published as a charity Christmas card to benefit the wonderful Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London.

23 December 2008

A Menton Christmas - the Moose

'Of all the wonders of nature, a tree in summer is perhaps the most remarkable; with the possible exception of a moose singing "Embraceable You" in spats.'

- Woody Allen

22 December 2008

A Menton Christmas - a Little TOO Perfect?

Is it the European Union's fault? All fruit must be of a specific size - and of course tasting of absolutely nothing?

Well no, as you have doubtless realised, these are all CANDLES...for sale in a shop in the pedestrian street of Menton.

21 December 2008

A Menton Christmas - the Reflection

'Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads'

- Henry David Thoreau

20 December 2008

A Menton Christmas - Mother and daughter

This is Frederique (you met her last year) and in the photograph below, you see Emilie, her daughter. Both delightful and look at those gorgeous eyes that twinkle with life.

Frederique owns the beautiful gift shop in Gorbio - but at Christmas, it's closed and she takes over one of the stalls in the Menton market. The owls you saw the other day come from her stall.

Don't you just love the 'bride' Frederique is holding?

19 December 2008

A Menton Christmas - Maman, les p'tits bateaux

The Jardin Bioves is a child's delight. Nursery rhymes with audio. A little train runs around the displays, overflowing with young children. And note: more steam as in the donkey's photograph the other day.

This nursery rhyme is about a child who asks his mother if the boat has legs - she replies that if it didn't, then it couldn't walk. She says that when the child grows up he will go around the world but will surely come back to kiss his mother. And she finishes by saying that it walks straight ahead but because the world is round, then it will return home. (If I'm wrong, hopefully a French reader will correct me.)

Maman les p'tits bateaux
Qui vont sur l'eau ont-ils des jambes ?
Mais oui mon gros bêta
S'ils n'en avaient pas
Ils ne march'raient pas
Va quand tu seras grand
Tu f'ras le tour du monde
Tu reviendras sûrement
Embrasser ta maman

Allant droit devant eux,
Ils font le tour de monde,
Et comme la terre est ronde
Ils reviennent chez eux.

18 December 2008

A Menton Christmas - the Damage

You may remember the photograph of the pots recently posted. The winds, the rains and the sea have smashed loads of them (this is just a small part) but happily more are available for sale.

In the small photograph you see the ice rink. When I was last in Menton, it had been filled and was nearly frozen and ready to go. Now it lies in tatters. And below you see damage caused by the high seas.

The weather forecast is now looking reasonable for the next few days. Other places have had it far worse - Cavaillon, only 30 ks from Avignon, for instance - that's where the famous melons come from - they've had dreadful flooding. And in the mountains above Menton - at St Etienne de Tinée - they've had avalanches, fortunately with no loss of life.

17 December 2008

A Menton Christmas - Coconuts!

One of the best things about the Menton Christmas Fair is that many of the items on sale are made by artisans using materials that might otherwise be thrown away.

Here you see lamps and ornaments made of coconut shells. I'm not sure what the handbags are made of - perhaps they are also made of morsels of coconut.

I'm rather taken with the dog in the smaller photograph but something tells me there are enough real ones in this house...

16 December 2008

A Menton Christmas - Empathy

Donkeys in the Jardin Bioves. In the smaller photograph, they are being sprayed by a machine. I'm not sure why?

The whole of the Jardin Bioves (in the centre of the town) is given up to a display of enormous painted models depicting French nursery rhymes - with corresponding audio as you walk by.

Note: the rains and the winds continue. 10 families had to be evacuated from high up in Menton, where the hillsides have crashed into their houses. And remember the beautiful pots (see the posting two days ago) about half have been smashed by the violent weather and waves. The skating rink, which you've not yet seen, has also been badly damaged by winds and waves.

15 December 2008

A Menton Christmas - the Big Wheel in detail

Here we see the Big Wheel again, but this time, in more detail - and with its old-fashioned feel. I'll report how comfortable it is - if this endless, endless rain ever stops. Grrrrrr....

14 December 2008

A Menton Christmas - the Big Wheel

It's Christmas, so that means a Big Wheel - somewhat incongruous with the steeples of the Old Town.

Christmas also means pots - hundreds and hundreds of them from north Africa - probably Tunisia or Morocco. They will stay here, day and night, until sold.

13 December 2008

A Menton Christmas - the Owls

The Christmas Market near to the Bastion always has some great gifts - how about an owl!

They are for sale at La Cave de Gorbio, one of the many shops in the Christmas Village by the Bastion. You'll find great Christmas gift ideas here.

12 December 2008

A Menton Christmas - Sunshine at last!

We've had rain for days, maybe weeks - I've lost count. Suddenly this morning - blue skies and sunshine. Oh happy day...

As you see, excess water, a bench in the middle of a puddle - but who cares? The sun is back! And these people are enjoying it.

11 December 2008

A wander through Roquebrune village - Provençal Rose

A shade of pink typical of this region - they call it Provençal Rose. Three village houses - all different yet creating an interesting group.

It's worth mentioning that there is no access for cars in the village - the streets are far too narrow. The parking area is below, so everything - everything - has to be lugged up the hill and then walked through the village, up steps, down slopes, to home. And then there is often a staircase to negotiate - see the house on the right.

...no wonder the old people live so long.

10 December 2008

A wander through Roquebrune village - the Advertisement

An old wall, shutters and an advertisement for a mountain bike or perhaps a BMX?

09 December 2008

A wander through Roquebrune village - the Old Roof

Walk down a narrow steep street - watch your feet, but look up for a second and see the sea over a lovely old roof.

08 December 2008

A wander through Roquebrune village - Romain Gary's house

Too many people at the Chestnut Fête - let's escape - let's wander the village.

Here we are in one of the main streets - you see a notice on the wall saying that Romain Gary, the French writer and diplomat lived here. He lived down this little impasse with his wife of the time - the writer, Lesley Blanch. Romain died long ago but Lesley died only last year in Menton. Click on the link to see a photo I took of Lesley on her 100th birthday.

07 December 2008

The Chestnut Fête - say 'Fromage' and Smile!

Walk up the hill from the car park and one of the first stalls you pass is the one with the cheeses.
The cheese seller has travelled from the Pyrénées - the part near to the Basque country - a long way to be here today.

He's selling Tome de Chèvre (goat cheese) from his part of France but he has cheeses from other regions, indeed other countries - for instance the Beaufort comes from Savoie and Gruyère from Switzerland.

All the cheeses on this stall are hard cheeses. In the local markets, of course, you find many soft cheeses, especially those made of goat's milk.

06 December 2008

The Chestnut Fête - the Piglet

We're back in the medieval hill village of Roquebrune for the Chestnut Fête with just a few more photographs to show you.

These photographs make me angry. At the foot the village on one side of the road was this very young piglet and on the other a pretty little kitten - both used as bait to stop people. An exceedingly aggressive young couple were trying to get people to buy boxes of sweets (candies) saying the profit goes to animal welfare. No paperwork, nothing. I said I'd buy a box on my way out of the village as I didn't want to carry it around as I was taking photographs. At this point the man got abusive, the woman prevented me photographing the kitten and off I went. I spoke to a veterinary nurse later - she is a lady who lives in the village. Like me, she thinks it's a total con. I can tell you it was a freezing cold day and not the weather for young animals to be stuck out like this in the wind.

Maybe it's a genuine welfare organisation - maybe some of our French readers will know better but I've seen just this exact same situation at other markets - very young puppies on display and the same variety of sweets. If it is genuine, then it might be helpful if the people were gentler and had some paperwork to prove their cause.

05 December 2008

Quintino and the Old Elm Tree

Regular readers of this blog will know the old man who sits under the 300 year old elm tree in Gorbio's square.

Sadly, Quintino is no more. He has passed on aged 93 and the village has lost one of its senior members.

Always wearing his cap, he'd politely lift it when greeted. He loved to sit under the tree watching the world go by and taking part in village life.

The beautiful old elm, planted in 1713, will miss him...and so will we.

(Click on the link to see an earlier photograph.)

04 December 2008


The high seas caused all sorts of damage. Above you see the beach in Garavan, which is the beach nearest to Italy. You see the deck of one of the beach restaurants pretty much wrecked.

In the smaller photograph you can an enormous dip, where part of the pavement has disappeared - this, near to Roquebrune-Cap-Martin.

In Gorbio a couple of days ago, we had 15 minutes of hailstones, followed by rain which then promptly froze causing all manner of problems in the village. You can see a photograph by clicking on the link. The ice is still piled up at the sides of the roads - unusual - very unusual - here.

03 December 2008

A Surfer in Menton!

As I was parking the car I noticed this guy out at sea, waiting for a wave. Within a few seconds, he was up on the board, surfing beautifully towards the beach. I grabbed my camera but wasn't in time for the shot - just this as he walked up the beach.

It's rare to have weather like this - normally the Mediterranean is pretty calm. The surfer told me the day before there had been a swell of two metres but that on this day it wasn't quite so good. When the weather is right, he told me he normally surfs at Menton or along the coast at Villefranche, which is just before Nice.

02 December 2008

Road Closed!

On Sunday, we had rain, hailstones, sleet, snow and a fierce wind. The hills above Gorbio are covered in snow. Hailstones stopped traffic.

This photograph was taken yesterday where part of the road from Roquebrune to Menton is closed. A gorgeous day with spectacular seas. Compare it to yesterday's photograph - taken just a few yards further along the Promenade.

Tomorrow - come and see something I never expected to see in Menton...

And after that, we'll go back to The Chestnut Fête in Roquebrune village for a last look.

01 December 2008

Theme Day: Circles/Spheres - Globes Gone!

Once again it's Theme Day. Today's Theme is Circles/Spheres and here you see a couple having a picnic by the sea in Menton - the street lamp with it's large globes in view.

A few hours after taking this photograph, the globes were GONE - taken down, as you in the smaller photograph leaving space for Christmas decorations which we'll see another time.

Bloggers from 187 different cities around the world are taking part in today's Theme and will, I know, interpret this theme in a myriad of fascinating ways. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.

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