Restoring a French Château

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I can’t remember how I found @chateaugudanes on Instagram, but I’m so glad I did. The photos are unbelievable. An Australian couple, Karina and Craig Waters, bought the Château de Gudanes in the Midi-Pyrénées in 2013. They’ve been restoring it ever since and are recording the progress on Instagram, Facebook and their blog

Would you believe the architect was none other than Ange-Jacques Gabriel, who did the Petit Trianon in Versailles, the Hotel de Crillon and Place de la Concorde? Even in a state of decay, the place is gorgeous….

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The château has 94 rooms (!) and was built in the mid 1700s.

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This ceiling is one of the many treasures uncovered during the renovation process.

The following photos are enough to give me pause.

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Evidently, the château was empty for years and the roof collapsed in four different places, causing extensive water damage and mold. A lot of the interior was inaccessible because of so much rubble. Definitely not for the fainthearted, but how amazing it will be when completed. Can’t wait to see that.

In case you’re interested, there will be a 15-day restoration workshop at the château this summer. Details on the blog. I so wish I had the time and money to do it.

Hope your weekend’s going well so far.


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Insta Mint

Have I mentioned that I love Instagram? I really do. In seconds, you can see falling snow in St. Petersburg, Russia, a sunset in Indonesia and a cool vintage Fiat on a London street. There are some incredible photographers there and I enjoy seeing how they adapt to the square format. Some put up photos taken with “real” cameras, but most use a smart phone. I mostly use my iPhone and occasionally, the iPad.

Anyway, there’s a group on Instagram called “Nothing is Ordinary,” and they ask for photos fitting a different theme each week. Last Friday the theme was “mint.” I have a vintage teacup and saucer in that hue, so I brewed a cup of tea, added a slice of lemon and took a few shots. This is the one I submitted to #MINTFRIDAY_NIO:


To my surprise, it was selected, along with three others in a lovely grid:


The administrator of the group did such a nice job combining photos, didn’t she? I really enjoyed being a part of it.

OK, great weekend, everyone!


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Vasa Museum

On our flight to Copenhagen, we were next to the nicest man from Sweden, a pilot for a different airline. When he found out we were going to visit Stockholm, he said we just had to see the Vasa Museum. Luckily, we had booked an excursion there.

The Vasa Museum opened in 1990 and is located on the island of Djurgården. It houses the only almost-fully intact 17th century ship that has ever been salvaged, the 64-gun warship Vasa that sank on her maiden voyage in 1628.

It is staggering, to say the least, to see this ship in person.


I didn’t have a wide-angle lens, so had to take many different shots from different angles. I think you get an idea of the size when you see how tiny the people look below. There were three floors for different vantage points, which I thought was brilliant.





The Vasa heeled over and sank in the Stockholm harbor after sailing less than a mile. Captain Söfring Hansson was arrested but released. Attempts to raise the ship continued into 1629 but without success.
In 1961, the Vasa was raised after 333 years.



The ship’s lack of stability was a factor in the sinking. The underwater part of the hull was too small and the ballast insufficient in relation to the rig and cannon. According to the website, the captain knew the ship was unstable and should have sailed with the lower gunports closed.


The stern castle. Isn’t it amazing that the wood carving survived? Or that anything survived all those years?

Over a hundred crewmen were on board, as well as women and children. The crew had permission to take family and guests along for the first part of the passage through the Archipelago. Not all perished, fortunately.




The bow.

Vasa has had certain parts that were missing or heavily damaged replaced. The replacement parts have not been treated or painted, but the lighting was so dim I couldn’t tell. Looking at the photos last night, I noticed the ropes look pretty new.



The last thing raised from the Vasa wreck site in 1967 was the ship’s longboat or Espingen.


A model of the Vasa. Three centuries under water. Mind-boggling.

Hope your week’s going well so far.


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Winter Coral

The coral trees are in bloom here now. I find them to be so cheery with their bright red-orange blossoms.


The trees are native to Brazil, but manage to thrive in California too.

Great weekend, everyone!


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Lunch at the Beach. In January.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I grabbed some chorizo burritos at a place next to the beach….


Chorizo sausage, scrambled eggs and potatoes in a homemade tortilla. Yummers.


It was one of those spectacular California winter days with dazzling sunshine and skies so blue they almost hurt your eyes. Luckily we had finished eating before these guys showed up.


We walked along this path and just enjoyed soaking up the sun and listening to the surf.


Hoping I never take it for granted that I can walk on the beach in January wearing just a light jacket. This has been a tough winter for the East Coast–Boston has gotten over 75 inches of snow! Hard to believe, when we’ve had temps in the 80s lately. Hopefully, spring is just around the corner for them.


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Happy ♥ Day


Love is like a rose. When pressed between two lifetimes, it will last forever. ~Unknown

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Not Your Everday Tat

I’d like to thank those of you who left kind comments and sent me private emails and texts. It was really comforting to read them in such a sad time. The woman who passed away was like a second mom to me and I knew her from the age of two. She was a truly remarkable person and I will write about her one day.


I had to fly through Dallas, and when I got on my connecting flight, I glanced up and saw this:


At first I thought it was an interesting hat. Then I looked a little more closely and realized it was the guy’s head. And it was covered in one of the most intricate tattoos I’ve ever seen. Actually, I’ve never seen a tattoo that big on anyone’s head. It took me a minute, but then I recognized the subject: Chief Sitting Bull.

I found this photo on Wikipedia to be sure:

Wikipedia photo

Wikipedia photo

Sitting Bull was the Native American leader who helped defeat George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, better known as Custer’s Last Stand.

The guy was traveling with his wife and young daughter and they were Native American.

Now I’m wondering how the tattoo will last, since he has to shave his head regularly. Won’t it eventually come off like wood that’s been sanded?

Hope your week’s going well so far.


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Sorry, I won’t be posting this week. I’ve lost another person very dear to me and will be traveling.



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Floating through the Stockholm Archipelago, Part II

Back to the archipelago. The water was like glass. You can see how calm in this photo with the small wake.


Now I’ll be quiet so you can just enjoy the ride.








Another cruise ship was ahead of us most of the way. They must have been on a tighter schedule, because at one point our ship let them pass us. Or maybe some passengers had been lingering in the duty free shop. ;)

Great weekend, everyone!


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Floating through the Stockholm Archipelago, Part I

OK, before we went to Sweden, I knew Stockholm had some islands. I didn’t know there were thirty thousand islands and inlets. I’d read that we should get up early, because viewing the archipelago was supposed to be unforgettable. Oh, it was.

Because the ship was so close to land, we moved much more slowly, and all you could hear was the gentle lapping of the waves and a distant hum. It was so peaceful sitting on the balcony, sipping coffee. I loved it. Loved it.
We’d gotten up at 4 a.m. (as usual, thanks to the crazy time changes) so I walked over to the other side of the ship to catch the sunrise…



Then we floated past island after island after island….




The little buildings near the water? I’m pretty sure those are saunas. Swedes and Finns are really into saunas.


I love the way the sunlight is hitting this one.


There are over 50,000 vacation homes ranging from one-room cottages to full-scale villas. Camping, hostels and rentals are common, as well as nicer hotels.


One of the many islets.

Taxi boats and ferries are plentiful in the archipelago. In the summer, residents take advantage of Allemansrätt (or “everyman’s right”) a law which gives anyone the right to go ashore or anchor on any ground not in the direct vicinity of buildings.


I would have no trouble spending a summer here.


Aren’t the houses beautiful?

Incidentally, my friend and I studied the route of our cruise beforehand and noted that most of the sights were on the right, or starboard side of the ship.  If you’re not sure, be sure to ask the person who books the cruise for you.

Hope your week’s going well so far.


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