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Nearby is Montélimar another pretty town of around 30,000, again with more Roman ruins. 

The local art gallery is presently hosting a very interesting exhibition of well over a hundred works by six contemporary artists.  It’s amazing how much time energy and resources are expended on art in France.  Photographs were prohibited but I got a couple before being informed of the ban.


Montélimar Montélimar2
Montélimar3 Montélimar4




It was a great exhibition and I was disappointed not to be able to record it in more detail, so I purchased the catalogue (more weight to my bag).




We had planned to have a quiet lunch at Mornas where there is a medieval (12th-century) fort that might be interesting.

According to the guidebook:


During the Wars of Religion in the 16th century there was vicious fighting for control of the fortress. In 1562, The Calvinistes of the Marquis de Montbrun captured it, massacred the women and children, and threw the garrison over the cliff onto the spikes below; they allowed only a single person to escape. In 1568, Mornas was retaken by François de La Baume, and the same fate was inflicted on the Protestant garrison.

The strategic importance of the site diminished over the years, and the fortress was already abandoned by the time of the French Revolution.


But now as we approached it was anything but quiet.  The place was packed.  Cars lines the roadside for a kilometre.  Luckily for us a car was just leaving as we approached, allowing us to park very close to the centre of activity.

We had serendipitously arrived in the midst of the annual medieval festival of Mornas.   

It was like a fete, the streets strewn with straw; adults dressed up as knights, matrons and maidens, medieval crafts being demonstrated, and activities including jousting with real lances and horses;  archery for the kids; medieval food; various animals on display, even ferrets;  everyone having a great time.


Mornas Mornas2
Mornas3 Mornas4
Mornas5 Mornas6




Lunch was as one might expect at a fete, a baguette with cheese and ham - but we didn’t mind one bit.

It was a lovely day and we set out again passing through the vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape on our way to Avignon.

They must still hand pick here.  The vines are like little bushes, not on trellises, as in most wine districts these days.



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At the end of February 2016 Wendy and I took a package deal to visit Bali.  These days almost everyone knows that Bali is a smallish island off the east tip of Java in the Southern Indonesian archipelago, just south of the equator.  Longitudinally it's just to the west of Perth, not a huge distance from Darwin.  The whole Island chain is highly actively volcanic with regular eruptions that quite frequently disrupt air traffic. Bali is well watered, volcanic, fertile and very warm year round, with seasons defined by the amount of rain.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

The Meaning of Death







'I was recently restored to life after being dead for several hours' 

The truth of this statement depends on the changing and surprisingly imprecise meaning of the word: 'dead'. 

Until the middle of last century a medical person may well have declared me dead.  I was definitely dead by the rules of the day.  I lacked most of the essential 'vital signs' of a living person and the technology that sustained me in their absence was not yet perfected. 

I was no longer breathing; I had no heartbeat; I was limp and unconscious; and I failed to respond to stimuli, like being cut open (as in a post mortem examination) and having my heart sliced into.  Until the middle of the 20th century the next course would have been to call an undertaker; say some comforting words then dispose of my corpse: perhaps at sea if I was travelling (that might be nice); or it in a box in the ground; or by feeding my low-ash coffin into a furnace then collect the dust to deposit or scatter somewhere.

But today we set little store by a pulse or breathing as arbiters of life.  No more listening for a heartbeat or holding a feather to the nose. Now we need to know about the state of the brain and central nervous system.  According to the BMA: '{death} is generally taken to mean the irreversible loss of capacity for consciousness combined with the irreversible loss of capacity to breathe'.  In other words, returning from death depends on the potential of our brain and central nervous system to recover from whatever trauma or disease assails us.

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Opinions and Philosophy

Energy and a ‘good life’





With the invention of the first practical steam engines at the turn of the seventeenth century, and mechanical energy’s increasing utility to replace the physical labour of humans and animals, human civilisation took a new turn.  

Now when a contemporary human catches public transport to work; drives the car to socialise with friends or family; washes and dries their clothes or the dishes; cooks their food; mows their lawn; uses a power tool; phones a friend or associate; or makes almost anything;  they use power once provided by slaves, servants or animals.

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