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Baking Day

Anyone following my blog will know that as of the 2nd March this year [2016] I have been living in the south of France.

I retired from my 45 year career in the field of commercial credit management at the end of January and decided it was time for a sea change. As my personal circumstances changed at the same time it seemed logical to leave Australia that has been my home for the past 28 years and return to Europe.

Although I have been writing on a part-time basis, mostly as a hobby on an as and when I have time basis I have now decided to turn my hand to writing full-time. However with my move to Europe has also come a period of adjustment. For a start I am temporarily living with my mum and elder sister in their flat at Golfe Juan located close to Cannes on the Cote d’Azur. It’s a wonderful part of the world and the view from their apartment is spectacular. The view across the Mediterranean Sea is breath-taking. There is always so much to see – huge cruise ships on the horizon, exotic yachts of every size entering and exiting the port of Camille Rayon, sailing boats filling their sails as they skim across the bay of Le Golfe Juan, and occasionally, as moments ago, a show of fire fighting seaplanes practicing their skills in the event of the return of the bush fire season.

Fire Fighter Planes 002 Fire Fighter Planes 006 Fire Fighter Planes 009

Apart from carrying out a bit of research for my next book and a short blog from time to time I haven’t done much writing. My excuse is that I am unable to concentrate. I have bought a flat but I don’t finalise exchange until 7th June 2016, and I am waiting until I move in before I dedicate the lion’s share of my time to writing.

Until then I am killing time playing scrabble with my mother [a note on this: mum is 91 years old, has limited vision due to macular degeneration, but when it comes to playing Bridge and Scrabble she is champion]. I do manage to win sometimes though.

I have also spent time reading – never have I read so many books in such a short time – I have been averaging two to three a month depending on the book. In addition I have completed a hundred or so crosswords and I have been watching endless TV quiz shows… in French: It is a great way to improve my language skills. French isn’t my first language although I have known it since my youth – I am more comfortable with Italian and English [obviously], but since I have chosen to live in France it only seems sensible to improve my mastery of French.

So onto Baking Day…. As another diversion to keep me occupied I have offered on a few occasions to offer to cook for my family. I have prepared omelette; meatballs in a tomato sauce served with pasta; Ivory Coast Beef with rice; a salad or two, and today I experimented in preparing a fruit tart: a first for me. There were some cherries, grapes, a few prunes, and a couple of nectarines looking sad in the fridge. My sister suggested we have a fruit salad, but I said I would do something better. So this morning I nipped down the road to a local Spar supermarket and bought some short crust pastry then returned home to attack the fruit.

The photos speak for themselves [yes that’s me, Koala apron included]:

Baking Day 010616 001 Baking Day 010616 002

Ready for the oven:                                        Baked:

Baking Day 010616 006  Baking Day 010616 009

Presentation:            And of course, ready for eating:

Baking Day 010616 010  Baking Day 010616 011

Served with custard it was quite good – not bad for a first attempt.

I expect the next time I cook anything will be at my new flat.

It’s an exciting prospect.

RLB – Tomewriter

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Valbonne, south of France – Travel Log 25

I had heard so much of Valbonne from a friend who had visited it earlier this year. He was catching up with friends who own the Auberge Provencale. I thought, as I was staying with my mum and sister not too far away at Golfe Juan-Vallauris, that I too should go and take a look at the place and see what all the fuss was about.

A food and craft market is held there every Friday, so my sister and I set off on that particular day to have a browse and kill a few hours.

Ironically at the time I hadn’t realised the Auberge Provencale was the place my friend was referring to and as I snapped away with my camera the restaurant came into frame [it’s the building furthest in shot behind the orange building:


We didn’t visit as we only stopped for a coffee in the square, but in the spirit of friendship I’m adding their website herewith: http://www.auberge-provencale-valbonne.fr/ Trip Advisor gives it a four star rating and it does look nice so perhaps on another visit we might make a point of going there for a meal.


Valbonne is a small town that is located about 14km from Antibes and about the same distance from Cannes. As with most of the towns in this part of France they are all quite old dating back to the times of ancient Greece and Rome. Valbonne was occupied by both civilisations.

The market and local shops are quite diverse and some good quality products are on sale. Whilst my sister checked out and purchased a variety of olives, cheeses and other delicacies I had a look at clothing. However not finding anything for me, I did end up purchasing a beautiful pashmina scarf for my wife [she did love it].

DSC00238 DSC00242 DSC00243

After walking around for a couple of hours it was time to head back to Golfe Juan. We took the same route back as coming along the D3, D35, and D135 skirting the town of Mougins before heading back through Vallauris. The route is extremely picturesque through some beautiful high-forested areas and as you approach the south the glistening Mediterranean comes into view from behind the tree line beckoning you to it.

RLB – Tomewriter


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Saint-Paul de Vence – Côte d’Azur : Travel Log 9

One of the nicest things in this part of our delightful world is the numerous medieval fortified towns which are dotted about, usually perched high on the hill tops of the Southern Alps. Saint-Paul de Vence is one such place.

We travelled east from Golfe-Juan on the main road to Nice (Route Nationale 6007) until we arrived at Cagnes-sur-Mer following the signs for St. Paul taking us inland along the Avenue des Alpes (D336). On arrival access into the town is barred to unauthorized traffic, but there are several car parks available on the outskirts.

As you approach the walled town you are confronted with a large area of compounded earth making up a terrace for petang players. This is edged by a large café on one side and a road on the other.

You enter the town through an archway and are delightfully confronted with a network of tiny laneways and passages whose pathways and steps are all cobblestoned. Its numerous shops, boutiques and galleries are a tourists’ heaven, and you find yourself uncontrollably photographing almost everything in sight. On occasions you may also come across one or two artists capturing some aspect of the town on his canvas using rich oils or subtle water colours.


As we walked passed the Atelier Galerie D’Art I found myself drawn by a spectacular life-like oil painting of a couple of racing sailing yachts. Stepping into the gallery all the paintings facing me were absolutely breathtaking. The richness of the colours and subjects were wonderful. The artist, Michel Degav, was on hand to talk about his works and as much as I would have loved to have purchased the painting which had captured me, the 850€ price tag made me settle for a signed print* copy of the same, even though Michel had offered to sell me the painting for 150€ less. I told him I may consider it at some later date – perhaps when I manage to sell enough copies of my novels. His website is http://www.degav.com or should you ever visit Saint-Paul des Vence make sure to call into his gallery.

* The print is a limited edition # 9 of 25. I’ve had it framed [by In The Picture located in Hornsby, NSW – they always do a great job] and is now on the wall in the study.

From the gallery we carried on with our slow walk up to the summit of the town where the Mairie (Town Hall) was no more than a doll’s house of Lilliput proportions across the street from the church with its impressive bell tower. Inside, the church was dark despite the large stained glass windows behind and above the altar and one felt compelled to kneel at a pew and offer a small prayer.


On the south side of the town a small cemetery and the chapel of Saint Michel overlook some spectacular views over the countryside. From here we walked in a westerly direction around the perimeter of the town and at one point we could see the Bay of Angels in the distance; the glittering sea beckoning us to return home.

There’s not much more that can be said about this town as words cannot really do it justice; seeing it with one’s own eyes is the best way to appreciate this beautiful little ancient settlement.

RLB – Tomewriter

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Golfe-Juan – Côte d’Azur : Travel Log 8

Situated on the Côte d’Azur and tucked in between the towns of Juan-les-Pins and Cannes lies the small town of Golfe-Juan which is located 25 kilometres east of Nice airport. From the airport take the number 250 bus, which is an express service stopping only at Antibes and Juan-les-Pins before arriving at Golfe-Juan. The fare is a mere 8€.

You can also get to the town by train and of course by car either using the Auto-routes (A6, A7 and A8) or the National routes 6007 and 6098 (previously the 7 and 98) depending from which direction you are arriving from.

Accommodation varies from rental apartments to hotels depending on your preference; there are several available in Golfe-Juan and in nearby Vallauris. Please see the following website link for assistance: http://www.vallauris-golfe-juan.fr/-Hebergement-.html

Golfe-Juan started life as a small fishing village and only came of note on Wednesday 1st March 1815 when, having escaped the island of Elba in a flotilla of seven ships loaded with around 100 horses, arms and a few cannon, Napoleon Bonaparte together with some 1,100 loyal soldiers, landed at this insignificant piece of French soil. Once on the shore he gave a solemn speech to his followers and local fishermen. From here began his march to Paris, which although had been wrought with difficulties and setbacks, due to the loyalty of his officers and his exceptional strategies, these were overcome resulting in his successful re-entry into the capital on 20th March 1815.


A re-enactment of the Napoleon landing in full period costume takes place annually on the 5th March at the old port at Golfe-Juan. From there ‘Napoleon’ on horseback followed by his soldiers march along the ‘Route Napoleon’ all the way to the town of Grasse. The latter is re-known today for the creation of essences for the perfume industry.

Only after Napoleon’s landing did Golfe-Juan begin to flourish. In 1862 the first train arrived at the railway station at Golfe-Juan linking it to Cannes and the rest of France. Small industries started to become attracted into the area mostly pottery and ceramics.

In 1896 saw the construction of a port, which is known today as Quai Saint Pierre. Almost one hundred years later, in 1989, the Port Camille Rayon was constructed together with the creation of the Plage Du Midi, and in between the two is an open air theatre, the Théâtre de la Mer.

  New Port

Today Golfe-Juan is a thriving port and holiday destination to foreigners and French alike.

At the Port Camille Rayon and all along the Avenue des Frères Roustand is dotted with numerous cafés and restaurants catering for all tastes – including traditional French, Vietnamese, Italian, and Lebanese. I can personally recommend La Stella di Gigi and La Fourmigue;both have exceptional cuisine, great service and are reasonably priced. And for entertainment why not join some of the British ex-pats for quiz night from 7pm on Wednesdays at the Rio’s Banana Café and at the same time enjoy a cool refreshing drink.

La Stella  La Fournigue

During the first week of July is La fête de la Saint-Pierre, who is the patron saint of fishermen and of Golfe-Juan. At this time the local fishermen offer to all residents of the town a banquet of grilled sardines and wine. Tables are placed along the entire quay and music is provided by local musicians.

For me Golfe-Juan is a home from home as my mother and elder sister reside here so, when I can (usually every two years) I journey from Sydney to spend some time with them, and to catch up with the many friends I have made at the Rio’s Banana Café and the Hôtel le Provence.

Rio Banana Cafe & Bar  Hotel La Provence

RLB – Tomewriter


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Cannes – Côte d’Azur : Travel Log 6

From Golfe Juan take the number 200 bus at the Square Nabonnand; it will cost one Euro for the trip into Cannes. Ensure you get off at the top of Rue Meynadier just as the bus enters it from the Place du 18 Juin.

If you are travelling in on a Sunday note the buses run 30 minutes apart on the hour and half hour. Also most shops in Cannes are closed and only a few gift shops, cafés and restaurants are open. However, on Saturday’s and Sunday’s there is a craft market at the Allées de la Liberté which runs from early morning to early afternoon.

Cannes Market

During the week most shops are open and for shop-a-holics the Rue D’Antibes is a ‘must’ as is a healthy bank balance and credit card.

Caveau 30 is a restaurant located at 45 Rue Félix Fauré, and their menu and service is excellent. Their Menu à 25.50 € is exceptional and comprehensive with a vast choice of Entrée, main course, and dessert. You can also opt out to have a 2 course menu of either entrée and main, or main and dessert for 17.50 €. Note this offer is not available on Sundays and bank holidays.

Cannes is a town re-known for its prestigious hotels such as the Carlton, Martinez, and the Grand all of which have their own private beaches. Also for its apartment blocks, superb restaurants, excellent beaches and numerous year-long festivals, congress meetings and musical performances. Visit the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes website for up to date details of events:   http://en.palaisdesfestivals.com

For the sightseers, a visit to the Suquet historical district is a worthwhile trip. It is quite a steep climb up the Rue du Mont Chevalier beginning from the Place Bernard Cornut Gentille near the police station. At the summit visit the Musée de la Castre and the church of Notre-Dame de L’Esperance. The view from here is spectacular. Nearby is a memorial to the heroics of the resistance fighters during World War II.

Cannes - view from Suquet  Memorial to Resistence

Descending from the Suquet using the back streets you come out at the Boulevard Jean Herbert and the Plages du Midi. The Italian Caffé has a cozy ambiance and a traditional Italian menu. I can highly recommend the Salade du Chef.

Nearby there are ferries available to take you to the islands of Saint-Honorat and Sainte-Marguerite. The latter was made famous by the legend of the man in the iron mask being held at the fort – now a museum.

Gamblers will be delighted to know there are three casinos in the town. The Casino Croisette is located at the old port (Vieux Port) next door to the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès. The second one is to be found on the eastern end of the town at Palm Beach close to the yacht club. The third, Le Prince, is located at the hotel Raddison at the Croisette.

RLB – Tomewriter

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