Thursday 31 January 2019

Three hours in Perpignan

A short wandering this time that started well with an excellent tajine in a small restaurant called Chez Ali's - I think. And it certainly was chez lui (his place) - a small front room with weird sparkly 1980s floor-tiled walls and snowmen tablecloths, and, at the back, a rudimentary kitchen with cooker, clay tajines, a couple of big cooking pots and not a lot else.
My sort of place: great, home-cooked inexpensive food and a National Geographic channel blaring out a program about people rescuing giant anacondas from toilet cisterns. What more could you ask for?


                                            Ali's tajine with 'meat'

Mark went to do his Gamelan workshops at the Casa Musical and I had a good mooch about in the drizzle (unusual, here.)
I hadn't done any of the January sales, but after noticing the shops had got to their desperation, everything 60% off-point I found myself in a rather beautiful shoe shop looking at a fabulous pair of Italian handmade boots . . . well, they were 60% off and I have been wearing secondhand footwear for some years.
While justifying this expenditure I walked back towards the Casa Musical and explored the area, starting with a exceptionally well-preserved church full of carving, baroque angels and chandeliers. A man who had been lurking in his small glassed-off room - where it must have been warm - came out and insisted I had a tour. It was fascinating but I only understood about three words in ten as his Catalan accent as rich as the church's interior. One thing I did retain was that the church had been a present from the King of Majoc to his wife - somewhat different to a garage forecourt bouquet . . .

                                                    Worth lying on the floor to contemplate

This area of Perpignan is fairly untouched although gentrification is creeping along in the form of climbing roses planted outside certain newly done-up dwellings. Still, much to photograph for the amateur of decaying building details however.


                                                  Ancient bar which I think is still used  

                                         Long-abandoned fruit and veg emporium

The drizzle had morphed into rain and it was time to return - via a Moroccan patisserie shop - to the Casa Musical where sadly only two participants had turned up for the second session. The man setting up for another event nodded out at the grim weather and informed us that Catalan people don't go out if it's raining. They probably wouldn't enjoy life in Mawsynram a village in the Meghalaya region of India - had to look . . . the wettest place to live on Earth.

                                                     King of the Cartier


                                           Someone composing a blues song on a pizza box

Sunday 27 January 2019

Moments in time


I was listening to, I think, Russell Brand, talking about memories - when they were formed, and passing the place where the memory had occurred.
He mentioned a particular moment near a certain wall, and on viewing the wall again considered that the memory could still be there, somehow - more or less that, anyway.
I often wonder about this with regard to particularly poignant recollections - maybe not anything overly exciting but for some reason a point where the brain decided to hold onto those a series of images and/or sounds; sometimes so strong as to feel that the moments will always be physically there in time at a particular place.
The photo above is me at the age of about seventeen, taken by my boyfriend at the time in his sister's bedroom where I had got changed to go to a wedding - possibly his sisters; I can't recall that fairly important fact . . . What I can recall is the satin of my junk-shop dress and the feeling that I was rather dressed-up - me, usually in jeans and shirts. I wonder if I went back into that house now, whether - in the, no doubt altered room - a slight presence of me might still be there waiting patiently for the off.
Weirdly, I can recall absolutely nothing else from that day - the wedding - church or registry office, smart hotel reception or crappy disco. No idea. I'd ask my ex but I've no idea where he is now. Maybe he'll hazard across this blog and be able to enlighten me about those moments in time.

Monday 14 January 2019

This blog

I've been writing it since 2009 - a lot of posts, a lot of life passed by.
Most of my current writing (novel) is set in post-apocalyptic 2073, and one of the reasons for the world's - or rather its human societies'- imaginary cataclysm is the internet's demise.
In my tale, this particular event occurs in 2038, mainly due to someone attempting to upload a half-hour film of their cat trying to open the fridge - the final straw, in effect.
I suspect that the denouement will be somewhat closer in time - not that I'm a pessimist, I think that nearly everyone must secretly harbour this thought . . .
Anyway, as an old git, and real paper/card/ink/leather, book enthusiast, I'd like to preserve my body of  blog-work into a graspable thing with pages. Not particularly to sell - from my tentative peeks so far, nine years worth of blog to paper is yeekly expensive - more as just a record of our lives in this place called the Hot-house; all the small, mostly unremarkable happenings - dogs and other pets homed, musical/art/writing triumphs and failures/ boy's progression through the various stages of school/art college; jam made, celebrations held/ sadnesses acknowledged and got over, love and laughter treasured, plants planted and passing seasons enjoyed.
So, big correction progress underway - I think my grammar has certainly improved over time . . . should have done! Photos re-jigged, a few posts discarded and forward to the grand loading-up onto Blog-U-Like or whatever site looks easy to use - before the cat and fridge episode is upon us.


Possibly my favourite photo of this year so far - direct line to God in a Toulouse church.

Saturday 12 January 2019

Robert Smith as a YOUTH

The joy of Youtube. I was looking at a video of Sleaford Mods and noticed this - their first ever TV performance. I'd somehow imagined the Cure's frontman had been born with his hedge hair and lipstick. Probably my favourite track too.

Sunday 6 January 2019

Memorable time

The boy (nearly 21!) has just been here for two weeks over Christmas, and now with his depart this morning, the house feels rather empty again.
It's also that time of year too: dried-out Christmas tree banished to the garden, decorations stashed in the attic, New Years resolutions . . . Mm. What this year? Dunno. they always fail anyway. Maybe the usual 'smile more' perhaps, deal with annoying, niggly jobs that should have been done before Christmas.
Most of the holiday was just being at home without much more of an agenda than that. Being at home with time off from usual stuff, and with Ezra and Mark - scrabble, eating a lot, reading, walking the dogs, talking more than we get time to during term time.
The question of a 'me and lad' road trip arose, and amongst all the indecision about which things should be achieved before his return to Bordeaux, a Yes, let's do it, was arrived at. And I'm very glad it was. Only a road trip of a day, and to nowhere more exciting than into the next door 'department' of the Ariège. But it was totally memorable, climatically, visually and audibly.
West of Foix, the weather is considerably more severe in winter, especially going into the mountain foothills - as we did, looking for an abandoned aluminium mine - as you do . . .
Where as it was about 8 degrees in Limoux it was more around 1 degree in Foix/Tarascon and probably -2 driving up into the hills. I've never seen hoar frost in such dramatic quantities, or such magnificent ice formations on the rock faces where springs usually run. And, such huge, unoccupied open space with no sounds other than a few crows or a river flowing over icy boulders. Brain-vacation.




The light had begun to fade as Ezra pointed out another possible mine on the map - as we hadn't found the first one - but (unusually) I decided it might be a tad risky, and tea was needed so back down to Tarascon to search out a salon du thé.
A wonderful day: exploration, food - Moroccan restaurant in Foix - excellent, and brightened by extremely happy, whistling waiter - buildings appreciated, mountains gawped at and much discussed.

Happy term, Ezra.


Oh . . . can't she just say

"Sorry - bit of a fuck-up. Really? we can come back in? Great. Phew! Here's the letter" - Riiiiiiiiip. "There. Done. Re-bonjour, re-hello, re guten-tag, re-groeting, re-hola, re-salve", etc, etc . . .

Saturday 5 January 2019

The good life

We've had 'The Gladys' - our collection of six chickens for over three years now and they've reached the point of sparse egg laying. For some time I'd been thinking about 'rubbing' one or two out but the actual deed was beyond me, and certainly beyond Mark - very occasional meat-eater.


Then Chris, a brilliantly-practical Workaway came to stay for a few weeks.
After learning that he had been brought up on a farm in Cumbria. I nonchalantly asked him how he would feel about 'doing in' a hen or two. He shrugged as if I'd asked whether he could wash couple of windows and said, 'Sure. No Problem.'
The days passed and today was deemed the day.

We prepared a 'plucking area' and I hid while he did the actual thing. I did witness one of the demises and actually its was very, very quick. One minute, chicken in the pen waiting for the next load of scraps, next minute, gone - a bit of flapping, which I was assured was just the nerves continuing to operate, and then it was over. Two warm and easy (ish) to pluck birds. Freezing morning, so we did it as quickly as possible and then took them in to wash and remove any last feathers.
Oddly, I didn't feel very sorrowful, probably less than I do when glancing at a supermarket fridge full of poor water-bloated birds that have lived a miserable existence for a few months, never having scratched in real soil, foraged or lay in the sun airing their wings. Our flock have done all of that and been fed endless delicious scraps.


We don't eat much meat or fish. Probably two small pieces a week - a little bit of organic steak, a mackerel, maybe, but I was keen to involve myself in the process of 'coop to table'.  I feel we - who do eat meat - should understand and appreciate the life and death of an animal, not just be prepared to unwrap a chuck of pink sterile flesh from a polystyrene tray and think nothing of it.
Mark wasn't having any of it and went to play the piano, and our son, who said he would help stubbornly snored on upstairs after a late night.
Anyway, it was fine, Chris cleaned them and I boiled them up before roasting as they were indeed tough old birds. One of the chickens, sub-named Barp, due to the noise it uttered most of the time, had developed over the years a huge wobbling 'front area' which I had assumed was a big juicy breast - it was in fact the 'crop' where the the food gets broken down. The wobbling area was actually a mass of semi-digested grass and small stones. Nice.
Barp without her masses of soft feathers was actually really quite tiny - the difference between egg-laying foul and those produced for meat.
A couple of hours later we all sat out in the winter sunshine and ate roast chicken and it felt oddly okay. A lot more okay than not knowing where the two birds had come from and whether they had experienced any real chicken time.


Thursday 3 January 2019


Seeing Gala the Greyhound sprawled on her favourite sofa, I was reminded of an image . . . Man Ray, I think.