Friday 26 February 2010

woman shed

Instead of shack on pine clad hill, (last post) I am building my own studio (woman shed) out of half of our garage.
When I say I am building, I mean our super builder is doing most of it, as my DIY skills don't really exist except in my head. Mark can build things, but in a parallel universe where time is of a different length.
'The stick', a piece of timber which once edged the tongue and groove wood in our bedroom since 1975, has been hanging at a jaunty angle since we moved in 3 years ago. It has been discussed over numerous cups of morning tea, but it's still at the same position. Imagine thus the enormity of a studio build project . . hence bank loan and builder.
Here is a photo of garage becoming studio (sorry, painfully boring except to me). Today I painted it again, and it is now a clean bright space. It's the first time I've had an actual dedicated studio space or shed to retreat to. The thought of being able to say 'I'm going to my studio for a couple of hours' is novel.
No through traffic, no one asking for a cheese sandwich, or the whereabouts of their pants . . .

Wednesday 24 February 2010

Time out

Small break at the favourite sea area. Cerbère and Banyuls. Have urge to build small shack under this pine tree with panoramic view of border mountain chain, sea, brown vine clad slopes, and distant sounds of trains.

Friday 12 February 2010

Toulouse to Carcassonne

Another trip, which my notes inform me was a deeply dark day, rather like yesterday. Today has larger sunny intervals both outside the house and inside my head . . . moving forward.

Thursday 11 February 2010

Return of the birds.

Like me, the local bird community had assumed all this white boringness had finished.
I saw a butterfly a few days ago sunning itself on the front wall, the lilac is nearly in leaf, and we should all know better. It's just hope of course, and a longing to get on with putting seed potatoes in.
The bird song had just started in the early mornings; I put a sign up in the garden saying 'Its only February, stop tweeting and find more food' but they are just as hopeful and foolish as me. This morning we had blackbirds, sparrows, chaffinch, bullfinch, greenfinch, many sorts of tit, partridge (not in a pear tree) wrens, small stripy birds and tiny greeny-yellow birds. The seed stocks are low, as is our wood pile. I did look briefly at property in Belize, but am back on track after getting all the washing done, which is now forming into an ice sculpture outside.

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Being on the planet (2)

It's the weather of seaside cafés today.
Crashing surf on rain slicked rocks viewed from the safety of a warm, fuggy interior. Chips, strong tea, haddock or beans, whatever really, just that total pleasure of ultimate snugness.
I was recalling all the cafés I can think of in this genre. One in Whitby, with its stunningly good fish and chips, the chippy on the pier at Brighton, if its still there, another in Cleethorpes - an excellence in melancholic dining; and a superb specimen in Lulworth cove, Dorset.
Can't quite think of an equivalent here, lots of good fish restaurants, bien sure . . . but not quite the same.
Anyway, while thinking about the sea, as I was, I got into a good 'wonder' about why sea, and large expanses of water in general, stay where they are, i.e not running off into space. I know the rational explanations, the speed the earth is turning etc, but is still very odd when you consider it just in a visual sense.
Here is a piece of film I took with the camera 'on the side' by accident. I kept it as it gives a sensation of us, sea, sand etc really being stuck to the planet.
Since I started writing this, the weather has turned bright, very cold and blustery. I would now like to be in a posh hotel's comfy dining room by the fire eating a cream tea.

Sunday 7 February 2010

Plumbing and pruning.

Today we will reflect on the joys of the aforementioned items.
I hate plumbing: cold, greasy, back aching, infuriating, not that I really do plumbing as such, and I totally admire anyone who can.
Yesterday I attempted to unblock the sink, then Mark tried. The trouble with old under-sink situations is once you tamper with one bit, everything else decides to fall apart: leaking joints, weird noises, emergence of noxious black stuff.
As it was beyond us, I called in a friend.
In the spirit of trying save money he replaced lots of bits and grunted/swore for quite a long time before deciding the whole contortion of pipery was in fact, dead, and a trip to a DIY emporium had to be made.
No leaks now, but the mysterious noise has increased and the water is still not really going away as it should. I decided to get away from the darkness of the fetid under-sink-cupboard and concentrate on pruning.
Pruning is fabulous. Up and away with the birds, moments of adrenalin terror as the badly placed ladder wobbles; thinning out the dead wood and cutting away branches reaching for the sky. Every time you learn a bit more — it is a good idea to wear gloves, go on . . . cut that really big branch, shape, bring air in, tangle of useless twigs out. The pears are done, now for the huge almond tree. Free therapy.

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Ages and stages

This is our boy. Now twelve and looking a bit cute with his untamed blondish hair.
He announced that he had a problem today — nothing bad he assured me, just that some girls had said their friend loves him . . . Suddenly the whole next stage of life for him was in front of me: love, longing, rejection, angst.
Luckily, Ezra is firmly into keeping fish, drawing and gardening at the moment and the girl/or, boy thing is not even a blip on his horizon. He is convinced he won't get married, has his house all planned out, and has decided to downgrade from a Jaguar to something a little smaller in order to be able to spend more on fish-keeping.
Of course the love thing can be fairly straight forward.
My cousin is married to the first man (boy) who asked her for a date at the age of sixteen when we went to the local cricket club disco. They are happy, have two wonderful children, superb house, did everything in the right order . . . others, such as myself, made a huge emotional messes for years and years until finally getting it right. I am however greatly relieved not to be married to my first 'love' — Luton town-supporting, moped-riding, depressive person with horrible domineering mother.
I can remember the total joy on my mothers face as I told her I had decided to get out of the relationship, even though we jointly owned a hideous, hand-painted Mini.
Oh, to be twelve again . . . actually I'm not sure if I would want to be, forty-nine seems OK, even though I told the (French) doctor the other day that I was eighty-nine; he remarked that I seemed in excellent shape for someone of that age . . .