Monday, 19 January 2009

My Small Stones

One of the joys of blogging is finding other people's words and pictures. The blogs I particularly like I save to my "treasure trove" (see in the right hand column). Some I find through Blogger (blogs of note), some through just clicking on other people's collections and seeing where that takes me.

One of my favourites is Fiona Robyn's A Small Stone - daily reflections on her life.

She has extended her idea to invite others to offer their reflections on A Handful of Stones. Fiona has graciously accepted two of my small stones, one is published today. The other will be published on February 6th.

If you have found this blog through A Handful of Stones, welcome.

Fiona - thank you.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Mountains and Sea

Thursday, Smudge and I went on an awfully big adventure to the Mediterranean. We live close to the Autoroute des Deux Mers motorway which stretches from the Atlantic to the Med. So I get this restless feeling from time to time - a tug at the heart for sea air.

I've been to Bordeaux in the west. It was time to visit Narbonne in the east.

As Smudge ages, he becomes an easier passenger. He spends most of the time sleeping on the back seat, except when we stop for motorway tolls, when he sits up like his old self and protests.

He slept as we swept over the brow of the hill that looks down over Toulouse and, to my joy, there ranged in the distance in all their hazy blue and white glory - the not-often-seen Pyrenees. For the rest of the journey they played hide-and-seek, as we headed away from the lush pastures of the Garonne valley and into the scrubland of their foothills.

Narbonne is three hours away according to Google. With frequent pit stops it took us four; plus another half an hour getting lost trying to find Narbonne Plage.

We looked at the sea and the almost deserted beach, breathed in the salt air, noted the sign that said "no dogs on the beach" in three languages, said "bonjour" to several people on bicycles and two elderly dogs. Smudge lay down on the pavement by the smart new maisonettes all painted in dark burgundy glowing in the late sun and told me that he'd had enough. So I carried him to the car and walked back alone, across the wet sand. Dog footprints showed me that the locals ignore the sign.

I watched a woman striding out towards the sunset and suddenly realised that there, in the distance, a hint of blue up where the clouds should be, the Pyrenees touch down to the sea.

And then we came home.


Monday, 12 January 2009

Cold, Foggy January, Part Two

Mid afternoon and a weak sun has driven off the fog.

Armed with the Christmas present secateurs (you can never have too many) I get myself outside and attack the tangled white wisteria which covers the side of the house that faces west. I'm sheltered from the cold east wind.

An iceberg floats on top of the water butt and a fluffed up robin chats to me from the washing line. He's waiting for me to finish so he can drop down and hunt for grubs in the disturbed dried leaves.

By the time I'm done, I'm hot and satisfied. A tidy wisteria in winter is a thing of beauty.

S. A. D. Moi?

Cold, Foggy January

Get up late. Light fire in kitchen.

Eat breakfast. Check emails. Read Total France Forum.

Split wood. Feed fire

Check post.

Eat cake. Read blogs of note.

Take Smudge for drive in car and walk a few yards.

Feed Smudge.

Eye dirty crockery and walk away.

Read more blogs.

Split wood. Feed fire

Eat lunch. Read Total France Forum.

Take Smudge for drive in car and walk a few yards.

Eat cake. Read more blogs.

Eye dirty crockery.

Split wood. Feed fire.

Make supper. Read Total France Forum.

Eat supper.

Light fire in lounge.

Empty washing machine.

Put dirty crockery in washing machine.

Feed Smudge.

Feed fires.

Watch TV 'til too late.

Go to bed.

Do same again tomorrow.

S. A. D.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Learning

Monsieur M. arrived yesterday morning by car with some wood in a trailer. His tractor is out of action - missing a piece. He told me what it was, but I've forgotten what he said. Probably wouldn't even understand what the piece is in English, let alone French.

Tod was at the dentist (again!), so Monsieur M. and I companionably emptied his trailer making occasional small talk. He had a good Christmas, but a bad New Year. He was ill and thinks it was a doubtful huître (oyster). The French love les huîtres. I shuddered and said I didn't like them and he laughed. In fact I don't even like the thought of swallowing a raw oyster - much too slithery.

When we'd finished, he said he would be back with another load after lunch. I told him Tod would be here but I would be at a (très nécessaire) French lesson.

As he got in his car he said "bon aprendisage" (sic) - or something like. I'd no idea what he meant. Usually when I hear a word I don't know, it slips away. But for some reason this one stuck and I was still carrying it carefully like a small gift in my head. I managed to shape my lips so it roughly came out right during the lesson.

And I learnt that he'd wished me "bon apprentissage" - good learning. I am. Slowly.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Snow

I don't think snow figured in my dreams of living in South West France. Well, you live and learn!

Friday, 2 January 2009

New Year Sounds

The murmur of women's voices in the background. Tod has left the internet radio on and it's tuned to Woman's Hour.

The sshhh, sshhh, sshhh of Smudge's steady breathing. He was grumbling earlier but with a warm hot water bottle against his back he's dozed off again.

The fierce crack and spit from the chestnut wood in the kitchen range fire.

The shlop shlop of my slippers across the kitchen tiles. I'm still in sooty dressing gown and making Smudge's breakfast / lunch.

The distant whine of chainsaws. They're cutting saplings along the banks of the stream that borders the field which used to belong to Serge and now to Monsieur F. The bright sunlight means it's a good day for working. Another saw is running in stereo, in the woods that stretch to the east towards the chateau.

The soft whirr of the washing machine in the utility room behind the kitchen. It's been quiet over Christmas and the New Year and there's a full laundry basket to wash and hang out while there's warmth in the sun.

The clack of the latch to the old wooden door into the bathroom. I need a shower....

... and later the rasp of nail brush across my rough-skinned, grubby housemaid's knees.

A good start to 2009.