Thursday, 27 July 2023
Monday, 24 July 2023
It was suggested by Steven - the narrator I am working with on the Londonia audiobook - that it might be interesting to use a drawing/painting for each chapter. I'd already started a few pen and ink Londonia sketches - see some posts back - but it was an interesting challenge how the characters in my head would translate to drawing.
A few examples:
Jarvis - Hoxton's sidekick Finder and genial gangster.
Bert the Swagger - a dubious, crafty and porn-obsessed personage who lives in a stilt house at the edge of Lady Thames unearthing her treasures of the past at low tide. Pictured here suggesting a trade to Hoxton of a 2025 phone for something rather undesirable...
The bread-mec - The local bread maker, pictured here soaking his aching back in a copper bath after a hard days bread-graft.
In contrast to the shadowy colours of Londonia, three of Mrs Caruso's pampered Cincture friends arriving in a well-preserved 1960s jaguar.
Monday, 17 July 2023
Sunday, 16 July 2023
Having purchased a metal table frame from our local favourite second hand emporium some months ago with a view to adding a metal bowl to it to make a fire pit I was overjoyed this morning to find the very thing while wandering around a vide grenier. Vide grenier - also much referred to - is a French version of the car boot sale/yard sale occurring usually on a Sunday morning. This one is a great example, held on the rugby pitch of a local village, sheltered by trees and with room for many 'exposants'.
Aforementioned pot (huge and blackened) started off with price of 20 euro changed rapidly to 15 as I dithered - mainly as I had no idea of the table diameter. I bought it, left it while we continued wandering and resisted many other bargains allowing myself a further purchase of an ancient hoe with which to scrape chicken poo out of their house (life just gets more exciting here...) some garden apricots, a melon and a free pair of sunglasses.
Mark bought a vinyl record of Take 6, a DVD and an ancient 30s photo album which I will eventually fill with pictures of our gite restoration project - eventually . . .
Ezra bought nothing. He's rather good at this. Thank the Lord.
I did ask the melon vendor if I could take his picture as his moustache was quite exceptional - braided each morning by his wife. She said I could take him away as well as the picture but judging by their rather contented body langage I think she was joking.
Tuesday, 11 July 2023
He is a bit amazing! Or a lot amazing really. Having zig-zagged through many, many ideas or what he might do following art college (carpentry/guitar making/shoe making/clothes design and tailoring/cocktail expert/boat builder/ etc... he has finally settled on leather work - saddlery to be specific, but I suspect with many a dalliance into other areas of the subject.
His latest project carried out by hand on his very small bedroom desk in rented house - a collar for our lovely old family greyhound, Bali.
The leather used is all offcuts including little fragments of very prized sting ray fish skin! - the turquoise diamonds.
I will advertise his Etsy account once he has it set up.
Wednesday, 5 July 2023
I'm sure I've posted about this before, but, it could be a thing, I'm sure - pond therapy. Harmless, cheap, meditative, nature-encouraging . . .
I put our first pond in a couple of years ago on a dismal February day - or rather the person with a mini digger who was there doing our reed bed system put it in. It being a large plastic cattle feeding basin donated by our lovely organic veg growing friend up the road. The first year wasn't bad but this year it's really become its own tiny universe with little help from us - just a bit of water butt topping up from time to time, and purchasing of a 'mother' water lettuce which has spread into a citadelle of smaller plants. The lily pads have spread and the frog population has increased dramatically, their voices chorusing through many a warm night. There's no filtration system but the plants seem to be providing enough oxygen and the earlier algae appears to have cleared.
This year's pond - an old enamel bath - was installed by our lovely Workaway, Christopher on an equally cold and drear February day. It sat for a few months gradually filling with rainwater and later, mosquito larvae . . . the purchase of a few baby goldfish sorted that and after the one outlay of some new water plants the pond has sorted itself into a lovely, tranquil little place with birds and insects coming to drink. I've planted up the surrounding rubbly earth with stuff from the rest of the garden and a discarded corner of our land has now become a place I enjoy - feeding the fish, watching dragon flies and marvelling generally at what happens when you provide a few raw materials and then leave mostly alone.
The smallest garden or terrace has space for a pond, even a washing up bowl pond. There's just something about creating a tiny aquatic world and watching what arrives and the plants that develop. I'm hoping for newts next...
Saturday, 1 July 2023
A new friend of mine - we had recently moved to the Loire area - said one Tuesday morning, hey do you fancy an orgasmic ten minutes. I think I said something like, okay, as long as it's not dangerous or doesn't cost too much. We'd driven to Saumur - the local big town where said friend had to visit a cash and carry, the mysterious ten minute thing to be undertaken first. She parked and pointed to a blue and white fronted building embellished with the word (?) NOZ. Come on you'll love it! It's total chaos.
I'm not sure if I'd term the experience exactly orgasmic, more mind-bogglingly weird and certainly satisfying to those who love finding a bargain. NOZ, or at least our local one, is a random, ramshackle shop full of stuff that is dangerously near, or just over sell buy dates; stuff that never should have made it beyond the fevered imagination of a marketing bod, and over-surplus goods in general. As appose to places like 'everything's a pound' shops or Action - a more organised and rather clinical version of NOZ - the joy is in the chaos. Failed packets of terrible desserts jostle next to bottles of tomato juice, shampoo, job lots of too-spicy-for-the French-market chili paste, wine, out of season Christmas biscuits, towels, dog snacks, vegan products that never should have pushed in this meat-hefty country; toys, bizarre Spanish cakes, giant plastic tubs of mayonnaise . . . and so on and so on.
You never know what will be in there. Sometimes we have found amazingly useful things like excellent quality tinned tomatoes, darjeeling loose tea, watercolour sketch books, and once, a very nice white wine which retailed at about ten times the NOZ price when checked online, and with a greyhound on the label -what more could we wish for!
And what about the name? Or more to the point, the bizarre emblem of a man either screaming or laughing hysterically which looks like it was most certainly a drunken lunch napkin drawing. I love it.
- Alors, que-ce que on va faire - so, what we gonna do about this image, eh?
. . . What about this?
Uh? an electrocuted posh bastard? Or is it a terrified hedgehog - with a bow tie?
Oh, I don't know but this biro's run out and the meeting's in seven minutes, s'fine . . . Waiter - two cognacs and the bill.