Monday, 29 March 2010

Dites moi, pourquoi vous êtes venu dans cette region?


When people ask me this (why are you here) I try to give an interesting answer about French culture, landscape, education etc, not the weather.
HOWEVER, we all know (us who have moved away from the small grey rock) that the last thing mentioned does play a little tiny role in the choice to be here — only a little tiny element, bien sur.
We didn't come here to relax in deck chairs, and making ends meet is still as difficult, or possibly more so, but the knowledge that warmth is starting and will probably continue till October at least is . . . if we allow ourselves to admit it, fundamental.
Breakfast on the terrace, darling?

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Shed sucess


After being ignored for a few years, I got third prize in Toques and Clochers (big local wine event) this year with a painting of journey between Couiza and Limoux. (Sketch in earlier post). I can't find the piece of paper that says what I won however. Certainly some very nice wine. Will crack a bottle against the prow of my nobel shed as we move forward into further unchartered waters.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

It can snow in April . . .


 . . . but lets hope not.
All our neighbours are saying they remember the time when all the vine shoots froze off in April in year something, and if there is snow still on the 'Pic de Brau' we're in for more, and they remember the year when the whole of Limoux slept in the bakery on la rue de la Goutine because they had lots of wood and a big fire.
Being one of those folks who look on the bright side generally, I would say something round and dangly to that outlook, and will stick with the birds on their firm assumption that SPRING IS HERE.
One of the most inspiring sights as we leave the slushy time is the almond blossom. This my favourite tree, at the top of our garden slope. Covered in as much sugar pink as a Barbara Cartland dressing gown, it waves its limbs in defiance of the North wind and heralds the the oncoming warmth.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

I'm dreaming of . . .


Yes its amazing, beautiful etc etc . . . no more please! Can we now have thrusting green stuff, crazed bird song and trips to the garden centre. When I was little, I had a wonderful fantasy of what it would be like if snow was warm, dry and fluffy. How wonderful to roll down a hillside, bumping and buffeting into soft whiteness. To burrow into a snowdrift and lie there incased in warmth.
Here is our house, a small plastic cake decoration on a God-sized Christmas cake. Many of our trees are squashed, enough is enough.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Thank the lord for reality.


Well, I did open the shutters, and it all had just been a vile dream. Sun was shining, tons of blossom on everything and birds with nest instruction books — think I will just nip out and do a bit of late pruning . . .

And then . . .


It was so cosy in bed—just another half an hour . . . the same dream again — well would you believe it. Worse though, a dreadful nightmare: trees bent under the weight of snow on snow, birds had buggered off (where do birds go anyway?) almond blossom, a distant memory; my car had become a woolly blob. Woke, phew, awful dream, must really now open the shutters . . . odd, seems incredibly quiet outside.

And then


I decided to go back to bed for a little while with a book as I was still a bit sleepy after my disturbed night, horrible dream and all.
I drifted off again, and lo . . . I had the same dream, only it was worse, the blanket of snow was now a thirteen tog duvet and growing; birds were looking at maps of the Dominican republic, and almond blossom, forget it...
Right, really must get up — could get the seed potatoes in.

Wot . . . not again


I had this horrible dream last night, in which I opened the shutters expecting bright spring sunshine, twittering birds and unfurling almond blossom; instead, there was a boring blanket of whiteness on everything. Birds sat with drooping feathers, their nest plans dispersed, the silence only broken by the distant thud of cars sliding into street furniture.
Anyway must get dressed, and open the shutters, it must be getting quite warm out there by now.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Shed installation.


That is to say, me installed in it.
FABULOUS. Peace, space, plain walls. Wheeeeeeeee!!!!!

Monday, 1 March 2010

Tale of 2 journeys


Well one actually,
I tried to go from Limoux to Couiza the other day.
Bought my ticket like sensible person, from the machine as the office was shut for serious lunch break. Then a bus came, not a train. Office open, yawning type behind counter. I explained my predicament. 'Hello, I am an artist (bad move) and I have bought a return ticket to Couiza, so that I can sketch the train journey. I cannot do this on a bus.'
'Why not'?
'Because I'll feel travel sick . . . no not really . . . it's a concept, I need to be on a train.'
'Er, quoi?'
'Can I get a refund? There was no sign saying the train would be replaced by a bus'.
'Madame you are mad — go and have a lie down on that bench outside'.
'Well? refund?'
'No, I cannot authorize this. There is a perfectly good bus, and
you should have been on it, it takes you to the same place, and it has comfy seats'.
'But' . . .
Then realized that I am possibly mad, and that no one else would understand, or care . . . sob

Today I tried again. With success. Didn't buy a ticket. Sat by window drawing and feeling naughty, so went to find the ticket man. He was semi-asleep. Opening one eye he said: 'Madame, je suis mal . . . une autre fois.'
What did he mean? He had put his wife in the chest freezer and it was time to confess? He had eaten to much? Anyway free ride to Couiza.
Stood around in the village and looked at all the things that you notice when not driving. Glimpses of dark interiors behind net curtains, neat potagers (veg patches), dusty, once-magnificent doors etc. Had a coffee with my ticket money and wandered back to the windswept station.
Surprised to find the same ticket man; now vertical and keen to sell me a ticket, I asked him if he was now feeling OK. He said he was sorry about earlier but he had had 'une envie de rendre'. He let me off the trip from Limoux, and I paid the return. He thought I was odd taking a return trip and staying only half an hour at my destination. I explained with a wave of my sketchbook and he understood totally (?)
When I got home we looked up 'de rendre" and it was, as I thought, to be sick . . . give back what you took, or ate. Rather poetic.