Ghosts and Shadows

It is so long since I have written, anything, that I now have many thoughts and things I wish to say. A lot has occupied me during the last couple of years, perhaps working backwards from the strongest impressions may help slowly focus on a purpose.

Today is a good starting point – I wanted a pocket-sized book to read in a waiting room and picked up Ezra Pounds “ABC of Reading” – although I bought it over 50 years ago when I was an aspiring beatnik in the 1950s, I had never read it as it seemed heavy and was not his poetry – I remember buying the book (which was a large percentage of my Saturday jobs 25 shillings) because Kerouac mentioned it in the Dharma Bums (or was it On the Road) and I yearned to find their freedom.

Now, I find every page scintillating and concise, it seems an important book.

Already, the hope if some chronological voyage of my thoughts is lost – I jump to shadows – here I am immersed in the short book In Praise of Shadows, it is beautiful and helps me see images in my head I overlooked, I hope to find them through cameras – this led me to another book, Kusamakura –  so much to read – wonderful.

I have always (certainly since I was 7 years old at least) been influenced by Japanese expression and images – I am discovering fresh passions for many forms again – Butoh, Boro and some films.  the repeating interweaving of ghosts in life is a strong effect – look at Ugetsu monogatari (1953) – it is beautiful – I am tweeting about butoh so look there for links.

My love of photography strengthens and my understanding of ghosts and shadows grows, soon to be flowing onto a glass plate, I hope

And Now….

For Something, but not completely different.

It is eighteen months since I last posted on this blog, or on any blog, or anywhere in fact.

I have been getting ready to do something I wanted to do when we first moved to France over a quarter of a century ago. – To work on my photography ideas. Simple it sounds, but I have found many many excuses to put off the day when I can get back into my darkrooms.

Actually not having a darkroom for most of the time is a fair excuse, but I had planned to start some basic photo courses here in VillaRoquette early in 2013 so I have been working on darkrooms and photo-labs and stuff.

But I got sidetracked – I looked at platinum printing and collodion techniques – it  seduced me and I have been learning new skills and building new equipment for the last year, setting aside my plans for silver-gelatine film and papers (for a while).

No excuse now – I am starting with this first posting to get the ball rolling for the services we offer in VillaRoquette for photographers. The darkrooms are open now and I have a good selection of classic cameras and lenses, in many formats, from 1860 to 1960 you can come and use. I have a good selection of chemistry, all collodion materials (OK, you can’t use my KCn, yet) and lots of odd stuff which should be in museums, but I love to work with it.

So where are all the pictures you ask – rightly so – they are coming, but voyages starting with steps and all that – this is the first step, to make the statement, now to add the poetry and images.

Come and join in.

Travel by Rail and Bus in France

We have many guests who stay with us and prefer not to rent a car – this gives them more freedom to discover the real towns and villages and the time to enjoy the lifestyle.

Here is a reply I made today to a client about using local transport and planning International travel from a base in a small Mediterranean village (ours)

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Hi Mike,

I thought I would reply to your email to Carole as I am writing some articles about travel and transport in our region at present and your enquiry is very timely.

France has an excellent rail network, it is fast, clean safe and economic with the worlds most comprehensive network of high speed trains joining every major city in France which are linked to the quality rail networks in all adjacent countries.

In addition there is a comprehensive local rail service connecting all regions and which is integrated with the high speed services.

All information of this is through the SNCF website at http://www.voyages-sncf.com/ – this is the most useful website as it has all the information, but it is in French.

SNCF do have other translations and websites aimed at International travelers but these often limit the timetable information and aim people at higher cost fares and limited services, although they can show some special offers not seen on the main French website.

An example of this is their website http://www.sncf.com/en/passengers – if you dig through this it has a lot of information, but, will channel you through from your own country and you may be paying a lot more from your local agency than buying the same ticket in France – it is important to check and compare costs., especially for International travel.

Within France there are many special offers on the rail network and even SNCF (which is essentially a public organisation) competes with itself with offers like ID-TGV http://www.idtgv.com/en/ and Ouigo http://www.ouigo.com/en (typically the Ouigo page, which says it is the English language one, is in French)

Other public transport, the bus and coach networks, are also very economical, efficient and clean. All towns and villages in France are connected – however – in smaller villages the services are regular, but sometimes infrequent, there may only be a few buses a day, so it is imperative to plan all visits which relies on public transport.

It is also important to plan, with local bus and coach connections, the routes used. All villages and towns have a regular service, but not all villages are connected directly to each other. So some villages, only a couple of miles apart, may have a bus connection which means changing twice and travelling for over an hour, having left in the the opposite direction first.

This is a charming and an excellent way of seeing the countryside, but can be frustrating.

On our website we try to show how to find the latest bus and train timetables – here are a couple of links…

http://villaroquette.com/getting-to-villa-roquette/bus-maps-and-timetables/

http://villaroquette.com/getting-to-villa-roquette/rail/

The nearest mainline rail station to us is Agde, this is ten to fifteen minutes drive from us but needs planning to get to by bus. We can arrange our own taxi service for you at most times, we only charge 15 euro for each trip.

We have many guests stay with us who prefer not to be encumbered by car rentals, some have stayed for many weeks and have found that by using local transport, our own (very economical) taxi service and by coming with us on our own local trips (no charge for this if course) – they have discovered much more than being in their own car.

We can also help plan longer rail connections for you, which are often much more efficient and less expensive if purchased from the local rail counters – the SNCF staff are always very helpful and knowledgeable.

Hope this helps, we look forward to welcoming you

Tony and Carole