Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Bertie ...

... is standing on my mouse mat and pawing the key board, which is now covered in fine clay dust.

Blocking my view of the screen, he arches his back, yawns, then licks his lips - all polite terrier conversation. He reaches across and delicately steals an empty Lidl's chocolate wrapper that I've scrunched up and left on my desk.

I nuzzle his soft blonde fur which smells of outdoors and wet grass. His dark eyes, rimmed by thick pale lashes, are on a distant horizon through the window behind my desk.

He thinks I should be paying attention to him and not blogging.

It's nearly his supper time.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Oh I have had such fun ...

... searching for sites for my four remaining Liebster Awards.

One blog already on my list was Dirty Feet and Rubble in My Hair about renovating a property in the Haute Vienne. I have huge admiration for people who are self-building here in France and not only doing it themselves but also finding time to write entertaining blogs about it.  I'll continue to follow Roz and Neil's adventures with interest. The suggestion for this blog came courtesy of Fly in the Web who writes two absolutely splendid blogs - French Leave and Costa Rica Calling; full of her gently sardonic well-observed humour.  In fact I see she also has received the Liebster Award for her Costa Rican Blog. Well deserved and thank you for your suggestion Fly.

Someone else whose blog taste I trust is Pamela Terry who writes so elegantly From the House of Edward.  It was she who led me to the story of Wilf, the Polish Lowland Sheepdog written by Angus from France Profonde somewhere in the direction of Toulouse.  So I turned (as I have done in the past) to Pamela's blogroll to see what treasures I might find.  Many of her choices are already very well-known and not appropriate for this award, but then I came across The Wind and the Wellies about life on Orkney.  I am fascinated about parts of the world where I feel people are living "on the edge" (for a time I followed someone in Nova Scotia) - all that weather and sea!  The blog is splendidly and amusingly written and photographed by (coyly named) Orkneyflowers. I'm going to enjoy following her story and give her the Liebster Award with pleasure.

One of the key things for me in following someone else's blog is that it should be well-written.  I love people who can use language well and who believe good writing in blogland matters; those whose skill is in reaching for an interesting word or a well-turned phrase that captures an image or conveys an emotion. Keith of A Taste of Garlic keeps an eye out for new blogs on France and so I spent a couple of hours wandering through  his reviews thinking this might be a place where I would find bloggers who deserve a larger following.  It was here that I found Victoria Corby.  I've chosen her not so much for that fact that she's in France, but because she writes well.  And because she writes well about writing.  That pleases me.  And because I admire the fact that she is writing, whereas I just talk about it.  Ah me.  I will continue to follow Victoria with admiration.

And my final choice, is one from my own treasure trove:  Au Fond du Jardin.  I suspect Natalie has more than the required number of followers to be eligible for this award, but she does not tell us, so I am offering it to her anyway.  I love her evocative paintings and photographs of her mountain countryside.  If we were starting afresh in our search for somewhere to live in France we too would be drawn to the splendour of the Pyrenees.  Natalie's blog gives me the opportunity to get a glimpse from time to time of that wonderful world.

Monday, 16 January 2012


When I first discovered this thing called blogging, I used to spend hours going from blog to blog, following other people's choices. It was such fun, but also soaked up so much time that nowadays I tend just to check in to the blogs I know and like.  But I also pay attention when these writers and photographers whose work I respect suggest a particular site to visit.

And now with the Liebster award, I need to find my five to recommend. And here's my first: The Living Isle, written by Rob about the natural world on the Isle of Wight, a place that holds for me such happy memories of childhood holidays and has always seemed a slightly "other-worldly" place.

Rob also has another new blog, The Off Cut, which was recommended a few days ago by Phil Gates a botanist at Durham University and Guardian Country Diary writer whose site - Cabinet of Curiosities - I love.  Phil doesn't need the award, he already has an extensive following, but it would be lovely to see Rob's sites reaching a wider audience.

Both of Rob's blogs are beautifully written and illustrated.  If I hadn't been given this award I probably wouldn't have noticed them. I'm glad I've found them.

A touch of serendipity.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

The Dress

Back in the 1970s I bought the most magical of garments - an  Ossie Clark evening dress.

Lovingly kept all these years I wore it last night to the Winter Ball and for a few brief hours I felt young and beautiful again.

Photographer: Keith Buchan. Photos taken some time in the early 1970s

Dearest, Liebster

Perpetua, who drops in for a chat from time to time and writes Perpetually in Transit - a gentle blog about being a retired priest, sharing her life with DH (Dear Husband), DD (Dear Daughter) and DS (Dear Son) and the joys of living in three countries, including France - has kindly given me the Liebster Blog award.  A way of sharing our discoveries across this amazing blogosphere, the idea of the award is to highlight five blogs that we enjoy, especially ones with fewer than 200 followers and to share them here.

Thank you Perpetua and now it's my turn.

My challenge though, is that most of the ones I follow have many hundreds, if not thousands, of followers and are well-established.  And a couple which I would have chosen I see have already been awarded. :)

So I'm asking for help please.  If you have favourite blogs that you feel deserve to be known more widely, please could you drop me some suggestions, then I can go exploring.  Thank you.

It's more than time I added to my "treasure trove".

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Grey Days

(As usual) I leave late for the Friday morning photography group up at Eymet and I speed across empty countryside in the Batmobile, racing to get there on time. Just me and the mist, as the road swoops up the hills to the small bastide villages, each hidden in its blanket of grey cloud, then down again onto the plain between, where roadside trees loom out of the swirling cold drizzle.

Our mild winter has disappeared and the cottage heating struggles to keep us warm against the dank weather.  In the evening we huddle on the sofa - human, dog, human, dog - and watch bad movies and much-repeated favourite shows.

Late at night, as I walk Vita and Bertie down to the stream, my breath wafts in the light of the torch, caught white against a myriad moving grey droplets.  We cannot see beyond the edge of the torchlight and we are alone in the world.

The best place to be

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Countdown to a Quiet New Year

Ten thirty pm: Tod takes his broken shoulder off to bed early.

Eleven pm: I walk the dogs down to the stream in drizzly rain in the dark.  A few distant pops and bangs and flashes of red and blue come from one of the houses high on the ridge behind us.  They're starting celebrations early.

Eleven thirty pm: The dogs take themselves off to bed and I start to watch a silly Goldie Hawn movie with a glass of something slightly sweet from a bottle that's been opened in the fridge for ages - seems ok.

Midnight: Bertie starts barking on the landing at more distant bangs.  I hush him not to disturb Tod.  I wonder about waiting to see London's firework display on TV at one o'clock, but decide not to bother.

One am: Bertie is up and barking again - yet more distant bangs and crashes - perhaps our neighbours are celebrating a British New Year? Tod briefly wakes for a New Year kiss and sleepily asks what time it is.

One thirty am: Most of us are asleep.

May 2012 be peaceful and happy for all of us. May our fears be unfounded and our hopes be fulfilled.

London Fireworks: from BBC