January 19, 2015

Still absent

Still in Blighty and today I trotted out to see Adrain and Maggie Hailer, whom I know many Esperazanais knew and liked. It is no secret that Adrain has been desperately ill and alas, still is. He and Maggie are taking on the drugs company that crippled him; yesterday the Mail wrote a piece about him which explains the situation clearly. Heres the link -


They send love and wanted to know how things are in our little paradise -so do I!
Despite meeting many old friends here, being overwhelmed by culture and having a deal of fun, I'm a little homesick.

January 8, 2015

Not at home -

 That I'm not in Esperaza is clear from todays pix - here are Frank and Liz who lived amounst us for a few years before returning to grandchildren and the manipulative dog Ben - lovely to see them in their new home on the south coast.

They send love to all.

We shared a bit of wine and a bit of food and a lot of gossip :)
 Here is an occasional Esperaza visitor and dear old friend Peter Tyler, sitting under one of my paintings from 1983 -we have all aged gracefully since then. For some reason I have no picture of Vera, his wife - it wouldn't download-

We saw the expo Naked in the de la Warr pavilion in Bexhill. Very good indeed. Small, but perfectly formed.

And here is Penny, with whom I spent a lovely day which included the Chapman Brothers exhibition in Hastings. Brilliant.
The journey to Blighty was fraught on account of the thick fog. Bob heroically drove in no visibility for many hours. We arrived at the boat in time to board and got to London in the early hours of the morning - Ive been travelling ever since, getting spoilt by my friends and generally feeling that it was worth the effort. Thanks to all :) And great sadness to France over the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Everyone here very distressed.

January 2, 2015

post-fete life

Bob and I  kicked off the day in the Patisserie cafe which though  relatively new in Esperaza has performed wonders - good cheap coffee and tea (Tetleys, for a wonder) brilliant pastries and cakes and chocolates and buscuits all made on site by the sweet couple that run it. Sitting in the window it is possible to see the world pass by - our little commune is creaking back into life.
Thence to St Hilaire for lunch at the house of our friend Lizzie - en route passing the imposing abbey. Lunch was wonderful and a selction of well-chosen wines kept me grinning through the afternoon :)
The real news here is the letter most of us have got from the President of the Communauté de communes Pyrénées Audoisese. Each household is being taxed 195 euros for waste management, that is, dustbin emptying and dump control. Do we not pay tax d'habitation for this, I hear you cry?

My choir had warned me, their token foriegner, that this was going to happen. They had urged me not to pay as they said that it was an error made by the department in the sums it did when they joined forces with other communes. It was their mistake, we should not have to pay for it. Then when the bills arrived I heard other gossip; that this was a scam enacted on the English. I went straight to the font of all knowledge, Andree, who said we were all mad, we had not paid last year and this is to make up for it. Pay it now, she says.

Which begs the question of what taxe d'hab. is for...

December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

 It has been our custom for a few years now to spend new years day at the coast and since we can't actually go tomorrow we went today instead, with Kat. Bob drove us over the mountains - stopped to see if Lily remembered snow - then onto the med which was bright and sunny with a viciously cold edge.
Had lunch in our favourite seafood resturant and really enjoyed it. Now for an early night to build up strength for 2015. I'd expected to write a New Years greeting letter in lieu of christmas cards but that didnt get done either... please take my love and affection to you and all my friends out there as read xxx

December 30, 2014

Carcassonne, Limoux and Esperaza -

 I'm looking for a book - who isn't - and I'd been told that the slightly wacky esoteric library at La Cite might have it. Bob kindly drove me there. It was closed. I wandered about a bit in the vicious ear-biting cold until it opened and then found they'd never heard of it.

In Limoux we lunched at LeClerc, of course. Was perturbed to find that all their pine trees in the car park have been cut down - an anti-christmas elf or are they up to something, anyone know?
Back in the comparative warmth and calm of Esperaza, this weird horsey-thing was parked behind the war memorial....

December 28, 2014

St Julia le Bec

 Up to Chateau Rushton for lunch yesterday with John and Clare, Jo and Donald and a marvellous view of the snow-clad mountains. France is having a cold snap which we are hoping will shortly push off.
John is absent from the picture as he was cooking - roast beef and horseradish sauce, followed by the more traditional Galette des Rois. In case you're not from these parts allow me to explain that the Galette des Rois is a pastry and frangipane cake eaten between now and the epiphany which contains a ' la feve' - a bean-  these days signified by a little porcelain figure of some cultural merit. The one who gets the bean gets to wear the paper crown and be king.
Bob won!

December 27, 2014

supper and a movie...The Hobbit in town

Pete hosted an early dinner for the tribe last night.... Nels brother Jap and wife were in town, Kat was wafting through, Ryan and Alicia and Etienne and us were invited and we all ate extremely well.
Afterwards was an historical film show; as the man that schlepped the kit into the MJC said in his presentation, ten days after the Champs Elyeeses it arrives in Esperaza! l' Ob'ete in 3-D. Marvellous.
Heres the Captain in the special specs they give you to wear in order to be fully frightened.
The crowd naturally participated but in rather unexpected ways - for instance, I had a deal of tendresse for the elegant elves but Esperazanais gave their best cheers for the bone -headed giants (who were very funny, it must be said). There was a rather splendid fluffy and fully armed pig who acted as a mount for a dwarf that attracted great approval. And rousing cheers when the baddie was thwacked by the corpse of the burning dragon :)
Tolkien may not have recognised his work but he would have clocked the subtexts with pleasure - never break your word, always act with honour, gold is inherently dangerous. For me the thing was rendered less-than-trite by being in French. It had gravitas where it might otherwise have been portentous.