Sunday, 10 December 2017

>> Xativa to Torvizcon

a 487 kilometer drive
the Mediterranean Sea to our left
pit stops and paw stretches
a changing landscape
winding mountain roads
 to La Alpujarra 
a natural region of Andalusia 
on the South slopes of the Sierra Nevada
little villages nestled in the landscapes
and our base for the next month or so

Monday, 4 December 2017

*** Mirepoix to Xativa

three women
three dogs
two cars {with a LOT of luggage}
and 651 km of road to travel
as part one of our escape to Andalucia

first stop Xativa
well known for it's linens and paper
and the birth place of Pope Alexander XI
the 14th Century basilica 
a renaissance stunner
tucked away in the tiny cobbled streets
but easy to spot all over the town
we stayed in a stunning little b&b 
a former silkweavers house 
Casa Aldomar was perfect for our short stay
close to buildings to swoon over with their
green blues ochres and details
it was Hispanic Day when we arrived
a national holiday
celebrating being Spanish
the town resounded with firecrackers 
all day and night
on the second day 
we took a very leisurely 
 and sometimes treacherous climb to
Castello de Xativa 
spread out across the hill
visible from kilometres away
it has been claimed by the Moors, French, Bourbons
Hapsburgs and Aragonese
worth trekking up with three dogs
for the views alone
and then a deserved local artisan beer
after a little wander around the local market
we packed up and set off
for the next part of our journey ......

Thursday, 5 October 2017

▢▢□□▣ fenetres

 I've lost count of the amount of times
people ask me
"how's the decorating going?"
I feel like saying "hows yours?"
who renovates their house within a year?
at the top of my little house
is a superb space
potential studio  
two openings on one side 
and three on the other
as you can see there are no windows 
in those apertures
and all my winter heat goes out those gaps
but I want to preserve the ancient wood frames
hopefully by next month
these beauties will replace the plastic 
corrugated iron and gaps
and my house will be cosier 

Monday, 25 September 2017

** avelana

the French are big on community
and events
much effort goes into setting them up
and everyone visits
this weekend was the Fete De Noisettes
a hazelnut festival in Lavelanet 
no real squirrels
delicious cakes
praline covered nuts
and anything you can imagine that is
nut related
we didn't see the nut spitting competition
maybe that's not a bad thing!
there was plenty of music
and enthusiasic dancing
and a parade
and traditional costumes
a little game of boule for the gents
plenty of games and a funfair for the children
une bonner facon de celebrer
les noix

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

_-__-_ meet me at the Barbican

Saturday was a day with friends
Gina travelled over from Essex 
and we surprised her with a magical mystery
tour of exhibitions and wanderings

after coffee in Shoreditch
we walked to ABP Autograph
to see Zanele Muholi's first solo UK exhibition 
Hail the Dark Lioness 
beautiful striking self portraits
taken across Africa, Europe and America
using materials found 
connections made
we walk through Brick Lane 
and onward to Tayyabs
for a delicious vegetarian punjabi lunch
messaging friends to co-ordinate a 
meet up for a cocktail at Osteria
{free wifi is something else I have missed!}
great views and good company
some had never met each other
and some I'd not seen for too many years!
then onwards to meet a lady
I had not met in real life
but had followed her work for a while
luckily she was part of a group show at the
Strand Gallery
so cool to meet Alison Rylands
and hear about her journey so far 
she allowed me to take this piece 
after we'd rearranged her interactive work!

before waving goodbye 
we passed a bustling alleyway
and found Gordon's Wine Bar
an amazing subterranean space
that served us a chilled bottle of Picpoulet
which we enjoyed outside
as we watched people passing by with 
huge platters of charcuterie, cheese, baguettes
and pickles
a little taste of France in London

Monday, 18 September 2017

!! overload my senses

there are things I miss
so I took advantage of cheap flights
and stayed with my daughter in London
just for a weekend

immediately into the hubbub 
crowded tube trains
noise, cars, pollution
the need to be hyper linked to everything 
all the time

no I don't live in Outer Mongolia
but I would have to drive for ten minutes
to get to the only bus that would take
me to Pamiers
there I could get a train to Toulouse

London is very connected
and it's marvellous 
I missed that
I also miss going to galleries
Gregory Crewdson at The Photographers Gallery 
was out first stop
Cathedral of the Pines is a large body of work
his signature grand landscapes
muted palettes and light
(detail The Barn)
as usual we want to ask questions
I'm glad I got to see them but ....
the nudity over took the stories 
it seemed unnecessary 
even this young person thought so 
to my amusement 

after amazing lunch pad thai and green curry 
at Rosa's Soho
and a spot of shopping 
we visited Beetles & Huxley
I love this little gallery
it didn't disappoint
(red curtains)                   (holding the blue)
a collection of images by Cig Harvey
partially hidden subjects
self portraits and in glorious colour

and so to the Southbank 
the record label Erased Tapes are celebrating
their tenth birthday
we delighted in a free concert by the artist 
a beautiful hour spent listening to new and old songs
with like-eared people 
afterwards ~ fresh dosa by the river
and a bus ride home
door to door

and that was just Friday!

Saturday, 19 August 2017

* summer in the 'stide

many villages have fetes and markets
in the Summertime
July & August sees many events 
Thursdays bring the night market
tables and chairs are set up under La Halle
food stalls begin to be set up
along the river
in the late afternoon
people arrive from 6pm 
with picnic bags carrying plastic plates
glasses, serviettes, cutlery
bread, wine
to enjoy with the food they buy
it's a big community thing
other evenings bring dodgy euro disco djs 
who never seem to play a whole song
and talk over most of the medleys
a variety of acts appear under La Halle
Magyd Cherfi ~ La Trempe
the story of an artist
Teatro Golondrino
string puppets without word
a truly charming show
called The Bucket of Death
had the children and adults laughing
we have a Village Vacances in La Bastide
which is for the employees of EDF
some of these events are arranged by them
they are random, sometimes strange
but strange good!

Thursday, 20 July 2017

+ this house, this home

one of the amazing ladies I have met 
is Jacqueline
she is funny, interesting, generous
and an Anglican Priest

she had never visited my village
and so she came to bless my house

we held something of significance to us
I chose this stone which had belonged to my sister
Liberty held her Grandmothers wristwatch
and Jacqueline her little wooden cross
we began at the front door
 Jacqueline blessed 
"from roof to roof, from wall to wall,
from end to end, from its foundation 
and in its covering"

then moving through the house
she read the warming liturgy for every rooms use
bedroom, lounge, guest room, bathroom ....
each one ending with the words
"to save, shield and surround this house,
this home, this day, this night and every night"

the rhythm of this recital was comforting 
and soon familiar

"may all be welcomed here,
friend or stranger, from near or far
may each be blessed and honoured as they enter
may all who come to this door, come in peace
and guard it, we pray, from any who come in hostility
may every grudge or malice be left at the door
and may those who brought them be so touched
by grace here, that they forget to collect them 
when they leave"