Retail stocks are recovering and stabilising after the O’Reilly’s B-Class Mercedes hire car left Menerbes resembling a Transkei taxi. La Poste had gratefully received two Colossimos and Jonno was heard to mutter that a few more bags would have to be purchased.

The O’Reillys left us for Barcelona and the first text we received was: “shops are fab” – Emirates are in for a challenge.

On the previous day, the boys took Hannah and Sophie off to the tiny village of Saint-Didier and Le Jarditrain. This is a wonderful model train display covering a huge garden and garage. Everything is computer controlled and they have amazing activities for the kids who are kept busy for hours finding various animals, people and objects in the scenery and amongst the bonsaied trees(

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[a very happy Hannah at the train]

As they went in one direction we took off for a day visit to Hyeres – north east of Toulon and Marseilles. After negotiating the excruciating traffic in Toulon, we were able to enjoy a quiet lunch with the Fox-Duncans in one of the many marinas in the village.

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[Hyeres is really no different to the many tourist/fishing/boating villages that dot this part of the Mediterranean coastline. Holiday apartments encircle the marinas and there are many billions of euros of boats and other expensive toys nestling between them]

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The flowers are starting to burst out of their winter sleep. The irises have made their presence known and we have spotted the first poppies. Here is a pic of the amazing lilac tree in front of the house.

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[A glorious show of Wisteria and a local veteran vehicle in the village]

A few days ‘turn around’ and then the first Victims of the Volcano arrived – the Kilners (of the Cape Town, not Melbourne variety) had managed to travel from the UK to Nice and hired a little red Peugeot to pop into Entrecasteaux for a visit and then on to Menerbes.

The weather has improved so much that we sent messages to Gilles and Julian to ‘wake the pool up’. (The Prodigal Son arrives next week and everything must be perfect!).

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[‘Waking up’ the pool means removing the cover and giving the winter hued water a shot of no less than 40 blocks of high intensity chlorine. Special plastic floats are removed from the inlet and outlet pipes which prevented them from freezing if water got in, the pool filter is serviced and then switched on. That’s Julien on the left and Gilles on the right. Swimming is banned for three days, naturally.]

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[Gilles, resplendent in a FIFA 2010 World Cup cap, unscrews the outlet pipe to remove the float]

Gilles took the opportunity to start to repair some of the damage caused by the snow to the cypress trees. They have to be trimmed back radically and the tops lopped off.

Of course, our visitor could not resist a little climb up the ladder. Note the crocs on the feet. 2Oceansvibe readers – we can only say sorry.

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All the cypresses will be treated in this way – but now we wait for the cherry-picker to arrive.









As is traditional, Sunday saw us off bright and early to the market at L’Isle sur la Sorgue. Pictures do it far better than any copy.

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[Charles and Janet at the famous Roman mini-aquaducts]

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[antiques, antiques]

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[Spring in Provence – asparagus and strawberries is cheap abundance]

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[a local busker]

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[another local busker]

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[our smoked salmon man who has a deft touch with the carving knife]

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[one of the nine remaining water wheels funneling water off to houses and commerce]


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