Thursday, 28 August 2014


Lady Chatterly had it all.  She had a gardener.   This was the most important thing.   It doesn't matter about the rest, but she had a good gardener.   In fact I'm not sure if her gardener was any good (in the garden that is) as everyone was focusing on what happened in the potting shed, but I wonder if she was seducing him so he would be the one to sort out her brambles and cut down her trees. And I'm not talking metaphorically although not sure what the metaphor would relate to.      The garden is taking shape, the sun is shining, moles are being blown up, slugs are being sliced and I'm eating my way through a crop of blackberries and apples.  There will be a huge bonfire and my guests are leaving and I don't want them to. I love them. They are lovely. They are normal. I don't want them to go.     I am off to the market this morning. The one in Villefranche which sells everything and anything.    I will eat warm fresh figs and buy honey.   I wonder if it sells gardeners and really nice guests. I need three of them, for a week, probably two.    The rest I can do myself.

Sunday, 24 August 2014


Sitting outside house and its stunning.    Weather wonderful.   At last.   How did the emotional abuse blog find its way into my French romance?   Will delete at some stage, or shorten as although its true, doesn't really belong here.  Its the Silence of the Lambs in Disneyland which this place (this part of France) is.

The cows, pretty though they are, are going to be eaten, or milked to death. Even the little birds that land on my window ledge each morning (I now open the window as I got tired of the tapping at seven and now they just land, look, fly round the room a few times, resist the urge to poo and fly out again) are trapped and eaten by the locals.  

I have had my good friends Edward, Justine and Jayne come visit. They are staying in Toulouse.  Toulouse is a sexy city. Not as in Buenos A or Paris or Rome, but its got an edge to it. Its working and  with it.  I have been driving to collect and pick them up from the 'centre ville'.  

This has been an experience.   Its an hour and half drive there anyway (as long as I don't get behind tractors or caravans) .  I don't usually see Toulouse at all when I arrive or drop off at the airport as its carefully sign posted, although filing up with petrol is ridiculously complicated and just done to make the lives of those who have hire cars even more stressful than they need be.  There should be an Esso garage a mile outside in and out of the airport.  But no, you have to go round these little roads and then its card only, but sometimes there's a person there. And that's another thing.All the petrol stations here are now card only.   They don't even take cash.   Not even in rural France.

So back to Toulouse and centre ville, or Toulouse Centre as they intermittently sign post it.    They were staying at the Plaza Hotel, a central hotel in the 'Capitole'.  Easy to find?  Yes. Easy to get to? No. They have these bollard things which suddenly appear out of nowhere.  Its like one of those Hunger Games where if you don't drive quick enough a road would be blocked off.    So every time I dropped them off I had to find a different way to enter the maze.  Then there was the sign posting.    Centre Ville was there one moment and then disappeared for the next five minutes.   This led me into deepest Toulouse suburbia and a very kind lady who showed me the way out.   I arrived but it was stressful and when any one asks me how to get somewhere in Toulouse I will tell them to park in a car park and walk. I think that's why they do it.

I took the guys round Cordes, Najac and St Antonin yesterday. We ate at a wonderful restaurant in St Antonin over looking the river.    Le Carre des Gourmets.  It has a Michelin star and award winning Cassoulet,but go hungry.    It is wincingly romantic overlooking the river.    I walked round Cordes and there are so many pretty shops with pretty things in them.   Pretty bags and dresses and necklaces. I felt like a girl again. And there's a bead shop.  Eight years ago I invited a group of girls (my age but I'm calling them girls coz men call themselves 'boys' even when they're 70 odd). All very high powered, extremely bright, and I'd sorted a weekend of cultural activities as well as 'pool time'.   Did they want to do that?   Nope.   Pool, Hello magazine, and jelly sweets and when I took them to Cordes three hours in the bead shop where they made necklaces.    The bead shop disappeared the next year. Well ladies its back.

I absolutely loved that day - both with Edward et al, and the girls all those years ago.   I loved showing them around Cordes, walking the narrow cobbled streets, talking about the Cathars (did you know Catholic Church called them the Church of Satan) Bless them.   Of course they were nothing of the sort. Didn't believe in Church of any sort for one thing (thought it was all about money, power, creating fear and ignorance and disempowered rather than empowered). They were intellectuals, spiritualists.    They were mischievous and used intellect rather than emotion to out think the Catholics.    The Church said every village should have a church.  They made them build one in Cordes. So they did.   When the priests visited Cordes they noticed the church didn't have a door. 'You didn't say it needs a door'.

Build a door, they said.

So the Cathars built a door. Half way up the wall so no one could reach it.

The priests said build steps. So they did. In the end.   Of course as a Church it had to have gargoyles but rather than have the trusty old griffin (look up at the ones in that bastion of fear and damnation, the Cathedral in Albi), they had gargoyles with priests sticking their tongues out and doing moonies and other such.  I like these Cathars.    Very anti establishment.

They thought we were spirits and had the 'bodies' to tempt us away from ourselves, or being our true selves.  They also had some less appealing ideas but you have to read the book about them.    They weren't so much anti temptation of the flesh, more identifying why it happened in the first place.   In fact, the place I live La Salvatat des Carts mean salvation from the 'skin' (i.e. allegedly 'sins of the flesh').   So no sex here.  But couldn't it also mean salvation from the Cathars (and have been shortened) or salvation by the Cathars?   Any way, I mention this because I've had two people knock on my door this summer asking if I know where the Holy Grail is. Tempted to spread my arms wide and say 'da da, its me!' I realise the locals in Najac have been playing games again and sending earnest readers of Kate Mosse fine book Labyrinthe all over the countryside in search of the Holy Grail or some trace of where it could be. Admittedly gold coins believed to have been left by the Knights Templar were found in the chapel in the hamlet so I like to believe (and probably do knowing me) that its, whatever 'it' is in round here.  They could actually have come to the right place.

Any way, I'm digressing again, because its the sort of thing you do here.    The restaurant was lovely but I went into the bathroom and started to clean round the sink after washing my hands.   This is when I realised that for the first time I was on holiday.   I dropped the towel immediately.   I wasn't laying tarpaulin (I know a lot about tarpaulin now which I think is quite sad).  I wasn't painting a shutter, a railing, a door, a fountain, or cutting trees or going to Mr Bricolage rather than the pretty shop I love in Villefranche which sells expensive but wonderful table clothes and nonsense, or cleaning an oven, a shower room, or ironing.   Cleaniiness is not next to Godliness (another Catholic invention probably), it is next to loosing sense of the plot.   A diamond is a not a womans best friend, it is a dishwasher, whether that is a Bosch or someone else with two hands willing to get their hands dirty.  Men get married to get someone to clean after them or remain on good terms with their mothers for the same reason.   Women, you just get a career and a dishwasher.   Use your brain to find yourself not a man. They are meant to do the chasing anyway.     There is nothing 'cathartic' about cleaning.  It's not even like gardening (after doing it for six weeks I still say gardening is not a pleasure just a metaphor for life).   As for cleaning, we buy stuff we have to clean, then buy stuff we have to clean it with and its wasting time.    Time when we could be enjoying sins of the flesh and being free spirits. And I'm talking to women here.   Men know this already.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


In France, and its still Disneyland with a touch of Silence of the lambs thrown in occasionally as a curve ball.     I'm keeping in touch with the outside world via the BBC and from the birds and bees of Najac it looks, to be blunt, horrible. Perhaps we get use to so much nasty - but nasty becomes the norm.   Well, things have got very nasty. I know its easier to report bad news than good, but I know journalists who are even wondering whats going on at the moment.     Everyone appears so mean spirited, obtuse, weak, emotionally impotent.  Actually - not appears - they are.

So it was with interest I read how the courts will try to marshall emotional abuse.  This will be interesting to police mainly because those who are best at it, are also highly effective at hiding/masking their abusive behaviour. They choose one person to isolate and intimidate, they chip away gradually at their confidence over time, they undermine them amongst their friends and family and come across as extremely plausible and affable themselves. They are usually financially functional and on a material level may have reached a high level within business and commerce because of exactly that ruthless quality they use in work but are unable to switch off when they get home.  According to research undertaken by the Telegraph five years ago, the professions which tend to attract this type are the City and the Law, so it might follow a barrister might have every sympathy with the banker they are representing.   According to the research, they have no sense of value or morality.   Now that is disturbing.  

Sunday, 17 August 2014


THE SUN IS SHINING. The bloody sun is shining. And its hot.    Wrinkly of Richmond is wrinkled again. I have nuked my body into pink submission. I don't care. I wanted to have a golden glow at the end of this break (its NOT a holiday, its an 'experience') so I laid on the lawn in the front of the house and soaked up the rays having practiced yoga for an hour (loved it).  

I went to the market in Najac and bought honey which says on the label its local but it could be from Sainsbury all I know and a load of beans which are French.

Read and wrote some more then noticed the mole is back. I am happy for moles. I have nothing against them as long as they are not anywhere near where I live.   Tom would probably say that makes me a mole racist.    I love wildlife but having got into the nuking thing with my body, I was quite happy to nuke this bloody thing thats making holes in my lawn.    It can make Great Escape tunnels all I care, as long as it doesn't create great big mud piles in the process.  I've got this little kit full of explosives (I kid you not) which literally blows them up.  I've got quite good at it.     I've already killed one, and I've set the trap for another one.   Not very Disney I admit, but then nor was killing Bambi's mother.   And I say a little prayer for them, so very Avatar. I've been saying little prayers for all the trees I've cut down in the back garden, although the brambles I tell to go ** themselves.  

I've had fire, floods, so the sun had to come at some stage I suppose. And then there was music.  A concert in the chapel in the hamlet. It's only a little hamlet.  Absolutely beautiful.   Only disturbed by the odd rock concert and classical ensemble, sort of a miniature Glastonbury.   And then there are the frogs and ducks that mate very loudly till the cows come home (they do at seven every day) in the local pond.  They must be exhausted.    

At five or thereabouts I walked down to the chapel.   The sun was shining still and heat still rising.    I listened to the beautiful music. The hamlet cat was meowing for company. There was a French man with three noisy children he'd obviously taken out of the concert but needed to take them further as they were so loud. Where is a silencer when you need one?  I pinched two (ok probably more) warm damsons from the tree the local lady uses to make eau de vie hoping she won't see me.    The day turned into some kind of wonderful.

Friday, 15 August 2014


Its raining in France. I spent hours cutting down the dead wood in the garden yesterday until it was dark, talking to the cows, then realising I was wearing red and some of them were bulls.  I can now see the wood for the trees and know its easier to cut out dead wood in the garden than it is to do so from life.   Easier to recognise for one thing.  

I had a blue finch tap on the window this morning.  I open the window and the bloomin thing flies off.   It does that every morning about eight. I go downstairs, do some work, up again and slept till one.  The beds are bliss here. 

Everything is closed in France today. There is a festival or something. Its like a day long lunch.   The French are lazy and rude (in my opinion) but I love their country.     Tarpaulin laying tomorrow and change over.  I am not into gardening. Its something that needs to be done, and I treat it like a metaphor for life rather than a pleasure.    The French family staying in the give have had lousy weather but they have been wonderful.    Perfect guests.   They read a lot and go out and explore looking at me lugging tree trunks and looking evil with the cutters like some crazed killer on the outlook for brambles or anything that looks like it has a prick.

I look at the BBC news.  Its no different from ITV other than on BBC they say the same thing but without a smile.   Boy is it rubbish out there.   And Cliff Richard has been accused of something and there’s an asteroid coming towards earth.   And everyone is still blowing up everyone else. And Cameron looks tanned and like a cabbage patch doll from his Portuguese holiday. 

Must eat loads of cake and have sex but not at the same time before the asteroid hits. But both must be of a very high quality.  

Tuesday, 12 August 2014


Painting the railings blue and laying tarpaulin in the garden to stop the weeds.   I am covered in blue paint, legs cut to pieces by the brambles and mosquito bites.  Its not a sexy look.  The weather in England has been better than in France.   I've had teenagers mini golfing, mountain biking and kayaking, never up before midday, and playing computer games in the afternoon till the early hours.  And they have been wonderful. The cute kitten they met and one of Tom's friends belly flopping into the pool were the high lights - its the simplest things that make the most impact - always.

The fireworks in St Antonin were glorious this year. Amazing, utterly amazing with the full super moon back lighting the festivities.   I've been building book cases,  still need another one, and learning to hoover the pool.    I've had the tuna quiche at the bakery in Najac which I am absolutely sure has something Pringle addictive like in it.  Don't know what but I wouldn't touch quiche at home.

In between painting, gardening, building and cleaning stuff, I'm writing and practicing the yoga and finding walks I'd never known before.   Having been twelve years here, I've had little time to actually explore this place.  I'm waiting for the fountain and am determined to create my pathway and wild flower meadow in the back.    As in I'm going to do it, brambles, mosquitoes and all.  

And when I'm feeling down or lonely, nature always knocks at my door or window (literally). Blue finches tap at the window, and when I open it, fly in and knock themselves out on the window pane as though entertaining me in pantomime fashion. Obviously not, but I open the other window and after taking a brief bow, they fly out.    I saw two wild deer as well in the field next door, spoke to the local farmer Frances who is wonderful and his lovely family.   Its amazing what they can do with cows. I'm sure if he told them to jump, they would.   His cows, I mean, not his family.   And the lady in the market on Sundays in Najac who sells me whole trays of avocados and gives me free melons and apricots which I don't eat - but give to the guests.  And five people have bought my book in the local epicure there.   Cool huh.

I've had my fair share of challenges this year.   Car buggered but I have one here that worked after six years of not being run, and it started up first time. That's Japanese cars for you. None of this German or English muck.

There were a few slugs in the houses. Yes slugs in rural France. Wouldn't believe it would you?  And spiders and webs.  How dare they build webs in places they should not build webs. And they do it so quickly. Would but the builders in France deal with things as effectively as their spiders.    They don't even take two hours off for lunch.

I miss Tom and his friends.  They introduced me to the Inbetweeners assuring me that teenagers do not think or talk like that.  I do hope not.  Its educational.

They are fairly monosyllabic teenagers but when they talk, they talk a lot of sense and in depth. They know the internet but the good stuff.    Its like when I took Tom to Vegas a few years back.   With him I found the decent side of the place, the amusing, colourful, city of lights place.

I understand why teenagers loose themselves in virtual reality.  Its much safer than the real world. And the celebrity role models they're sold are as fake as those in the computer games, manufactured to appear real.   Teenagers know that.

Every time I turn on the BBC News I see some part of the world wanting to blow up another part of the world.   Just hope life doesn't mirror art. Tom's into the Walking Dead.  He says its like Twilight with real problems.