Our National Day on August 1st started like this :

A bright blue sky, some pretty clouds to make it more alive, little Swiss flags fluttering in a light Summer wind. In short, there were great perspectives of a lovely evening with music, dances and some other celebrations that many people in the village had been preparing for quite a while.

Around 9pm, as a band of young musicians from the next village and a folk group from Indonesia had just arrived,  a violent wind almost blew away the big tents where the guests were preparing to play and dance. And the main street in the village looked like this :

People had deserted the tent where the food was prepared. Usually it is a big barbecue and the local famous meal : “raclette”, mountain cheese melted over a open fire (for a smaller crowd) or over a grill and served with potatoes and pickles, like last night. That is my main regret… I so enjoy eating raclette and I was not the only one !

Together with the wind, rain started falling heavily. Only the few courageous ones stayed under the tents hoping for a quieter weather but it did not happen.

People started to rush to the cafés and restaurants. This is where I stayed  for a while and took those few pictures whose quality is far from good but I just wanted to share last night mood with you.

Families of Dutch tourists were waiting patiently and more or less joyfully for clement skies… No usual National Day speeches nor anthem, no official fireworks nor bonfire, no dancing in the streets nor in pubs (too crowded !) but some isolated fireworks who brought cheerful sparkles under the rain 🙂 C´est la vie ! So is life !

Carnival

February 11, 2010

Yes, this happy time of the year has come again ! Time also for a school holiday that coincides with the celebration of Carnival for all those who wish to participate. And there are quite a few, believe me !  Of all ages. Last year in February I happened to visit a small town, Bulle. In spite of the freezing temperature, the atmosphere in town was very warm. It was the Children’s Carnival ! For weeks, the kids had been making their own costumes at school or in kindergarten ; they were proudly and joyfully coming and going in the streets of Bulle.

It was a colourful event; imagination, creativity and talent sparkled in those beautiful  costumes . There was music too, dancing, singing and above all the enthusiasm of everyone for those happy confettis-battles !

Some cute little guys  – and far-sighted ! – were collecting   confettis for next year ! Or to bring back home for their parents’ joy 😉

At the end of the parade, a few little heroes were obviously very tired… and happy to be pulled in an old hand-cart. The Children’s Carnival was a great success,  viewers and actors, all enjoyed themselves a lot. Then everybody went back home,  by foot, in a cart or by car… The streets would keep a trace of Carnival for a long time ! And the kids would dream in colours,  with in their ears maybe the sound of exuberant trumpets and drums.

Bonne Année !

December 31, 2009

Slowly but surely the hours go by and soon another year will greet us !

It has been almost one year since I started this blog. Very hesitantly at the beginning and not so regular with my posts. As contacts were made, my pleasure in sharing images and thoughts increased. For this, I want to thank each and all of you who have visited, left a comment, encouraged me. Thanks also for giving me inspiration for photography, quilting, and  much more. Sharing our own passions in life is just so rewarding!

On the last stroke of midnight, I will share a glass of champagne with family members and friends. A small group of us in a chalet up in the Alps. We had a lot of rain these past days, snow has melted but there is still plenty for skiing in the New Year !

As we will exchange kisses and wishes for “une Bonne et Heureuse Année” – a Good and Happy New Year – the dark sky will be illuminated with fireworks. Ninio-the-beagle will start his wolf like dance and howl at the noise but a little piece of Panettone (special Italian cake we eat on this occasion) will calm him. And lots of caresses, of course. Then we will go out in the snow to admire the blue and red and green showers of stars falling into the valley below.  A true wonder! There will be plenty of “Oh !” and “Ah !” and “Wow” ! And maybe more snow falling in the first night of the New Year. Hopefully !

Wherever you are, I wish you a real Happy New Year and the best of everything for 2010 !

Wishes for you

December 24, 2009

May you all receive the Christmas light in your heart.

A time for a pause and for sharing,

A time for celebrating and thinking of others, not able to do so.

A time for giving one’s time to prepare traditional meals that will bring everyone around the Christmas table.

Joyful decorations, Nativity scene, scented candles, cinnamon cookies, spiced tea, Christmas songs in church, a snowman in a garden and so much more. There is this special mood at home that makes you feel like prolonging this happy time of togetherness. And why not ?

Christmas is also the time to look at others and events with the heart. As Antoine de St-Exupéry wrote in his book “The Little Prince” :

“The essential is invisible to the eyes, one only sees well with the heart”.

Those were the words the fox said to the little prince as they were going to part. It was the fox secret that he confided to him. And to many readers across the globe since the book was published. “The Little Prince” is a wonderful tale for all ages, a story to read to children, a story for  all times. And the fox secret is good to remember well beyond Christmas.

Here is a gift for you, my friendship stars’ quilt. I hope they will shine in your Christmas night and long afterwards. Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas!

This was no Thanksgiving Day but these people were having some kind of celebration, for sure ! It was a few years ago in Lyon (France). I was walking along the river flowing across the city and stopped beside this barge where a long table had been set and beautifully decorated. Obviously they were waiting for more guests. A young man was giving a sweet kiss – un bisou –  to his partner. Another man smiled to me and said “pas de photo, svp”,  “no photo please”. Jokingly.

Thanksgiving was not celebrated on this river boat but all the guests around this happy table were definitely thankful to be together on that day. An engagement or a wedding lunch ?  And two of them even more grateful to the paths of life that brought them together.

Today as I remember this moment in Lyon, I thought of sharing this picture with you. To all of you who celebrate this happy day I wish a wonderful Thanksgiving !

Grazalema 2Grazalema. One of the most picturesque and important villages in the Sierra de Grazalema (mountain area).  One of the many “pueblos blancos” (white villages) in the province of Cadix, Andalusia, Spain. Andalusia is the Spanish area where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea in Tarifa, the very Southern part of Europe. Andalusia is also a country of mountains and valleys, not unlike my own country, Switzerland.

Nothing is more enchanting than discovering one of those white villages behind a steep curve of the narrow winding mountain road. They look like  brilliant jewels nested in a box that would be the pine forest or the rocks. Truly magnificent ! The “pueblos blancos” are generally built on hills so that its inhabitants would  see from afar any unfriendly visitors, troops would be better said.  Some villages are still surrounded with ramparts, the protection against invaders of the past.

Sierra de GrazalemaThe Romans conqueered this area and then  Berber tribes (from Northern Africa) took it over in the 8th century. A special craft, weaving woollen blankets, was developped at the time and it is still maintained today. The local factory used to employ 5000 workers in the 19th century.

GrazalemaMost of Grazalema’s inhabitants live in small white houses with colourful tiled roofs. The narrow paved lanes  were not built for cars . There is hardly enough space for a vehicle. Those villages are meant to walk through, stop and chat with friends, sit in front of your porch, admire your neighbour’s flower decoration or share the latest news. Time seems to have slowed down although this beautiful  area  is popular and very much alive when  visitors come for holidays. Mountain climbing is wellknown up there.

Grazalema 1

People staying there nowadays go to work in larger cities down in the valley. Or they live on craftwork; they also produce meat, a delicious one. Goats, pigs and cows seem to own the pastures. I also tasted goat cheese produced locally as well as olive oil, exquisite in  salads or on a slightly salted toasted  bread at breakfast. Well worth trying ! The blankets that are woven by the women and sold in the villages are still the very same than the ones you can find in Northern Africa.

Driving down from la Sierra de Grazalema and back to the hill at Sindhura’s Hotel, my head was spinning with all I saw between ocean and high mountains. What a diversity in  a single province ! Andalusia, the most Southern part of Europe, is a place I enjoyed visiting immensely for the friendliness of his people, the blending of ancient cultures and religions – Islamic and Christian, the variety of landscapes and food, the way of life. To me, it seemed that people knew how to take time when needed: stress and rush (apart from the big cities) seemed less apparent.  Four hours away from home and a complete change of scenery. Truly magnificent.

Sindhura Hotel, in Muela, near Vejer de la Frontera (Cadix province), was a heaven of peace after a long day of visits in the cities and towns around Cadix. Close to the ocean and the mountains, it is the perfect place to spend a few  days  in  Andalusia. The small hotel is situated on a hill, in a quiet environment.

Sindhura 7

Anna and Alejandro have restored an old house and transformed it in a most welcoming hotel. Anna lived in India and Malaysia for years, she cooks Indian food too. What more could I have asked for ? And she spoke perfect English which was so restful (I speak French with too little knowledge of Spanish, unfortunately). I really loved this place  which gave you  a feeling of well being. When you sat on its terrace facing a white city along the ocean far away, you just felt so good and relaxed…

Sindhura 2

Sindhura 3Sindhura 5Sindhura 6

Independence

July 5, 2009

“Each of us has learned the glory of Independence.

May each of us learn the glory of Interdependence”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Excerpt of his speech in Buenos Aires

1st December 1936Amalfi