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Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Documenting my passions for France

A little while ago, knowing that I probably wouldn’t be able to afford a holiday for some time, I invested  in some large ring bound  artists’ art books to use as gigantic photo albums and got all of my photos developed (some 500 plus) that were from my trips to France over last seven years. These would include four trips to Bordeaux, a wet, windy and quite extra-ordinary winter visit to Paris; another snowy but magical winter visit to Nice at carnival time (February 2006) and a visit to the area of France between La Rochelle and Bordeaux (Charente- Maritime) to see my English friend and fellow blogger, Marian, during the time of Bordeaux’s Festival of the River 2010.

Photo albums dedicated to my holidays in France.

It took me about four days of very careful photographic arrangement, devoting each album to a particular visit or visits, with sections on my excursions departing from Bordeaux's Gare St Jean railway station on various trains to Bergerac, Toulouse, St-Emilion, Arcachon,  Angoulême and Biarritz.

Bordeaux 2008

plenty of bikes

at the Utopia cinema in Bordeaux

Bordeaux wine festival

Paris December 2006

Nowadays my photography usually goes directly on to the internet  and hosted on, but the reason for the paper version French albums was so that I could look tacitly through the pages and quietly enjoy my memories of trips to France and perhaps play my French music whilst doing so – peut- étre with a glass of wine or two  at my side. The image below is a small part of my French music collection with my favourites Amélie-Les- Crayons (nothing to do with the film- Amélie), Jane Birkin, Arthur H, and Jeanne Cheral. I also like to listen to Edith Piaf, Charles Trenet (La Mer), Carla Bruni, Charles Aznavour  and other compilation albums of modern music makers in France. No French rap though. Too urban-macho for my taste.

On a gentler note; after I come back from my French holidays I use all the notes/reflections  I’ve written during the time on vacation. With these written observations – the practice of which is part of my holiday enjoyment - all  the bits and pieces, menus, receipts, tram tickets, brochures , images etc, that I have collected help me build up my writing for the holiday journal. So something mundane actually takes on an inner depth and poetic nature in the writing process. This documentation is purely for my own pleasure and is a habit that possibly began many years ago when I was in the Boy Scouts and was given the responsibility to write the camp log book during and after each Scout camp. My university years, much later in life, would have re-enforced the activity of collecting written, verbal and visual data as forms of documentation. When I have finished writing and printing off the travel journal I often audio record it to play back and enjoy anytime I feel nostalgic for a trip to La Belle France.

Monka the monkey poses in France.
Occasionally I take my toy monkey ‘Monka’ on my hols for fun and company. He is always smiling and friendly and costs nothing to be with. I find it amusing to take his photo in appropriate and occasionally inappropriate places. I tell you, he was reet gagging (terribly keen) to have his photo taken in a French cycle basket last time we went to Bordeaux. He gets carried around in my ruscac and taken out for his/our photo opportunities. I am certainly not alone in this madness. I have seen many a sight of people taking snaps of a toy on holiday.

So, mes amis, I may not be able to afford a holiday in France this year but through my enjoyable methods of documentation I can reminisce through my journals, my special photo collections, my French music and my cooking of French food at home.

If want to look through my French/France based photos check them out here


Jean said...

What a brilliant idea.
Photo albums are so much nicer to leaf through than looking at stuff on a computer screen. And you can take them with you and show them to other people so much more easily. There's nothing like a well-produced and documented album to bring back memories of a wonderful time.

Gailsman said...

You've got some very interesting looking albums there Phil. I wouldn't mind a browse through them sometime.
Since I've been with Gail, I have collected various bits of ephemera too of our times together. I must buy some scrapbooks to put them in. It's going to take a lot, as we've been together 7 years now.

Karen said...

This is what I always intend to do...but somehow always get distracted. As I type this, I'm looking at a huge pile of empty photo albums (9), and an equally huge pile of evnelopes filled with printed photos. One day I swear I'll sort them. I also used to keep various bits & bobs from holidays, plus a diary, & for many years I typed up a record of it all, put photos in an album & all the 'stuff' in a plastic folder.

Ah, French music....never been to France (I haven't even got a passport), but am addicted to the soundtrack from 'Amelie'.

Anonymous said...

It's wonderful to be able to handle photos and feel the memories coming from them. Internet's great but here's to paper!
Love your header photo!!!

Phil Lowe said...

Jean: I agree about the beauty of photo albums and I almost got quite teary when the mass of photos (on proper photo paper) came came from the printers and I could do what I used to love to do-put them into albums and be able to turn the page.

Gailsman: Do it - you won't regret it mate.

Phil Lowe said...

Karen: I'll have to copy some of my music on cds for you and you can have the experience of going beyond Amelie. I don't yet understand much of what is being sung but that quirky style you so like in Amelie is alive and well through modern French music.

Phil Lowe said...

Dedene: Yes there's such a difference in paper photos and 'merci' for the nice comment on the header picture. :0)