Tuesday 17 January 2012

January 17th 2012 Rennes le Chateau. Day of the blue apples.

We have a Canadian guest staying at the Hothouse. He is fascinated by certain aspects of the Rennes le Chateau legend.
It was a stunningly clear blue-sky day today, so we went up to the famous site to see the blue apples appearing in the church. They did so, most obligingly, sneaking along the wall as the sun moved around casting its light through the stained glass panes. Not sure what the fuss was about, and why apples? could as well have been gentically perfect tomatoes, or tennis balls. Very lovely colour however. See photo.
There was a big crowd, all French except us, I think; mostly soberly attired in grey and black except one guy dressed in a camouflaged cape, smoking a cigar. Cathar, without a doubt.
We duly inspected the grotto with its offerings of an old conker, three screws and a sweet wrapper, then the tour of the house and museum. I last went to Rennes about six years ago, money has obviously been spent; the museum is much improved and there has been good renovation of the tower and garden area.
Father Sauniere obviously had a wonderful time throwing his money about, not surprising that people got a little suspicious. Formal garden, booklined cosy 'occasional' tower folly, stunning wrought iron orangery (my favourite bit), etc. Here is a picture of Father S, preserved in wax in his parlour. Presumably when the court orders had started coming in, judging by his expression. Actually he looks like one of the trumpet players in the main carnaval band. . . must check out the family history there.
The most interesting feature of the church is definately the wooden 'don't do any of this' sign - no Rolling Stones, no dogs if they are interbred with rabbits, no fast food outlets, and no cameras if you are using flash. But you can go to the loo in the font.
We avoided the shop - even though it was lovely and warm - and its display of nick-nacks, such as silver nativity scenes in small padded boxes in the shape of ladybirds?? and headed off down the hill, in search of further mystery.

Thursday 12 January 2012

Its January, we're in Limoux, it must be . . Carnaval!!

I remember now, sitting in the last carnaval meeting of our group saying 'yes, no problem I'll paint the masks, again'.
When I got everything out to do it, I had a recollection of how long this actually takes. But like giving birth, (well, not THAT bad) one forgets the details; time softens the memory, or maybe I'm just menopausal and can't remember things generally.
Anyway, I've done half of them. I'm taking the sample 'men's one to the meeting on Saturday for it's approval, or not, and then I'll do the whole lot. Do come and see us sporting them on February 11th 5.00p.m in 'La Place de La Republique'.
A day of repetitive tasks generally. I spent about an hour and a half deleting emails that had built up. Mostly crap such as,'rate my photo' from some pillock in Bavaria holding a giant fish, or similar messages. l don't actually know how I got onto some of these World Wide Waste of time communication sites. I must have pressed a yes key when a distant acquaintance had said 'would you like to see a picture of me and my cat', and I was feeling aimless. Mark managed to extract me from one particular site that kept sending me photos of large hairy men from places about as far as it is possible to get from here with messages such as: "Hi, Vladimir is hot to meet you."
Facebook is quite fun, a tad voyeuristic perhaps. I'm not sure if I really need to look at someone's holiday pics when I haven't seen them for twenty five years, but . . .it's good to know one has so many friends. Mmm.
The other twenty thousand messages were from Amazon suggesting I would like to buy one of around sixty types of food blender. Odd as we did actually buy one from them recently. So why would we want to buy another? Plan for the future perhaps? - one can never be too sure about the life span of a blender. Or get one in yellow, in case you wake up one day and find that red makes you feel nauseous.
They also started suggesting I might like to buy other things in similar colours, and things that maybe have a similar function or a vague relation to it. A nice red wood-chipper perhaps; a DVD of the Texas chainsaw massacre? Some Doom Metal music to put through your new Amazon speakers while you're re-creating that scene in Fargo.
So, back to Carnaval. Have just returned from excellent charity shop in Carcassonne: 'terre de Esperance,' armed with old clothes and bits to make into Carnaval outfit for practice run-through tomorrow. Also bought two snuggly wool jumpers for one euro, which would be difficult to purchase from Amazon, but they may be working on it.
Amazon suggests you might like these old tights.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Post for no reason.

I was trying to find some images to send to my mum, us looking adorable etc. Difficult as this time of year as we retreat ever further into old woollen layers that should have been disposed of last year. Mark has his second skin firmly established; this year a black zippy cardigan. I was able to remove it yesterday, and it hangs in a never ending final rinse in the rain as I write. He is no doubt shivering in something unspeakable that he found in the back of the cupboard as he teaches in Esperaza.
Anyway . . . I saw this fish image that I took in, I think, Gruissan aquarium, and was struck with the realisation that this is a good argument for the non-existance of God, or the exsistance, providing he or she has an excellent sense of humour.
Why would anyone bother to craft such a ludicrous beast unless it was going to feature in a Dickens novel as Mr Crudworth-Pipenostril. Perhaps I am being unfair, I can't remember reading the panel of information on the fish species, I'm sure it has a very good reason for having this magnificent protruberance, other than to cause me to smile on this gloomy grey day.

Monday 2 January 2012

The Czars The Hymn

Sample of afore-mentioned Czars, should you be driving through rain sodden tracts of anywhere.

Sunday 1 January 2012

Hello 2012

The year walked in quietly in looking clean and soft; warm winds blowing from the West, and clouds shoving off to reveal long-awaited blue.
I had no hangover, but a strong sense of purpose, or possibly panic, mainly due to the huge washing pile that was engulfing the bathroom.
New years resolutions: No; except one, maybe. Smile more. I did this last year, and noticed that less people said, 'cheer up it might never happen.' Well, English people anyway. 'Soyez heureux, peut-ĂȘtre cela n'arrivera jamais?' There's probably a saying along the lines of: 'it could be worse, your fois gras might have gone off'.
Mark's N.Y.R is to fall less into the trap of procrastination. Good one, and he has been indeed filling any available nano second with composition. Less cake though. This is probably good, I have put back on three kilos in nine days.
Our lovely cousins spoilt us with huge boxes of Milk Tray, mince pies, Christmas cake, treacle pies . . Help. It was lovely however. Now back to severe austerity, cabbage, brown bread, and bizarrely a small crop of tiny new potatoes in the veg patch. I must digress from what ever I was rambling about before to express my amazement about this.
These plants sprang up from rogue potato bits left in the ground in the spring, survived a frost, and then went on to produce a crop, in Jan/Dec. Odd.
Anyway, back to the main subject which was? Flab. A strange thing, not quite sure where mine has gone back on. Perhaps a general spreading over the whole body? maybe I needed thickening up again, I was feeling extra cold in the UK.
The main purpose of the trip back to the drizzly rock was to see my mum in the home. We spent Christmas day there, enjoyed a three course lunch, and Mark played piano for the residents. They loved it. It was moving to see and hear one old lady singing along to everything. She knew every word.
This time I didn't have food poisening on the ferry back, but did lie down in my alloted bunk the whole time as the slightest trip to the loo made my internal balance system turn into a fairground ride called stagger'n'puke.
Road trip back was tiresome as most of the scenery was shrouded in slanting rain. We listened to the Czars, which is the most perfect accompaniment for driving through sodden, melancholic tracts of landscape.
Here is a small film of New Years Day with breakfast OUTSIDE, banjo playing, Christmas stuff waiting to be housed, and washing needing to be hung out.