Tag Archives: fountains

Hillwood Gardens, Washington DC

Hi! Fancy seeing you again!

Just thought I’d quickly check in and let everyone know our nomadic adventures continue – and we’re happy to add another pin in the map. We now hang our hat in Washington, DC. Having moved from one capital city (London), we are feeling right at home and have wasted no time exploring this captivating town.

Spring is giving way to summer, and the weather here has been spectacular. We are trying to spend as much time outdoors as we can before the oppressive summer heat sets in.

As we celebrated our third wedding anniversary, we headed to Hillwood Museum for an early afternoon picnic in the gardens.

Hillwood mansion

The estate was founded by the glamorous (and somewhat eccentric) socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post. The mansion is now a museum, home to her incredible art collection and showcasing her wacky eye for interior design.

But the real delight are the gardens!

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We set right to work exploring every angle!

Hillwood Japanese garden waterfall

Hillwood japanese rock

And eventually settling in the shade to share a picnic.

Hillwood picnic dada luc

Hillwood picnic

I usually like to have a little lie-down after lunch, resting under the cool canopy, listening to the water babbling and birds crooning, inhaling the scent of freshly mown grass with every breath.

But this guy had other ideas!

Hillwood lawn run

Hillwood side yard

It was the day of the big Hillwood gala and everything was looking in tip-top shape for the evening’s events. So it was a bit embarrassing when we couldn’t keep our child from turning every fountain into his personal paddling pool.

His philosophy is clearly, “it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.”

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Hillwood fountain mama luc

Hillwood FOUNTAIN

Hillwood Japanese garden lilypads

Hillwood japanese garden bridge

Hillwood putting green umbrella

A glorious day, impeccable gardens, and the best company a girl could ask for.

Even if you have to chase after it.

Hillwood putting green

 

Tourtour: Le Village dans le Ciel

It was too overcast for the pool today so we walked up into the village. Tourtour is known as “the village in the sky” because of its stunning views from the top. We meandered through the streets climbing our way up to the the square.

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Mayor's Office, Town Hall

Mayor’s Office, Town Hall

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We passed by the Moulin a Huile, where the villagers bring their olives to be weighed and pressed into olive oil.  Tourtour has a cooperative system where the oil is distributed on a pro-rata basis depending on how many kilos of olives each villager contributes.

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Making olive oil is a two-step process of grinding and pressing. First, the olives are placed under the stones and squashed to make a paste. The olive miller then collects the paste and puts it into jute baskets.

For the pressing, two piles of about 20 jute baskets are placed, one on top of the other, under the press. The first pressing is “cold,” then the baskets are soaked in hot water before the second pressing.

Olive Press

Olive Press

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Olive oil features a lot in Provençal cooking, including many of the restaurants and cafés in the leafy town square. Tourtour also boasts a few galleries and boutiques.

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I wanted to take this dapper furball home but he was 320 euros!

I wanted to take this dapper little furball home but he was 320 euros!

Instead, I splurged on this little black number (to wear to the beach this week) from the prêt à porter boutique, Florence.

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We stopped at a café by the fountain to revive ourselves with a cold citron pressé – freshly squeezed lemon juice, which you can water down a little bit, add a teensy pinch of sugar to sweeten it up, stir and enjoy!

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This handsome pup kept cool as a cucumber under our café table and begged me to throw him his slobbery pinecone – which he kept retrieving and laying at my sandals again and again. I think I finally wore him out!

Our final ascent was up to the village chapel perched on the hilltop where we could look down on the gorgeous Var landscape below.

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Good thing the way home is all downhill!

Aix Marks the Spot

Summering in the south of France is one of the highlights of my year. It isn’t long after New Year’s Day I begin fantasizing about my escape from dreary England – lounging poolside, propped up on a chaise under the canopy of a parasol, its canvas tips flapping in the Provençal breeze. I am finally here! After a few days though, I was keen for a day trip. So we rented a little Fiat with no air-conditioning, cranked down all the windows, and sputtered into nearby Aix-En-Provence.

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Cezanne4

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Aix is well-known for its fountains, scattered around the old town; it’s also home to modern painter Paul Cézanne. It was a foregone conclusion that my first stop would be his studio. Atelier Cézanne is nestled amongst the trees on Lauves hill overlooking Mount Sainte-Victoire, where Cézanne practiced from 1902 – 1906. The upstairs room is still cluttered with furniture, ceramics and other items which long ago posed for his still life masterpieces.

Cézanne's Studio

Cézanne’s Studio

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atelier-interieur

The image above is a poor quality stock photo from the museum website. It was an immense disappointment to find that the Aix Tourist Office forbids photography inside the studio – such a shame for me, but also for researchers and art enthusiasts – especially after the United States was so generous to raise the funds to buy the property in 1954 and donate it to the University of Aix-Marseille. I was told that permission to take photos can be requested in advance by e-mailing the Adjoint of the Office de Tourism (Michel Fraisset: info@atelier-cezanne.com)

Back in town we settled in for lunch on the terrace of Les Deux Garçons, a lively brasserie on the humming Cours Mirabeau. The food was basic and the service was terribly French (slow) – but which could almost be forgiven as standards have understandably slipped a bit since opening day in 1792!

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Gaspacho with watermelon and smoked lard

Gaspacho with watermelon and smoked lard

Roasted salmon with lemon butter

Roasted salmon with lemon butter

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Gelato

After polishing off my gelato and larking around the shops for a bit, we toured the Cloisters of Saint-Sauveur Cathedral, and spied the Burning Bush Triptych by Nicolas Froment.

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Cloister

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Burning Bush Triptych, Nicolas Froment

Burning Bush Triptych, Nicolas Froment

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Dinner was at Le Formal – inside the former wine cellars of Henry IV. The chef there is obsessed with truffles; they were in nearly every dish of our seven-course “Emotions” tasting menu. Maybe the emotions were about how much he loves cooking with truffles.

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Oeuf de poule fermier cuit à 64º, sur une fine tartlestte d'asperges et truffle, jus iodé

Oeuf de poule fermier cuit à 64º, sur une fine tartlestte d’asperges et truffle, jus iodé

Pan Pagnat | de thon en sashimi et truffle (tuber brumale), tartine artichaut, camus, ratte de Noirmoutier, crème de choux fleur aux noisettes torréfiées

Pan Bagnat | de thon en sashimi et truffle (tuber brumale), tartine artichaut camus, ratte de Noirmoutier, crème de choux fleur aux noisettes torréfiées

Noix de coquille Saint Jacque "al dente" et foie gras de canard poêlé, Bruschetta à la truffle, jus de pur Arabica à l'eucalyptus

Noix de coquille Saint Jacque “al dente” et foie gras de canard poêlé, Bruschetta à la truffle, jus de pur Arabica à l’eucalyptus

La petite pêche inattendue "retour du petit bateau" | sauce façon hollandaise à l'orange, poêlé d'épinard aux agrumes et amandes grillées, jus de pistache de Sicile

La petite pêche inattendue “retour du petit bateau” | sauce façon hollandaise à l’orange, poêlé d’épinard aux agrumes et amandes grillées, jus de pistache de Sicile

Gâteau de brie de Meaux à la truffle, "affiné par M.Mons"

Gâteau de brie de Meaux à la truffle, “affiné par M.Mons”

Le fruit, éveil de l'enfance...

Le fruit, éveil de l’enfance…

Comme une mille et une feuilles | Panna-cotta, poire en tatin épicé, jus de calvados, crème caramel au beurre salé

Comme une mille et une feuilles | Panna-cotta, poire en tatin épicé, jus de calvados, crème caramel au beurre salé

Dans un baba d'ici à l'armagnac et griottes, shampooing d'orange sanguine, jus de maltaise

Dans un baba d’ici à l’armagnac et griottes, shampooing d’orange sanguine, jus de maltaise

A throughly indulgent supper in a modest historical setting – made for an effortless end to a lovely day in Aix.