Grottos and seafood

I thought I would share this little place we found, Meschers-sur-Gironde, whilst on holiday in France.

Stevie had researched this place, and discovered it had grottos to explore, and seafood.

I couldn’t help admiring the Gaura on the way down to the caves.

We saw a lot of this plant on our holiday.  It looks lovely here with the soft chalky tones of the stone steps behind.

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Our slightly dodgy French translating suggested that there was a long history of people living in these caves, fishing from the Gironde river.  The caves have also provided a hiding place through the centuries, from grain storage, to contraband.  Now there is a museum, a hotel and a café.

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I have been interested in the different colour palette in this part of the world.  Here there are soft sages, buff browns and grey.  It is evident from the seedpods that we are approaching the end of summer.

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But then the rocky crevices will be studded with bright gems of colour, like the sapphire blue of this – is it Plumbago?

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And the indigo and amethyst of this Salvia.

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We wound our way back up the steep steps of the cliff, and decided it was lunch-time.  But first we had to walk to the restaurant.  It gave me an opportunity to admire the beautiful windy streets, and majestic trees.

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And of course the Renault 5.

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I was not using the right camera lens for these wider shots (I was using my macro lens), but I didn’t have time to keep switching, as I was snapping away and then trying to keep up with the rest of my tribe!

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But in a way, this turned out to be a good thing.  I managed to get more interesting photos, I think.  Peeks and glimpses.

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I love the flashes of blue paint.  I don’t know whether there is a local by-law which says that all paint must be blue (occasionally leaching into turquoise or green), but if there is, I support it.  It is the perfect foil for the planting.

Here is Centranthus (Red Valerian):

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And here’s a Hibiscus:

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I may as well make use of my macro lens with this hollyhock.

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And Centranthus again.

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Those two are both plants I grow at home, but they look different here with the paler backdrop and different light conditions.  I am always struck by how familiar plants take on a slightly different character when they are surrounded by a different palette of hues and textures from the surrounding natural materials and hard landscaping.  In this part of France, foliage is less dense; the soil is drier and dustier and shrubs and plants tend to sit alone, surrounded by gravel or in pots, rather than growing into one another.  There tends to be chalky stone and concrete as a backdrop, and there are sudden pops of colour from painted railings and shutters.

Oleander is a shrub I never see in the UK, and so I really enjoy it here.  I love the foliage.

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And I love it against the soft beige of the render and roof tiles.

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Perovskia, or Russian Sage, is a plant I have long admired but never grown.  I love its silvery foliage and palest lilac flowers.  And it gives off a powerful aroma if you brush past it.

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My macro lens was useful here for capturing the rugged texture of the wall.  And how far behind the others I am.

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But there was this Gaillardia to photograph.

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And another Oleander.

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And then of course a fisherman’s hut.  More use of blue paint.

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And a little more Plumbago in the planters outside the restaurant.  I love this grey-lilac.

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And because by now I was just in that sort of mood, I photographed the bread as we were waiting for lunch.  The muted colour is much like the chalky tones of the landscape.

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Then the seafood arrived, and I rather enjoyed the metallic, stony, pearly colours and textures.

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With a hint of succulent flesh.

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Juicy and sweet and salty and scratchy.

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We needed that lemon finger bowl.  And then we needed pudding, of course.  Stevie feels that bitter dark chocolate is the best coda to a seafood lunch.  Who am I to argue?

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My spoon may have strayed into my daughter’s salted caramel ice-cream.  She observed that members of the Battye family have extra long arms in order to steal one anothers’ desserts.

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And then I had the prettiest coffee ever.  It was tiny: the diameter of an espresso cup, but twice as tall.  It continued to swirl, like Guinness, as I drank it.

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Afterwards, the two younger children spent their holiday money in the souvenir shops, whilst I took a few final photos.

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Do you notice the different colours, textures or light on holiday?  Where are your favourite destinations for taking photos?

I aim on this site to share with you whatever is delighting me or intriguing me in the garden or in the natural world.  There is so much to challenge us and stress us out right now in the world, and I think we need a little antidote.

If you want to join the joy, then click on the ‘Follow’ button to receive an email when I publish a new post. I write about the sensory delights and earthy pleasures of being outdoors, occasionally straying into food, family, and life in general.

31 Comments Add yours

  1. Susan Beard. says:

    Thanks for the walk and lunch..delicious..and I’m still in my nightie. ✨👏👌😀

  2. Your usual excellent photography. You have used the macro to good effect. A gaura was one of the few plants in my garden in France that would survive the summer unwatered when I wasn’t there. The only one we have managed to grow in our current garden is in a dry area

    1. Ali says:

      That’s useful to know – good for very dry spots.

  3. Tish Farrell says:

    So much deliciousness, Ali – plants, landscape and a fabulous lunch.

  4. Lovely photos. I amost feel like I was there with you.

  5. janesmudgeegarden says:

    Thank you for sharing Meschers-sur Gironde, Ali. What a charming place. I love that blue the French paint on their shutters, and it seems to improve with age. Lunch looked pretty special! Oleanders are favourites of mine too as they are so very tough. I have a double pink one in my garden and I’m trying to grow it as a tree rather than a shrub which is quite difficult. We’re both being very determined!

    1. Ali says:

      😀 Good luck! I love that mental image of a stand-off between you and the oleander!

  6. Christina says:

    It looks a wonderful place and you have captured the essence of it beautifully. The images downloaded quickly on the laptop but the app on my phone crashed three times while trying to download them – same wi-fi. So I don’t understand the problem.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Hi Christina. I don’t know what phone you have or how you view posts in WP, but I cannot view any of the blogs I follow on my phone as I think it is constantly updating the ‘suggestions’. I try to view using the Reader, but find it impossible. You may have a different issue of course, but I’d say it is something to do with WP rather than the blog. Unless you can view other blogs OK.

      1. Christina says:

        Yes I can see all of the other blogs I follow with no problems. I’m sure you’re right that it is WP as I could see your images in the past. It will probably resolve itself.

      2. Ali says:

        Something I do if Word Press is slow to
        load is click on ‘visit site’, then pics are quicker to load.

    2. Ali says:

      The word press peeps said:

      I tested your sites load speed here: https://tools.pingdom.com/#!/ci2cco/themindfulgardener.blog which came about 3.15 secs – which is normal.

      If it is making their WordPress app crash, it is possible that their device is not able to handle the app load as there might be multiple background processes OR apps running.

      You can ask them to close all apps and check WordPress again.

      1. Christina says:

        Thanks. I’ll check, but it doesn’t happen with any other blog.

  7. bcparkison says:

    There is something about that blue. Perfect for photos and watercolor.

    1. Ali says:

      That’s interesting, re:watercolour.

  8. Heyjude says:

    What a gorgeous place – except for all those stairs – I was really enjoying the journey and the flowers and then I got to the lunch. Oh. My. I now feel the need to go find a seafood restaurant. Shouldn’t be that difficult here 🙂

  9. Chloris says:

    Lovely photos. We were in that area in June on the way to Cap Ferret. Love it. I always get left behind on walks too as I have to stop and examine every flower. It drives my friends and family nuts.

    1. Ali says:

      Yes. I get a fair amount of ribbing. They hide from me, but I always know where they are!

  10. fredgardener says:

    Another beautiful place in France. I have never been there and I am happy that your followers seem to love my country. So many beautiful villages, gardens … and delicious things to eat!
    Thanks for this postcard Ali.

    1. Ali says:

      France is such a beautiful country. And so diverse.

  11. Eliza Waters says:

    A beautiful series that gives us a good idea just how delightful a holiday by the sea can be. Esp. the mouthwatering food!

  12. Rachel Foster says:

    Great post and beautiful photo’s.x

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Rachel.

  13. FlowerAlley says:

    This was wonderful. Thanks for taking us along.

  14. OMW, I cannot wait to come to Europe. Those seaside villages–holy, moly! I loved the variety of pictures in this. This post enlivened my soul.

    1. Ali says:

      You have completely delighted me. 🙂

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