We’re in southern France, on the Cote d’Azur, working hard on our French at an intensive language school, L’Institut de Francais, near Nice. A long way from Coveside and the Maine coast in February! We had a day off today and took the train to Menton, a lovely resort town on the Italian border, to check out the annual Lemon Festival. They create a park full of huge displays made entirely of oranges, lemons, and flowers (as well as parades with floats made of fruit, night-time displays, and other events). The theme this year was Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days and the amazing citrus displays depicted various places in the world visited by Phileas Fogg on his voyage. The fruit are attached to the huge display frames with elastic bands. This year the displays consumed 120 tons (!) of citrus and a million elastic bands. Click on the thumbnails below to see larger images. Only in France!
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Our blog entries may slow down a bit until mid-March. We’re spending almost 7 weeks in the South of France, attending a French language school in Villefranche-sur-Mer (a beautiful village next to Nice on the Mediterranean). And then we’re doing a bit of traveling. We’re even spending five days working on an organic farm and B&B in Provence, practicing our French (our hosts speak no English), working in the fields, and helping with the housework. We’ll let you know how this works out! Here’s the view from our school — L’Institute de Francais. You can see why we like it here!
If you’d like to follow our adventures, our travel blog is Covesiders.blogspot.com.
Our first website, a classy, state-of-the-art website in 1998, was designed by our good friend, Chap Bowie (now retired from the website business). It served us extremely well during the years of dial-up internet service and beyond. But its narrow format and compressed photographs were no longer suited to the broadband era. We were lucky to obtain the services of Whitestone Marketing – the national leader in websites for inns and bed & breakfasts – to design a new website for us. And we employed Lynn Karlin – a preeminent Maine professional photographer – to do a 2 1/2 day photo shoot here at the inn last summer. The result, we think, is stunning. Thanks to Whitestone and to Lynn for a superb job!
The winter weather has been spectacular. After a substantial post-Christmas snowstorm, the temperatures have remained cold and the skies sunny — perfect for outdoor pursuits. Carolyn and I snowshoed from Route 127 to Robinhood Cove, through the Schoener Preserve, one of the many largely undiscovered preserves open to the public in Georgetown, to the western shore of the cove.
For years we had a photo album showing the changes we made at Coveside from 1998, when we bought the property, to the present. The pictures were always falling out, fading, etc. So we had the photos scanned and put together a bound photo book that gives a nice summary of before and after. It will be available to peruse when you are here; but you can see it on your computer immediately if you click on this link. The book was made on Snapfish, HP’s photo site. If you don’t already have a Snapfish account, you’ll be asked to provide an email address and password to create one (a bother, but it is a great site for sharing photos, making books, cards, etc.) The book takes a while to load.
The Portland Museum of Art has been working several years on restoring Winslow Homer’s studio on Prout’s Neck, south of Portland. The work concluded early this autumn, and visitor’s can now tour the house and grounds through a escorted minibus tour that leaves several times a day in Spring and Fall from the museum. The museum is celebrating the opening of the studio with Weatherbeaten, a major exhibition of Homer’s works that we discussed in a previous blog post. The location of the studio is spectacular.
We survived Hurricane Sandy without even so much as a power outage. Lots of wind and rain, but more like a moderate Nor’easter than the punishing storm that hit further south. Sandy did make for some spectacular surf at Reid State Park, however. Here are some shots Tom took this afternoon.
We don’t normally get white caps on Gotts Cove, but the winds today have been incredible. But the brunt of Sandy has apparently passed to our south. We’re getting strong winds, but we still have power at 10:30 pm, when we’re headed for bed. We seem to have survived at least the first part of Sandy intact.
Tom & Carolyn spent the weekend in Norwich, Vermont, at the King Arthur bake center and school. Tom took a class called “Baguettes Six Ways” taught by Jeffrey Hammelman, chief baker at King Arthur. Carolyn took a class on “Artisan Breakfast Breads” taught by Ciril Hitz, author of several books on breads and pastries. Who knows how this will change breakfasts next summer! Some pictures of the classes:
The Damariscotta Pumpkinfest was held last week, complete with the improbable “Pumpkin Regatta” where contestants race their boats of hollowed-out pumpkins across the Damariscotta River. Unsurprisingly, many don’t make it to the finish line!
We missed the festivities, but made it a week later for some of those fabulous Damariscotta oysters at the comfy King Eider’s Pub and to check out the entries in last week’s pumpkin decorating competition. Some of these beasts approach 500 pounds, so their decoration requires both artistic skill and a strong back! Here are some of our favorites (click on thumbnail to enlarge):