During a recent day-trip around the Beaujolais region with friends, we stopped in the picturesque village of Oingt. The village was built in the 16th century out of local yellow stone (les pierres dorées), and has been maintained and restored since. Its narrow streets all lead to the chapel and keep on top of a hill, which offer spectacular views across the Beaujolais vineyards.
Our nearby park has a bee hotel. This structure, filled with drilled logs, hollow sticks and dried mud, provides a home for native bees. There seems to be lots of different varieties of bees living together in the hotel. There are the usual black and yellow striped bees around, but also some big, fuzzy ones, and tiny, shiny, black ones.
They are fun to watch as they go in and out of their little shelters, and on a warm, sunny day they are very active. They’re not aggressive; I got really close to take photos as they buzzed around me. Here’s a short video of them.
I caught up with a friend for coffee one morning this week. We met at a local square, wandered along the restaurants that encircle it, and sat down at a quieter one. We perched ourselves on stools at one of the high tables on the terrace outside, the ones reserved for people having coffee, while the regular tables were set for the lunchtime crowd. This is a fairly familiar scene, especially as the weather warms up; people dotted around restaurant terraces to have a quick coffee, or to linger a little and watch life pass by in the square.
My coffee was an equally typical little espresso. If you order a coffee, or are offered one when visiting a client, you get an espresso. Sugar is usually available to go with it; milk almost never. Of course you can order other types of coffee, with hot milk for example, but it is not the default.
I realise that I have come to take both the little espressos and the restaurant-lined squares for granted. Those tiny cups of coffee were intimidating when we first arrived. I wasn’t sure I liked them. They were strong, and they were gone in a few sips. The idea of sitting to have a coffee seemed almost pointless when you finished it two minutes later. Now, I have come to prefer them. And just because you have finished your coffee, doesn’t mean you can’t stay and finish your conversation while you watch the world go by.
While Graham has been keeping you up-to-date here, I’ve been in something of a hibernation. So, I thought it was time I came out of my cosy little corner, and reconnected with the world, if only to share these photos from our walk in the park this afternoon.
While we were in London over Christmas, we visited the area around the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. We were in the right place at the right time to see Tower Bridge open to let a boat pass underneath. You can watch the video below or on YouTube.