I spent new years eve 2015 in Paris, France, after a gruelling 15 hour bus ride from Barcelona. I had a photography shoot of butoh & experimental dance with improvised musical accompaniment there on the night of 31st December, followed by an 8 hour bus ride the following day to Toulouse. At Toulouse I was collected by a great old friend, Oggers (of Blogley fame), & whisked away to spend the next few days with him & Elizabeth at Chateau D'Auty, Tarn-et-Garonne.
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Auty is not much of a place really; a hamlet of a few houses with a church & a chateau, set high amongst the endless sparse & rolling hills of Tarn-et-Garonne. The chateau owner being away for the winter, my friends Phil & Elizabeth are house-sitting the property; looking after the pool, checking the chateau & grounds for storm damage, etc. General property maintanence. The main 10 bedroom chateau was originally built in the 17th century, & that's all I know about it. The three of us stayed in the coach house with its 3 bedrooms & ample space, accompanied by the resident oriental cat 'Ventura', or 'Pooky' for short.
The weather for the duration of my visit was pretty grim. There was, almost constantly, a grey shroud over the land, seamlessly spread between the cardinal points as far as one could see. Several times per day rain showers would spatter distastefully over the depressed landscape, drawing ones attention to the nearest window, where immediately ones eyes would search vainly for a renegade shard of sunlight, spilling out hope in its purest form upon our despondent faces.
We did manage a local walk during a dry spell, taking in some of the expansive, & largely agricultural views of the surrounding region, as well as encountering some hairy four-legged & rather forlorn looking residents.
Despite the generally dour weather conditions we managed to keep our spirits up with car jaunts to local places of interest during the daytimes & beer, wine, great food, games & music during the eves. Below are a few images of a local market town we visited for the procurement of comestible produce & of a trip to Cahors with the Pont Valentré, a 14th century stone arch bridge which spans the Lot River.
Having spent just nine days in France I was pining for Barcelona, my current home. I think I would much more enjoy the Tarn-et-Garonne region of France in fine weather, & have made loose plans to return in the near future should the appropriate opportunity arise. There is definitely a wealth of photographic possibilities awaiting me around this lush & historic landscape, but I feel I have quickly become accustomed to the wonderfully warm climes of Catalunya, & miss soaking up the abundant sunshine when I am parted.
One thing's for sure though, you're nowhere unless you're in good company. Salut Phil & Elizabeth! (not forgetting Pooky Ventura!)
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