Monday 30 July 2012


Ezra is having a phase of the 'Bonzo's' at the moment—that's my boy. Here's a bit of the 'intro outro' song live. Check the album version for: "and looking very relaxed - Harold Wilson on violin," and other gems. I'd like to post a film of Ezra singing 'the trouser press' in French, if I can catch it.

Building No 3

As part of my series on odd buildings, I snapped this one in St Girons on the way to the St Lizier music festival.
It sits at the side of a prominent road in the town centre like a depressed lego brick; seems to have no purpose, but no for sale sign on it either. The paint colour suggests a bruise, apart from the top which has a fresh layer of concrete - as if the top of the building had tried to escape from the rest of itself. The doorway is a yawn and the shutters sleepy. I wonder if someone added the small quarry tile decoration in an attempt to liven it up.

Dental surgery? Ministry of boredom? Concrete storage facility . . .?

Beauty 2

A couple of images from a favourite walk up above Limoux with friends.

Friday 27 July 2012


Ezra and I have this thing about pegs on wire. It's a common feature of village houses around here. Where as some people might be admiring say, a gargoyle on a church, or a magnificent climbing rose on an ochre coloured wall in the late afternoon sun . . .we seek out pegs. Not that I don't appreciate the above things: I do muchly, it's just something about these slightly lost things, waiting for the next pair of knickers or a floor cloth to give them purpose again.

Here is a particularly lovely example of a gaggle of pegs on an inconclusively painted wall.

Wednesday 25 July 2012


I forget how many other little worlds are in the garden. I was running about this morning trying to keep up with watering a few desperate things and feeling slightly panicked.
Vivaldi hated the summer, apparently: to him it was a time of asthma attacks, raging uncontrollable heat, and a constant whirring of insects. I love summer, but sometimes it does make me feel slightly on the edge - waking to an already hot day and noticing how many plants are wilting.
Anyway . . . I digress.
I was walking back to turn off the pump and noticed a largish snake oddly motionless, but alive. It started to writhe slowly, then I noticed with horror that it had a gaping wound about a third way down it's body. I stood transfixed, thinking about quick ways to finish it off, but not moving as the thought of that is, as to most of us woolly live and let live types, not easy. Mark was out, and anyway he is weedier than me and Ezra had retreated to the safety of the house.
It proceeded to then slowly regurgitate, (sorry if you are planning lunch or anything) a whole tiny baby rabbit, which presumably caused the wound by trying to escape. The snake lay exhausted. I went to get an axe; on my return it reared up and looked suddenly very alive.
Could the wound mend? I opted for a shovel instead and scooped it behind a bush. Out of sight, out of mind . . . Not. I think the image of the scene will haunt me for a while to come.

Tuesday 24 July 2012

The afterlife.

Been thinking a lot about what happens after we shuffle off this . . . mortal thingamy lately. Only in an abstract way, while hoovering or walking the dogs, sorting through bills . . .
There's nothing like someone you know departing from this life to make you think about - what's next. To put it into a happier form of pondering I have developed a theory.
If you are a relatively good person in life - kind to others, non-complaining, etc, and you get to sit around in heaven or wherever, perhaps you will do so with people you really like and/or, admire/are intrigued by. A sort of sliding scale of numbers: one or two nice folks if you were well behaved enough, up to twenty perhaps if you were an early angel. It could be loved ones, friends or people you have admired. Here are a few bods I would very much like to encounter in the next episode - so to speak, apart from my own friends and family. Kenneth Williams, see classic film clip: Jane Austin, Alec Guinness, Bette Davies, Fanny Craddock, Douglas Adams, Picasso, John Lennon, Will Self,  - just a top of head list, but I think it would be an interesting melange: plenty to talk about . . .

Sunday 22 July 2012

Oof, my head.

Reporting back from the annual village fete at a tiny village above another slightly less tiny village near Limoux.
Bourigeole with it's population of ? certainly less than seventy, always manages to hold a fete of great geniality.
There were over two hundred and fifty folk squashed into the little square by the church: rows of tables, white paper cloths, bring your own plates, etc. The formula never changes, I must have been going there for eight years now. It doesn't as a rule rain, the disco man 'Arizona' is always set up, his wood cut-out cactus and speakers a stark contrast to the slumbering hills behind, and there are the faces I only see once a year.
The black village dog looks a little older and the plants round the back near the loo are a little taller. We sit down after the indecisive shuffling about who sits where and the 'bandas' strikes up. For those who don't know, Bandas is a group of mainly brass players, far removed from the Grimethorpe colliery band. Loud, raucous, with a relentless thump-thump beat, they steer the crowd through the familiar repertoire, which must include the infamous. 'la boiteuse'.
This is a song which recounts the various meanderings of an elderly woman with a limp, who when on entering the market at say, Limoux, proceeds to show her, er . . . nether regions to everyone, which are deemed to be most attractive?? This was translation given to me by someone who was very drunk at our carnival sorti, but it has been verified to be thus . . .

Anyway: we then wait for the 'repas': Bread, red wine, melon, salad of cheese, pasta, lurid ham and particles of black olive. Followed by MEAT and a bag of crisps, well they are vegetables, sort of; then a wedge of camembert, a peach (whoo! healthy!) and ice cream cornet.
At this point I refuse the ice cream, feel left out and then go and find one. More bandas, then everyone in a wartime spirit, moves the furniture into a shed and rolls up the paper clothes cleverly encapsulating: food debris, mobile phones, sunglasses and anything else left behind.
Disco man puts on 'musette' music and we all spin around emulating (badly), the old folks who are elegantly cruising the floor.
By now it is time I would be falling asleep in front of a film, but we wait for something that is possible to dance to: YES, this will do: the French know all the moves, the tune morphs into a Boney M medley and I feel a need to visit the loo. After queuing for the one cubicle for fifteen minutes I return to find everyone dancing to YMCA with all the gesticulations.
I sit down, despairing of him ever putting on Fat Boy Slim, and stare up at the black sky punctuated by pinholes of silver light, imagining over the whole of France how many of these little village events are happening at this point.

Friday 20 July 2012

Building No 2

What about this one?
I treated it to a blast of photoshop-tristesse as it looks slightly sinister to me.
What is is? I will have to go back to Sigean and ask someone. Maybe no-one knows either. It might be something to do with washing as there was a beautiful 1950's? tile on the front featuring two women with towels. The air vents are intriguing, if that's what they are: cheese storage unit?

Could make a good small-scale jazz club, or gallery . . .


I was thinking of starting another blog about weird architecture, but that would be a slippery slope - interesting clouds blog, small hairy dogs blog, cakes I have encountered blog, etc, SO, I'll just include them in the general Hothouse one.
THIS is a secours (help!) post building on the beach at Port La Nouvelle.
I wonder if the designers, presumably someone from the horrible 80's pink and beige architecture phase, intended it to look like the head of deranged nurse, stuck forever in sand after a high tide, eyebrows raised in furious surprise.
Probably not, but they succeeded anyway.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Summer eve

These are lovely folks who just spent a few days with us. Paddy and Fiona.
Ezra was particularly delighted because they love playing cards.
I was most intrigued by their saying for someone who never gets drunk (Mark in this instance)
'A sow with a hollow leg.'
Also, for someone who is gifted: 'Well he didn't lick it up off the floor,'
And most things that were deemed to be a good thing . . .'deadly'.

More Sigean

Yeah . . .what?

Sparrow wall, tiny holes with little tile shelters above. Stuffed with happy cheeping families.

Incidental sculpture of  man and bird. (Deceased cactus and new bit)

Monday 16 July 2012

Oxford Street

Me and Ezra's day out to Sigean.
I was fascinated by this huge crowd of flamingos. I don't know if it was feeding time, or mating rituals, or just confusion and loss of direction. We watched them for about an hour, the pattern didn't change, or the noise.
Talking of noise: check out Mark's new blog. NOISE IN THE HOTHOUSE. Link on the right.

Saturday 14 July 2012

You either love it or . . .

hate it. Me and Ezra's favorite part of Dumb and Dumber, just because it's Saturday morning and I should be clearing up . . .

I hope you like jamming' too

It's the height of jam-stress in the compound. All around are trees laden with this wonderful fruit, and nobody except us seems to be collecting us. This mystifies me each year . . .

We missed the 'nefler' season this year; really, no-one collects them: odd small, orange/yellowy fruits that have a interesting acid sweet taste, and amazing seeds like burnished gold. Next fruit will be plums then a gap until pomegranates. Looks like a good year, the bushes are already full of miniature green-red grenades.


Sorti de gros what? Cochons? gateaux? people, hamsters? The urge to write something silly was overwhelming, but sadly I had no chalk or white paint. Garage in Sigean.

Thursday 12 July 2012


A beloved friend passed away yesterday. Michelle pictured here with her adored dog Whinny. This how I remember her, always smiling, always positive, never complaining. A genuinely lovely person.
We will miss you.

Sunday 8 July 2012


I went for stroll near mum's old house, on the morning it wasn't raining, with the idea of making a little photo-reportage thing on the difference between English and French suburbia. This was a good starting point. The Colehill cricket club. An unremarkable 1960's building of surgical leg coloured brick, surrounded by gently waving ancient oaks. Many days did I spend lounging on the grass, the gentle thwack of a cricket ball encountering a shed: tea, crustless fish paste sandwiches and scones. Actually this is a fabrication. I never went to watch cricket, it being an utter mystery to me, but I did go to the discos there when I was about fifteen.
On one occasion I remember feeling particularly irresistible. Dressed in beige flares so wide it was actually impossible to walk properly, and a long collared nylon shirt decorated with vintage cars in beige and brown, I hung languidly around Steven Combes, hoping he might ask me to dance. He didn't, no surprise there; he was probably boring anyway with his deep brown eyes, curly hair and broad shoulders . . .hello Steven wherever you are.

Saturday 7 July 2012

Back in the A.U.D.E

Phew, was just on the verge of becoming a species of moss. July was more October in the UK. The shelves of charcoal and jokey BBQ aprons were not selling too well and I noticed how quickly an assistant in Beales was able to lay her hands on a collection of thermal vests for my mother. The garden party at mother's nursing home will have to be indoors, and wimbledon must by now be a peat bog.
This is a picture of the plane's wing as we turned to make the descent to the runway at Carcassonne . . .for the third time. There is a point on every flight where people put down their inflight magazines and look slightly perplexed. Calmly so, a few seconds later a plaintive bleating might start . . .what is going on exactly? The captain stepped in with, "nothing to worry about folks, just ]=-6;d\t-=]\\z0g on the runway." "What did he say," said my fellow passenger, suddenly friendly as perhaps we were going to be facing near death or death together. The plane turned sharply, the engines roared and it set off towards Toulouse again. I muttered something about the wind direction and went back to looking at the same farm buildings we had passed three times. A small boy two rows behind asked his mother why was the wing wobbling about. Why indeed? What sort of glue does Ryanair use anyway? we should have all paid the extra safe wing price, added bolts five euros extra. Actually I knew what the problem was The pilot,who was probably fifteen, had suddenly had a revelation that the airstrip was in fact far too small. It does look short when viewed from 40,000 feet or whatever. he was going to keep flying until he had another idea, or perhaps feign death leaving one of the powdered hostess women to take control. Either way this could be it, and the only thing left would be my camera revealing a photo of my mothers collection of new thermal vests which I took as proof so they wouldn't get lost in the homes washing system. The moment passed and the plane landed to a few weedy handclaps and NO fanfare as the plane was late by then. Ha!