A few weeks ago, we discussed the ancient walls and the spicatum method of walls and roads. Here’s another example of an ancient skill made modern – plastering the outside of stone walls with a modern plaster substance to replace the ancient mud used.

The chap on the right sprays the plaster on to the walls with a high pressure hose, and his mate smoothes it out giving a beautiful sheen. Ageing comes naturally – good for another few hundred years.

 

At this time of the year. the Luberon Valley (the world’s ‘glacé fruit capital), is ablaze with cherry blossoms which erupt for a precious week after the almond blossoms have disappeared.

Lone splendour near Ménerbes.

An ornamental cherry in the Bastide les Amis garden

Looking down from the hill top village of Ménerbes onto cherry orchards

Another view.

We spotted the spicatum walls outside the Chateau high up near Saint Saturnin-les-Apt.

 

L’opus spicatum – is an ancient method of paving or bulding using stones and interleaving them in a zig-zag fashion. The joints go both horizontal and vertical.

The technique was developed during Roman times as a means of paving roads, but then in the Middle Ages, artisans tried the technique on walls with great success – particularly retaining walls as the interleaving of the stone created a strong structure.

Then, in Medieval times, the French artisans used to clad the outside of noble city houses with spicatum laid bricks and encased them in wooden frames – designs houses made famous in cities such as Carcassonne. Way down in the south-west in the Dordogne, there are many versions of spicatum clad homes.

Carcassonne.

 

An ancient art – sadly practiced no longer.

 

Launching to-day 13th March 2017, Footsteps. Provençal Paradise. is launching on world-wide Amazon sites. This is the Second Edition of the popular Luberon, Provence guide. Now updated; further tours included and many other features. It’s available in print or on e-book via the Kindle store.

To purchase, lend or browse, click here.

Start the fire!

 

The best way to describe the Braserade is that it is a mini-BBQ which you light outside with charcoal and when the doals are glowing and just about white-hot, you bring inside (or to a terrace table) and start the fun.

An Alsace tradition, the Braserade is great for cooking strip of steak or sliced duck breast. A multitude of dipping sauces accompany the meats – we had a special BBQ sauce, horse radish (a nod to the British for the beef), bernaise, mustard, tomato sauce and a buttery lemon sauce. Our plates were garnishedwith a perfectly baked potato and then you cook your own. An Alsatian fondue without the boiling oil! A side salad rounded off the feast.

It’s delicious!

 

An annual highlight !

 

Are they nervous, or bored, or completely oblivious? There’s no one-size-fits-all diagnosis for the airplane seat kicker, but they’re universally annoying.

For the third year in a row, rear seat kickers have earned the dubious distinction of being the No. 1 most offensive type of airline passenger.
They beat out inattentive parents, aromatic passengers, seat recliners and more in the fourth annual Expedia Airplane Etiquette Study, released Tuesday.
Drawn from feedback from 1,005 Americans age 18 and over, the study shows that 64% of respondents find the rear seat kicker annoying. Inattentive parents rank second, aggravating 59% of those surveyed, followed by smelly or “aromatic” passengers (55%).
Rear seat kickers have topped the rankings since 2014. In 2013, the first year of the study, inattentive parents topped the list.
Despite some variations, there’s a common theme from study to study.
“A prevailing theme across all four years of the study is the importance people place on the sanctity of their personal space within the tight confines of an airplane,” said Dave McNamee, Expedia spokesman.
The good news?
“A sizable majority of Americans — 70-80% of people — consider their fellow passengers to be ‘considerate,'” McNamee noted.
Annoying passenger rankings
So how do all the aggravating passengers stack up? Here’s the full 2016 list:
1. The Rear Seat Kicker (cited by 64% of respondents)
2. Inattentive Parents (59%)
3. The Aromatic Passenger (55%)
4. The Audio Insensitive (49%)
5. The Boozer (49%)
6. Chatty Cathy (40%)
7. The Queue Jumper (35%)
8. Seat-Back Guy (35%)
9. The Armrest Hog (34%)
10. Pungent Foodies (30%)
11. The Undresser (28%)
12. The Amorous (28%)
13. The Mad Bladder (22%)
14. The Single and Ready to Mingle (18%)
Commissioned by online travel company Expedia, the study was conducted by GfK, an independent market research company.

Menerbes is having a Carnaval with a street procession – Saturday 18 March. Procession starts at 11h00. In the evening there is a ‘Ball’ at 21h00 – entrance free, with a DJ and snacks and drinks available.

New season Asparagus at  the Apt Market. At 6€ a bunch, you’re paying a premium – it’ll be 4€ or even 2€, in 30 days time!

Les Primeurs – literally meaning, ‘freshness’, are the early season vegetables much sought after by the French. Crowds mass around the market stalls and the supermarkets promote their arrival.

Tradtionally, les primeurs are cooked gently and lightly – no heavily boiled brussel sprouts here. The French want to savour the newness of Spring, the crunch and the flavour.

Pourquoi pas? Why not?

The famous ‘Fraise de Carpentras’ – strawberries from nearby Carpentras.

 

34+3 and counting!

Happy Anniversary, darling!

No New Year’s Day to celebrate
No chocolate covered candy hearts to give away
No first of spring, no song to sing
In fact here’s just another ordinary day
No April rain
No flowers bloom
No wedding Saturday within the month of June
But what it is, is something true
Made up of these three words that I must say to you

I just called to say I love you
I just called to say how much I care
I just called to say I love you
And I mean it from the bottom of my heart

No summer’s high
No warm July
No harvest moon to light one tender August night
No autumn breeze
No falling leaves
Not even time for birds to fly to southern skies
No Libra sun
No Halloween
No giving thanks to all the joy you bring

Hong Kong – 1983….

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