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We had another lovely Christmas together, both at home and abroad.
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From the Mixing It Up: Painting Today exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, cannolo from the South Bank market, and that pair of boxers we kept seeing on our mushroom hunts in the New Forest
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Some of our favourite works from the exhibition
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The curtains and bonze-coloured silk shirt are both realistic oil paintings, and the work on the bottom right, by Samara Scott, is made from plexiglass, sandwich bags, hair mask, toothpaste, water, corn oil, avocado oil, chalk, hair gel, charcoal powder, food colouring, broken glass, Vaseline, hand soap, leg wax, mouthwash, and found objects.
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We had our wedding rings polished at Stephen Einhorn in Islington. Click HERE to see our day of purchase in 2007.
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What drew us to London was the new production of Cabaret with Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley. Both actors were superb and the interractive show was both entertaining and harrowing. We were surprised to discover that Eddie Redmayne's hair (pictured) was a wig.


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Some of our favourite Christmas ornaments at home, plus the Winchester market and Bournemouth beach huts


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Once again, we beat the odds during Covid restrictions and made it out of the UK five hours before France closed its borders to British citizens. After several grateful sighs of relief, we settled in for two weeks of Provençal pleasures. Click HERE to see out last visit to the area in 2006.
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This was the view from our bedroom window in the medieval complex at Caseneuve. No shops, restaurants, or post office, just seasonal quiet, and even a little snow.
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Our local town was Apt, and our first full day in Provence was market day. The town's cathedral was magnificent and contained the first of many crèches we saw on our visit.
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There was a small truffle market in the town hall. We bought two black truffles from these men and ate them with many meals during our stay.
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We went to Forcalquier to see the few Invaders that were there. When we arrived, the Christmas market was in full swing..
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The enchanting teddy bear, our first Invader spotting, Tiny Cow's coffee break, and other sights.
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The paper laundry was quaint, the penguins creepy, the man in the jumper cute, and the medieval sculpture downright rude.
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We were lured to the area by the promise ofInvader's mosaics, which can be found throughout the area, These are most of the ones we found on our trip. We didn't have time to discover all the ones in Marseille, so a return trip is required.
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Sunset over the snow outside our house, the only Luberon Invader we spotted just by chance, and some cute sock monkeys from L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
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L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue has a Sunday antiques market. We bought our pine cone ornament in a shop there to add to our collection.
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The Fontaine de Vaucluse is a karst spring in the commune of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. It is the largest karst spring in metropolitan France by flow and fifth largest in the world.
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After seeing the spring, we had a stone-baked pizza in the square by Santa's post box.
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Touristy Gordes had an indoor crafts market at the cathedral. There was some clever art around the town.
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Roussillon owes its colour to a damsel who jumped to her death off the cliffs, so legend says.
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Saignon was a beautiful village with a crèches trail. Nick bought some beer at the Domaine Allois Christmas market, just up the road from our house.
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Red rose in winter spotted in Saignon
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We found culture and Invaders in Aix-en-Provence, where we last visited in 2006.
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Works by Cezanne, Picasso, and Giacometti were found in the charming Musée Granet.
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At lunch, we enjoyed watching the erratic reindeer transporting French children on their track.
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Some of the fine details from the artwork and a truffle-strewn lunch outdoors
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Gnocchi, very short shorts, café gourmand, and other sights, including Apt at night
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We enjoyed the Ascending Unicorn in Aix, the colourful antiques in Apt, and Pont Julien, a Roman stone arch bridge dating from 3 B.C.
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After admiring the pont, we drove to Bonnieux for pizza lunch and a look at the cathedral.
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Our pizza lunch was superb, complete with Sicilian wine. We saw a line drawing by Jean Genet of himself and Jean Cocteau, our favourite artist.
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Bonnieux's crèche has been lovingly designed and installed by the same artist for several years. Using natural materials, he created one of the lovliest churches I have ever seen.
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Lacoste, home of the Marquis de Sade. In the 1990s, the ruins of the castle were bought by fashion designer Pierre Cardin, and since 1994 musical and theatrical works have been performed there. Adding to the town's reputation as an artistic haven, The Lacoste School of the Arts was founded in Lacoste in 1970 by American art professor and painter, Bernard Pfriem.
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We went to Goult to visit the weekly market, which turned out to be four stalls. The town was lovely, including the Jerusalem windmill at the top.
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Back in Apt and some delicious Puyricard chocolates we bought in Aix.
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Our guidebook said that author Peter Mayle once lived in Lourmarin. We went there for the market on a rainy day and bought some amazing bread and pear paste for cheese.
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Some indoor photos of our beautiful AirBnB property, including the sauna, which we enjoyed after our long, cold days out.
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We made a wise choice to visit Avignon on Christmas Day. Not many people around, we could flash the many Invaders and explore the city. We had a packed lunch out of the back of our car at the end of our day.
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Avignon had some cute Christmas decorations around the town. Invader purposefully camouflaged his mosaics to blend in with the historical stone work in the town.
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We were lured to the castle by advertisements of Giorgio Dante’s exhibition, Le Voyage de Dante. It was inspired by the 700th anniversary of the death of the Italian poet and his Divine Comedy. The paintings looked to me like an opportunity for the artist to render himself in idealised form in various states of undress.
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After the castle, we went to the famous Pont d'Avignon, where there are actually two Invaders installed right on the bridge. Can you spot them in the top right hand photo?
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There are more theatres in Avignon than nail bars in Paris. There was a brown Invader in the doorway of the one shown above, but it wouldn't flash.
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On Boxing Day, we went to the nearby The Provençal Colorado to see the red ochre land formations.
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Another nearby, beautiful village near us, Saint-Saturnin-lès-Apt. Top left, a pompier delivers leaflets door-to-door. Still can't beat the ones in shorts we saw in Paris in 2018.
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The climb to the ancient church was long, and we enjoyed our pastis afterwards.
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We had our Christmas dinner on the 26th and went to Cadenet afterwards to another rainy market.
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Glorious sunshine, stripy shirts, and lots of Invaders awaited us in Marseille. We didn't have time to see everything we wanted to.
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The main top centre is making artisinal pastries.
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Some of the best Marseille Invaders
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We had a nice brasserie lunch around the corner from the wonky bandstand.
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Ever heard of a calanque? It’s a steep-sided valley formed within karstic regions either by fluvial erosion or the collapse of the roof of a cave that has been subsequently partially submerged by a rise in sea level. We sought one out for some natural beauty after a day in urban Marseille, but also because there was a lone Invader at the bottom of it. When we arrived, it was just before sundown and we naively said, “We can walk there and back, no problem”. Hours later, as we gasped for air along the tortuous road back up, we thought we might not make it out alive. Still, I’m glad we went.
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Back in familiar Apt, where the butcher and cheese shop provided us with excellent provisions for several meals
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Oppède-le-Vieux is a ghost village that is home to a handful of artists. In the 19th century, the inhabitants had enough of the shadowy damp and started to move down in the valley, dismantling the roof of their houses to stop paying property taxes. The ruins were fascinating, as was the locked church at the top of the hill.

Christmas: 2020, 2019 (Paris), 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 (Gers), 2014 (Paris), 2013 (Freiburg), 2012 (Dordogne), 2011 (Salzburg), 2010 (Vendee), 2009 (Vendee), 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000

Our Christmas Ornaments Collection

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