Sunday, 30 December 2012

Sunday Stills - Best of 2012

2012 was a busy year for me.  We moved to Provençe for three months at the start of the year and I then spent a month heading homewards on horseback across the French countryside.  Badly bitten by the Provençe bug, the LSH and I decided to move back at the start of 2013 for at least a year, but circumstances pushed us into bringing our plans forward and making that move at the end of September.

So there were two relocations, a life-affirming trek on horseback, a major milestone birthday, a forced de-cluttering of our lives in order to make our Irish home suitable for renting and a Christmas trip to California.  Oh yes, then there was the broken limb, far too much time in hospitals and the start of the family diaspora as one daughter emigrated to the UK and one was left behind in Cork... a Busy Year indeed!

Le Big Trek was very important to me, and the first eight photos here were taken on the hoof, so to speak.  Many of my Big Trek photos feature Flurry's ears, but he's only in two of these!
A medieval road that we followed for a short while
My trekking partners Anne and Gigi, crossing a field of young lavender
An awe-inspiring Provençal sky
Looking back the way we had come.  We started the day on the far side of the most distant mountain,
passed by the flat-topped mountain in the middle of the picture, crossed another mountain...
...descended onto the undulating "dragon's back" ridge you can see here and rode all the way along the top of it,
with the mountains of the Drôme stretching away before us.  This was my favourite day of the trek.
This is my favourite "Through the Ears" shot, taken as we descended from the shoulder 
of the Dentelles de Montmirail towards Beaumes de Venise.
This beautiful reflective scene was an étang, a pond or small reservoir, in the Morvan region
This woodland waterfall was also in the Morvan
We came back to Provençe in the summer, mostly to find a rental property but also to see the lavender fields in bloom.
Lavender field on top of the Luberon mountain
Lavender field near Viens.  The little chapel in the distance is owned by Picasso's widow
Colourful Apt market
Horses are a big part of my life.  I went to two big horse shows this year, the Salon de Cheval at Avignon and the Royal Dublin Show.  Mostly I was just playing with my camera, but I got a couple of shots I was proud of.
This was a "Wow! Look at that!" point and shoot stroke of luck.  This is SOC, not even cropped.
I love the harmony in this one
This was another "point and shoot," not quite so good but I like the movement in it
A certain small brown dog features in my blog from time to time and the Best of 2012 would not be complete without her.  She's very photogenic!
Cinnamon hiding behind wild lavender...
...blending in with the Ochre at Colorado Provençal...
...and just generally looking cute.
Finally, random shots I like...
Mad Hare sculpture, taken on a road trip with my best friend
(we were bringing a jeep-ful of stuff over to my newly emigrated daughter)
This photo was done especially for Sunday Stills
This one was inspired by a fellow Sunday Stills contributor
I know this is not technically great, but I like it!
Autumn colour
Autumn Sky
The first snow
Joining the Sunday Stills "gang" has made me push myself to learn a bit more about how my camera works and to look for inspiration in new ways.  Visit Sunday Stills for more "Best of 2012" photos.

I'd also like to wish all my readers a Happy New Year - thanks for following along on my travels.

Here's to 2013...

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Dear Cookie

Dear Cookie,

I am writing to let you know that I have decided to keep your human.  You have done a good job training him (he gives the most excellent belly rubs) but now it is time for him to be re-homed with a dog who is will truly appreciate his finer qualities, a handsome Anglo-Hispanic dog like me.

I have already decided which photo we will use for next year's Christmas card, this one is rather fetching, no?
You can keep the female human, but this one will be moving to Southern California with me shortly.
I cannot keep the smug grin off my face.

Joaquin (Jack)

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Sunday Stills - Holiday Lights and Decorations

The French have too much class to do garish lights, so it's just as well I'm in California for this challenge!

Most houses in this town have some sort of light display going on so I was sure I'd find a few shots without too much trouble.  Unfortunately, though, it's been pretty wet for the last couple of evenings, so today was my first (and last) chance to go out with camera in hand and try to capture a flavour of the lights.

I found a (sort of) horsey one.  This one is just for for Kris, Emma and Ramsay, to wish Ramsay a continued recovery :
This house is just a few minutes walk from my sister's place :
I started using my camera in manual mode after that one, though, deliberately underexposing a little, which I think worked better.

I like the shameless crassness of the giant inflatable figures!

but I loved the simplicity of this porch
and if it's simplicity you're looking for, you can't beat this one :

Joyeux Noël, tout le monde!

Visit Sunday Stills for more Christmas decorations from all over the world.

Friday, 21 December 2012

A Plea...

Those of my extended family who are not on Facebook have pointed out that they have no idea where to go or what to do with respect to the ESMAs.

ESMAs??? I hear you ask.  Let me explain.

I was well chuffed when this blog was awarded fourth place in HayNet's Blog of the Year award.  This is kind of like a BAFTA award, except it's for Equestrian Blogs, not for stuff to do with Film and Theatre.

If there's a BAFTA for Equestrian Blogs, there must be an Oscar equivalent, right?

Right!  That would be the ESMAs - the Equestrian Social Media Awards!  If you enjoy following this blog, can you please please pleeeeeze submit a nomination (or two or three) here :

Categories for which HaltSalute is eligible are 16 (Best Newcomer), 17 (Best Blog) and 24 (Best use of Social Media in South West Europe)

With my usual impeccable sense of timing, I've left it to the last minute to put this plea out - nominations close at midday GMT on Friday 22nd December, so if you can take a few minutes right now to get a nomination in for me I'd HUGELY appreciate it!

Many thanks!

But awards or no awards, I'll keep on blogging no matter what.

See y'all later!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

See? Horses!

This is meant to be a mostly horsey blog with a Hiberno-French flavour, but it's hard to keep the horsiness and the Hiberno-Frenchness going while I'm away in an American city with my non-horsey family for Christmas.

There's a nice walk near the sister's house which runs alongside a pretty creek.
It passes reasonably close to a horsey establishment, close enough to hear the horses neighing but not close enough to see them.

I went for a walk with the YD, who used to be horsey but isn't now.  She's the little dot in the middle of the picture.  (She wanted to run and I wanted to walk, so we compromised - she ran ahead for a bit and then walked back to me, then ran again when she got her breath back.)
There were plenty of these guys around
which are cute but not horsey.

Then we found a horsey sign - WooHoo!  I heartily approve of the sentiments expressed in it :
but why are drivers not required to Yield to Equestrians at all times?

On Wednesday, we had a touristy day and went to Monterey, one time home of the writer John Steinbeck, author of The Red Pony (amongst others).  Ok, that's a horse connection.
We ate
 and drank
in a restaurant beside the sea, looking out at white horses.  Oh, wait, they're the wrong kind of white horses, but it was very pleasant all the same.
Don't be fooled by the sunshine, it was quite cold - definitely coat weather although not quite coat + woolly hat + scarf weather.

After lunch, we went to Monterey Bay Aquarium and saw some of these.

These were all in the Kelp Forest tank, which was pretty cool, but not horsey.  Then there were pretty sea anemone thingies,
brightly coloured jellyfish
and truly amazing Sea Dragons.  There are three in this picture, can you make them out?
 This might help, there's just one here :
and this is the same guy, slightly more head-on and zoomed in a little closer :
And finally,
 I found some horses to share with you!

 I do my best...