I remain haunted by the memory, from a few years ago, of a woman, heavily pregnant, in the cemetery.  I noticed her at a nearby grave, placing chrysanthemums, as is the custom throughout France, on a marble slab.  It was Toussaint, the first of November.

I went again today, mainly to pay respects to Claudie’s late husband, something she and I have done together in the past.  I suspect too, that it was for those that I have lost in my life as well.


At the gate there were florists selling bunches of chrysanthemums and tulips.  A woman with a collection box was making appeals for Le Souvenir Français, an organization to remember war veterans and to support them.

                      Cemetery, November 1st

Walking through the cemetery, I was struck by how bed-like the graves are.  In Istanbul, probably because urban space is limited, the graves were all upright.

I stood at the plaque for Bernard and I assured him that I take care of Claudie.  Then I made my way back meditatively on the winding path, thinking that Greeks and Romans from two and a half thousand years back might well have had a necropolis here.

A French family passed me walking briskly — two men in conversation, followed by a well-dressed, handsome elderly lady arm-in-arm with a young woman, in animated conversation.  As they disappeared along the tree-lined curve of the pathway, I thought I heard laughter.

© Will van der Walt

Les Semboules, Antibes

1st November, 2017



Il y a 4 heures






THE STATUE OF LIBERTY — the stormy visage

I have never seen the Statue of Liberty, though, in a strange way, it is part of my world as are the Pyramids of Giza, the Colosseum of Rome, the Eiffel Tower of Paris and Table Mountain of Cape Town.

Given to the United States in 1886 by France 21 years after the divisive Civil War, it has been a reminder to all — in America and beyond — of political freedom … at certain times more than others.

Nine Eleven

I recently saw two 19th-century photographs of the Statue, close-ups of the face that one is not necessarily aware of, from a distance.  These photographs were taken as the Statue was being erected in 1886.

What struck me about the expression of the face was its severity,  dare I say, even moodiness, touching on inner turmoil.  Could there even be resentment and anger lurking there?  And yes, maybe I’m doing a Rorschach test.

Some might say the expression is one of determination, the quality needed when political liberty is in question.  In France, I see many portrayals of Liberty, from the painting of Liberty leading the People by Eugene Delacrois (1830), to the ubiquitous images on official letters.  The expression here is closer to serenity and even angelic radiance.  Perhaps the French sculptors of the time still had the coppery taste of French Revolution blood in their mouths, one hundred years on, when they carved this visage.

Perhaps the Statue of Liberty is only a political gesture and that the sphere of politics is fragile, needing warriors.  There is no inner resolution or happiness in this expression for me, the by-product of liberty.  For that I have to seek out an image of Nelson Mandela’s face.

© Will van der Walt

Les Semboules, Antibes

October, 2017



Nine Eleven – source lost






BOVINE FLATULENCE :  news from the Pyrenese

It was an inset on 13 Heures, the lunchtime news hour on France 2 television.  And I quote the source in support of this addition to the Facts override Fiction archive.

In a certain region of the French Pyrenese mountains, it was reported that a lobby had formed against farmers with flatulating cows.  The complaint was made on grounds of health, but in the tone I could detect discomfort distinct. (No pun for the box)

From what I could gather, the complaint has been seasonal.  It would seem that a certain springtime grass variety contributes richly to the offending vapours that waft over the green slopes.  The problem, it seems, is perennial with no solution in sight, if “sight” is the word to use for an experience olfactory.

Let me assure readers that it is not for the lowliness of the subject that I embrace it.  And I’m sure that there are too, more solid ramifications in the narrative.  It is for the reason that I have seldom come across anything quite so bizarre – and, for me, funny – in my life.


© Will van der Walt

Les Semboules, Antibes

October, 2017



13 Heures, France 2



Graphic – source lost





The death of a clown:  Jean Rochefort  (1930 – 2017)

There is poignancy in the death of a comedian, one who made people laugh for more than 50 years.  I remember him in films I saw as a child in the rural outback of South Africa.

There is grief in the media, retrospectives and lavish praise for his achievement.  It is the ironic twinkle I remember, eyes that seek an accomplice to mischief.  He was a slender man with a nonchalant elegance which made him particularly French.

                  As Don Quixote

A journalist has selected film titles that serve as epitaphs for him:  The Great Blond with a black moustache;  Salut l’Artiste; We’re all going to Paradise – a few from the 150 films that he made.  A frequent visitor to the Cannes Film Festival, he himself was awarded three Césars in his time.  Where to begin with a career this rich?  The history of comedy in France will hold him in high esteem.

In one film he finds himself on a horse that he can’t control.  The animal leaps with him over the startled picnickers at a table in the forest and plunges into the river.  The horse with him still in the saddle swims past a flabberghasted man in a boat.  “Bonjour,” he says offhand to the man.  A moment of great absurdity.


© Will van der Walt

Les Semboules, Antibes

October, 2017












Will will travel

I am a part of all that I have met

Ek is deel van alles wat ek ontmoet het

Je fais partie de tout ce que j’ai rencontré

Είμαι μέρος όλων αυτών που έχω γνωρίσει

Soy parte de todo lo que he contrado

Ich bin ein Teil von allem, was ich getroffen habe

나는 내가 만난 모든 것의 일부이다.

Sono parte di tullo quello che ho incontrato

Ik ben onderdeel van alles wat ik heb ontmoet

Namibia from space


I am a part of all that I have met; 

Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’ 

Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades 

For ever and forever when I move. 

How dull it is to pause, to make an end, 

To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use! 

From Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1833


© Will van der Walt

Les Semboules, Antibes

October, 2017



The earth




Space Panorama NASA 1969





Morning Vision

For some years I’ve been intrigued by a sight from the living room in the sky above the suburbs.  The French air force have jets flying above the Côte d’Azur leaving white smoke trails.   These trails make crisscross patterns in the early-morning glow before the sun rises.  At first the cynic in me saw this as a public relations exercise, but perhaps these amazing lines help new pilots see what they and others are doing.


I’ve stood riveted many times as the straight white lines extend magically through the gold sky.    It’s as if an invisible artist is ruling these lines, slowly and deliberately.  The space above the Mediterranean becomes a vast canvas for the geometric designs.


Photographs capture something of the vision, but it’s the strangeness of the growing patterns, the lines extending into immense angled forms.  It is an image of cosmic liberty.

© Will van der Walt

Les Semboules, Antibes

September, 2017


My photographs





St Paul de Vence revisited

Of the villages perchés that I have visited in this region Gourdon and St Paul de Vence rank high.

                       St Paul de Vence

But on this visit a shock awaited me.  In the four years since I was there last, the shops have trebled.  The charm of this medieval place though, is intact – the narrow cobbled streets, sometimes with overhanging buildings, the doorways, the disappearing alleyways, the stone arches, stone walls and ramparts, tiled rooves and the Tower, characteristic of these villages in the south of France.

                   Alley way

                  St Paul de Vence Chapel

Painting of a street by Giasiotowski

            Work in an art shop

I went to the cemetery looking for a plaque on D.H. Lawrence who was buried there for some time before being exhumed and reburied in Mexico, according to his last wishes.  What I did find was Marc Chagall’s grave, tenderly decorated with little pepples.  I added mine.

                 Rest in Peace Marc Chagall

It is a place of public art, with works that surprise you as you round a corner.

        Surprise around the corner

I photographed the much-photographed amphora which, I noticed, for the first time, bears the date 1850, ten years before the Côte d’Azur became French.

                     St Paul amphora 1850

My two friends and I then had a pavement picnic while the unceasing lines of tourists arrived and left.  This will enter the archive of my special memories.

© Will van der Walt

Les Semboules, Antibes

August, 2017



My photographs


Dedicated, with gratitude, to Graham and Elna

%d bloggers like this: