We're home at last after a lovely trip in the camper car to the Loire valley.
We started with 3 days at Nantes with some friends who come over from England with their caravan to spend the autumn searching for the sun. Their dog Florrie is adorable and managed to keep up with us as we walked over 20 kilometres around the beautiful city but had to be concealed in a shopping bag to be allowed to take the tram back to the camp at the end of the day.
We moved on to Montreuil-Bellay, a 'Petite cite de charactere' only 20 km south of Saumur. The campsite was by the river and just a short walk up the hill took us to the town and a handy bar to refresh ourselves in. This old Labrador kept watch on all the passers by and greeted all the regulars as they arrived for their morning coffee or glass of beer.
There was plenty to inspire me to draw in my new sketchbook, this is the view of the chateau from the ruins of Saint Peter's church. The chateau that dates from the 11th century and has been added to over the centuries is still occupied by the same family for the last 200 years.
I sat on a tumbledown wall and drew this in the inktense pencils I've had for years but keep forgetting about. I love the effect when they are washed with water and the colours are perfect for this kind of subject.
The yew trees in the cloisters were incredible with twisted trunks and incredible canopies that spread almost to the edges of the space, giving lots of shade. As I drew I was imagining the monks all those centuries ago, wandering about meditating.
This is the view along the street towards the chateau entrance from the terrace of the bar, actually across the road to catch the sun in the morning. The waitress had to negotiate the traffic and several steps to serve the drinks but she kept everyone well served without spilling a drop.
On another day as we sat in the sun with our beers, I drew the bar itself and the next door cottage with it's pretty woodwork and plants.
On the Friday night at Montreuil-Bellay there was a heavy rainstorm with strong winds and in the morning the ground was littered with pieces of bark blown off the plane trees. They caught my eye with their bright green lichens growing on the surface.
We walked all around the pretty town and found all the sights as well as the ancient walls where a lovely avenue of horse chestnuts had been planted. I couldn't resist picking up a handful of conkers and a few golden brown leaves to draw.
The yew trees in the ruined cloisters really caught my imagination and I decided to make a stitched picture using some variegated wool as well as fine sewing threads. As the work progressed each day I went back to study the tree again and soak up the historic atmosphere.
There is more to come from my sketchbook and needle case so come back soon ...