Sad news this Easter

We are very, very sad to have to tell everyone who knew her that our lovely Labrador and great companion, Holly, died suddenly yesterday, Easter Saturday.

We took some friends to Bergerac airport at 14:00, leaving Holly fit and well in the garden. When we arrived back home at 16:00 we found her collapsed on the lawn unable to move and having breathing difficulties. Our retired French veterinary friend, Georges, came over straight away to examine her and confirmed that she was almost completely paralysed. We took her immediately to the vets in le Mas d’Agenais where, thankfully, they had someone working an Easter rota.

However, after examining her, the vet told us that Holly had suffered a massive brain haemorrhage, and that she was already, by that time, almost dead and could not be saved. To prevent any further suffering we agreed that the vet should put her to sleep and we stayed with her through that process. The vet is arranging for her to be cremated and we intend burying her ashes here in the garden she considered to be hers as much as ours.

As all our guests discovered, Holly had a quirky, individual, but loveable, character and, even at just over 11 years old, she was still a remarkably fit and active dog. She has been with us through every single one of our Painting & Photography seasons and every guest will recall how she was always there in the car park, waiting for us, tail wagging furiously wanting food and a fuss (usually in that order), when we all returned from our days out.

We know that many of you who came back to us for repeated visits got to know Holly particularly well, some of you often taking her for early morning or late afternoon walks along the canal, so we know that you’ll miss her too.

you lookin' at me

Pete and Jill
Lagruere, 5th April 2015

Some people get all the luck!

Well, just a hour or so after our last post, I received an email from David Parker, a photographer who was with us here at Painting-Photography-France in June 2010, together with his lovely artist wife, Valerie. David and Valerie live near Nottingham in the UK and the following shots were taken by David from his balcony this morning.

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Thanks for that David!  (I’m not jealous or anything)

Eclipse? What Eclipse?

09:00 CET this morning, camera sitting on tripod out on the terrace, 400 mm lens attached, VR switched off, 12x neutral density filter in place,  camera in live view, remote at the ready, testing various shutter speed and aperture combinations, hoping to get some great time lapse shots of a fairly good ‘Super-Moon’ partial eclipse. Even this far south it should have been around 75% at its maximum, as per this graphic:

2015-03-20 11_10_53-Eclipses visible in Bordeaux, France - 20 Mar 2015 Solar Eclipse

And what did we see here in lovely southwest France?  Rien, nothing, nada :-(

This image was taken at 09:10 CET, just after I began testing, and it turned out to be the best sky we had! It just got worse and worse from this point on.

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By 10:20, the time of the maximum eclipse, that thick cloud you see here was everywhere. Unbelievable! It was a beautiful day yesterday and it’s forecast beautiful again tomorrow. That’s Sod’s Law for you.

So, unless there’s some great advance in medical science pretty soon, I guess I’ll miss the 2090 one too (but it’ll probably be cloudy anyway).

Tenth Anniversary Celebration plus a New Website!

10th_anni_400

It’s amazing how time flies and you don’t really notice. This weekend the two of us suddenly woke up to the fact that the end of May this year will see the tenth anniversary of the arrival of our very first guests. Duh!

Anyway, having realised that, we thought we should do something special to celebrate. So, we have :-)

We’ve gone mad and are matching each year that’s passed with a 1% discount on our 2015 holidays (provided we receive the booking + deposit by midnight on 31st May). So, yes, that is a 10% discount folks ;-)

Oh and we have just launched a new website too. It has the same content and a similar ‘French flag’ theme to the previous site, but it’s been built using the latest software to give it a cleaner, sharper look. At the same time, we have added a completely new smartphone version too.

If you have time, please feel free to check out the site and let us know what you think. We’d be particularly interested to hear about any glitches you spot.

Cheers and best wishes to all

Pete & Jill

Nous sommes Charlie

After the shocking and tragic events that took place in Paris last week, the following images are just three of the many displays of defiance and solidarity to be seen today in Tonneins (our local town)

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Our thoughts are with the friends and families of the victims of yet three more barbaric and senseless atrocities.

Pete and Jill – Sunday 11th January 2015

A very merry Christmas to all our readers

We had to say that, it reminds Pete of the headers on the Christmas editions of his childhood comics.

This December has been really mild here, as was last year’s, therefore we don’t have anything traditionally Christmassy to show you. However, we did have a beautiful autumn with lots of early morning November mist, so here’s an early November canal-side shot taken just up the road from Chez Nous

_DSC7500To all guests, past and future, we send our very best wishes for a wonderful Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year. And may Santa bring you some lovely painting or photography bits and pieces; we each have our fingers crossed! ;-)

Pete & Jill

And as the sun sinks slowly in the west, we say farewell…….

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We always hope for a decent sunset on the last evening of the last holiday of the year, and this year we weren’t disappointed. However, this time, instead of the usual ‘red sky at night’  looking to the west, we thought we’d show you a ‘last evening’ view of Tonneins, looking east from the bridge towards our special ‘Masterchef’ restaurant, Quai 36.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who chose to spend a week with us this year; we met many new and lovely people and, again, we were delighted to see many familiar friendly faces (who are obviously gluttons for punishment!)

And finally of course we’d like to thank those of you reading this who have already booked for 2015! We look forward to seeing you next year :-)

Best wishes

Pete & Jill

PS
If you haven’t already noticed, we now have a short video illustrating our lovely départment on the Home Page of our website. If you like it, please share it by clicking on the ‘paper aeroplane’.

 

And there it was…. Gone!

Today, Friday July 25th, 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.

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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!

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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!

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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 :

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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?  ;-)

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