Friday 31 December 2021

DO Look Up.

We watched Don't Look Up last night from the comfort of our home cinema/TV in bedroom and were utterly impressed in all ways. As a way to highlight climatic distastes and not have thousands of people yawning and reaching for their remotes, it totally 'does the job.' A finger-wagging documentary or doomsday blockbuster without an ounce of humour just wouldn't have the same impact.

I was amazed to see that the Guardian has two reviews of two stars as if either they have been warned off from applauding this simple but incredibly effective message or genuinely just didn't 'get it'. One of the reviewers mentioned slapstick comedy; I'd say the humour was relatively quirky and well-crafted with some nice moments of absurdity and satire on our ridiculous and careless trashing of our shared and only home.

The casting is genius with DiCaprio in full-on incredulity at the way his and Lawrence's imminent disaster findings are upstaged by the usual media diet of celebrity tattle. I especially loved the plastic-toothed Tech Billionaire played by Mark Rylance with his febrile stuttering delivery punctuated by occasional bursts of uncontrolled giggly laughter.

The ending couldn't be better - just enough sentimentality and love, but hilarious too as a certain quota of the human population attempt an escape. I won't say more in case, dear human planet-sharer, you haven't seen it. 

One line spoken by DiCaprio will certainly stay with me as I observe our changing landscapes, dwindling rivers and heightening temperatures; and as I shake my head in incomprehension at the next useless techno gadget to be pushed on all advertising platforms.

'We really did have it all, didn't we.' 

Thursday 30 December 2021

The shoe event horizon

As a great Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy fan I recalled, while polishing our various pairs of shoes this morning, the section about the Shoe Event Horizon - an economic theory revolving around failing society and retail therapy in the form of shoe buying which eventually leads to more and more shoe shops until the only viable shop to start up is a shoe shop. Society eventually collapses and the world in question spirals into ruin. In the case of Frogstar B the population forsake shoes and involve into birds.

It does often seem to me that we are in danger of this becoming reality. Not perhaps from just shoe buying and it would be unlikely we would evolve into birds, at least not in the relatively short term, but the vast tsunami of consumerism that is upon us appears to be ever increasing despite dire warnings from all directions: pollution, wastage of raw materials, sweat shop labour and the mental hollowness of shopping for the sake of it.

I'm a rubbish consumer, especially of shoes, and so is Ezra. Mark, having off-the-chart sized feet has little choice other than to accept whatever can be found online, or move to Scandinavia where such large feet are more known. Ezra and I, having average shoe size have benefited from some remarkable footwear castoffs over the years. To the left above, my most comfortable boots ever: soft Italian leather footwear from a boot (ha ha) sale for two euros which have been keeping my feet happy for about five years now.

The middle pair are Ezra's from 'Le Bon Coin' an ultra useful site I've blogged about many times before. These are hand made leather shoes from a shoe maker which were obviously never worn; basic, well made, and very comfortable, for ten euros. The boots at the other end were NEW! in a sale in a scarily expensive shoe shop in Perpignan. I just loved them and knew they would be worn for years, which they have been, constantly. But they are totally repairable, the heels done twice and the soles to be done at some point. 

A small boot-related extract from my latest work in progress: Outcrier.

A slap of wind shaketh the building. Rain smatters against the eyes of the house. Hamish Harris adds wood to the fyre and procures a flame to allume the huddle of candles that crouch on the mantle-piece. “You’re not going to attempt a walk back, are you?”

I note my old boots stayned wi mud, the steem rising from them. “Praps it would be not so eezy.”

Friday 24 December 2021

Towards the end of 2021

Wishing all who trip across this blog, and the more constant readers from over the years, a very happy and peaceful Christmas and best wishes for the next year...

Monday 20 December 2021

Forty-eight hours or so.

In Brittany. 


                                                               Seawater pool of Cancal in the early morning

Leaving 'the lad' in charge for a couple of days, Mark and I went off for this thing called a ho-li-day. It seems to be a very long time since we did this and how wonderful it was to have a bit of time away from the usual routines - not that I'm really complaining - but to see unfamiliar landscape, different architecture, eat food we hadn't concocted ourselves and talk about things other than household issues, the ongoing building projects, and gently curse each other for failing to put bin out/bring washing in/letting the fire go out, etc, etc, was indeed . . . brilliant!

                                                           The port and river Rance at Dinan

I always feel that so much is absorbed on short breaks away; certainly the sites and sounds of our chosen town, Dinan, will be printed on my mind: the very early morning walks through silent cobbled streets, church bells, seagulls, the misty decent down a steep cobbled hill to the river and port. We also got to see the ocean on a sharply cold and clear morning before the Christmas crowds arrived in St Malo.


                                                    Rather eerie looking oyster beds at Cancal   

                                                                                St Malo

Crepes were eaten, cider not drunk (distant memories of 18th birthday and imbibing far too much of the stuff), a few Christmas presents purchased, ancient buildings admired, and all hours used to the maximum.

                                                            Dinan historic centre at 7:30 am

                         World's most beautiful yellow door, and mesmerisingly bizarre building - in VitrĂ©

Friday 10 December 2021

The curious incident of the leaky hot water bottle in the night

With nod to Mark Haddon for blog title, but it was a curious incident.


Hot water bottles feature large in our non-centrally heated house. Winter = wood fires, soup, cake, long bracing walks, and, hot water bottles. We've had two faithful orange ones for several years now, uncomplaining items that comfort and sooth; items that receive a hefty kick to the floor as a semi-conscious foot finds a chilled, rubbery surface in the small hours.

Last night during a dream of seawater creeping across a beach I woke abruptly to find some truth in the dream except I was in a freezing bedroom and not on a sun-kissed beach. One of the faithful orange companions had developed a small hole at its shoulder area, enough to let the litre of water escape into the sheet and under me. For a moment I lay still recalling the same feeling from my early childhood: a large wet area which was currently slightly warm but would soon be clingingly cold. I think my mother would have reluctantly heard an only too familiar, Mum . . .? coming from my room and would have ushered out the soggy sheet to replace it with a clean one  at some hideous hour of the night. Anyway, in this case it was only water so I moved as far to the other side of the bed as possible (husband is away) and attempted to sleep on a narrow and cold strip of bed. 

At my current statutory waking time of 5:45 - in order to write - I got up, refilled the remaining bottle, made tea and set up my 'writing studio' - lots of pillows, H W Bottle against my back, and laptop with charger cable as the aged computer won't work unless connected to a plug socket when it wakes from shutdown. On this side of the bed there isn't a near enough socket so I attempted to write with the charger cable across the keyboard which pulled the cable from the laptop every few minutes causing shutdown again. Then the dog wanted to come back in after her habitual early morning rambling about in the garden, and I realised I had about ten minutes left before all the other morning routines needed to be addressed. I did manage to write four lines but some mornings that's all that happens anyway as my current work feels akin to painting and re-painting with words. A small sample which doesn't feature a hot water bottle.

I sleeped wewll but with muchly dreaming of silver, oversized vehicle which carved its way through the placid ocean of yesty. 

T-dui, the waters are less obeisant and All Hallows sways jerkily, spray sousing the oar-bods and Shouter who is in filth-mood after imbibing a skinful last darking.   

Despite the heavy waters we have progressed goodly and Alport High is vueable, its scattering of small isles bright yello with breezly-leaf bushes. I have been spake that Alport has a bainhouse and a resto that serves a goodly mixi-beast; other row-bods must be contemplating these glories as the pace axselerates.


Within a cycle we are safe, the nose of All Hallows bedded into a grey shingle shore. The Boreas howls through a decayed forrist of metal struktures atop the loftiess hill, a mournful and worrisome discord. I scurry to the eatery, a black-plank edifice from which emits sounds of merriment and smells of hot and spicy scran. 

Tuesday 7 December 2021


On a small scale...

As we are building a somewhat (very) over the top chicken abode and have got to the roof part, we thought we might as well continue in the same absurdness and add a roof of traditional ardoise (slate). Cue the marvellous, really marvellous, leboncoin - a second hand goods internet site that we get just about everything from. Someone in Saumur was selling 400 pre-used slates at a very good price so we went to meet him. That's the other great thing about the site; you meet the most interesting folk. The slate owner was a master furniture maker and excellent turn-his-hand-to anything in the building line including roofing. He lent us his ardoise hammer and associated metal 'post' (enclume), gave us a lesson, coffee and tour of his very beautiful house.


Back at home, after smashing quite a quantity of slates during the learning process, we (Ezra did the maths stuff) measured up the roof and started cutting slates, hammering them in and then using the special hooks that support each slate after the nailed line. Old slates are very varied in thickness as they would have been hand cut from the quarry, in this case a quarry in Angers that no longer exists. It's satisfying to now look at the almost finished roof and know the slates have a new home after being rescued from a collapsed building.

                                                                          The last slate...