And there it was…. Gone!

Today, a very stormy day in an otherwise beautiful week, saw Stage 19 of the 2014 Tour de France come right past the end of our road. So where best to see it from we thought? Correct, from the end of our road!

(click on any image to see a larger version)

_DSC0490Tremendous excitement as the leading group of five riders arrives, sprinting for Tonneins

_DSC0510A couple of minutes pass. The place is electric with anticipation. And suddenly we can see the main group (le peloton) approaching.
“Il arrive! Regardez! Le peloton arrive!”
Everyone starts going crazy (except for the guy on the left who seems more interested in being captured on TV by the helicopter!)

_DSC0512Le Tour is a national institution to the French  (and quite right too).  But wait! There’s a problem with that flag, isn’t there?
OK, so after a good lunch and a bottle of rosé or two, even the best of us can hold a flag the wrong way round ;-)

_DSC0530They start watching it at a very early age. Look at the tiny tot by the gendarme who is waving the orange ‘all bikes turn right’ flag
Oh, and look top left, the guy with the French flag has realised the error of his ways and is now holding it the right way round :-)

_DSC0583And then, suddenly, it’s ‘wham bam, thank you ma’am’ – almost exactly FIVE minutes later, and it’s all over!

Of course, prior to the riders arriving, there’s a great build up and lots of hullabaloo which stretches the whole thing out  to very much longer than five minutes.

_DSC6190
All the sponsors were giving out freebies by the bucket load. Those people over the road on the left are not waving, they’re begging for whatever is being thrown out of the vehicles!  Packets of washing powder? Beanie hats? Sausages? Hey, who cares what it is?  It’s FREE!!  Gimmee, Gimmee, Gimme!  A female friend of ours was almost tackled to the ground by an 18 stone bloke who ended up with THREE ‘Skoda’ beanie hats!

_DSC6151

_DSC0463

The whole thing, from first appearance of the ‘Caravane’ to the last official vehicle passing, was just about two hours. We had one storm during that time, but we were on the periphery of it and it wasn’t enough to send us scurrying for cover.

A great day spent with friends, and what a fabulous spectacle. Thank you France; we love you  :-)

Le Tour de France comes to town!

July 25th 2014 sees le Tour de France passing within 2 km of us here at PPF.  In one day, covering 208 kms, Stage 19 brings the Tour up from the Pyrenees, passing through Nérac, Buzet, Saint Léger and Monheurt (the route previous PPFers will recall is the route we take back to ours from the famous ‘Pudding Trolley’ restaurant in Buzet :-) )

The whole entourage will then turn right at the end of our road to cross the Garonne at Tonneins, and then continue north to Bergerac (where they all hitch a ride to Paris for the finish!).

Tour

Finding a good vantage point is going to be difficult.  Still we can always launch our new drone!   ;-)

EDIT
The following photo is provided by one of our regular photography guests, David Harrison, who was here last year for one of our advanced weeks, when this photo was taken as an exercise in ‘panning’. David didn’t know it at the time, but it was good practice as he’ll be here again on the day the Tour comes through!

roland
The cyclist is our friend and ‘next door’ neighbour, Rowland Cockin

Pete’s decided to take his photography to a new level

A couple of weeks ago, Pete decided to explore the possibilities of aerial photography with one of these :

p2v

His story of how it developed can be found over on his Photography Blog

Oh and NO, if you’re coming to us for a holiday, it doesn’t matter  who you are, you can’t have a play with it!…. Oh well, OK then, maybe just a little go, alright?  ;-)

Well here it is…, it’s that time of year again….

… so we’d just like to take this opportunity to say to all our friends worldwide…

Season’s Greetings!

Pete and Jill wish you everything you would wish for yourselves
during this Christmas and throughout the New Year

xmas-watercolour

‘Snowy and Frozen’ –  Le Canal Latérale à la Garonne in mid-Winter

Yet another Blog!

Pete and Jill want to keep this Blog to painting and photography holiday subjects; therefore, to cater for his three hundred photography friends (well the ‘three’ part of that is more or less accurate anyway) Pete has created a new Blog over on his own photography website.

You can see it here http://peter-evans-photographer.com/blog

Another reason to take a holiday here!

“Learning mentally challenging skills, such as digital photography, helps improve memory”

Yes, apparently it’s true! Crossword puzzles, sudoku, and listening to classical music won’t keep your mind as sharp as you once thought. Instead you should take up photography.

That’s according to researchers at the The University of Texas in Dallas who found that people who only participated in passive activities such as playing games or listening to music got little memory benefit. However, learning photography showed significant gains in memory.

More than 200 people who were over 60-years-old were split into various testing groups and asked to commit at least 15 hours per week to the activities. One group learned photography with digital cameras and imaging software, a task requiring remembering verbal instruction and complex reasoning. A second group learned quilting with computer controlled sewing machines, requiring abstract thinking to create patterns. Participants in other groups performed passive tasks such as playing games, telling stories, or going to museums.

“Only the quilting and photography groups, who were confronted with continuous and prolonged mental challenge, improved their memory abilities,” lead researcher Dr. Denise Park said.

You can read the news item here.

We’re sure it applies to painting too !!

Another great end to another great season (well nearly – we missed it by a day!)

Last year we had a fantastic sunset on the very last night of our season. This year we hoped for the same but, sadly, it wasn’t to be. It happened the very next night as we were on our way to dine with friends!

Yes, really! This is the scene that met our eyes as we crested the ridge between Le Mas d’Agenais and Casteljaloux.  (A huge storm followed)

DSCF1644Fuji X20 – 1/20th  sec @  f 2

Thanks to everyone who came to stay with us this year; we look forward to seeing both new and familiar faces next year.

As for us, we’re off to Italy tomorrow for three weeks, just to see what it’s like to be on holiday  ;-)

The Garonne river at 8 metres above its normal level

For those of you familiar with our beautiful local river, La Garonne, we thought you might like to see what it looks like when it’s angry!

This is the result of the very heavy rains that fell here and south of us, in the Pyrenees, at the end of May,.

ADVANCED PHOTOGRAPHY WEEK – Cancellation! – Place Available June 15th

Unfortunately a guest who was due to join us on June 15th for a week’s advanced photography has suffered a broken leg and has had to cancel her trip.

So, if anyone can make it at such short notice, there’s a place available for you!

Place taken !

A ‘Must See’ – and not just for photographers

Time lapse photography is the name given to the technique of taking a series of still photographs at pre-determined intervals and then displaying them in quick succession in a short movie sequence. It’s very interesting to do and anyone who has a tripod and a camera fitted with an intervalometer can do it. However, it often gets a bit clichéd – clouds scudding across the sky, plants opening from bud to full flower in the space of a couple of seconds, buildings under construction, and so on – but yesterday we came across this example, using photos taken by Dr. Don Pettit during his time spent on the International Space Station, which we found both awe-inspiring, beautiful and totally fascinating.

So when you have a spare 15 minutes, we recommend that you go and get a drink, then sit back and watch this video. And when you do, you’ll see that it’s not just of interest to photographers, it’s for everyone who appreciates incredible images and the beauty of the planet we live on.

Incidentally, if you pause the video around the 14:04 / 14:05 time mark, you can see Bordeaux, Toulouse, Paris and London all in the same frame as the ISS passes right over us at night. If we’d known what was going on, we’d have gone outside and switched on all our security lights  :-)

To watch the video full-screen (recommended), click the ‘Play’ arrow, then click on the four-pronged symbol between ‘HD’ and ‘Vimeo’

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