Category Archives: Random Katness

Provence, France Day 15

Clouds over Tourrettes taken from villa patio. Photo by BW.

Before and after shots of BW’s Cize experience in yesterday’s blog. He worked it for 40 minutes! He joined me for that session after I did 50 minutes Bootcamp Boogieing with Petra Kolber. *

Back to normal for me and my system.

Jason and Kat head out, for their walk, a trip to the market and the bakery. On return we discuss vital matters such as: is pizza a kind of open-faced sandwich (as well as a pie) as it’s cheese on baked dough with toppings. Maybe.

This discussion launches from the fact Kat and Jason have picked up some lunch meat and what’s billed as sandwich bread. And I had a little conversation with the housekeeper regarding leftover pizza, wherein I remembered the word for lunch, in explaining why we’re keeping it rather than having her take it away.

Oui, bien. Pour le dejeuner!

I work in my shady spot, going back to NYC in my state of mind for a couple hours. And now and again surface enough to hear golfers through the trees.

Our men prepare to leave for their glider experience. And are back in ten minutes or so. Short flight?

Wrong day. LOL. Gliders booked for Friday.

So we settle down to our various pursuits. Some reading, some work, some conversation. Some planning for the last days of our holiday.

Playground near the villa. Photo by BW.
18th tee — just below the villa. Golf with a view. Photo by BW.

Jason’s discovered our foundation has its 17th anniversary on Friday–I think it’s Friday. We’ll have a little celebration, maybe here, maybe back at the open-air restaurant we call The Scrublands as the French name (which I can’t remember) translates to just that. Maybe there’ll be karaoke again!

We clean up, dress up for dinner here at the main restaurant. I leave a little plate of torn up lunch meat for the mama-to-be cat in case she comes by while we’re gone.

BW and I head up first for a drink at the bar. He orders some kind of fancy gin drink, and I go for what’s called a Sparkling Jasmine. Champagne, peach juice and jasmine syrup. 

It’s fascinating to watch a good bartender build a drink–and this one is very good. My favorite part of BW’s build is the graceful swirling of a long thin slice of cucumber onto the top, then dashing just a bit of what the bartender explains is barbecue bitters (from Memphis!) and a carefully placed grind of black pepper. 

Basil Collins made with Hendricks Gin (BW’s caption). Photo by NR with BW’s phone.

BW is pleased with the results.

My drink is absolutely lovely. A blend of gorgeous flavors and so very smooth.

The tender shows us the various bitters they have to work with–and some home-made. Saffron bitters, vanilla bitters, I think caramel. What drink wonders embrace these?

Kat and Jason join us, so it’s out (past the sinful dessert display) to our table. 

Temptation row. Photo by kat.
A closer look at Temptation Row. Photo by BW.

It’s a gorgeous night for eating outdoors, with a bottle of smooth, local red. I should take pictures of the wine bottles, but too late now.

A family group celebrating–we think–a birthday has a table nearby.

The service here is unilaterally friendly and as smooth as the wine. When you add fabulous food, it adds up to a very happy dining experience. Blue skies, warm air, good food, good wine, good company. It doesn’t get better.

King of the rock. Photo by kat.
Tray of petite pains. Photo by j a-b.
Dinner plate. Photo by BW.

Until you add that dessert.

They have what will always be pie-cream-pie for us. It’s very large, so Jason and I split it. Kat feels obliged to order the macaroon dessert (it’s France, after all). It’s pink and pretty–and delicious. BW got some creamy, glossy thing I can’t identify–but again, delicious.

I cannot express the fabulousness of the pie-cream-pie. Which is actually cake-cream-cake with pretty berries. Jason points out that when halved it looks like a crazy, toothy smiling face. When eaten, it brings a tear of joy and gratitude to the eye. Whoever baked this magnificence should rule the world. There would be no war, no sadness, no strife if every meal ended with pie-cream-pie.

Pie-cream-pie? Cake-cream-cake? Doesn’t anyone else see The Cookie Monster’s French cousin (Laura’s comment)? Photo by j a-b.

We wander around after, find a little lounge area and start to take a selfie. The bartender cheerfully comes back, and takes a photo for us. Our night is commemorated.

A group never afraid of color. Photo from j a-b’s phone.
Balls. Photo by kat.
Awww. Photo by kat.

We walk back–I might have rolled.

I check, and the little plate I left for the cat is licked clean. So she, too, had a nice little meal.

Hang out a bit, read a bit, then lights out.

To answer a question from yesterday, I don’t know how long it takes to write the blog every morning. Depends. Some days we’ve done more than other days. I just start, then end when it’s done. And that’s pretty much how I write everything!

Today we’ve all got appointments at the spa. Massages for the gang, and a facial for me. But those are hours away yet. Workout’s coming up. My mood after will determine whether I work on my book or read one. I think a swim should work itself into the day.

Right now it’s cool enough for a light hoodie on the terrace, but that will change as the sun gains strength.


*Note from Laura — there’s that time/space continuum thing again!

Today’s #randomkatness:

Huge butterfly. Photo by kat.

Provence, France Day 17

The glider flights got moved up, so it’s gather together and head out.

BW and Jason check in, fill out the forms, and so on, then we all drive down to the runway area. This is a big field with a couple of narrow runways and a lot of open down a tiny road. A trailer off to the side is for the next stage of checking in.

And this is a busy place.

Lots of gliders parked, lots of cars parked. Guys sitting at a table in the shade of the trailer to do the paperwork, help with the planes, or pilot them. Everyone is very friendly, and incredibly efficient. This is what they do all day, every day, and they’ve got it down. It’s a smooth system.

The plane! The plane! Photo by j a-b.

Despite this, nothing would have gotten me in one of the gliders short of the sort of catastrophe depicted in the movie 2012. Even then, I might pull a Woody Harrelson.

The sun is baking hot, the shade scarce, little tow planes (I think they have two working constantly) land, someone runs out and pulls the tow line to a glider, hooks it. Inside pilot and passenger wear parachutes in a closed cockpit. The tow plane makes its run, the glider follows, lifts, lifts, lifts. Up they go until they reach a height or speed (Maybe both?) that does the job. Tow line disconnects, glider glides off, tow plane circles back, lands, does it all again.

Gliders also land regularly, on runway or the open field. Someone hops in a golf cart, rides out, and they roll the glider back for its next lift.

I’m sure there’s more involved, but that’s how I see it.

BW and Jason meet their pilots–two of the guys sitting in the shade. A couple of other people are already out at planes preparing for their adventure. I use BW’s complicated camera to take a picture of him and Jason by a glider–then pass the camera to Kat.

BW, Jason, plane. Photo by NR.

My girl is anxious, distracts herself taking pictures. I realize my stomach is behaving a bit like I’m going up–remind it I’m not.

I see BW get his parachute, then Jason his. After the flight, Jason tells us when he gets the parachute he thinks: Oh yeah, this is real.

Guys in the planes, Kat and I on a bench in the sun.

Tow line connected for BW. Tiny little tow plane heads off, glider goes up, and up. I’m following Kat’s instructions to try to get a video of the take off. I think it worked.*

Controls at lift off. Photo by j a-b.

Then he’s up there, and the tow plane circles back.

About the same time, Jason’s airborne.

Their flights will be 30 minutes. For awhile I can follow them both–BW goes left, Jason right. Then I lose sight of BW’s plane. They went over our resort, and off over the lake. 

The view of home away from home. Photo by BW.
Selfie. What? Me Nervous? Photo by BW.
Lac de Sainte Cassien. Photo by BW.
Hills, roofs, trees. Photo by j a-b.
Coming in for a landing. Photo by j a-b.

I watch Jason’s longer. Jeez, he’s really up there! And they fly over Fayence and Callian. It’s a long time, thirty minutes, to wait (or pace a bit in my case) More gliders take off, some land, more people arrive.

Then I see what must be BW’s plane making its circle to land. I bet it’s bumpy, that touching down again. Minutes later, I spot Jason’s, and now he’s back on the ground.

Kat needs some hugs, and as she says if there’s ever a next time, we won’t watch.

Apparently it’s really hot in the cockpit–BW said his phone died for awhile. They both took lots of pictures. Jason reports a glide reminded him of the downsides of flying–take off, landing, occasional turbulence. Other than that, all good.

BW, pilot and certificate. Photo by BW’s camera, operated by kat.
Jason, pilot and cert. Photo by kat with BW’s camera.

An adventure is in the books, and we can drive on to Fayence for lunch.

And there on the steep, narrow streets we find a restaurant open after two for lunch.

Jason spots Hawaiian pizza, BW some exotic pizza, and I go for the classic Marguerite. Kat orders a salad and an extra plate as we’ll all share. 

The reward for the wait. Photo by kat.
The reward for the adventure. Photo by kat.

It’s just fabulous pizza–all agree. Perfectly baked and seasoned. And a nice chance to wind down post-adventure.

After I buy some herbs to take home, and hunt for another pair of woven shoes. They don’t have my size in what I’m after, but they do have Kat’s in her choice. I’ll be grateful for the ones I already have–and check on line, just in case.

And that’s enough for all of us, so home we go. Kat takes a nap. I turn on the TV for a bit to see if I can find more news on Hurricane Harvey. It looks very bad, and as I learned this morning, is very bad. Please, anyone and everyone in that path, be safe, be careful. I’ll be following the news as much as possible from here.

We leave a little early for our dinner here, as we have panorama plans. We’re going to use the kids’ playground very close to our villa. This is a fun little place, with wacky props for our project. We discuss, set marks, timing, POVs. At one point, we consider staging me and BW on the larger seesaw. This fails due to weight differential.

The only pano clue among the lot of today’s photos. Photo by kat.

In any case, we plotted it out, did the job, and had some laughs. It worked! I believe we’ll reveal the results tomorrow–as we plan to do another here at the villa today.

It’s dinner time. And what’s that we hear? Thunder! Some really cranky thunder. I see flashes of lighting in the distance. Maybe it’ll rain.

Mais, non.

I hope, again, it rained somewhere.

Dinner is lovely, as always. We’ve enjoyed every single meal here, at every venue we’ve tried.

Desserts. Photo by BW.

Today, our last, dawns beautifully. We’ll stay close–we have that pano to stage and produce. There’s packing to face. Another workout on the terrace. For the reader who asked about outdoor space at home? I live on the side of a hill–not much natural flat space. But today, I’ll enjoy the view and the air while I sweat it out.


*Note from Laura: video worked perfectly, haven’t figured out a way to get it to load here.

In today’s #randomkatness:

Succulents in shadow. Photo by kat.

Provence, France Day Last

Our last day, but a lovely one. My final terrace workout as I doubt I’ll have time this morning, then BW does one on his own while I get some packing done.

Since most of my clothes are going in the laundry or to the dry cleaners, much fits in my small rolly–and packing is more dumping as a result.

With Kat and Jason back from their final walk, Kat fixes us another pretty lunch–with some assist by BW. It’s a nice, tasty way to clean out our fridge. 

Last lunch. Photo by BW.

BW wants a group shot in the big cocoon chair. It’s been one of his favorite morning spots during our stay. And big enough for four. 

Cocooned. Photo by BW.

Now some serious thinking and logistical planning for our pretty ambitious panorama. One involving quick costume changes and props! Can it be done? Will it work? We’re here, we’re there, then here. We anxiously check the results.

Et voila!

We’ve outdone ourselves. Or certainly Jason and Kat who act as producers, directors, stage managers outdid themselves. 

Family pano. Directed by Jason & Kat.

Friday’s playground pano: 

Pano in the playground. Photo directed by Jason and Kat.

We while away the afternoon until it’s time to go to dinner.

A trip to the big supermarket first and its impressive selection of wine. BW buys a mixed case of local reds to take home. Then he tries to ask one of the staff for a box–but translation is difficult. Jason and I think it’s boite–or that’s close, but I suggest BW wait until we’re back at the hotel, and issue a final challenge for the intrepid Alain.

Then it’s really just a quick wind, essentially a change of parking lots for our dinner. We’re back to Restaurant La Garrigue–busy on this Saturday night. But our same delightful server seats us, brings over tonight’s chalkboard. The main special is a mixed grill–and she goes through the meats involved for us. She assures us it’s very good.

Wine comes first while we study our other choices. Some require more explanation. She has good but halting English. We have halting but mediocre French. We all cheerful apologize, but Kat’s able to decide on a kind of stew with chunky potatoes and carrots. This proves, like BW’s mixed grill, a very fine choice. 

Jason and I go for pasta, and are not disappointed.

Kat’s stew. Photo by kat.
BW’s mixed grill. Photo by BW.
Pasta! Photo by j a-b.

This is a lively place. There’s a big table of at least 12-13 people, and the two servers are hopping. We eat serenaded by the karaoke at the nearby pizzeria.

But dinner is, really, just a prelude for dessert.

We switch off, so this time BW and I share Dame Blanche–the hot fudge sundae–and Jason and Kat split the profiteroles. If you’re ever in the Tourrettes area of Provence, stop by La Garrigue for a happy, casual meal, and save room for dessert.

On the way out, Kat and Jason point out their little bakery. Au revoir pain au chocolate!

And back at the hotel, Alain comes out to say hello, and so the final challenge is issued. Our friendly valet has already gone in search of a box, but Alain accepts the challenge, and will connect with the sommelier about a empty wine case for the morning.

To commemorate our stay, Kat whips out a selfie stick! (You never know what Kat has in her bag.) 

Happy selfie. Photo by kat.

A last walk to our villa under the stars.

This morning it’s more packing, several checks of all the rooms for whatever might be somewhere else. The drive to Nice, the long flight home.

It’s been a beautiful, happy, relaxing, delicious holiday, from our visit to Eze to our extended stay here in Provence–and all adventures between. We’re so lucky to be able to take these trips, to spend them with family and see gorgeous slices of the world. Home’s where the heart is, but when you go as family, you take heart with you, and that’s special.


Notes from Laura:  Our intrepid travelers stayed in two beautiful locations:  Chateau Eza  for the first four days.

Then it was on to Terre Blanche (which several people guessed) for the remainder of the vacation.   

In our last #randomkatness:

Panda and pal. Photo by kat.
Pomegranate before ripening. Photo by kat.