Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Some things never change

A post for our friends from far away.
Shame you don't live somewhere a tad nearer . . . but how incredible that when we meet, the fifteen years or so that have lapsed seem like a few hours - same humour, same outlook on this mad, and, wonderful world.
Maybe we'll make it over there, but hopefully you'll return here soon.
Much love from us on the other side of the globe.


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

things impossible to remember in midwinter

Dusty, heat-beaten tracks, walking in the shade, whirring grasshoppers and cicadas, washing drying within an hour, plant-watering on a vast scale, siestas rather than hot water bottle naps, endless salad, fridge full of chilling water . . . and dogs trying to keep cool rather than wishing to be buried in wool on the most draft-proof chair.

'Bali' on an early morning walk under evergreen oaks and olive.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Dear John

For some reason, when I was about twelve I decided it would be interesting to keep a diary of all the loo/Johns/lavs, etc that I ever visited. As with many ideas it never happened (oh . . . what a terrible shame and how the world would have benefited, you may be saying) but over the years I have actually tentatively started, as part of various notebooks, this great work.
What is it about these tiny rooms? A place where you are (usually, or possibly not!) alone for a few minutes to contemplate your surroundings - horrible, recently redone, cockroach-ridden, left over from the 70s or oddly restful and spacious.
I often find myself musing what I would do if I was trapped in the room; how I might escape, or if that was impossible, how I would while away the time - counting tiles, inventing exercises involving the loo or simply meditating until someone came to check where you had disappeared to, if they did . . .
My latest notebook has a few accounts of loos on a recent road trip but I think perhaps visuals are more effective, so - Loo number one:

The smallest room in an ancient pub I have visited a few times in Dorset.
I think the small basket of plastic flowers must have been placed there in about 1968 and has never moved since.
Loo's noted elements:
Faded lace curtain hung with nails, rusted can of lilac air-freshener, interesting and unusual metal/enamel cistern with lever handle, wooden seat whose rubber protectors could appear rather like goggly fish eyes if you did happen to become trapped in the room for too long.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

instant silliness

Bob about to enjoy a classy bit of patisserie 

Every now and then I make one of these daft cakes when people come round, preferably more than two layers (cake, not the guests) and with many absurd additions; this one was a tad restrained but I did like the chocolate bears.
Ingredients: something unspeakably awful from the cake section of a supermarket, in this case a 'flan' called a Tropezienne, (From St Tropez, I assume) which was happily already in two halves and coated with cream.
More cream from one of those air-filled cans
Tinned/and or, fresh fruit
Possibly, jam
Possibly alcohol - rum, brandy . . .
Mad sweets to decorate with.

Preparation time: not very long. In fact best done while everyone else is yakking and the glasses of wine you have already consumed make for a more . . . spontaneous and artistic dessert.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Some songs you can just play 1,000 times . . .

Well me anyway. Mark tends to listen to something around three times, enjoys it then puts it on the shelf and on to the next thing. I really drain every cent out of a good CD, comfort listening? Perhaps, but with a voice as fabulously unusual as this, inventive lyrics and brilliant musicians . . . I just can't stop listening.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Lost in translation

We've all seen them - translation howlers, and I'm sure I've made hundreds in French, such as the traditional faux pas that most new 'ex-pats' make: Je suis chaude, rather than J'ai chaude - e.g, I'm hot in a 'give it to me' fashion. Quite sensible, the French version, when you think about it: I have hotness, rather than I am hot . . .
And our favourite French menu misunderstanding . . . 'side idiot of tomato' or pan con tomate' from Spanish, meaning bread rubbed with tomato, the con being idiot (or actually far worse). We've also seen 'paving slabs of salmon' and tornados of beef. Cousin Nick's best one from Bali, I think - Stick meat with bees. You could spend your whole life collection each nation's best examples (hmm, not a bad idea . . .)
Anyway, here's a few internet examples of Chinese misinterpretations as pointed out by my son,
when he had managed to stop laughing.



Not my pics, but they would have been! Thanks to internet posters.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Life stages, recycling, and moving on

We've just passed another one (life stage): our son's BAC, French equivalent of A levels in the UK.
He and I just spent a day sorting out his room to prepare for the following stage, and in doing so threw out (recycled!) at least a tree's worth of paper.

                                                  Three years worth of studying, in paper

An odd thing to consign all those words, maps, verbs, sums, crossing out's 'could try harders' and 'very goods' to newspaper or whatever the sludge of paper will become. I can't remember my own similar stage and binning all the A level stuff; maybe I burnt it all in some sort of 'moving on' ritual.


                                                             three years worth of manuscripts 

I have, however, just thrown out a car-boot's worth of manuscripts from my various books which was slightly more traumatic than Ezra's heap of exercise books - still I've kept a couple of each, and I have the real books. There has to be a purging point after all . . .


                                                            two years worth of train tickets

Emptying Ezra's bag was probably the most interesting part of this mass clearing out operation. In the bottle I found a sort of geological layer of train tickets - every journey from about the last two years; to and from Carcassonne. We almost kept them as an art piece but then . . . didn't.
Onward and forward.