Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Two ferrets and a Soda Stream

Nope - not a new Curtis film, the result of going early to a Vide Grenier (car-boot/yard-sale) this morning - not that perhaps anyone else would have bought ancient taxidermy specimens. (Except Andy, if you read this). Five euros a piece - s'got be a bargain! The soda stream has yet to be tried but I can't see there's much to go wrong there.


So, what else has this season's scavenging unearthed? It's been a good few Sundays - last week procuring several shirts for Mark at a euro each. Actually, this is odd - how we always seem to find him shirts as he's not exactly a standard Southern France man shape, more Nordic, Viking, even.
Last weekend also resulted in clothes for me, a huge salad platter, an exceptionally nice etching for 5 euros, teapots to replace broken ones, a 1970s wall-hanging to funk-up Mark's music room and various other (mostly) useful items. Why anyone bothers to shop for new stuff is a mystery to me - OK I draw the line at certain things like . . . underwear, and . . . that's about it. Maybe not a second-hand pressure cooker - bit scary.
 A bit scary, is also how much stuff we, the human race - or at least the members of it who have manufactured all these non-vital things - have managed to accumulate over a relatively short period of time. This was just one small amassing of a few folk's spare room rubbish, in one small French village. Imagine all the millions of boot sales and variants of, all over the world. Eek. We are indeed heading towards a possibly not too distant new Earth-Epoch - Plasticusgallusossum era, perhaps. A plastic and chicken bone sedimentary layer. The end of the consumers.
Oo, dear, this is getting a tad dark.
Time for a cup of tea in one of our new 1970s brown teapots.

                 Suitably apocalyptic and lovely etching from a couple of Sundays back.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Housewife guilt relieved by the April Freshness of Lenor

Part of last post rant.

Plastic rant . . .

I have to have these from time to time, and THIS really warrants one.

We all (or most of us) now realise that endlessly producing billions of plastic containers every day is totally unsustainable and polluting - to say the very least.

We all use plastic  - this keyboard I'm typing on, the car bumper I tied back on with wire this morning (rather proud of that), train seats, plane seats, televisions, audio-equipment, fridges, washing machines, guttering, drains, food containers, the everywhere water bottles and just about everything else. Should we not be cutting back on unnecessary products rather than producing more and more CHOICES, to thus use plastic for essentials like medical equipment?
Yes, there is an argument re jobs in such sectors as body-care products but maybe there just isn't a choice any longer. Hair = a shampoo product, and it's now possible to buy solid shampoo in a cellophane wrapper. We have some and it's great. Clothes = a need to wash them. Get a refill at your local eco store. It's less expensive and does the job.
And we move on to the subject of this particular rant. Fabric conditioner - with a big CON. This must be one of the cleaning companies most heralded products. An extra substance to dunk clothes in for really no reason. Meadow Sweet, Island Oasis, Snuggle, Final Touch - quite an appropriate name, perhaps - Downy, Fluffy, Fleecy, Comfort, Lix (ugh), Purex, and of course the massive Lenor range.
One or two products might suffice? Nope. A whole new range in even more shiny thick plastic bottles has appeared in our local supermarket.
I only went in to get a cube of yeast and some dog chews but stopped transfixed by the in-your-face and will-be-in-your-bag display featuring (bizarrely) a wolf and an erotic version of Little Red Riding Hood - I think.
Imagine the meetings, the trays of Danish pastries, the gallons of coffee consumed while ad-execs agonised over the names and colours of these useless and planet-knackering products.

The perfume of secrets - whaaat? Covering up some old poo stain on a toddler's trousers? Séduisant - seducing fabric softener? I Suppose they are trying to move away from cosy, soft and comforting?


              This really should being in Ann Summers shop and be called Sweat Liqueur


                                                             Charm and mystery.
Come on . . . you could have been a little more imaginative, surely? Alien-craft sex-chamber; the lost jewels of the Queen of the great oceans?


                                                And you should, Proctor and Gamble.

Governments should ban this water-polluting, land-fill garbage. Iron clothes if you want them soft, and if they smell a bit unlike a spring meadow, a woman dressed in a red cloak or a wolf (?) so what.

I've just found an old Lenor ad I recall from way back featuring a housewife wracked with guilt over her daughters' prickly nightdresses. Will post for a comparison . . .

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Road Trip

Not exactly heading across America in an open-top fin-tailed limo; rather a couple of hundred kilometres across the Tarn and Averyron departments in a beaten-up old Renault Kangoo, but it was Road-Trip enough to us. Us, being Moi et 'The Boy' - now twenty, and avid explorer on a smallish scale.
After checking unwieldy and creased paper maps (no GPS, thank you!) we booked an Air B and B and set out on a voyage to Cordes-sur Ciel as the name was so strangely beautiful - Cordes on the sky. First stop was Lautrec, a small stone village, (Hello Sophie, if you read this, and thanks for the recommendation) not far from Albi.


As the sun was already crashing down at eleven o'clock we had a small wander, drank thermos tea and bought a skein of garlic from a woman platting the bulbs together in a garage/atelier. Garlic is THE thing here and was promoted outside every shop along with clothes, table-cloths and many other fabric-y things dyed in the soft and beguiling Pastel - a blue dye made from a plant cultivated in the region. I resisted a marvellous blue, embroidered bolero, walked the rest of the vertiginous streets and we moved on to Gaillac.
After parking on the outskirts we walked down to the river and admired the arching main bridge but not the magnitude of dog poo everywhere. (Think it might be a good investment by the Marie or the town to invest in some dog-poo bins). First impressions were of a rather sad cousin of Albi, further along the Tarn, but after a further look - and not a very comprehensive one as it was now about forty degrees - we liked it and its air of faded grandeur, which may be changing - up or down, wealth-wise; it was difficult to tell.


After returning to the mobile-oven/car we drove on to Cordes desperate for a shower and a lie down in a dim room - curtains wafting gently, tea brewing, etc - to then read the Air B and B blurb and discover check-in was after 5.00 pm. Arg.
Approaching Cordes, especially in our hallucinatory, overheated states, it was possible to see where the name heralded from - the town almost suspended on a hilltop like something from a Miyazaki film. The climb up there was not going to happen so we sat in a café for a while, slapped at wasps and decided on a further drive to somewhere called Carmaux where there is a particularly fine abandoned coal mine. Yes. Travelling with The Boy does mean detours to look at crumbling factories and disused quarries but happily, I love all that melancholic wandering about in such places even though they are better viewed under scudding cloud and fine drizzle, not ragingly blue skies.
So, we left Cordes and drove about sixty K in the wrong direction but ended up near Najac where I was able to get in, and convince Him, to swim in the river Aveyron which was the best thing ever - deep, cool water, overhanging trees and little blue dragon-flies zipping over the water's surface.


                    Wild swimming opportunity  

After, we visited Najac on seeing the 'Un de les Plus beaux village de France' sign. And it was. Unbelievably Beau. So much so, I wasn't sure it was actually real and kept imagining Gerard Depardieu might appear in medieval costume and swagger off to le catering van at any moment.



Back to the B and B which was now get-in-able, had showers and lay about for a while before climbing the cobbled streets of ancient Cordes. It was rather wonderful, a bit like a tiny version of Carcassonne without all the plastic swords and other rubbish. After the usual farting about when trying to choose where to eat the one special meal of the trip we opted for the oldest and most established restaurant and sat in a stone courtyard under the interlaced branches of a three-hundred year-old Wisteria.



                    Cordes-sur Ciel

The next day dawned slightly cloudy (Wheee!) We set off to find Carmaux without getting lost, and early enough to be able to explore and not just collapse in cafés.
And it was SO worth it. Carmaux council, or whoever owns this deserted coal-washing plant are keen, understandably, to keep people out so it took a bit of locating. In the end it was surprisingly easy to park and walk half a kilometre to the site - now mostly overgrown with Poplar and Brambles. I don't think I've ever been to such a marvel in our catalogue of disused industrial places. Vast, towering walls of concrete and broken glass, crumbling staircases and a the weird coal-washing 'vats' themselves. I suppose to demolish something like that would be SO expensive and probably dangerous - having seen quite a lot of what looked like asbestos lying about - that the place just sits there rotting a bit more every day. And it's not exactly a Battersea Power station location either - penthouse flat anyone? Nope. Not in a rural, ex-coal-mining area of the Tarn.



we know how to have a good time . . .


Happiness is a disused coal-washing plant.

Then, onto the open cast mine itself . . . and found it was no longer an interesting, abandoned place full of rusting machinery. Instead some sort of 'loisir' camping/horse-riding area that the council had very sensibly devised and constructed on the ruins of the old site. We did see a 'bucket wheel excavator' something that Ezra has shown me pictures of from a German coal-field and looks like something from a star-wars film. This was a small one, but nevertheless impressive.

Weariness had descended from the heat so we drove homewards in a very convoluted way as I was obsessed with wild swimming in something - river or lake. Unfortunately all the magnificent 'barrages' we did find were No Swimming ones, and the waterfalls we started to trek towards were signposted as miles away/proper footwear required. So, air-conditioning on, I stopped meandering about and headed back through the shimmering heat haze of the Tarn to the equally boiling Aude.


A nice field in the Tarn

Monday, 23 July 2018

Once more unto the breach . . .

The breach for me, thankfully, not being a battle zone as King Henry was about to enter - more my own tiny inner-brain conquest to get words into some sort of order and eventually become a book.
This time, I thought I'd try and plan it all a bit more but already the characters are running off meeting other people and claiming accents I hadn't imagined them to have.
This idea started after drooling over a particularly beautiful cheesecake - the sort of thing that someone posts on Instagram before they shove a fork in and start chomping - and grew into a bigger idea about the whole look-at-me phase of human history we seem to be in. Maybe it's always been there to a certain extent: the desire to show, to solicit attention, and pump the ego but now the cry to be noticed appears deafeningly loud.
In my last post, I mentioned the effect Social Media has on me if I'm feeling a little low - a quick posting and then too many subsequent checkings. I'm better writing, however 'jumping off a boat into the unknown sea' it feels like. An hour's writing and I feel accomplished, set up for the day and if I can get back to it within a few hours the idea-thread doesn't unravel too far allowing me to press on unto my own personal breach.

A siren Doppler-Effects its way down the street as I shove the covers away and stand up. The phone slips and falls to the floor, skidding on the lino to stop in a slew of dust. Picking it up, I brush off the clinging deposits and glance at the screen. 
A photo has emerged from the library I was mindlessly trawling –  a pot of rudimentary stew balanced on fire-blackened sticks. Before I can click the image away, it, and what happened after on that camping trip is lodged firmly in my morning-empty mind.

A 'bit' from my new novel: Post 473.  Blackcurrant cheesecake with caramel crunch topping.


Photo - Amazon

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Social media stagnation, removing yourself from it and being productive


I felt like this yesterday, and the day before - slightly perplexed, slightly anxious, and cross with myself.
The reason was part mega-procrastination due to not being sure about which direction to go in writing-wise and part waiting to hear something positive - or un-positive - about one of my manuscripts. The procrastination element was largely in the form of Social Media. It has its uses, and if you are feeling buoyant and in control, it's great to dip in and out of. If you are feeling rather more unsure, confused and ego-squished it's an insidious, clinging thing that sets up camp in your mind and crushes the creative urge.
I like Instagram - on the whole - mainly using it as a species of diary/journal/instant portfolio of everything I do, but when the doubt starts seeping, I'm on it far more than is healthy - checking likes, comparing numbers of likes other people have, posting something new just to get that little phone-lighting up fix.
FaceBook . . . personally I find it depressing. I've read and listened to enough Ted Talks, etc, to know it's not just me. Posting the odd weird picture, or beautiful landscape, or sharing an unforgettable image works - again like a sort of life-diary but only in homeopathic amounts. After even ten minutes of scrolling I feel empty and dull, even if I was feeling positive before going on the site. It has its uses - announcing a gig that Mark's doing, acknowledging a friend's new baby/business/wedding, etc, but if things are not steaming ahead on your own personal horizon seeing everyone else being shiny and great makes everything so much greyer - if they are indeed having such a great time. Maybe everyone is staring back at their rectangles of blueish light feeling terribly inadequate even while posting pictures of five-star cookery and new patios.
Twitter . . . no idea. Could be useful one day when I get published, (being positive here) so I have my place on the platform and post the odd surreal picture; like a few friend's comments on the state of the world and don't do more scrolling than a couple of minutes.
I think it was Will Self who was talking about reading a book as oppose to S. media screen stuff - the fact that books and articles have natural stopping points allowing you to go and do something else whereas the continual scroll is difficult to stop - just a few more posts . . . Mind you, I've just read Umbrella which has no chapters or breaks . . . but I needed to stop very frequently just to digest the wordage and complexity of the book.
This morning, faced with three possible semi-written, follow-up novels, and the procrastination-demon lurking, I started writing a completely new book, the idea of which had been gestating away in a deep recess of my brain for a while. Rather than try and plan anything very much, as is my won't, I plunged into the thing - which is about Social Media - and two hours later the haze of what the F am I doing sloped off. I didn't check my phone all morning. I haven't looked at FB or Twitter. I've written, cleared out the bathroom cupboard (ugh), prepared our B and B room for guests, cleared up my computer files and cut back some of the rampant garden: all stuff I've been meaning to do but had put off while pootling about on Google and my crap old iPhone had seemed easier.
And lo . . . this pro-activeness has somehow produced positive things.
This afternoon, I've had a useful email regarding the manuscript and have been contacted by someone else who wants to talk about my work. Can it be, as I've often wondered, that kicking yourself up the backside mentally and forcing a new direction that other things start to un-stagnate?
Whatever creative things you like doing - painting, singing, gardening, running, cooking . . . do it and maybe don't post it.

image: techcrunch

Friday, 6 July 2018

What you think you know about somewhere

I've been to Perpignan about six times and only ever visited the historic middle section or some depressing retail-shed bit on the outskirts. I've always though - yep, it's Ok. Not that bothered either way. Also people often say - 'oh, Perpignan, not much going on there', etc.
The people I talked to during this visit, including our lovely B and B host, seemed to think very firmly otherwise. And I think from what I heard and observed they are probably right.

the theatre complex and lovely postered wall

I don't usually like 80s buildings - which I think this is, but reckon this is a rather good example.

Sometimes I find Air B and B a bit overwhelming, other times a great and inexpensive way of seeing other parts of a town or city you might never bother to look at otherwise - and meeting people who really know their patch.
This booking turned out to be a great choice in all senses. Christine was a wonderful host, her charming 1930s house stuffed with brocante finds. Also, she had lived in the city for years and was kind enough to impart as much historical and cultural knowledge as we could absorbe in our short stop-over.
The house was situated in a residential area which had obviously seen huge architectural activity around the 1920s and 30s - a completely different feel to the narrow streets of the inner city. I walked for ages, partly in search of a bar that might be open (oddly not) and partly as I became transfixed by the multitude of different building styles and materials that had been used. Several streets had houses that had obviously been architect - or builder - designed to be different from their neighbours, and, unusually, just about all the original doors, windows, gates, etc had been preserved.



I felt a familiar but long-covered up feeling start to seep out - hey, what about living here . . . Well, maybe. Maybe if Mark's work shifts to here, maybe I could start the weird brocante/café/music venue I've always harboured a desire to do - in a large 1930s, crumbling edifice with a lot of work to be done . . .
Nice to have new ideas floating about amongst all the day to day stuff.


Last light stroll 

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Family bonding

In our family, as with most others - I'd imagine, there are certain film, TV and dear old Youtube extracts that are recited ad infinitum in a comforting way. Everyone knows them and everyone, presumably, shares the same visual and audio recall.

It might not be the phrase or bit of tune itself that sets off the recounting; it could be something else with the same intonation. This morning for example, Ezra said: 'Hey, I've found this amazing landfill place on the outskirts of Pau, I'd like to look at.' (as you do . . .) The conversation proceeded thus:

Him: 'You know, that one near Perpignan?'

Me: 'Yes?'

Him: 'The one with the weird silver roof?'

Me: 'Yes?'

At this point we both remember that favourite mini-film some clever person in the USA made - the one with the dubbed Alsatian and owner - 'You know that bacon - the maple kind? Dog: 'Uh, the maple kind'?

Well, if you have seen it, you'll know what I mean. It's irresistible to go over in your mind once the brain's dug it out and started playing it. And if a like-minded family member or friend is there and can join in . . . double the pleasure.

Amongst our other regular favourites: Bernard's pickle fetish (below); Give me 'arf and 'arf n' arf' from Champagne Charlie; 'Hi, I'm Barry Scott', from The vile Cillit Bang adverts; Armstrong and Miller's RAF pilots - 'he's got a note and everything' and many other's from that series; Dumb and Dumber's Mocking Bird song, Basil from Fawlty Towers - "Right!" you only have to say that in a certain way and the whole, Basil whacking a poor Mini with a branch all comes back . . .

Thursday, 21 June 2018


I've found it! The one that works . . . it's incredible. No calorie-counting, no eating only peas for three weeks, no fasting/binging, no tapeworm pills . . . Yes, people really did swallow capsules containing tape worm eggs - popular around the 1900s until doctors realised it caused a few problems, such as seizures, cysts on the brain, etc. Nice.

So what is this miracle weight-loss program?

Eat less, or preferably, no, sugar. That's it.

After researching sugar for a medical reason, I decided to cut it out and see how my body and mind might react. They like it. I like it. The manic-ness before meals has stopped as my blood sugar has plateaued, in fact I feel generally a lot calmer (most of the time) and I'm losing weight without trying too hard. It's not a dramatic loss, more a steady shedding - for life. Usually I lose weight after a massive attempt in the spring/summer, arrive at my goal weight by about August then quickly put it all back on again as winter encroaches.

This feels different. It's not just about the weight, it's also thinking about what we are supposed to eat and doing the best I can to support my body as it functions in its incredible way. We're SO complex; why stand in the way of all these extraordinary internal systems?

So. The boring side of it . . . There isn't one really. I'm not manic about it. I do drink a glass of wine sometimes and I do eat small amounts of fruit as it seems a shame not to enjoy the wonderful seasonal stuff - like apricots here at the moment. But jam, cake, chocolate - nah. Mostly gone, and if I do eat some, I feel the mental effects and don't like it. Toast, butter and Marmite seem to fill the gap, for me anyway.

According to researchers like Robert Lustig - great video on the sugar industry/ diabetes, etc - we are just basically not supposed to eat sugar - maybe just a bit of gorging at harvest time, or honey for special occasions, etc. Our bodies - liver mainly - don't know what to do with the quantities we are consuming now and the result is only too obvious.

Here's Dr Lustig to tell you all about it. (Worth watching his longer lectures too - like Sugar, the bitter truth)

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

A thing of beauty

I think William Morris would have liked these.

Yes, its a tiny thing in the face of all the MASSIVE plastic issues our planet and we are facing, but if we all bought wooden dish-brushes rather than the plastic versions . . .
Monoprix make, or at least sell these for just over two euros and they are a small work of art in every way.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Hidden places

While trying to find an abandoned mine up on a hillside recently - as you do - me and the boy took a wrong turning and ended up on a gravelly overgrown track, the sides of which were lined with dismantled bicycles. It had to be worth further investigation, even with the risk of slavering dogs, or a slavering owner.
At the end of the track we came across a semi-derelict windmill and a huge rotting lorry, its inside full of everything from crockery, pans, hoses, sinks, to records, books, bedding, toys, furniture, dead plants, and more bike parts.

How had they got such a massive vehicle up there? And what had happened to the owners of the place? It was possible to see inside the windmill (I assume it was an ex-windmill) and there was a slight Mary Celeste scenario - plates and cups on the table, a stove with pans on it . . .
Feeling uneasy about trespassing, despite the place looking long-forgotten, I took a few photos, the weirdest being a picture of a decrepit Harry Secombe record in a wire basket along with many other long-forgotten English vinyls.

I often think about that place now as I drive along the main road and look up into the hills, wondering if all the stuff is still gradually decaying away up there, or perhaps someone has returned for the summer and is re-fitting the windmill with a shiny new Ikea kitchen - probably not.


Monday, 4 June 2018

Bloody waste of tax-payers' money

I'd only seen our local news-hyped contemporary art-work - that of Felice Varini's yellow-striping of La Cite, from the air, which was impressive enough, but went a couple of days ago to look more closely.
La Cité the fairytale collection of ramparts and pencil-point roofs is celebrating its 20th year as a UNESCO heritage site and for that reason the Carcassonne council decided to commission a work from Varini.
I've just tried to look up how much the project cost but no one's saying . . . a million euros? No idea but probably not more than some unnecessary prettifying a few of the department's roundabouts and planting all municipal flower beds with plants destined for landfill.
I do admit to having mixed feelings about massive art statements when there are so many human-scale necessities - better schools, better quality canteen food, council housing improvements, etc etc. BUT, why not create something extraordinary that will create debate, up the numbers of curious visitors and in some way make people look just a bit harder at the structure and sheer building feat of such a monument?

It is spectacular from far away and close up. In fact, close-up it's quite touching to see the way the yellow strips have been moulded to each stone by one of many pairs of artist hands.

I was hoping to hear some choice moans while standing gawping but I must have been there at a point of extreme positive vibes; everyone snapping away, selfi-ing and discussing the amount of time and maths it must have taken to make such a thing.
Mark went recently and caught some super-whinging - how it would spoil wedding photos; how people had travelled thousands of miles to see this fabulous monument - their trips utterly ruined!
Actually, it's only on one side, so you don't have to look at it if you can't bear the idea, and also, most people seem to spend most time inside the walls eating ice-cream and waffles, buying plastic helmets and looking at appalling art.

No parking
 I just read a local newspaper article in which a woman said: 'looking at this spoils our lives'. This does seem a little extreme - it's not permanent, either in time or paint, (as some onlookers assumed). After my visit, I think my overall feeling was pride, and wonder, that our local tourist attraction had been honoured in such a way.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Dorset wanderings

Most of my wanderings tend to be London-based but on this trip back to see Mum in Wimborne I took the time to explore my teenage-years' town a little further.
Usually I stay with my lovely cousin up on the hill but as she was having work done in the house she had absurdly generously booked me a house by the river to stay in - despite my weedy protestings about finding a cheapo B and B somewhere.
A view on the river Stour - what a rare treat to wake every morning and see swans and reeds reflected in the slow-moving waters; I may have almost moved my desire of living with a sea view to a river view - either might be good.

When I was about thirteen, Mum and I used to take a rowing boat out from the Hanham's Boat Yard and disappear up the river for hours - those holiday days that seemed to always be sun-filled. I can't recall who did the rowing but I did find a photo of her in her university rowing team - so possibly, more her - it's easy to forget that one's parent of nearly ninety and mostly clamped to a wheelchair used to do such things - and we shouldn't forget . . .

A different boat-hire place operates now with rather more strict rules about time and how far you are allowed to row to, but they were affable folk and when my friend came to stay for a couple of nights we hired a vessel, and rediscovered certain arm muscles.
Messing about in boats. Everything observed and heard from a boat is very different: the scale of trees, bridges, the plop of small animals and the skid of ducks' feet as they regain their watery territory.

Even though I lived in Wimborne for about six years I never did actually explore the potential of its river-bank walking. I suppose my main walking was in the form of the daily traipses to and from school, (which were bordering on small hikes) at each end of the day, and favourite jaunts out to places like Badbury Rings, Chalbury Church and bits of the coast; the Stour wasn't really on my day-to-day walk radar.
So, in a house with view of river - where does it actually pass through and how far can you walk?
Boots on, I started near the boat place and paced a few miles discovering brand new swanky housing estates, water meadows full of early summer flowers and the most perfect little suspension bridge that leads over to Canford School - a prestigious place with a parking area full of Range Rovers and Mercedes.

The spots visible in my photograph below were actually a few of the billions of Mayflies that were enjoying their twenty-four hours (or, perhaps to them, long lifespan involving relationships, where to eat, and musings on the meaning of life).

Taking the other direction the following day took me through a fine area of 1920/30s suburbia with some surviving original houses and many renovated dwellings - or large edifices where bungalows of that era once stood. If I'd had a freer day I might have walked on to the next village signposted - Lytchett Matravers - said, I believe, to be the longest village in the UK. I'm sure I read that somewhere but can't find it now. Anyway, the word Lychett comes from the Saxon word, Litchet, meaning Grey Wood. Rather Poetic.

                   Mm, very . . . clean


                             sadly this one was up for 'renovation'


A beautiful snicket/ginnel - don't know the Dorset word for a thin path between houses. Maybe there isn't one.

Further mooching after seeing Mum in her home revealed such delights as a 2009 time capsule placed into the concrete of the new Stour Footbridge - to be opened in 2059. If one of my novels turns out to be a premonition, this momentous moment will not be recorded and put onto Facebook/Instagram, etc as the internet will have collapsed around 2038 - and this blog will be a slight and fading memory in my own head. Another reason for finding the time to make it into a REAL book.


Other noted things: the pub I used to work in - and got fired from as I couldn't add up (no auto tills in those days), and a tree that I must have gawped at for about fifteen minutes. I've never even seen one of these in Kew Gardens. Sadly the tree's owner was out so I still don't know what it is.



On one of the evenings my friend stayed, we drove to Studland via the clanking vehicular ferry at Sandbanks - a riveted metal wonderment that has been crossing the narrow stretch of water since 1994 - the original vessel started crossing in 1923. It's a magical stretch of land out towards Old Harry Rocks: grass with human tracks cut into the chalk, windblown scrubby trees and sheep - at that point with playful, bouncing lambs.
As the Pig on the Beach was fully booked we ate at the Baker's Arms where a massive chuck of tree smouldered in the fireplace and happy walkers/sightseers and locals quaffed pints of beer from, possibly, the wonderfully named, Piddle Brewing Company.
Our walk to the cliffs culminated in the most life-affirming sunset after which we took the Ferry back and interrogated two of the crew, one of whom had been doing the crossing for thirty years.


                                                                                          Pic from

The days passed with Mum in the usual round of tea shops, (think I did get scone-poisoning on my last visit) church and river perambulations - the smaller, Bourne, river. We collected leaves, shells on the trip to the beach, flowers and seeds and exclaimed over Kingfishers, swans and many more surreal sightings. Mum often sees things that I can't - small dogs sitting in trees and the like, but who's to say if they aren't there? In fact, after a lengthy discussion with afore-mentioned friend about us all being particles and time not existing, maybe small dogs sitting in trees are as normal as anything else.

On the last evening, I left Mum in the Royal-Wedding festooned home's dining room and walked back to the river house for the last time. Two swans moved majestically down the Stour as I packed my suitcase and attempted to leave the gite as spotless as I had found it.