Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Unfurling Spring

For this region it's been a very wet winter and Spring: great for the plants and water table, a bit tedious for most sun-loving humans and other animals. I ventured out a couple of days ago during a sunny interval before a day of non-stop deluge, to snap a few plants: early poppy, lilac - which is in abundance this year, the fresh new leaves of the almond trees, this year's 'fruits' already showing, incased in pale green velvet.
If the sun comes out for a while, we should be eating cherries within a couple of weeks. I'll take a look in the shed for the cherry stoner, wipe the webs off it and it'll make its once a year appearance.

Oh, and a, Mark, chocolate cake that I loaded up by accident.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

blog for a rainy Sunday afternoon

The weather forecast didn't say rain: gloomy grey blanket cloud-cover yes and sunny intervals . . . haven't seen one yet, and I've been checking the sky.
Nope - grey, varying shades of, and steady rain; 'set in for the day' as my mother always quotes her father as saying. Thinking weather, reflecting time, jobs done for the day and the house is silent without the sound of piano and bread tins rattling.
I don't think I've done a romantic-type post before, so here goes.
Before I met Mark we had both had our fair share of mess-ups: minor and spectacular and were deliriously happy to have finally stopped all that and got down to some serious stuff, so to speak.
I so clearly recall the first time I ever saw him - playing the accordion dressed in a stripy t.shirt; a trio I think it was, but I can't recall the other instruments. My mind was far too occupied forming a mental picture of him that I would then carry around with me for some time after.
Fast forward a year or two and we were living together: me, him and the accordion. It just clicked as they say. Yes we have niggles - I do wish he would put the electric toothbrush on its stand; he can get a little domineering in the kitchen - talking about cooking here, otherwise . . . err, nothing comes to mind really. He probably wishes I was a little less technology-phobic, maybe I ramble on a bit sometimes about plants or suchlike, but I can tell when he's glazing over . . . otherwise, nothing, as far as I know. Well, you can tell me dearest if there is, on your return.
Why does it work? Sense of humour: hundred percent important, same view on the world, music, art, nature, walking, the sea, our house and garden; letting things unfold without a plan as such, 'the boy' of course. I still carry that image of Mark in the stripy T.shirt and I still feel the same way.

No . . . please, not again

According to the Guardian's fashion experts, Dungarees are making a comeback. I refuse to believe this; surely things are bad enough on this planet already?
There are many fashion blunders in our history, a lot of them from the 80s: RaRa skirts, bat wing, mohair jumpers, neon plastic jewellery, etc. No doubt the dungaree, if one can use the singular, had it's place as a useful working garment, but otherwise . . . why? Ugh!
Here's a super picture from the afore-mentioned journal of Roger Daltrey. Oh dear - imagine the same body in a nice pair of black jeans and a white shirt . . .

Friday, 26 April 2013


How I hate it.
Having been involved with it far too long, many years ago, I still spend too much time looking at ads, thinking about what budgets they must have had and what particular trip some of the ad creators were on . . .
Ezra's award for the most pathetic French ads at the moment are:
One about blue cheese . . . Saint something or other - set in what appears to be a tropical rain forest. A languid, perfect-looking male model stands on a wooden balcony overlooking a waterfall. Rather than the wooden construction collapsing from termite damage as one hopes it might, it remains annoyingly solid while he lifts a piece of bread and stinky cheese to his beautiful mouth. An equally perfect-looking woman approaches in a smouldering, 'OK, let's do it' sort of a way.
Why would you eat stinky cheese before getting it on with someone? Surely some dew-laden strawberries or a luscious dribbling mango - and where would this cheese have come from anyway? Don't suppose there'd be a small convenience store just round the corner. Honestly!
The other ad of total bollocks is another little cameo story involving two more perfect folk, or possibly the same ones.
Woman clad in Persil-white bikini is lies on Conran shop sun bed outside a California-style beach house. Regulation stubbly, beautiful man arrives on speed boat, steps out. OK, they obviously have a cheeky plan judging by the woman's expression.
He's about to kiss her when his phone goes - and again - and again. The result being that someone is informing him of a half price sale on double glazing. I have no idea which company it is as my brain is now in total disbelief mode and is accepting no further information.
Woman drives off in speed boat looking peeved, and man turns to camera to inform us of the great deal . . ?
What were they thinking? How much must it have cost? Honestly!
Here is a picture of a 'Mr Bricolage' ad. They specialise in some of the very worst 'publicity'. I just hope the poor models got paid wheelbarrow loads of cash; how cringeworthy to have a picture of yourself pretending to DJ with a BBQ grill in your portfolio.

After going in Mr B we had to go into Leclerc to buy some dog food, and I was rather surprised to see this T-shirt: destined for a five-year old or so. Again, what were they thinking? Didn't anyone cast an eye over the English - French dictionary? Probably not.

Ambassador of . . . cooking, obviously. What does Kick your Assador mean? Honestly!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013


I just had to put this one out - from the R.S.A journal bizarrely enough.

Q: How many ears has Captain Kirk got?

A: Three: the right ear,  the left ear and the final frontier.

Sing if you're glad to be gay

A lot of people singing in the streets of Paris yesterday, and all over France, as well as many people getting very overheated and rioting?! As I posted before, why not riot about something that needs rioting about.
My son, aged fifteen, gave me an interesting quote. I can't remember the exact words now as we were up a hill without a paper and pen, but something like: why don't these people mind their own business, and get on with their lives - it's not to do with them, it's about the people who are gay. Why indeed?
Here's a couple of pictures from the Guardian: a very touching one of the French justice minister being congratulated after the vote, and a bunch of people who should be doing something else with their time.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Building No 21

This really warrants a special outdoor dining constructions sub-section but I'll lump it in with buildings as it is a building, of sorts.
We have a mad-looking BBQ that the previous house owners fabricated but nothing to this standard.

This the fitted kitchen of outdoor noshing. The wood storage area, the beautifully constructed chimney, the roof to protect your pots in case of an annoying shower, the added pizza/bread oven. Magnificent.

Monday, 22 April 2013

springtime and the beezes are buzzin'

Thank God. We've heard some sad tales of the vicious 'Asiatic hornet' recently - slicing bee's heads off then devouring the body, killing off whole hives at a time. Apparently these creatures arrived in a packing case of crockery from China and now are causing major problems for the bee keepers of Southern France.
There are masses of bees in the garden of the Hot-House at the moment: huge black, by-plane type ones that bash into things, the humble bumble, orange bottomed bees and many types of common honey bee. The leave-cutter species are back, making nests in the holes in our terrace table: how do they know where to go? Perhaps it's the same very old bees each years  - ahh, there it is Mavis, just hold my stick will you while I try to land . . .woooaahh . . . oh damnation, missed - must get some new specs.
Here are some lovely plants with lovely bees, inc borage, marigolds, and the invasive but magnificent Judas tree.

Friday, 19 April 2013


Thanks Penny for passing this wonderment on.
The poses, the hair, the hermetically sealed nature of this garment . . . sweaty, a tad niffy perhaps? Similar to those ghastly women's garments of the 80s or was it 90's 'the teddy' - all in one top and pants. Unhealthy to a degree.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

changing tastes

Remember when you were a child and someone was trying to force you to eat sprouts or something else that should never be eaten: "it's an acquired taste . . . you'll like it when you're older."
Coffee was something I could never imagine drinking - ugh, that taste, bitter, horrible, like . . . coffee.
Then over the years I progressed from tea and then milky bus station-type cups of coffee to salivating for that early morning cup, and then one more perhaps: a rich creamy 'café creme' with a hard kick of caffeine lurking somewhere to get you moving.
Fuzzy headaches could either be cleared away like departing clouds after a storm, or made infinitely worse with a cup of the stuff; always difficult to know which it would be, but the addiction made it inconsequential.
I posted a couple of years back now about a vile neuralgia thing I was experiencing; after a lot of web research, as one does, I realised the coffee was going to have to go. A week of cold turkey, cramps, sweats and spectacular headaches passed then I awoke one morning to find a clear head, as if someone had done a major spring clean up there and I haven't drunk coffee since, until yesterday . . .
It was only a sip by mistake, and the taste . . . ugh, old fags, bitter uuhhghhhghhhhhhh. Weird. It was just like having my seven year old taste buds back again.
I reached for my cup of pretend coffee instead: bland, creamy, recalling a cup of coffee from a formica tabled-café in the 70s: harmless, comforting, safe.
Mark took a sip: "Ugh . . . Oh, God, how can you drink that weedy stuff?", and submerged the taste under a large swig of the real thing. Each to their own.
I couldn't give up tea though . . .

Friday, 12 April 2013

So, you can choose: life or death

I should have been an actress; I could cry at any given moment:  just give me a moment . . . let's see. ah yes, that picture of an abandoned greyhound . . . wwaaahhhh.
I was at the vet's yesterday with the old dog (nineteen now) as she had recently become very doddery, sometimes collapsing, back legs non-functioning and when she didn't want to walk further than the big almond tree down the road and was panting like a traction engine I thought perhaps it was . . . time.
Mark and Ezra have said their provisional goodbyes and I feel in control as I drive down to town; this will be easy, she's had a great life; well, we don't know about the first ten years as she was a rescue dog, but the last nine, pretty idilic as far as we can judge.
She is reluctant to step over the threshold at the vets; does her wavering, dog sixth sense suspect something? or is it the smell of previous trips she can remember? We sit and quake while I push the tears away with thoughts of book editing and jobs I haven't done.
Two vets share this practice - husband and wife; she is always so kind that I feel the tears pricking at the thought of what she might say, but in fact it's the husband we see - more of a Bruce Willis sort of a vet: Madame, ave no fear, we can conquer any maladie . . . c'est vrai qu'elle n'est pas dans un très bon etat, MAIS . . . we look at the old trembling dog and agree that she is far from dog show status, but he is going to do tests! He inserts a needle and covers himself amply with ageing dog corpuscles, merde! . . . voila ma petite tou tou. Madame, if you would care to wait in the salle d'attente, cinq minutes.
Five minutes. It's a beautiful day, should I have left the dog to lie in the sun for half an hour first? given her some fresh meat, a last supper?
The other door opens and the wife vet calls me in, all big concerned eyes and soft words: shit, here I go, the tears are coming, that awful feeling when you are sitting with a group of people watching that part in a film: stare at something else, 'oo, that plant needs watering, maybe we should repaint the kitchen,' sniff.
She lifts the dog so carefully and feels her legs, chest, back: Oo la la, she has pain, ma pauvre. I know what she is going to ask me, but I can't get the words out as I am crying instead. She has no doubt seen it all before, a thousand times; she runs through the two options. I must choose - life or death. She is obviously of the opinion that now might be a good time: perhaps we could gain another two, three months, but with the heat of the summer . . . ? I'm ready to agree, I've done all the thinking beforehand.
I'm about to nod when Bruce Willis rushes back in waving a bit of paper: Mais NON! she is not at the end of the roll yet. (Love this French expression) I, am certainly at the end of my roll now, emotions truly out of control. He lifts the dog, takes her into his room and explains in rapid French all about her blood sugar, kidneys, heart etc; all will be OK, just a small bag of drugs: two of these tomorrow, a squirt of this, one of those for ten days: Voila madame, ring me next week.
The reception relieve me of a frightening amount of money and I step back into the bright sunshine, sniveling with a red face and a pounding headache. I place the dog carefully in the car and drive back home feeling pummeled. I wonder how the vet team can be so opposing in their view on life and death, but as I watch the old dog sniffing around the kitchen on her endless search for any crumb and occasionally looking at me with her green glowly eyes, I feel re-connected with an old friend and that's a wonderful thing.

Monday, 8 April 2013

On the brink

There was a huge amount of news coverage in the UK about the rattling of nuclear weapons in North Korea - seems to be a little more than rattling this time. I started to wander about on the net finding images of the Jongs. They did and do appear to spend a vast amount of time looking at things: baby clothes, vegetables, guns, eggs and so on.
I suppose it's a bit like our local mayor who's always in the local paper, shaking hands, presenting cheques etc, but he's not usually looking at a chicken or a pair of shoes with a crowd of people in military uniform behind him.
I read in a newspaper somewhere that to celebrate his birthday, Kim Jong Un generously supplied two pounds of sweets to every child in the country . . . useful when most families are struggling against famine.
Here are a few super pics:  (Kim Jong-IL looking at things tumbler and other sites.)

Saturday, 6 April 2013

UK observations

When I was about thirteen we moved to Colehill, a small elongated village which is an offshoot of Wimborne. Actually, it's quite large, more of a comfortable splurge of a place, all well established cul-de-sacs, stocked gardens and neat roads interspersed with the odd thatched cottage or line of workers' houses from the turn of the twentieth century.
We lived in such a house in an un-made-up road facing an ancient piece of Dorset woodland with a view at the end of the road over the undulating fields and chunks of oak woods.

When I used to walk round to see my cousins, I would pass this box hedge and always stop to inspect the attempt at topiary. It's never changed over thirty-five years or so. The squirrel (I think) still stares up at the peacock? I don't think they are any bigger, perhaps a little, but the outlines are more blurred. Perhaps the hedge owner is now very elderly and cannot see to make precise cuts with the shears, or maybe the hedge has been passed to another family member who has never seen either of these beasts at close quarters; or possibly they are working on a plan to morph them into something else: a Viking ship and a poodle or that creature out of 'Eraserhead'.

On the first day of my visit, I glanced at the documents in my mother's moss covered old Nissan Micra and discovered that the MOT had expired.
I found a garage and sat in their office for an hour while the mechanic toured the rusting car. I was intrigued by the office; it had a fake fireplace with 'real flame' electric fire jostled next to all the usual garage debris, and instead of knick-knacks, clocks or wedding photos on the mantlepiece, a selection of tyre pressure leaflets and old spark plugs. Oddly cosy. I could have quite happily sat there for several hours with some tea and a book.
After he announced that the car was beyond hope, or at least was going to cost a vast amount to repair, I sold it to him for a hundred quid, got a taxi back to the airport and hired the smallest car possible. I did wipe away a tear at the thought of the old car, but the memory rapidly faded at the realisation that the shiny replacement had power steering and a CD player.
On a rare sunny morning, I took the new car, or rather it took me, up to a favourite spot above Wimborne where I thought I might take a long stroll. It turned into a huddled two minute stagger peppered by noxious words from me as I encountered the thrashing East wind. I did stand staring however, as the blood retracted from my feet, at these incredible ancient oaks: the sheer size, the girth of the trunks, the graceful sweeping branches. In our drier (usually!) climate, the trees are relatively small: cypress, olive, almond, hardy evergreen oak and the sometimes lofty plane. These trees are immense, impossible to imagine that they grew from fallen acorns, or perhaps small saplings planted by someone several hundred years ago.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Building No 20

Home again after three months in the UK, oh . . . no, two weeks, actually, funny it seemed somewhat longer. My dear Cousin, if you read this - nothing to do with your superlative hosting, I think it was just the weather. It's cold back here, but there it was the beginning of the long overdue ice age for sure.
An evil, freezing wind blew from the wastes of Siberia the whole time apart from about three hours. The trees sulked in winter mode, buds tightly packed away and the swimwear/BBQ section in Tesco's looked even more desperate than usual.

Here is a quote from the met office about the wind:

Do not prepare yourself for there is nothing you can do. It will howl at you until you say ‘no’ and ‘yes’ in the same desperate, elated breath.
Stand naked in the street and let the wind rush through you, cleansing and restoring you. Tearing you to pieces and rebuilding a magnificently honest version of you. And as it uncovers you, stripping away at your shabby, pointless and ultimately self-defeating facade, you will at last feel truly free.
Particularly those in central and northern Scotland.
I'm still reeling from the overload of colour here: different new fresh greens, not just bramble green and sodden grass green - blossom, wild flowers, velvet blue irises and screeching yellow forsythia.

Here is a most lovely shed, that I photographed during a rare and treasured sunny interval. I suppose a sub category for sheds would be good as they are so fascinating, but they are buildings . . .

It belongs to the lodge house at my mother's nursing home and was constructed around 1910. The coils of wire, the shape of the roof, the doors, the mesh soil sifters . . . ahh, such complete shed perfection.
Next time, I'll ask if I can look inside it as I know the owners are friendly. They have a superb collection of Acer trees and Maples hidden away under the towering beech and pine trees; on a previous visit, we bought a delicate red leafed Acer and planted it in the homes grounds in honour of Mum's birthday.