Mitchison visit

I’ve just had a flying but delightful visit by Graeme Mitchison, Clare, his sister, and her husband, John Webber. Connections with the Mitchisons go back so far that I feel they are almost family.

It was unbelievable how much we packed in, particularly as the weather was suddenly unreliable. I picked them up on Friday evening, and we did a tourist stroll to take in the Arena and Maison Carré before supper.

Great seeing both Roman wonders with new eyes as it were, even though it was too late to go inside. Graeme is – amongs many things – a mathematician. So looked up at the stonework in the arches of the Arena and immediately spotted that it was an ellipse rather than circle. As for the Maison Carré (which delighted all), he instantly noted the five spaces between columns on one side and ten on the other, thus the perfect rectangular symmetry. Nobody, however, could explain why the roof seemed to curve away.

We all disliked Norman Foster’s Carré d’Art, the brutal concrete and glass block beside it which picks up none of the elegant themes from what was once a splendid Roman forum.

It was after one by the time we got homebut we were up early enough to pack in a full day.  It was gratifying how much my view was enjoyed, despite the dodgy weather.  After a morning at the market we went on a memory lane trip, to the campsite wherewe and John and Clare took our children on summer holidays.  John and Clare even braved the chilly looking water.

A lot of time was spent talking and eating (Graeme cooked two superb meals – a fish curry and a bouillabaisse – as well as a chicken curry for my freezer!).  Even so, they packed in a vigorous walk up to La Cravate (used to be one of my favourites) and a meander by car back down the precarious forest road to Salagosse and then down our valley.

This morning – at last back to cloudless skies – I said goodbye to them at Nimes station.  But I’m hoping this will now become a routine visit.  (So does Poppy – who developed a particular attachment to John.)

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