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auvergne landscapes: first autumn walk

I have been out walking since the beginning of September, but today was the first time that it felt properly autumnal. A little too autumnal, actually. I could have done with a slightly less of the mist, and more of the mellow fruitfulness and maturing sun. The wonderful colours made up for the weather though. The bracken is looking at its very best at the moment, and the first of the leaves are just starting to turn.

It’s been a long, hot summer, but we have had some cooler spells, with regular rain, which seems to have been ideal for berries. The hawthorns are all laden with fruit, and there are some very plump sloes in the hedgerows.

The brambles are also doing well – possibly too well in some cases. Lets hope this car won’t be needed in the near future.


I spotted this robin’s pin cushion on the stem…

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coping with august

sunflowers in the Allier Valley sunflowers in the Allier Valley

Although it has not been as consistently hot and dry as last summer, we have had several spells of very high temperatures this year. We’re just coming to the end of what will hopefully be the final week of temperatures in the mid to high 30s centigrade. I know I shouldn’t complain about fine weather, but that sort of heat really does make it very difficult to do anything, especially if it involves working with a hot blow torch!

We have developed a number of strategies to deal with the hot weather, the first of which is to visit a church, cathedral or abbey. They are always cool and dark inside, and many contain interesting and/or creepy artefacts. As a bonus, some also have shady cloisters. Bliss.

We’ve been confining our walks to early morning and evening, when it’s cooler, although we sometimes have to wait…

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three churches of the haute allier

A tour around some of the many local churches.

a lens in the landscape

We recently visited three of the small, usually 12th century churches in the scattered villages that lie in the side valleys of the Allier. These were the L’église Saint-Roch at Aubazat, Église Saint-Cirgues at Saint-Cirgues, and L’église Saint-Austremoine.

L’église Saint-Roch (Aubazat)

A feature of this church was the 15th century polychrome tableau.

Église Saint-Cirgues

This church has some parts dating back to the 11th century. However the highlights are the 15th century frescoes that cover the walls and ceiling.


L’église Saint-Austremoine

Unfortunately this church was locked so we couldn’t visit the interior. It’s setting though is superb, high in a valley, overlooking the surrounding countryside.

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developing your eye ii: triumph

a lens in the landscape

Todays prompt for the “Developing Your Eye” WordPress photo course was “Triumph”.

The apple is the sole fruit on the tree that has developed from very little blossom. However this was the first blossom we have had in three years and the first fruit from this ancient variety “Court Pendu”.

Our garden is in the Auvergne in France at 750 metres (2460′) of altitude, which gives us very cold winters and hot summers. The fruit trees were bought from a specialist local supplier at 1000 metres (3280′) so as to be accustomed to the harsh conditions!

20160803-160850Auvergne garden, August 2016

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St Julien des Chazes: Chapelle Sainte-Marie-des-Chazes

A trip down the Gorge d’Allier.

a lens in the landscape

The Chapelle is situated in the Allier valley in the Gorge d’Allier, Haute – Loire, roughly 45 minutes from where we live, though it’s taken us four years to get around to visiting it.

You get an initial glimpse through the trees from St Julien des Chazes.


It’s built into the hillside of local volcanic rock.

It’s 13th century in age and holds a 12th century polychrome madonna.


On the day we visited we were lucky enough to spy a Crag Martin nest in the porch with the parents feeding their young.

The gaps in the old wood door gave interesting glimpses of the interior and a beautiful iron gate led of one side of the porch.

All set in the beautiful surroundings of the Gorge d’Allier.

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Book Blogger Appreciation Week Day 1 : Introduce Yourself!

A post on books and reading from my “other” blog…

Other formats are available

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I’ve written this post as part of Book Bloggers’ Appreciation Week (hosted by The Estella Society). Day 1 asks you to introduce yourself by listing five books that represent you as a person or your interests/lifestyle. It sort of piqued my interest so heres my contribution.

This may seem an eclectic selection but I’ve got wide reading tastes and read a lot of non fiction as well as novels. These are a mixture of favourite books and ones that influenced future reading. The major influences on my reading were my mothers love of books and the local library, in the days when a small library in a South Wales town in the 1960’s could offer you Balzac, John Updike and Brian Aldiss. I devoured them all.

Iain M Banks Excession

I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy and the late Iain M Banks is one of my favourites. This…

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