One Last Day In Long Beach

This is our last day in Long Beach. We began (like all other days) with a walk on the beach. It was blowing cold and raining off and on, but we braved the elements to hike north from the condo. Just when the sky darkened alarmingly we decided to turn around and return. Wouldn’t you know that about the time we arrived at the condo the sun came out and it has been sunny and rainless ever since. The forecast was for rain and thunder all day!

Anyway, the changing weather created some nice light and the dunes were as picturesque as always.

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I have been doing some art as well. Continued work on Ukestra Seattle logo art occupies most art time, but I have been practicing using pastels. This is one beach scene I did after one of our walks.

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Now it’s time to begin packing. Home tomorrow.


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What A Difference A Day Makes

Sunday evening we capped Jean’s birthday with a trip to Pickled Fish, a bar/restaurant across the street from our condo. Dessert and drinks were our order because I already had made dinner at home. We settle into a table in front of the stage and listened to a set by Portland singer Ezza Rose. Her bluesy songs filled the room as we munched oatmeal cranberry cookie with vanilla ice cream (me) and chocolate pot a creme (Jean).

When not outdoors we did some art. I worked on drawings of ukulele players that will be part of the Ukestra Seattle logo. That is work in progress that will not be shared yet. However, I also completed a small pastel of the stormy seashore as we had experienced it that day.

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Monday dawned bright and sunny, a complete reversal from Sunday. We donned our boots and headed for the beach. A very high tide had scoured the beach of most storm debris, but the birds were soaking up the heat and enjoying the drying out. Even our little pelagic friend from Sunday was cleaner while waiting for the tide to bring the ocean to him. Jean was in her glory as we hiked a couple of miles up the beach exploring sea life, the waves, and the dunes.

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Alas, the sun break was short-lived. Today we are back to grey skies and rain. The temperature also dropped about 10 degrees. We attempted to go out in early afternoon, but walking just wasn’t comfortable. There’s always tomorrow!


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Happy Birthday Jean!

Today is Jean’s birthday and we are celebrating at one of her favorite places, the Pacific Ocean beaches of western Washington. Happy Birthday!

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A morning walk in 40 mph winds is a brisk beginning to the day. There are birds, grasses, flotsam, and wonderful flurries of spindrift whipped from the waves by the wind.

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This is our home for the week – Worldmark Long Beach. We’ve been here many times and settled in quickly.

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Holiday decorations on the beach…

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Music and The Ocean

This morning began with packing the car for a week at the ocean. However, before leaving town there was the small matter of Ukestra Seattle giving a holiday concert as part of the Dusty Strings 30th Anniversary Holiday Open House. We had a great crowd and played our best. What a joy to make music with these folks. All my practice while in France this fall helped keep me “in tune” with the group. If you want to keep up with what Ukestra Seattle is doing, like us on Facebook!

Ukestra Seattle

Ukestra Seattle

After the show we stopped briefly at PCC to buy groceries for the week and headed for the coast. It rained, the wind blew, and then just at sunset we saw some blue sky and pink clouds for 5 minutes! The ocean is a constant roar outside our window. Tomorrow we hope to get close up. Here are a couple of photos of the drive down.

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Western Washington in the winter!


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Final Visit to Montcabrier

As promised this is the post of our Halloween visit with Sally at Atelier de la Rose in Montcabrier. We left Collioure in sunshine on Halloween morning and had a pleasant drive through the hills and mountains of southwest France. Sally was tending to the last of her tomato plants when we arrived much earlier than planned. We decided to take a walk around this familiar village.

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Next we left the village and walked up the road to the cemetery. This has been a holiday week in France with children out of school and families traveling back to home towns. The week ends with All Saint’s Day, a time to honor your ancestors by decorating their graves with flowers. It is colorful and moving.

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This was Halloween so one might expect some carved pumpkins. Sally carved one to greet the village’s children as they came by for sweets.

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The families organized a group event for the trick or treating. The children and parents gathered at the church then came house to house. Children’s voices bubbled through the village.

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Finally the sun set.

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Then it was time to say goodbye to Halloween until next year.

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On November 1 we returned to Paris. However, that story will have to wait for my next post.


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For the first time on this trip my computer will not connect to the internet. The hotel’s server doesn’t speak Windows 8 apparently. That means no posts for several days. I can do this much on my phone.

At the end of this week I will catch you up on Collioure goodbyes, Halloween in Moncabrier with Sally at Atelier de la Rose, a long drive north, and Paris adventures to come.


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Last Days In Collioure

Our time in Collioure and in Europe is winding down. Yesterday we went to the annual regional antique show in the Chateau Royale. Unfortunately, yours truly forgot to put a memory card into his camera. Therefore, you must take my word for it that this was a great show. Highlights: there was a great deal of early to mid 20th century art, prices for French antiques in the hinterlands (outside of Paris) are quite reasonable, and the views from the Chateau remain stunning. It was a bit depressing to find that art work completed during my lifetime is now considered an antique.

In the middle of the night our apartment did a little shake, rattle, and roll. There was a 3.8 magnitude earthquake just across the Spanish border. Jean felt the tremble for 10-15 seconds, but I slept through it. The Pryenees seem to still be moving.

Today we decided to explore the cliff trail between Collioure and Port Argeles, something that has been on our todo list since 2011. Every time we enter the town we see the remnants of a fort/chateau on the headland to the north of town. It was time to see what was there. We hiked up out of the town to a trailhead just 1km from the fort.

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The trail took us out to the clifftops and then along the precipice to the fort. We meandered around the site and then wandered across the cliffs on various unmarked trails to find our way back. Although an ancient fort, the walls were shored up by the German army in WWII and the area was used for bunkers to protect the coast from invasion. Alas, the invasion came many hundreds of miles north in Normandy. Therefore, these bunkers were abandoned and left to ruin. It was a great walk and I’m beat!

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A simple supper with tarts and salad. Now to rest.



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Happy Birthday in Collioure

I’ve had a very nice birthday in Collioure. Jean and I spent a lazy morning in the apartment and then took a walk along the waterfront. Once again the rollers were coming in from far out to sea.

Of course the big waves bring out the commandos for their kayak landing training. People line the quay to watch. We were among them.

On the way around Chateau Royale the waves washed over the quay. By the time we reached the inner harbor we were wet to the knees and our shoes sloshed with each step. It was time for a stop at Les Templiers for a late afternoon libation and a bit of drying out. We had a drink and enjoyed the artwork on the wall.

Once back home Jean whipped up a delicious Thai Curry with chicken, mushrooms, peppers, and coconut. Served with Camargue rice from Provence it was a fine birthday dinner.


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Catalan Coast By Water

Yesterday afternoon we made our way to the quay to meet the sightseeing boat. These daily trips go along the coast in places where we have been on land. It was great fun to see the same area from the water.

Port Vendres Fishing Boats and Houses

Port Vendres Fishing Boats and Houses

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Large Seiner

Of course one of the primary attractions are the cliffs. When standing atop them, looking out to sea, one has a sense of height but no sense of the rock beneath your feet. It’s quite imposing from the boat.

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And there were sea caves that our captain insisted on getting close to. While in here they chummed the water and thousands of small fish swarmed the boat. The glass bottom panels enabled us to see these beauties, but photos were not so easy.

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It was a great late afternoon adventure. Today the clouds have descended and it is raining. We expect rain for the next 2-3 days…just like Seattle!


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New Friends

Yesterday we took a stroll around town. It was a warm day, but a bit overcast. The streets are full of people because it is a weekend and Collioure is a popular get-away. However, we were able to find some empty spaces in the small back streets.

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We sat on the quay for a time to watch the people and boats. Much to our surprise our new found friends from our hike to the windmill, Marie and Jean-Marie, walked down the beach. Jean called to Marie and they joined us for another crazy conversation bouncing among English, French, and Spanish to communicate with each other. What a fun couple! We learned that Marie was born and raised in the small town near Les Orgues where we visited on our previous post. Jean-Marie was from Prades, a larger town not far from there. Although they live near Toulouse, they make it a point to return to Catalonia where they feel at home. We have each made a commitment to learn the other’s language better and meet again on our next trip to France. Jean-Marie has promised to share some great paella with us.

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Marie told us she had been watching an artist sketching on the beach near us. She was quite impressed by the drawing. Within minutes a woman approached and Marie greeted her. This was the artist – Sylvie Batlle! She was born and raised in Collioure, but lived in England for 20 years. Therefore, the communications became easier. Sylvie is an art therapist as well as fine artist. The five of us chatted for a bit and then Sylvie invited us to come to her atelier to see her work.

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Sylvie’s atelier, Grain de fable, is in the same small shop that her parents ran as a take-out eating place when she was young. The basement kitchen has been converted to her studio. Her mother was tending the shop when we entered and called Sylvie up from the basement when we asked for her. If you click on the link above you will get to a page with some of her paintings at the bottom of the page. Click on the small images to see enlargements. This is a small portion of what she has in the atelier. Her work varies from figurative and realistic to abstract. Every piece has a liveliness that captures your interest. The abstracts are mostly done with a base of sand mixture to create texture and then painted over with either acrylic or oil paint.

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Sylvie is another of the amazing artists we have met on this trip. Her warmth and passion for creativity are an inspiration.


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