Sunday, 28 April 2013

I have been spending some time being creative since I arrived in the Ariege despite the lack of photographic evidence!
These shapes made from DesignMatters wonderful compressed sponge (currently available from the DM online store) will soon feature in a collection of quilted cushions, bags, hangings and throws.
Below is a work in progress using the moth and star shapes printed onto some of my latest batch of rusted fabric.
I've echo quilted by hand around the motifs using Madeira Lana for a bold mark, then used machine free motion quilting in a Madiera variegated cotton thread to flatten the background and finally used a bright pink Madeira rayon as a 'frame'  around the motifs at the same time as creating a visual link between the pinks.  I've used both Jacquard and Pébéo fabric paints.

I've just prepared some skeins from a hank of cotton bought in Pas de la Casa, Andorra.  These will go into a dye bath with lengths of fabric mañana.

I'm pleased to see the old Citroen van in Tarascon is still going strong!

It looks like these young lizards are dancing in the sunshine.

Lovely layers of colour!

 I make no apologies for yet another seedhead photo!
 The fewer the seeds, the more transparent and detailed they look. 

Friday, 26 April 2013

Yesterday we drove to Col de Port and walked up to Le Pic d'Estebat.
Fresh strawberries at the peak was a refreshing reward - mmmmmm!

Looking south towards Tarascon.

Looking west towards the central Pyrenees.

There's still snow on the mountainsides but the spring flowers are making a colourful show.

 Elsa the lovely lurcher had a great time running rings around us in the snow and looks quite relaxed at the top of the mountain in her unusual pose!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Today's bright sunshine and gentle breeze made the spring trees and shrubs look very fresh and colourful against the gorgeous blue sky. 

This colourful Judas Tree/Cercis Siliquastrum has very a strange but beautiful growing habit - as seen below!

The colour of the river in the background looks quite murky compared to the fresh green of these new leaves.

The humble dandelion/pis en lit(!) is very beautiful in full bloom, above, and in its stunning seedhead form below!  

Above - a pair of pretty little goldfinches/chardonnerets élégants enjoying a bathe in the stream.

 Below - soaring high above them one of a pair of magnificent osprey/balbuzard pecheur.  An amazing sight when they hover - just like kestrels but much bigger!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

This colourful version of an orange-tip butterfly is 'Anthocharis Belia' or Morroco orange-tip.  It has bright yellow instead of the usual white wings on the orange-tip Anthocharis cardomines seen in the UK.

The red robin alongside the river in Tarascon looks beautifully fresh and colourful at the moment.
Le petit jardin's trees are looking as lovely as ever with this season's spurts of growth.

Whatever has nibbled the edges of these ivy leaves has given them a quirky new shape.

Well-tended allotments alongside the Ariege are starting to show the first crops of the year.

Snow melt from the high mountains is swelling the river.

Mont Sédour in the background is home to a pair of Egyptian vultures.

Friday, 19 April 2013

 Another thousand mile journey from Shropshire to the Pyrenees on Tuesday/Wednesday of this week went well apart from a couple of unexpected detours.  The autoroutes were almost deserted as usual apart from in and around the bigger towns and cities so I was snapping away to record the journey.  The chateau d'eau/water tower on the horizon towards the left in the photo above was a lovely shape!

 The miles and miles of flat open farmland to the north of Chartres makes for boring driving but the modern grain processing and storage systems are fascinating.   

 We use this bar tabac just outside Chartres for a coffee stop.  It's accepted as normal to pop over the road to the boulangerie for croissant and cakes to accompany the coffee served in the little bar.  This time we had croissant au beurre, éclair au café and flan.  Délicieux!

 This lovely old cinema in a sleepy little town near Evreux was still in use.
 The spires of the cathédrale in Chartres can be spotted from many miles away as they stand out majestically on the otherwise quite flat horizon.  It's a vast and stunning edifice and has recently undergone restoration and a clean-up.

 Travelling in a car at 110kms per hour along autoroutes doesn't allow for the best of photographs but I managed to capture a few of the chateaux peeking through the trees along the way.

 These tourist placards announce entry into the Dordogne.  Inspirational sources for quilts?

 I haven't yet visited the Pech Merle caves with their prehistoric paintings but I can certainly recommend a trip to Saint Cirq Lapopie.  It's perched on the side of a cliff and is stunningly beautiful.