Walking around the house and garden in the early morning revealed so many different qualities of light. The softness of the morning light is remarkable. I remember seeing David Hamilton’s books when I was a very young photographer and, aside from the beautiful girls, falling in love with the light in Provence. We’re a lot further north but the unpolluted light here has an ethereal quality. This peaceful contemplation was the calm moment before the last few days that have been a pleasant round of restaurant visiting, cooking and drinking a reasonable percentage of the production of red wine from the Cotes de Rhone. The restaurants in question are not of the reviewable ilk. They are quite unremarkable in many ways but they are part of the fabric that makes up this place that I love to be in. We ate good skate wing at one place, moules and frites at another and a brochette of rare beef at today’s lunchtime interlude at the Brin d’Zinc in Niort. For the last three years I have been promising myself to photograph and write a feature about this little bistrot. It has a proper zinc bar and an avuncular patron who welcomes you, eyes twinkling mischievously behind half spectacles, whilst reminding you how long it has been since your last visit. There is just one “plat” each day which may be a gigot, some turbot or a brochette – whatever caught his attention at market. There is no wine list but he will bring you a bottle of something delicious to match the food, and charge “a la ficelle”. Today was a good 2006 red Malbec from Cahors which we drunk while watching the small things of local life passing by from a table on the sunny terrace. There is nothing notable about the place apart from the fact that I love it which, if enough in personal relationships, is certainly enough with regard to a restaurant. The day before we were at the peaceful pre season seaside on a perfect sunny day with blue sea, yellow sand and cloudless sky. The moules and frites were just about average but the candy coloured electroglide of a cassis flavoured ice cream made up for that. I can always buy and cook great mussels, but I can’t drag the seaside into my back garden.