Location Location Location
It is five years since our last painting and lunch day out at Sormiou, one of the calenques near Marseille. Then it was to celebrate the beginning of a project. Painting number 102 to be precise. Now it is to celebrate the launch of a book of that project. Painting number 1309.
The restaurant was slightly more upmarket this time, though we have yet to graduate from it's bistro to it's restau. proper. Perched on the highest sea cliffs in Europe, looking through huge French windows towards the sea we ate veal and brill and a chocolate tartlet accompanied by a delectable Clos Ste Magdaleine white from one cliff along.
At Sormiou, we were earlier in the season. April not June. This meant that the wild irises and sea-flowers (with all their pudgey leaves of yellow and grey-green, and their medicinal smells) were abundant, bright and aromatic.
First off Julian had to choose a location. Not so easy. Would he go for a revisit of the old location or choose a new one? Would he be in the wind, the sun, or the shade, hidden behind a rock?...
...or there in the cliff path for passers by to gloat at.
Phrases such as 'I'm such a fraud' or 'I wish I knew less/ more /nothing' or 'I wish I was thirteen again' popped out...
..and then came the exquisite silence of work and reverence and (as Julian's friend Gary puts it in his lovely introduction to the book) reveling. OK, there was the occasional hum from the artist of the Dexter theme tune (much more bearable plein- air than in our kitchen) or squeal from a passing kid, or announcement from a briefly passing tour-boat about how this was paradise on earth, but basically there was nothing but the sound of the sea and a delicately swishing brush.
Yes, it is paradise. Paradise by the sea. And it is only 90 minutes from our earthly paradise here at the foot of the Ventoux. And so we return (I won't bore you with the continually overheating engine of our temperamental mini) to a good bottle of St Cosme's basic, an episode of Dexter and bed...
..and I think we will sleep tight with all that sea air and in the knowledge (have we taken it in yet? I wonder) that we have just accomplished a life's dream.