Sunday, September 18, 2011

365, well sort of anyway.

I'm still plugging away at the 365 Photo-a-Day project. There are some missing from the latest batch below (May - mid-Sept), mainly because I can't be bothered to work out which days are missing and add them, and other days I just forgot. I started using Instagram for these photos on 1st May because it seemed more interesting and creative somehow — okay, in fact,  it was because every one else was doing it.  If you look carefully you should be able to see the children's goldfish Sammy and Danny (they're still alive), my bike, the London Review Bookshop, an memorial to American nurses in Bordeaux, Robert Louis Stevenson's house in Edinburgh, the walkway over the lake for Vinexpo, a few beaches,  a Nordic walking expedition (my new pseudo sport), e tutti quanti.
(Post updated with a more limited selection of photographs because the original attempt went completely wonky)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Le Marathon du Médoc

Last Saturday I got up at the crack of dawn and drove some friends to Pauillac to run in the Marathon du Médoc, also known as the world's longest marathon.

Now, if you're mad enough to slog your guts out running a marathon, there probably isn't anywhere better to do it than in the Médoc because this is a run with a twist or two.

The route takes the runners through the vineyards and courtyards of twenty-three chateaux where, naturally, the refreshments tables groan under hundreds, nay thousands, of glasses of excellent Médoc wine along with oysters, and cured ham, and ice cream and all sorts of other local gastronomic goodies.

And as if that wasn't enough, the whole thing is done in fancy dress. Almost everyone makes some sort of effort except for the odd party pooper in boring old lycra shorts and a running vest. This year the theme was animals so we cheered on cows, ladybirds, zebras, bunnies, pigs —and the odd man  defiantly dressed as a woman — as they hirpled, sprinted and staggered their way back to the quays in Pauillac. The ears were a bit droopy and the tails were sometimes a little less than bushy by the time they got to the finishing line.

My friends Steve and Jim had come all the way from Fife for this, with Alexia to cheer them on. We met others who'd come from even further afield including a mother and her son who had come from Philadelphia just for the weekend, some Swedes, loads of boozy Brits, and a surprising number of Japanese people. There were 8500 very sweaty participants in all.

Despite the very high temperatures, which had just about reached a sweltering 30°C by the end, the Scots didn't give in and take off their kilted cow outfits and, of course, felt duty bound to taste each and every wine. In fact, when they realised they were in danger of coming in under the five-hour mark, they sat down, enjoyed the view, and had a second glass at the last chateau.

Mad, mad, mad. And no I won't be doing it myself next year.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


As usual we split the rest of the summer between the Dordogne and Scotland.

For the Scotland trip this year we spent a week on the island of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides. I lived on the island for five years when I was a child but I had never been back. I can't think why. Every spartan township; every seaweedy smell; every wheeling bird brought back happy memories of a carefree childhood.

Tiree is heaven on earth when it's sunny - endless white beaches, big skies, rock pools to explore, flat machair to walk across. And when the weather is bad — as it was on the last day of our holiday — it's really bad, excitingly bad, with howling gales and horizontal rain.  It's a wonderful, other-worldly sort of place. Here are some photos:

Evening sky Rainbow over Balemartin Balemartin beach P1120539 Postbox at Gott Bay

More here.


Being confined indoors most of the day, just the four of us, is reminding me of the days when my children were wee and most of our weekends ...