Have a peep at the new Bastide les Amis website, launched yesterday!

Some great features:

– a diagram of the entire property explaining when it is rented as a whole or as Maison Olive and Maison Blanc

– a beautiful pictorial of the Bastide gardens

– our Guest Book and Trip Advisor link – see what our guests are saying about us

– new innovations: pool side massages and private wine tastings!

– our new ‘Additional Properties’ section showcasing other properties we can help you with, all personally selected by us

The Home page of the new Bastide les Amis website

Click here for the new site: #mce_temp_url#

We don't want to call the monkey, but Provence is experiencing early, early, Spring. Here's Bastide les Amis shimmering in the mid-day springshine.

We don't want to call the monkey, but it's early, early Spring in Provence. Here's Bastide les Amis shimmering in the early springshine.

Have you ever found that your electrical circuit board suddenly starts to give off a ‘buzzing’ sound?

Ours did – yesterday morning. Rather terrifying when you consider that the board may be embarking on the earliest stages of blowing up. Expensive!

A dear Friend Paul B. in Melbourne (his only problem in life is that he barracks for the Richmond Tigers – Go Pies!), told me a few years ago: “If something happens, it will have happened to someone else before!”. He’s right and so I’ve learnt to find sites such as www.fixya.com which normally provide the answer.

so – to the web. It was one of two things – a lose connection in the circuit board and the prelude to it blowing up. Get an electrician fast!

The second, is a strange one……the new bulbs (halogen, eco, etc etc) that we all use these days as we endeavour to Save the Planet, never actually turn off and they give off a magnetic field back to the circuit board. Now all this is fine unless the bulbs are not screwed in tightly (even if they work as they are). This field creates a buzzing sound and, eventually, damage to your board.

Ah! Madame’s new chandelier had just been installed in the doll museum and, lo and behold, the bulbs were only fingertip tight, not real tight. I tightened and……no more buzzing!

Madame's new chandelier in the Bastide les Amis doll museum

Thanks Paul! Now say slowly after me, “Collingwood, for ever.”

More pics from the concrete pouring:

The bobcat suddenly became Formula Bobcat

A Doll Museum birds-eye view of the pouring

The foundations and the 'bubble' for plants start to take shape

Concrete nestles into the reinforcing

Nicolas on his way to pour at the wall to start creating two new petit jardins

There we go, poured, then the waterproofing, then the small walls then the roses come back from ICU!

The three - Nicholas, Ludwik and the Dancing Bobcat

Nicolas and his new member of the team - Ludwik

We’re building a new terrasse off the lounge of Maison Olive on the Bastide les Amis property in Menerbes, Luberon Valley, Povence in France.

This week, the foundation concrete arrived – much excitement!

The large concrete pre-mix truck arrives from Sylvestre in Coustellet

Final adjustments for the pouring

Nicolas brings his little machine nearer to collect the concrete

A final mix and a check on the consistency

The 'dancing bobcat' on the left waits its turn

The first load goes in

There goes the bobcat's first load

Quite an art to carry the slop when driving flat out!

On Wednesday evening we were privileged – yes, privileged – to be invited to a soiree with Hubert and Pierre of La Verandah, Menerbes, at their home in Les Taillades.

What do you expect when you have a meal at the house of such great chefs and restauranteurs? Accompanying us were Aurelio and Graça the other partners in La Verandah and a neighbour. Also, we must not forget their four labradors which kept us entertained and demanding out attention and love.

Wow! Aperitifs of pink champagne (the real thing) and a charcuterie platter were followed by moving to a beautifully decorated table and a start of potage. This was no some simple soup – no, a leek stock, cream and chunks of salmon mopped up with some delicious freshly baked baguette.

Hubert then disappeared into the kitchen and arrived with a plate of sliced trufffles nestling over leeks and a sauce which came from the Gods of Food.

Truffles and Leeks!

Hubert (left) and Pierre

Was this the main course? No!

Aurelio kindly making the chapon more manageable for Madame

Superbly roasted chapon with garlic and onion followed. The chapon could not have been more perfectly cooked and was washed down with some superb local Domaine de la Garelle rose.

Graça in fine form

Then, the cheese. But with a twist. Accompanying the cheese platter (which had a rather pleasant vintage Beaufort on it as well as reblouchon) was a vinegarette celerac salad. We were sold! Cheese platter have now taken on a new meaning.

Not enough, Hubert declared! Along came an ‘experimental’ apple bake. Hubert and Pierre, more experiments please!

Hubert, the concerned host, Pierre, Françoise and Aurelio

This is not an experiment, it's a work of art!

A light dinner/soiree that started at 19h00 and finished at 23h00. A privilege – is there a better English word for such an evening? I’ve yet to find one, but will keep searching. One thing is for sure ,it’s an evening we will never forget.

Merci bien, mes amis..

It’s bee n a routine of physiotherapy, nurse, physio, nurse, physio etc.

At the same time, the weather has brightened completely and Jose has declared that the ‘terre’ is no longer a ‘catastrophe‘ – ie it is no longer frozen and he can start to build the new terrasse outside Maison Olive.

On Saturday the boys announced that they were “Back in Town” and arrived with buckets and lime to map out the plan and have the approval given.

The lines have been drawn

The 'dancing bobcat' has been and dug the foundation trenches and the reinforcing rods are in

Meanwhile, the precious rose bushes have been placed in Intensive Care in the garden

We've had to move the access door into the basement of Maison Olive - a new hole has been created and wrapped up against the cold waiting for a new door from Dominique

In the midst of this, Saint-Maclou the carpet people from Avignon, arrived and in a flash, we had a new carpet down in the Doll Museum.

The day bed and the Olde English dolls house are now in position

The Doll Museum - looking out from the day bed, awaiting boxes, another dolls house and quite a bit more furniture

Au bientot: many more pics of the terrasse to come! : Lovonne and Simon xx

We’re still mulling over the movie Midnight in Paris where the City is the real hero.

Why wouldn’t it be?

Remarkable images have emerged from Mozambique of an elephant swimming in the sea off bay of Nuarro, on the north coast
Bizarre images of an African elephant swimming, playing, washing and drinking in the sea have emerged from an eco-tourism lodge in Mozambique.
An incredibly rare sight – elephants love water and hosing themselves down but it is highly unusual to see them in the sea.
Chris McIntyre from Expert Africa said: “It’s phenomenally unusual in southern or East Africa for an elephant to be in the ocean. I’ve never seen this, and very, very rarely heard of it!”
The elephant was spotted off the coast in the bay of Nuarro, home to the Nuarro Mozambique eco-lodge. Trienke Lodewijk from the Nuarro Lodge said, “Can you believe this, in our bay! It is so incredible. We couldn’t believe it when we spotted him.”
Scientists think elephants don’t naturally like sea water but can’t place a specific reason on why.

[thanks John W.]

The clack of the rails and the whirr of the camera have a long history together. The pride of FRance is the TGV train.

Here’s a cinematic train journey through France.


L’Arrivée d’un Train en Gare de La Ciotat (Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat) Auguste & Louis Lumière, 1895

One of the first movies ever made, this 50-second silent documentary shows with dramatic effect the entry of a train into the station of La Ciotat, in Provence. Legend says that the life-size moving image of the steam locomotive coming directly at the audience created panic among the spectators unfamiliar with the magic of moving pictures. This short jewel, first presented in January 1896, can be seen on YouTube, as can several other films by the brothers Lumière, widely considered the inventors of cinema.


La Bête Humaine Jean Renoir, 1938

This spellbinding melodrama uses trains as metaphors for working men’s camaraderie, masculine vitality, jealousy and madness. Jacques Lantier (Jean Gabin) witnesses the murder of the railway boss by fellow train engineer Roubaud (Fernand Ledoux) and his wife Séverine (Simone Simon). Lantier, in love with Séverine, stays silent. When he embarks on an affair with Séverine, she urges him to kill her husband. One of Renoir’s masterpieces and probably his darkest film, La Bête Humaine, loosely based on Emile Zola’s novel, is said to be a precursor of the Hollywood version of film noir in the 1940s.


La Bataille du Rail (The Battle of the Rails) René Clément, 1946

During the Nazi occupation, when France’s Vichy government used French trains to help the Germans deport French Jews to concentration camps, French railway workers supported the Resistance by sabotaging train traffic. La Bataille du Rail tells their true story in fictionalized form. Filmed right after the end of the war, with the support of Resistance members, it is one of the most honest and realistic war films ever made and won universal praise when released.

An old French train - the ancient French word 'trahner' is the antecedent of the English word, train.


Bébert et l’Omnibus (Bebert and the Train) Yves Robert,1963

Returning from a day trip to Paris, the young Bébert (Martin Lartigue, the unforgettable Petit Gibus in Yves Robert’s previous film, La Guerre des Boutons) stays at the back of the train while his big brother, Tiennot (singer Jacques Higelin), tries to meet a girl in the front. During the journey the train is divided, the brothers are separated and soon Bébert finds himself alone in a strange town. Memorable adventures ensue, not only for Bébert but for those he encounters, until Tiennot finally finds him to bring him home.


Compartiment Tueurs (The Sleeping Car Murder) Costa-Gavras, 1965

On the night train from Marseille to Paris, a young woman is murdered in the sleeping compartment she shares with five passengers. As the other passengers,who are both primary witnesses and suspects, are killed one by one, urgency mounts for Inspector Grazziani (Yves Montand) to find the murderer. Based on the acclaimed novel by Sébastien Japrisot (author of L’Été Meurtrier and Un Long Dimanche de Fiançailles, both also adapted into successful movies), this gripping and mysterious thriller is Costa-Gavras’s first movie.


Notre Histoire (Our Story) Bertrand Blier, 1984

The protagonist of this tragicomic and surreal love story, Robert (Alain Delon), is an alcoholic garage owner who happens to be traveling by train when an attractive woman (Nathalie Baye) enters his compartment and offers to make love to him. When she leaves, the lonely Robert decides to follow her, ready to go to any lengths to become part of her life. Legendary actor Alain Delon won his first and only César for his turn in this film, a departure from his usual more heroic roles.


Zazie dans le Métro (Zazie in the Underground) Louis Malle, 1960. Surrealist comedy.

Deux Heures à Tuer (Two Hours to Kill) Ivan Govar, 1966. Thriller.

Un Soir, Un Train (One Night… a Train) André Delvaux, 1968. Drama/fantasy.

Le Train (The Last Train), Pierre Granier-Deferre, 1973. Historical drama.

J’ai Epousé une Ombre (I Married a Dead Man) Robin Davis, 1983. Thriller.

Train d’Enfer (Hell Train) Roger Hanin, 1985. Thriller.

Train de Vie (Train of Life) Radu Mihaileanu, 1998. War comedy.

Source: http://www.francetoday.com/articles/2012/02/12/top_6_french_train_films.html

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